Healthy Habits: Courtney Cary enjoys weightlifting, practices intuitive eating to stay balanced

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.

Courtney Cary, senior registered dietitian with the Department of Medicine-Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Baylor, shares some of her healthy habits with us.

Q: What health decisions start your day?HH-Courtney Cary
A: I make my bed religiously. If I don’t complete that one task each morning, the rest of my day isn’t set up to be productive.

Q: What is your go-to healthy breakfast?
A: I love avocado toast! Seedy, grainy bread with ½ an avocado with a dash of Cajun seasoning is my favorite breakfast.

Q: What is your favorite type of exercise?
A: I like lifting weights and running. It’s definitely important to find a type of exercise you enjoy so it can be a sustainable habit, even if its walking your dog or gardening for a couple hours.

Q: What keeps you motivated during your workout?
A: As long as the music is loud and upbeat, I’m good. I’m also motivated by how much I can sweat!

Q: What activities do you do when you can’t fit in a full workout?
A: I give myself grace. Exercise should be sustainable, and if I can’t fit a workout in, I just don’t. Rest and grace are just as important as exercise.

Q: What have you been doing to stay healthy during COVID-19? Do you have any advice for coping with the pandemic?
A: I have been trying to become a better intuitive eater. This means, in the most basic sense, practicing mindfulness, listening to my body’s hunger cues, honoring those cues, and fueling my body as best I can. It’s also so important to give yourself grace. Not every day or every meal will be perfect – probably far from it. The best advice I can give is to eat when you’re hungry, and build your plate with a variety of foods that you think will nourish you.

Q: What is your favorite healthful snack?
A: Fruit right now is to die for. I love cold fruit like cherries or melon right now. It’s best to make your snacking count though, like adding protein to your snacks to help satisfy your hunger. For me, that’s something like boiled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, or nuts.

Q: Do you take vitamins and if so, which ones?
A: I take a gummy women’s multivitamin and vitamin D. Supplements/vitamins are a tricky topic. They are not approved or evaluated by the FDA, so we rely on third-party companies to verify quality and purity of vitamins. Only a handful of producers use this. It’s not even required to have quality and purity tested before hitting the shelves. Unless a dietitian or physician has told you that you need to take a certain vitamin or supplement, you likely don’t need it, and may be doing more harm than good. There are a lot of baseless claims out there in the supplement industry.

Q: What do you include in your child’s lunch?
A: I don’t have children, but I pack my own lunch every day. I always have a vegetable and a fruit. Whether it’s dinner from the night before or throwing a handful of frozen broccoli into leftover spaghetti, or putting lettuce in tomato on a sandwich, it’s there. Seasonal fruit is also one of my greatest pleasures in life.

Q: How do you make an unhealthy recipe healthy?
A: This is a loaded question! I don’t typically do this. I find if foods are labeled as “good” and “bad,” then restriction leads to explosion and binging. I allow myself to unconditionally eat whatever I want to eat. I know that’s an unexpected answer, but when you take the power away from food, it has no control over your decisions. You will naturally nourish your body and choose those once-labeled “bad” foods less often. Food has no moral value. This may not work for everyone, but the only way I can define mental and nutritional health is through balance.

Q: What is your nighttime skin regimen?
A: I wash my face using CeraVe foaming cleanser, apply CeraVe retinol four times per week, use CeraVe vitamin C serum three times per week, and moisturize with BeneFit Total Moisture moisturizer.

Q: What hobbies do you have to help you relax?
I really love cooking. There is really nothing more relaxing to me than coming home from work and preparing a meal for myself, even if half the ingredients are from a can. I also love reading and snuggling with my kittens.

Q: What is your go-to Houston restaurant for a healthy meal?
A: Local Foods.

Q: Do you use an activity tracker or Fitbit and what is your daily step goal?
A: I do. I use this more so for fun, honestly. I try to beat my personal best on runs, etc.

Q: What is your favorite health tip that you live by?
A: Balance is the new moderation.

Additional Resources

Protein shakes, rowing workouts help Dr. Nehal Patel stay fit

Lisa Icard practices self-care, enjoys nutritious breakfasts

Read more healthy habits from members of our community.

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

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