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Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco on Her New Roles

The Emmy-winning actress opens up about beating her alcohol addiction, her new play, and her favorite part of all: mother.

Edie Falco's 7 Rules for Health and Happiness continued...

Make exercise "me" time. As an Emmy-winning actress and a single mom of two, finding time to exercise or sneak in alone time isn't always easy. Her solution? Combine the two: While a babysitter watches the kids, "I'll do an exercise of some kind and listen to music," says Falco. "It's very quiet time, very private time."

Don't be crazy about cardio. In the past, if Falco had a 5 a.m. start time, she'd be up at 3:30 a.m. to work out. "I used to be sort of obsessive about exercise," admits Falco. "But now, I fit it in where it's manageable and reasonable. As always, just do the best you can."

Reward yourself with a healthy treat. Forget chocolate, cookies, or cake. Falco's must-have treat is popcorn. "There's something about watching TV and eating popcorn that's so satisfying," says Falco. "It's got all the perfect flavors, and I can almost tell myself it's a vegetable."

Cave to your cravings -- occasionally. Though Falco mainly eats a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins, like fish and low-fat dairy, now and then she indulges in her favorite foods. "I go through periods of time, like the holidays, that are just ridiculous," says Falco. "But I always go back to ground zero. I just feel better when I eat well."

Boycott boredom. In addition to running, Falco stays active with Pilates, yoga, and the elliptical machine. "I'm always switching it up to stay interested," says Falco. The healthy bonus: Varying your fitness routine is a good way to avoid frustrating plateaus and helps prevent over-use injuries, too.

Expert Tips for Battling Alcoholism

Nearly 18 million people in the United States -- about one in 12 adults -- abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. While actor Edie Falco relies heavily on non-drinking friends for support, there are numerous ways to get help.

"Alcoholism is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management, but you can live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life beyond your wildest dreams if you recover from this disease," Haroutunian says. Here, his top tips for getting -- and staying -- sober.

Admit you have a problem. "There aren't always red flags that clearly show that someone is an alcoholic, but there are signs that allow us to recognize problem drinkers," says Haroutunian. "Drinking more than intended at any specific time, loss of control while drinking, or continuing to drink despite adverse consequences are absolute hallmarks of this disease." Not sure you have a problem? Find a simple questionnaire at aa.org.

Reach out. There's a reason more than 2 million Americans are members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the nonprofit group that originally proposed the "12-step program" as a method of recovery from alcoholism: It works. "In my experience, recovery is possible when the 12-step program is used," says Haroutunian. "If you attend the meetings and practice the steps on a daily basis, your chances for recovery are very, very high."

Find new ways to de-stress. Many people become addicted to alcohol because it eases stress and lessens anxiety, says Haroutunian, and alcoholics must learn new coping mechanisms, such as meditation, exercise, or cognitive behavioral therapy. So, instead of reaching for a drink the next time you're under the gun at work or have a fight with your spouse, hit the gym, go for a run, call a friend to vent, or try another healthy activity that eases tension.  

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Reviewed on February 20, 2011

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