” If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” ~ Eubie Blake
Comical, yet often so true!
In our country, the number one New years resolution is to loose weight and get fit. Why is it at the top of the list every year? Because we keep trying to find something that works. Its a battle, constant search, and at times, a hit and miss for us to achieve a balanced, healthy life. Taking care of our body, eating for nutrition, not comfort or a tiny waistline, (or a balance of all 3,) making the time and having the motivation to be active and physically fit, as well as making wise choices to handle our stress and hardships, staying healthy both emotionally and mentally, is not an easy task! Some of us already have predispositions to illness because of our genetic makeup… others seem to skate through life without any serious health issues whatsoever… So what is the solution?
I believe there is more than one solution… Because of the way we are each individually made up, we have to find what truly works for us. In our 20th century, I think we all understand that a diet alone doesn’t work long term. We need to choose a lifestyle of eating nutritionally and make it realistic, but what works for one , may not work for another.
I have always witnessed within myself, as well as the people I know, that there are two important parts that come into play in our struggle. Our emotional side and the “logical,” ‘do the right thing’ for your body side. An example… Kit and I joined a gym and chose Bill Phillips “Body for life ” program. It was magical and worked very well with our life style. We were more than pleased with its promise of changing our bodies along with the benefit of learning how to cook and eat nutritious meals in just 12 weeks. (The only downside was you had to belong and work out at a gym 6 days a week,’ which at times, may not be affordable.) (BUT IT WAS LOGICAL, DOABLE AND SUCCESSFUL.) We were finally convinced we had it all down as we had completed the 11th week. .
THEN… one late afternoon as we arrived home from the gym, (after enjoying our pampering saunas and delightful jacuzzi,) our neighbor and friend, greeted us as we drove up. He had a very conspicuous look on his face, (after he spoke the words he did, I understood why.) “Kit and Susan, we just bought your home and you have 30 days to be moved out as we need to move my other in-law in.” In my unbelief, I replied; “Can you say that again? ) 🙂 I loved my little quaint, historical home with its wraparound porch. It was October and I was so excited to bring out my fall decor to begin festooning our verandah for the neighborhood kids, instead I would be packing boxes… We had no idea of where we would go… After hearing this news, the first thing Kit and I did was go to the nearest popular hamburger joint, where we ordered their biggest, double-Decker cheese burgers, large fries, onion rings and chocolate milkshakes. Needless to say, We both needed some emotional comfort...thus in October, as I packed up our home, I rarely went to the gym, did not stay on the diet and kept telling myself, “One day, we will go back on it.” (We moved, did not have a gym assessable to us at the time and we didn’t.)
We all go through the cycles of gaining weight, dieting to lose, exercising and then our motivation fades, (due to work, stress or life’s happenings,) and we gain it back… Its not to say that many of the diets and programs on the market are not great, but we had never found one that could truly fit “our realistic way of life.” Its hard to find a diet that also promotes excellent health and is workable with busy schedules.
Both Kit and I were very blessed in the fact that neither of us had ever suffered any serious health problems through our life and always had the gift of good health. (I did not say our weights were ideal all the time, nor were we always fit, participating in healthy routines.) 🙂 We kept trying new programs…Low carb-high protein, The Scarsdale diet, (kit was loosing his comedic and cheerful personality over that one,) 🙂 The Low sugar diet etc…you know the story…they all came with hope and left with disappointing, non-lasting results...None of them truly changing our lifestyle, just quick fixes to lose the unwanted pounds.
Our answer was right around the corner and we didn’t even know it… It would not come to us in an easy manner…
The age I was avoiding arrived…we both turned 50. We had just entered the decade that everyone, (who has lived through it,) proudly carries a very strong opinion about its accolade or hardships, and we heard them all, (whether we wanted to or not.) 🙂
Oprah Winfrey said; “Its the best decade of your life.” My older sister told us, “Just wait, that’s when you body begins to fall apart.” Other peoples words of wisdom, “Fifty is when you have finally learned to accept yourself as you are and you are happier than you’ve ever been.” “Turning 50 brings so many advantages…you get discounts on everything!” I chose to believe Oprah.
OK…we were ready to take on this new decade with new commitments to get back on the wagon of good health, achieve our ideal weight, start a work out regime that we could do daily, (and would do daily,) thus, we signed up for another year at the gym. I forget which DIET I chose. (I was back to the mindset of ” attaining my ideal weight” more than eating the most nutritious foods for my body.)
One thing that we often do not calculate into our “quests ” for good physical, emotional and mental health, is the surprise of the unexpected… For some reason we think that each year will be as the one before, and we will only have to conquer the hurdles we have already faced, thus we can start our health programs over and over if we so desire. Well, that bubble burst for me when I began to experience an abundance of loss within my world.
