Healthy Habits: Dr. Sara Andrabi enjoys Zumba, doing puzzles

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. Sara Andrabi, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the assistant medical director at Ben Taub Hospital Emergency Center, shares some of her healthy habits with us.

A question for Dr. Sara Andrabi: What is your favorite healthful snack? Answer: I love yogurt. I like to eat plain Greek yogurt with raspberries and strawberries.

Q: What health decisions start your day?
A: Mornings can be hectic in a family of five. I try to minimize my morning stressors by shifting tasks to the night before, like packing the kids’ lunches, getting clothes out for the next morning, tidying up the house. I feel like it helps me sleep better knowing that I’m not constantly worrying about the long list of things I have to do in the morning.

Q: What is your go-to healthy breakfast?
A: I usually don’t get very hungry in the mornings and eat breakfast on the go. My easy go-to healthy breakfast is a fruit smoothie. We try to keep all sorts of berries and other fresh fruit in the house. I blend that with some Greek yogurt, milk and whatever greens I have in the fridge. Another hack I use is when I’m behind on groceries and don’t have any fresh fruit, I tend to keep a couple of packets of frozen berries and pineapples in my freezer that I can use as a backup.

Q: What is your favorite type of exercise?
A: I love doing Zumba and kickboxing. In general, group exercise classes tend to motivate me to continue even when I’m getting tired. It’s a great way to meet people as well. When COVID happened, we started playing dance games on the Nintendo Switch with my kids as an easy, fun way to keep active when unable to go the gym.

Q: What keeps you motivated during your workout?
A: Watching others around me working hard definitely keeps me motivated. This is why I enjoy group exercise classes so much.

Q: What activities do you do when you can’t fit in a full workout?
A: During the pandemic, we got an elliptical machine for the house. So, if I can’t fit in a full workout, I try to do just a little bit of cardio on the elliptical after I put the kids to sleep.

Q: What have you been doing to stay healthy during COVID-19? Do you have any advice for coping with the pandemic?
A: For physician parents, this pandemic has put them in a position where they are caring for patients and families at home during the COVID crisis. My husband and I sat down with our kids to discuss what was going on. You have to meet kids where they are at and our approach to each child was very different. For my oldest, that meant answering questions about what a virus is, why is this virus different than others, and him repeatedly asking (to this day), why he is not able to just stomp on COVID-19 to make it go away? My middle child was more worried about safety. He has always been concerned about everyone’s health and worries about whether any of us could get sick because of this pandemic. For my youngest, the hardest part has been not being able to hug her when I get home. I have a strict process when I get home to go straight to the shower before I hug or interact with any of my family. My older two get this and it has become their new normal now. For my youngest, she still cries every time I come in and am not able to hug her right away, but they were excited when they found out they were eligible for the vaccine.

Q: What is your favorite healthful snack?
A: I love yogurt. I like to eat plain Greek yogurt with raspberries and strawberries.

Q: What do you include in your child’s lunch?
A: I’ve learned that every kid is different. My middle one likes to be surprised and has taken everything from spring rolls to chicken, veggies and rice to turkey sandwiches in his lunch. My oldest likes consistency and takes the same thing for lunch every day. My kids love juice, lemonade and all sugary drinks. So I’ll usually buy smaller cartons of juice drinks and give them one of those and a large bottle of water.

Q: How do you make an unhealthy recipe healthy?
A: I love chips. It’s my go-to munching item when I’m at my desk or watching TV with my family. To make this indulgence a bit healthier, I’ve started making kale chips. They are super easy to make. I just toss ribs of kale into olive oil and salt and bake in the oven until they are crisp.

Q: What hobbies do you have to help you relax?
We get the Sunday paper mailed to us every week. When I’m not working on Sundays, I like to do the KenKen puzzle in the Sunday paper. I also like to cook and try new recipes.

Q: What is your go-to Houston restaurant for a healthy meal?
A: My healthy go-to meal is usually a salad. I love the taste of fresh veggies. Local Foods is one of my favorites for a good salad. Their harvest salad is my favorite. Bellagreen has multiple salad options that are all great. Two of my favorites are the blackened shrimp and goat cheese salad. If you’re looking to end your healthy meal with something sweet, their white chocolate bread pudding is delicious.

Q:  What is your favorite health tip that you live by?
A: I would say giving ourselves grace. In the past 1-2 years, we’ve all especially struggled to find balance with loved ones, work and expectations of ourselves. We do the best we can.  I think we can all agree some days are harder than others and some days are easier and that is okay.

Additional Resources:

Healthy Habits: A DOC-umentary Series – Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy

Healthy Habits: A DOC-umentary Series – Dr. Jill Weatherhead

Courtney Cary enjoys weightlifting, practices intuitive eating to stay balanced

Learn how Baylor promotes a culture of healthy living and wellness

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