Healthy Habits: Morning meditation, preventive health motivate Sarah Keyes

Taking care of your health is a priority and nobody knows that more than physicians and healthcare providers.

It can sometimes be difficult to find ways to stay healthy, so we’ve asked members of our Baylor College of Medicine community to share what they do in their daily lives to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Sarah Keyes, associate professor in the Physician Assistant Program at Baylor, shares some of her healthy habits with us.

Q: What health decisions start your day?
A: I start my day at 4 a.m. pumping for my seven-month-old son, so it’s critical that I spend a few moments for myself and my day on reflection. I like to meditate during this time using an app on my phone, but I make sure my phone is on Do Not Disturb and I do not look at email or other applications. I also spend a few minutes either stretching or activating my core so that I can move more efficiently throughout my day. hh-Keyes

Q: What is your go-to healthy breakfast?
A: A smoothie or oatmeal that I warm up at work is my go-to. My “treat” is to go to the cafeteria and eat the oatmeal there with some of the fruit.

Q: What is your favorite type of exercise?
A: I love all exercise and I like to mix it up to keep myself motivated. I am learning to really listen to my body and focus on what I need for the day. Sometimes it’s a yoga routine and sometimes it’s a run.

Right now, I am committed to exercise that improves core function. I watch videos and perform exercises that stabilize the back, pelvis, and ribs for better posture, stability and strength. These small muscle movements make a huge difference and are often more challenging than traditional cardio!

Q: What keeps you motivated during your workout?
A: I am motivated by two things: I want to model being physically active to my son so that we focus on healthy behaviors as a family. I am also motivated by the body of evidence that supports exercise as disease prevention, treatment and reversal.  On a personal level, I remind myself that exercise improves my mood and helps me to be focused, efficient and productive.

Q: What activities do you do when you can’t fit in a full workout?
A: I strive to be a “NEAT” freak (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). I spend my day looking for ways to be physically active since structured exercise time is a challenge for me right now. I walk around the Texas Medical Center (TMC), go up and down the BCM BeWell stairs or stretch in my office. Getting outside and sitting around campus re-focuses my attention and motivates me to really commit to projects.

Q: What is your favorite healthful snack?
A: I love a mindfulness “S.N.A.C.K,” an idea created by Carla Naumburg, Ph.D. The idea is to stop whatever you are doing, notice what is happening around you, acknowledge it, get curious about what you might need, and then be kind and compassionate to yourself.  I, like many others, spend so much of my day with a million demands on my attention; it’s nice to slow down once or twice a day and reset. I find that walking TMC and a mindfulness S.N.A.C.K go very well together.

Q: Do you take vitamins and if so, which ones?
A: There is no substantial body of evidence behind taking regular vitamins.  However, I do take a prenatal vitamin with vitamin D and I make sure that my diet is predominantly filled with plant-based whole foods.

Q: What do you include in your child’s lunch?
A: Liquid gold – aka breast milk.

Q: How do you make an unhealthy recipe healthy (healthy substitutions)?
A: My general substitution is more vegetables. Some other substitutions I will make include subbing in whole grains and legumes for refined grains and meat, respectively.

Q: What is your nighttime skin regimen?
A: Water and sunscreen (well, during the day). I drink as much water as possible throughout the day. Everything I apply to my face during the day has some kind of sunscreen. At night, I ditch the sunscreen for vitamin C, seaberry serum and a witchazel toner.

Q: What hobbies do you have to help you relax?
A: I meditate or practice some sort of mindfulness daily.  I also love to cook, watch some mindless TV, or read a book from the library.

Q: What is your go-to Houston restaurant for a healthy meal?
A: There are too many to choose from in Houston! At the moment, I really love Hungry’s because they have a vegan menu option every day.

Q: Do you use a pedometer or Fitbit and what is your daily step goal?
A:  I do use a pedometer because I like to take advantage of the incentive program here at Baylor, but I try not to obsess over step goals. Instead, I focus on moving every hour and being outside when there is an opportunity.

Q: What is your favorite health tip that you live by?
A: My health tips change depending on the season of life, but right now-disconnecting from social media has been a great health step for me.  It has enhanced my productivity and focus and helped me cultivate positive thinking.

Additional Resources

Dr. Everton Edmondson enjoys tai chi and brisk walks

Basketball, taking stairs keep Dr. Jacob Mandel active

See how Baylor stays fit with more healthy habits from members of our community

See how Baylor promotes a culture of healthy living and wellness

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