You know the people in your life that you love the most…the ones you, (through your rose colored glasses,) believe will be there forever? Every dream you have, every plan your making and looking forward to…their face is right there? Its not even a second thought,of course they will be with you next Christmas as you get together to celebrate the season. They’ll be there to call and have a three hour conversation about things that don’t matter, (you just enjoy one anothers voice, sharing your lives and laughing together). The storms of life come and go all throughout our lives…some squalls are more difficult than others and we all weather them differently. Suddenly, without warning, in a split second we began having tempest after tempest hit our lives… Kit and I lost 4 eminently significant people, one right after the other…The first two were not family members, yet were definitely part of our family. (You know the kind of friends who love you no matter what, through the good bad and the ugly, know all your secrets and fears and you trust with all your heart?) They were two friends we believed would always be there and we’d grow old together. We couldn’t imagine our lives without them. We were in disbelief, felt a deep void, great loss as well as an abundance of grief. We had our faith in God, one another and Graham, good friends who prayed and were there to talk to and we came to the place we’re we accepted the loss and our hearts were healing.
Our souls still tender, we got the news that my beloved, very close, older brother Jim, died suddenly.He was only 52 years old. He was more than my “big brother,” he was a best friend, confidant and my guardian angel since we were first introduced as babies. I was in complete and utter shock. Two months later, my father died. First I was numb, (it was all to surreal,) then as I began to feel the emotions that loss brings, my heart became overwhelmed with a darkness and pain I had never known. Never had I experienced losing someone I had been closely bonded to my entire life, without some kind of warning or preparation. Jim’s death was the greatest tragedy I have ever experienced in my life, thus it was a much deeper grief. It goes without saying that Loosing your dad is also one of life’s hardest knocks. There is no one in your life like your mom and dad and never will be. I lost two great men so close together and life as I knew it was over. (God was so good to me by giving me such a strong husband who loved me with all his heart.)
There are no words to express what real depression is…only those of you who have suffered it understand, as I know I didn’t even have a clue of its agony, until this time in my life.
Nutrition, (when I could eat,) meant whatever looked or tasted comforting…(trying so hard to ease that horrible emotional pain that never dies…) Working out? Not going to happen… Hydrating? Never even crossed my mind. I didn’t care what I weighed, looked like and had no motivation to continue pursuing good health.I was just surviving daily. My most cherished gift, my faith in God was hanging on by a thread. I already knew I had temporarily lost my “great emotional and mental health,” and at times, scared to death it may never comeback.
Thus my journey and quest for good overall health took a back seat. (And I mean a seat way in the back of the bus.)
In time, through God’s grace, much prayer from others who loved me and the great care of my husband, I did begin to slowly heal from this horrendous, emotionally bankrupt time of my life. I was surprised at the joy I was once again feeling within my heart. I felt Gods presence and hope… I was in no way back to normal, but saw the light at the end of this tenebrous tunnel. It was at this time, that I began to experience some exceedingly alerting, scary and unavoidable physical symptoms within my body. (It had done a great job for 50 years fighting for me at every turn, but now, it was getting tired, especially after its last battle!) You know the song by Joni Mitchell , “Aint it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till its gone?” Well, lets just say, it was about to become my new theme song.
Before I tell you what happened next, I want to share some wonderful and encouraging thoughts from renowned people on the subject of discovering and attaining great overall health. (It truly is a balance of many components.)
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” ~ Carol Welch
“If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” ~ Julius Erving
“The body of man is a machine which winds its own springs.” ~J. O. De La Mettrie
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ La Rochefoucauld
“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.” ~Joey Adams (I had to add a funny one.) 🙂
“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~ Unknown Author
“What I dream of is an art of balance.” ~ Henri Matisse
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~Virginia Woolf
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” ~Brillat-Savarin
The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ” ~ Thomas A Edison
One should eat to live, not live to eat.” ~Benjamin Franklin (We’ve all heard this one…easy said, hard to do at times as some foods are just to tempting and enjoyable.)
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~ Rashaski
OK, BACK TO THE JOURNEY…
Daunted by what I was feeling and seeing in my body, I didn’t know who to turn for medical help. I kept wishing the symptoms would disappear… I prayed for a miracle, hoping God would make it all go away. (He had healed me before, (without a doctors help,) from an ulcer, my gallbladder and an anxiety disorder.) That was my hope as I had no faith in doctors. I had always believed going to see a physician was like taking your vehicle into a new mechanic…when you take your car in for one problem, they tell you of five more, (on top of the one you came in with.) Not only are your discouraged but they send you home with a bill that will take you months to pay off . Not every mechanic… but you know what I am talking about. 🙂
Well, my symptoms became more serious and I found myself not at a doctors office but in the ER room at the hospital. Scared was not even a word I can use to describe how I felt…maybe terrified, in complete denial and partially numb. My diagnosis was not good. This alone took presidence over any depressed emotions still trying to hold on. After a series of tests, I was referred to a specialist who visited me during my hospital stay. He was willing and hopeful to begin treating me.I felt blessed. Upon being released from the hospital, I also found a wonderful Family Doctor that helped me tremendously as I began on my journey to heal my body.
