Healthy Habits: Family time, water color painting keep Dr. Marcella Donaruma active

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.

Dr. Marcella Donaruma, associate professor of pediatrics-public health at Baylor, shares some of her healthy habits with us.

Q: What health decisions start your day?hh-Donaruma
Typically, I check to see if the weather going to let me get my morning exercise accomplished. I try to complete a two-mile run at least four times a week. I prefer to go out in the early mornings before or when the sun is just coming up – our neighborhood is pretty peaceful and it helps me get centered for the day. When it is rainy, I run a yoga DVD for about 20 minutes.

Q: What is your go-to healthy breakfast?
Oh my goodness, I am a huge oatmeal fan. It can be a quick microwave meal – just throw in some raisins and cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar and you can pretty much take care of breakfast in under 10 minutes from start to finish.

Q: What is your favorite type of exercise?
Pretty much anything that moves me through real space. I’ll go for a run or walk the dogs – no special equipment required and easy to do at home or on vacation. I like the time to think or to take in the scenery. I also enjoy yoga and the focus it takes to keep a pose – very helpful to get centered.

Q: What keeps you motivated during your workout?  
A: Being able to zip up my jeans! I remind myself that I almost always have more energy on the days when I meet my morning exercise goals, and then I sleep better as well.

Q: What activities do you do when you can’t fit in a full workout?  
A: I have a series of stretches I run through that takes about seven minutes. I can usually work it in around getting my first cup of coffee started and the dogs fed.

Q: What is your favorite healthful snack?
A: I constantly tote around packets of peanut butter or almond butter. They are a good balance of protein, healthy fats and fiber so they’ll fill you up on a busy day.

Q: Do you take vitamins and if so, which ones?  
A: I take a daily adult multivitamin. 

Q: What do you include in your child’s lunch?
A: That is a struggle with my picky eater! We negotiate something with protein – typically yogurt, cheese, or hummus – as well as some fresh fruit and a smaller portion of dried fruit. She gets to pick a snack, which is usually a granola bar or popcorn. And I let her throw in a cookie or a couple pieces of holiday candy. It’s all about portion control!

Q: How do you make an unhealthy recipe healthy?  
A: I’ve found that most cream-based sauces will do great with almond milk if you are careful to add a little extra thickener – I like arrowroot because it has very little flavor on its own.

Q: What is your nighttime skin regimen?  
A: This is where my New Year’s resolutions are coming into play – sleep hygiene! When I am being responsible about keeping to a scheduled time for bed, I use Cetaphil cleanser, then some rose water toner and whatever over-the-counter retinoid moisturizer I have on hand.

Q: What hobbies do you have to help you relax?
A: I have two kids and they have two dogs, so keeping up with the lot of them keeps me fairly active and laughing. When things are calmer, I am huge reader across a bunch of genres, and enjoy watercolor painting. My 6th-grade daughter and I also enjoy baking together on weekends.

Q: What is your go-to Houston restaurant for a healthy meal?
A: The beet salad at Sorrento’s is delicious!

Q: Do you use a pedometer or Fitbit and what is your daily step goal?  
A: I have an step tracker on my phone. I clock a fair amount of office time, so try to get in an average of four miles a day. In 2018 I managed an average of 3.6, so I have some work to do!

Q: What is your favorite health tip that you live by?
A: Remember you can enjoy most things while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as long as you enjoy them in moderation!

Additional Resources

Dr. James Suliburk enjoys morning exercise and Houston’s food scene

Isabel Valdez stays relaxed with knitting and at-home yoga

Read more healthy habits from members of our community.

Learn how Baylor promotes a culture of healthy living and wellness.

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