Good Habit of the Week

October 10, 2008 Updated: October 17, 2008

Living well in this fast-paced and automated society can be quite challenging. The very things created to simplify our lives may contribute to the rise in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

For many the effort required to lose weight or dramatically improve one’s wellness requires major changes in one’s lifestyle, diet, homecare, exercise, and mindset. Facing the prospect of having to incorporate so many changes can be daunting. However, if you break up your health makeover into small steps over the course of an extended period of time, you may find yourself in a better place very quickly.

To do this, make simple weekly changes in your regular habits. Take a series of baby steps toward your wellness goal.

This week, let us start with our first meal of the day: breakfast. If you are not starting your day with breakfast, please do so. Among the conflicting views on what is and isn’t good for us, eating breakfast is one that is consistently recommended. Nutritionists and food experts all agree that a highly processed and sugar-laden breakfast is not the best choice. Before reaching for a bowl of sugar-laden cereal or a donut, plan on starting the day with a whole grain such as old-fashioned oats (quick cooking oats are less healthy because of their higher glycemic index [a measure of how rapidly sugar is absorbed]) or a cold cereal that is low in sugar and high in whole grains.


Prepare old-fashioned oatmeal with berries or sliced pear, cinnamon, and roasted pumpkin seeds. Adding some oat, almond or soymilk will add a bit more sweetness and creaminess to the cereal. Another way to sweeten it if you find it necessary is brown rice syrup, maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar. If you want a sweetener without the added calories or artificial chemicals, try xylitol, which is a sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables.

Editor's note: Most xylitol sold in the United States is manufactured from corn and comes from China. One brand, Smart Sweet, is manufactured from organic hardwood in the United States and is GMO free.

Tysan Lerner is a certified personal trainer, Pilates teacher, and yoga instructor. She can be reached at