My next stop was to go and see my new specialist that I had met in the hospital. His expertise was one I couldn’t spell let alone pronounce. 🙂
There I was, along side my husband, sitting in “my new doctors” office, facing my newly acquired illness with my digestive system. In order to heal, it was not a choice… it was as they say “his way or the highway.” 🙂 Amongst beginning a rather large medley of supplements and vitamins he said I had to change my entire diet. I will never forget his words… “Susan, you will never eat another McDonald’s french fry or dill pickles again…go home and throw out all of your salad dressings as you are going to have to live on a low sodium diet.” Being the “salty” person I was, this was not a good day… I mean really? No McDonald’s french fries…ever? (He was taking away my comfort food.) (But given the alternative, I was just thankful for a new plan of hope ( and I thanked the Lord he did not take my Tabasco away.) I am sure if I had asked him about it, he would have! 🙂
Kit was so sweet, supportive and joined in this new way of life with me… our entire household did. Yes our new Low sodium diet for life would be 1000 MG of sodium a day. We nicked named it LSD, (but not after the mind altering drug,) though to be honest with you, after I heard my diagnosis and knew all that I had to give up, I could have used a mind transforming pill at that moment.) 🙂 In my mind it seemed impossible as I began reading and researching on line. All the delicious, foods of solace, we had been eating all of our lives, (Our favorite beef stroganoff, Alfredo chicken pasta, pretzels, popcorn, my mom’s legendary chocolate cake, Pizza, Our Friday night take out ‘General Taos chicken,’ ( and of course all fast food) all had to go. Everything had added salt and loads of sodium. What could I eat? Drink? As I began getting savvy on all the foods that were low in salt and started creating our menus, ( joyfully assured I could continue in my passion of cooking,) I was amazed at all the low sodium recipes available. After a few weeks, we were actually having fun...it was no longer about what we couldn’t have, but all that we could have. We discovered so much flavor, that salt truly didn’t matter anymore. Little did I know this was a blessing in disguise. With each monthly visit to both my doctor and specialist, having blood work and tests done, I was literally watching my body heal. I had a new hope for life. I was taken aback at “the fight that arose within” to get healthy as I felt I was being given a second chance. The peace I had always known came back and I was the first one surprised at the acceptance I embodied with my losses.My faith once again, began to flourish. I really felt God had answered my prayer through this gauntlet and unexpected hardship. (NO, this time He did not step in and heal me by taking my symptoms away…it was a healing to be walked out and He wanted me to get educated on my digestive system, (something I had never done before.)
This last October, my one year anniversary, (I remember the time and date as it was Halloween,) my specialist called to share that my last set of extensive tests were triumphant. He told me me that every organ in my body was functioning 100 % and every adversarial image they had seen on my prior cat scans were now gone. I cried tears of joy and could not stop thanking God. Thanks to God’s amazing grace and healing, my husband, many friends and family’s prayers, a fabulous family doctor, (Yes, I trust doctors now,) 🙂 and an extraordinary gastroenterologist, (who I perhaps did not appreciate our first encounter, but sure do now, ) 🙂 along with the magnificent way our bodies are created to keep fighting, I am now healthy, singing an entirely new tune. I am glad I chose to believe Oprah as I really am experiencing the best decade of my life.
I would have never dreamed that my body would have to battle so hard, because of the ways in which I had neglected it. All it ever wanted, was good nutrition, activity, nourishment and some TLC. 🙂 It didn’t care if it was slender, just healthy. You know the saying, “Better late than never?” I thank God that it was not to to late, and that in going through the storm(s), both physically and emotionally, that my body decided to fight one more time. Its now thanking me for all this attention, nutrition and has rewarded me once again with peace, energy, health, ( and yes, the icing on the cake is my ideal weight is back.) Kit also loves our new way of life, (we don’t think of it as a diet.) I am so grateful for the education I received as I truly did not know a healthy way of life that would really work for me, (bringing excellent OVERALL health, ( thus so many times, I returned to the quick fixes I had used before...that instant gratification syndrome.) 🙂 The tempest was now over…(yes, it all lasted a lot longer than I would have chosen,) but the bestowals it left me with, I would not trade for anything in this world.
In a nutshell, this is what I learned about salt/ sodium and the body.
