Upgrade your health: 5 simple steps to boost your body and spirit today


July 28, 2010
Tracey L. Chavous
Health and Wellness Writer
Healthy Living

Eat Breakfast

The most common adage heard by many is “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, but few people see the value in having breakfast.  However, breakfast eaters tend to eat fewer calories throughout the day because they are not usually starving by lunch and have a more relaxed approach to what to have for lunch as opposed to eating out of feeling ravenous. Additionally, without having some food or “fuel” in your body, you simply will not have the same levels of concentration that you would otherwise. It would be like driving a car with no gas.  Raise your health quotient by incorporating breakfast into your day with small things like low-fat plain yogurt with a handful of fresh summer berries, a boiled egg with a piece of whole grain toast, one teaspoon of peanut or other nut butter on whole grain toast and half of a banana, a fruit smoothie or a small serving of leftovers from dinner. Now more than ever, there are many varieties of recipes online and in book stores. Over time, these small steps will add big bonuses to your overall energy levels throughout the day, making you less likely to reach for the processed treats in vending machines and snack bars and transition more smoothly into a healthier lunch and dinner.  This is a guaranteed equation for positive balanced energy.

Ante Up Your Water Intake

Twenty percent of your water requirements will come from the foods you eat like fruits and vegetables. The rest of your water should come from the beverages you drink. Water is the best beverage of choice. Many other beverages contain a lot of sugar, caffeine or artificial ingredients. Water is as necessary as oxygen when it comes to the body.  Water helps to flush toxins out of the body, replenishes muscles after exercise, helps diminish hunger pangs and aids in regulation of your body temperature.  Not to mention, it helps to keep your skin looking healthy and radiant.  Each person has different needs when it comes to water intake due to weight, activity level and geographical region.  A general rule of thumb for how much it will take to keep your body’s supercomputer in top working condition is to drink half your body weight in ounces.  For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day (75oz./8 oz), which is about 9 cups per day.  During these last few hot days of summer, water should be a crucial part of your daily intake during extreme heat conditions, because it does so much for the body in terms of maintaining its delicate balance.

Sustain Yourself

Eating sustainably is essentially about buying and eating specific fruits and vegetables that are in season in your living area as opposed to eating fruits and vegetables that are out of season even though they can be purchased in markets throughout the year.  Foods that are exported from lands far away is called unsustainable, because it costs more money to get it our neighborhood stores, adds environmental toxins in the air and reduces it’s overall nutritional value. Eating local and seasonal foods contributes to less environmental toxins in the environment as well as in your body.  An additional benefit is that the farmers in your immediate living area gain tremendously from these savings.  In a nutshell, eating healthier can be as simple as seeking out more fresh and local foods from your area.

A very user friendly resource for the seasonal/local beginner is “Sustainable Table” by the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council). On their website (http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/), you can select your local city area from a drop-down menu and choose the season (specific parts of months such as “early June” or “late October”).

Having a hard time finding where to go for healthy seasonal picks?  The resources are bountiful in the metro area starting with your local farmers markets. If you’re not sure where the nearest farmers market is in your area, visit the Eat Well Guide (http://www.eatwellguide.org/).  You can go on their website, enter your zip code or city area and a list of markets will appear for your convenience with directions.  The specifics include directions for getting there by car, transit, bike or by foot.

If you’re lucky enough to find an actual fresh farm market, by all means, make it a weekly stop on your healthy “to do” list.  Unlike Framer’s Markets, Fresh Farm Markets are markets that are set up in front of or on actual farms where the food goes from farm directly to sell. It doesn’t get any more fresh and local than that!  There are many little hidden fresh farm market gems in the metro area.  Beltsville, Maryland is the home of Spicknall’s, where Willie Spicknall’s father began his farm fresh market over 50 years ago.  Willie (the owner) along with his wife and brother work proudly to provide some of the best seasonal fruits and vegetables around.  Currently, crops for sale include corn, tomatoes, watermelons, string beans, lima beans, peppers, squash, eggplant, okra, cantaloupe and occasionally, strawberries. If particular crops run out, he buys from other local farmers in Maryland or Pennsylvania.  They also carry fruits from orchards on local area farms, meaning they pick what they buy and truck it back in the same day.  However, “home grown” fruits and veggies are their specialties.


Sleep is an essential component to maintaining a healthy body and mind.  However, consistent, chronic sleep loss can contribute to serious health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure and a decrease in the immune system’s ability to keep you well.  Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours nightly even on the weekend.  Over time, the increase or the consistency of aiming for ample sleep will manifest amazing results in your overall health:  more energy to exercise, energy to cook more meals at home, a more positive attitude and better decision making.


Playing is not just for children and the young at heart.  In our fast-paced society, it’s become more and more common for adults to live without a work/life balance and find their day-to-day tasks cumbersome and boring over time. Adults are taking fewer vacations and engaging in fewer activities outside of work that bring joy and happiness into life’s equation. It is vital to your stress level and your happiness quotient that you have at least one activity that you do regularly just for fun. Hobbies and other fun activities provide a relaxing way to increase or sharpen your skills, express creativity or just blow off steam.   These activities can bring added joy and happiness to life and can be a great way to relieve stress as well. Go ahead; sign up for that art class, tennis lesson, or cooking class.  You will feel lighter, more relaxed and will be able to deal with life’s day-to-day events knowing that you not only work hard, but play hard as well.


Local Fresh Food Market in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC



12011 Old Gunpowder Road

Beltsville, MD 20705

They are open daily and have seasonal hours (9 am- 8 pm for most of the summer) and close earlier as the seasons change.  They are open through December and also sell Christmas Trees before they hibernate for the winter.

Bowie Farmers Market

15200 Annapolis Road

Bowie, MD 20715

Arlington County Farmers Market

North 14th St. & North Court House Rd.

Arlington, VA 22210

Open Air Farmers Market

Oklahoma Ave. and Benning Rd., NE

Washington, DC 20020

Tenley Town Farmers Market @ Whole Foods Market

4530 40th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20016


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DC Spotlight Health Writer

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