Lately people have been asking me more targeted questions about my diet and exercise. I find these hard to answer (more on that later) but one thing that I always want to share is : Know what you’re putting in your body.
It seems like a simple concept, but it’s one that took me a really long time to grasp. I’d track my food for a week at a time or so, and then it would become too cumbersome and I would stop. It did help me realize the number of calories in certain foods that I was eating. However, as soon as I stopped, I’d overindulge and wonder why my 30 minutes of cardio at the gym was having no impact.
In November 2012, I was hospitalized for 3 days due to kidney stones. I had a lot of them, and they had finally started causing so much pain that I couldn’t manage them on my own. I have never felt so awful. The pain medication made me really sick, I was in a hospital all alone, and felt really really sorry for myself.
After a lot of tests and following up with a specialist, it was realized that I have hypercalciuria (a high concentration of calcium in my urine). There is no known cause, other than genetics. This lovely problem coupled with a few other factors has been known to cause kidney stones. (to avoid a full science lesson) calcium bonds with sodium in your system to flush it out properly, so I was told by my urologist that I needed to keep my sodium intake to around 1500 mgs a day (daily recommended value is 2,500. Most Americans eat been 5,000 and 6,000mgs daily).
Animal protein must also be kept to a minimum, and I need to drink A LOT of water. These changes, mixed with some medication, greatly reduce the risks.
I realized that I wanted to make this better and that I needed to start taking care of myself. I started tracking the sodium in my food, and I was so surprised! I had NO Idea that a grab-n-go sandwich would be 700-800 mgs of sodium by its self. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are very low. So I could eat A LOT of really wholesome foods, or just a little crappy food. In this case quality and quantity went hand in hand. I quickly started planning my meals out, cooking with little to no salt, and really educating myself on the effects it could have on the body. The more I knew about the nutritional make up of what I was putting in my body, the more aware I became of how it made me feel. I then started watching my sugar too (cause candy has very little sodium…), and found a balance that works for me. To my surprise, the weight started to come off. And quickly.
I think it goes without saying (especially if you’ve read my other posts too) but I do find it necessary to write that I do still indulge. Often times, but more than I should. But having the knowledge makes it harder to overdo it and I am aware of my choices.
So where do you go if you want to learn more about what you’re putting in your body?
My Fitness Pal is a great resource. I’d suggest tracking your food for as long as you can. I know, it can be a tedious process, but you will learn A LOT.
Nutrition labels. Just READ THEM. Not just the calorie counts, but the ingredients. And really pay attention to serving sizes. Stick to them and write them down in a food journal.
Cook yourself. It’s so much easier to know what you’re putting in your body when you are aware of each ingredient. You can make “fast” food at home, and cut sodium in half, easily.
Read. However, the internet can be a scary place. Be sure you are getting your information from a trusted source.
Restaurant websites. Educate before you dine there.
How do you pay attention to what goes in your body?
I am not a doctor. This post was based on my personal experience. Be sure to consult a physician if you have any health concerns or are thinking of changing your diet.