50 to 75% of the human body is water. The percentage of your body weight , (contributed from excess water) depends on the fatty tissue you have…the fatty tissues will hold water because of the excess salt in the body. (My doctor said if you remember one thing, remember “SALT LOVES WATER.”) Its not the table salt we have to be careful of. (We never used table salt,) its the salt in prepared and processed food. I leaned to read all labels, discard canned and processed foods, and cook with fresh ingredients. Too much sodium in your body will increase the bodies risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease and a fatty liver, thus causing liver disease. It also increases your blood pressure which can cause hypertension.Who knew? We sure didn’t. As I began my research and got educated about my digestive system, it changed everything. I’m very careful of what I put into my body, I began hydrating, taking vitamins, and truly treating my body totally different. I understand that being physically fit is important…not for weight, but for your bodies organs, muscle tone and strength..We also chose to do this for our ‘future health.’ You’ve heard the saying; “Use it or loose it?” I never really gave that much thought until this last year…Now its become a much treasured truth!
Along side this way of eating and living, we both do some form of exercise, (though I dislike that word,) that is enjoyable and not a task. Kit loves people, competition and working out with his gym buddies, thus he goes to the gym daily. I have a passion for R&B music and dancing…I chose aerobic dancing for my workout. We are moving our bodies, not for a desired number on our scale, but for our hearts, lungs, organs and muscle strength. (But I will tell you, with this new way of eating and living, one of the byproducts is attaining as well as maintaining your ideal weight.) We also take multivitamins and needed supplements, (many of them natural) as we climb this ladder of a healthy life, as well as hydrate. (Two more wonderful truths we learned in our ‘education’ with LSD.) 🙂
WHAT DO WE EAT?
Scrumptious, fresh grilled salmon, shrimp and chicken Kabobs, grilled turkey burgers, grilled chicken nachos, homemade spaghetti with low sodium turkey sausage, (that tastes just as delicious as real Italian sausage,) curried pork loin roast with potatoes and carrots, chicken parmigiana over pasta, a Porterhouse steak every once in a while, even prime rib for Christmas. We drink delicious juices, (kit has his cappuccinos and lattes,) I drink decaf coffee , teas, sparkling waters and homemade ciders.Our snacks? Low sodium cheeses with fresh apples, (Mozzarella and Swiss,) an abundance of fresh vegetables or low sodium tortilla chips with homemade Pico de Gallo and LS dips. We found a new love for every kind of fruit you can think of.(A green apple has no sodium whatsoever.) We really do eat whatever we want , and our taste buds have changed so much that we don’t enjoy salt like we once did.
Our menus are incredible, and we never feel deprived.
***( All Food Photos~ Google Image.)
And there is always Morton’s salt substitute if you want to add a little salty flavor now and then. (I will warn you, it doesn’t taste as good as’ real salt’ on things like corn on the cob, scrambled eggs or popcorn, but its there if you need it. It contains 0 sodium.)
Because I know that I will always have some times in my life that I will be tempted to eat for comfort , (our emotional eating syndromes,) 🙂 I do have my backup “treats” in my new way of eating. 🙂 (All of these are very low in sodium per serving.) (All things in moderation, right?)
AND as far as go, sure, I could have some (in my allotted amount of daily sodium,) and just eat apples the rest of the day, 🙂 , (not healthy I know,) but the good thing is, I don’t want to, nor do I miss them one bit!
One more “added benefit” of this way of life…Kit went in for his yearly physical and for the first time, his blood pressure was perfect. It blew his doctor away…(him too.)
If this writing has inspired you and you are looking for a healthy change, give this Low sodium way of life a try…begin to read your labels and talk to your doctor of what your allotted sodium count a day should be. I know I am sticking with 1000 MG of sodium a day for life, as it works so well for me. Kit allows himself about 1,500. Start investigating your food’s sodium count, If it works for you, then it will be an added blessing for this new year. Treat yourself to a new Low Sodium cookbook and look online under ‘Low Sodium recipes,’ for great new meals. Don’t be hard on yourself as you begin…Pick some form of “movement” for your body that you really enjoy, and Hydrate. I think you will find you feel more energized, aren’t struggling with the scale any longer and are attaining your quest for healthy living.
My “Before LSD,” ( stormy days) and After! (With our “heart wrapped in fur,” Grantham.) 🙂
I will put a few of our NEW favorite recipes up on my blog from time to time… The ones we have over and over as they are real “keepers,” as well as the recipes I grew up on as I know not everyone chooses LSD as their way of life. Some of our favorite dishes, we still enjoy, I just take out the salt. and alter the recipe a bit.Believe me, this discovery offers many delicious foods and scrumptious cuisine. 🙂
I truly wish you all the very best on whatever health journey you are on!
PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will show you where the picture originated from.