Getting Real

It’s easy to enjoy the creature comforts of home.  It took a visit to the doctor to shake up my comfort zone.

Smiling all day, living my best life, doesn’t mean that my body is immune from the effects of age, genetics, and lifestyle.  I was so disappointed to learn a few weeks back that my blood pressure and cholesterol are borderline high.

I was in denial…  I cook healthy foods…. minimize the sodium, artificial preservatives, and flavors and maximize the fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and beans we eat.  How could my results be so radically different than what I thought was happening?

  Hold Your Horses.

What the heck is going on?

I need to get real.

I decided to track everything I eat as well as my exercise~ not to change, not yet.  I need a baseline to understand what’s going on.  My sister referred me to a free online food and exercise diary called myfitnesspal.  I’ve been tracking for three full weeks.  I learned a few things:

  • Just because I cook every day doesn’t mean I’m immune to the perils of going out.

Neighbor Dave and I enjoy going out for dinner, weekend brunch and happy hour… and on average we probably do this a few times a week.  I was not honest with myself about the sodium, fat, and calorie content of restaurant or bar food- and in some cases this increased my calorie intake per day by 30-50% over home cooked meals.

  • Sodium appears in the most unusual places.

In my cooking approach, I typically undersalt (it’s easier to add salt than take it away).  Sodium impacts high blood pressure- I should hold my sodium to less than 1500 mg a dayThis is 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of salt total.  (Even normal diets should contain 2 to 2.5 teaspoons of salt ~ do you know how much you’re consuming?)

I’ve found salt in the strangest places… dinner rolls from Costco have 140 mg of salt each.  1/4 cup of mixed nuts have 150 mg of salt.  2 Tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano cheese has 180 mg of sodium.  One serving of roasted turkey (4 oz, or a piece the size of your palm) has 1300 mg of salt.  My favorite flavor packet for water is Emergen-c, which has 60mg of sodium.

So if I had a slider-sized turkey sandwich with a bit of cheese, served with a side of mixed nuts and a flavored water, I’ve exceeded my salt by 330 mg!  Not to mention that I’m not full after only having that much.

  • I don’t exercise as much as I can or should.

It’s easy to get into my routine of cooking and blogging and administering.  But it’s also easy to work in a walk, some yoga, or some Wii Fit into my day.

I really don’t want to take any medications for high blood pressure or cholesterol.  So I need to make some adjustments to my lifestyle to avoid them.  My doctor and I agreed to give the lifestyle approach a shot for 3 months and if I can get things to normal limits, no medicine for me!  A big motivator, I’ll say.  I’ll keep you up to date on:

  • How I’m adjusting my habits when I go out, to reduce sodium/calories/fat grams.
  • How I’m changing my cooking to reduce sodium even more (but keep great flavor).
  • How I’m integrating more activity into my life.

If you’ve changed your lifestyle to improve your health, what tools or tricks do you recommend?  I’d love to get your tips!


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