Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes on Tuesdays.
With each new year, many real estate agents add health and weight goals to their list of resolutions — but by Valentine’s Day, those goals are usually abandoned. What’s a busy, hungry agent to do?
Fortunately, while we were gathering ideas for this article, a colleague — Rick Guerrero, the director of branch sales and strategic partnerships at U.S. Mortgage Co. in suburban Atlanta — reached out to share his experience losing 37 pounds in two months simply to drop back into a more realistic weight class at an upcoming jujitsu tournament.
While the top trends in dietary regimens include the Mediterranean, DASH, Flexitarian, Mind and Weight Watchers programs/lifestyles, Rick’s was more of a short-term, goal-oriented, Inflexitarian diet based on the Paleo eating plan.
Briefly, every Sunday, he poached enough chicken breasts, baked enough sweet potatoes and par-boiled enough broccoli to last the week, and he ate that meal twice a day. Cold. He supplemented the unvarying portion of the diet with powdered protein and/or amino-acid (usually citrus flavored) “shakes” dissolved in the gallon of water he drank every day. And he worked out at the gym twice daily (early and late).
Few of us have that kind of will power (or jujitsu-enhanced fear), to tackle such a rigorous diet. But Rick’s job is just as “you never know what will happen but it will always be last minute” as any real estate agent’s. So, his experience can benefit us. For example, when he just couldn’t take the routine anymore, he “cheated” by digging into his wife’s homemade hummus using cucumber slices and carrot sticks.
As it happens, that snack would fit into any of the most trendy dietary strategies people of all walks of life are following now, including busy real estate agents and mortgage brokers!
We’re assuming you already have a food processor or blender to make shakes, smoothies, hummus and other goodies-to-go. If not, invest. You may need to add a couple of pieces of equipment at home or work — a dual voltage mini-fridge that works in your office and your car and an air fryer because — let’s be real — everybody just has to have something crunchy every now and then. And sometimes another bag of pretzels simply won’t do the trick. But sweet potato fries, yum!
Here are some tips for following four effective diets while working a busy real estate schedule:
1. The Mediterranean diet
This is probably the easiest one to follow for most people, especially if you’re trying to eat healthier. It emphasizes a heavy use of beans and green vegetables, substitutes olive oil for butter and other fats, and relies on such proteins — in addition to that found in beans — as fish, eggs, cheese and, occasionally, poultry, with accents of fruits and grains.
Sorry if you thought the Mediterranean diet meant living on pizza! Tomatoes, small amounts of whole grain — even gluten free — pasta and just enough cheese to pass as a condiment are fine. But so are handfuls of grapes, baked stuffed artichokes and salads with spinach, tomato (or dried fig) and chopped egg kissed with a vinegar and olive oil-based dressing and a sprinkling of toasted nuts on top.
For snacks, stick a bowl of lemon-herb Mediterranean pasta salad in your mini-fridge. If you want a true snack food, try roasting chickpeas or preparing a chickpea salad for variety.
2. The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet
This is an eating plan developed by the Mayo Clinic to help people with high blood pressure. It emphasizes foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — nutrients that help lower blood pressure.
You’ll be eating lots of vegetables, modest amounts of fruits, low-fat dairy like yogurt and “milks” (such as those made from soy, coconut and almonds), grains, low-sodium vegetable juices (fruit juices contain too much sugar), nuts and other low sugar/low salt options. Like the Mediterranean diet, fish, plant-based proteins including beans, the occasional serving of poultry, eggs (the medical community now agrees, eggs do not affect cholesterol!) and low-salt cheeses (like some Fetas and Emmentalers) are the preferred proteins.
So, snacks like small bags of raw almonds or walnuts or Rick’s “cheat” snack hummus (sans salt — and no garlic if you’re meeting clients — but with as much heat as you like) with air-fried pita chips (or cucumber slices) would fit right into the DASH diet. Portion control is emphasized in this diet, so we’re not talking vats of hummus. Just portion out a reasonable amount and quit when you finish that. Hummus is easy to make yourself, plus you can tailor it to your own preferences.
3. The Flexitarian Diet
This is the dietary plan for people who wish they could be vegetarians but just can’t quite get there. The healthiest version of the Flexitarian Diet would most closely resemble the Mediterranean diet or the DASH program (especially if you have blood pressure issues). The other way to go about this is to follow a vegetarian regimen on specific days and a Mediterranean diet approach on others.
So, snacks on non-meat days could be something as simple as almond butter on whole grain bread or bagels (no jam, though if you’re trying to lose weight) or, alternately, almond butter on apple slices. On meat/animal protein days, perhaps a few cubes of cheese and a handful of grapes would get you through the mid-day slump.
4. The MIND diet
Here we have another combo diet, which borrows heavily from both the Mediterranean and DASH diets. But the MIND diet aims to preserve brain function, particularly in older adults (although you can never start too soon when you’re in a business that causes you to lose your mind as much as real estate does!).
In case you were wondering, MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND plan suggests you get lots of 10 food groups and limit 5.
The 10 “good” foods that should appear frequently in your meal plans include lots of green leafy vegetables, other (mostly non-starchy) vegetables, berries of all kinds, nuts (a variety is probably best), olive oil to cook with and use in salad dressings/dipping sauces for bread, whole grains (so no fair dipping French bread in olive oil!), fish (preferably one rich in Omega-3 fatty acids), beans (including lentils), poultry and wine.
Yes, wine! Aim for no more than one glass daily of either red or white. Having it with dinner ends a long day on a nice note.
Foods to limit are butter/margarine, cheese, red meat, fried foods (see the dry fryer is a must have!) and pastries and other sweets. These foods all contain saturated and trans-fats — the “bad guys” of the dietary world. So, most fast-food joints are off the list. But if you must make a stop for a late lunch, find an In-and-Out and order a turkey burger with tomato wrapped in lettuce — no mayo!
Homemade Snacks — Nuts are a natural in raw or butter form. Or take the components for a Nicoise salad and have them individually as snacks or all together for lunch, preparing a separate container of olive oil and vinegar dressing. (If you’re eating tuna and plan to see clients, pack the breath mints!)
Finally, on most of these eating plans, some variation of the California green smoothie will work. Here’s one recipe. But feel free to tinker.
- 2 C. almond milk
- 2 lg. handfuls spinach leaves
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 1 avocado
- 3 dried plums (or substitute an equal amount of berries)
- Rough chop all the fruits
- Place all the ingredients in a blender
- Blend until smooth
- Pour in a glass filled with ice
And here’s to a healthier, happier, more successful and confident us in 2019! (And go, Mike!)
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.