By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is official. We are now in that post holiday lull period. Not much to look forward to for most of us. This is not a classic time for vacations or getaways. The days are cold and it can get very depressing when it seems like the daylight hours are the ones spent in the office.

Have I depressed you enough? Don’t despair, there is good news.

One of the advantages of the dog days of winter is that we know things will get better and this is an ideal time to start making gains on the physical front. You can start to lose those extra pounds that you put on by increasing your exercise and start to make a conscious effort at reducing not just the number of calories you are consuming but those extra desserts and late night snacks.

You would be surprised how uplifting it can be to feel as if you are making these changes. The other key point to remember is that this can also be a beautiful time of year. The air is crisp and if you like winter sports like skiing and skating, it is your best chance to sneak away for a weekend trip to a local ski resort.

For those of you who have more serious issues with depression this time of year, remember that seasonal affective disorder is a very real problem for some and doctors can provide treatment that works.

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