Sodium, Sodium Everywhere and Not a Bite to Eat

Question: which do you think has less sodium, a medium order of McDonald’s French Fries or a small salad?

Answer: It depends. Are you going to put dressing on that salad? If so, the fries win. In fact, the fries win even if you go up to large size and small fries can win if you are looking at overall fats, too!

Surprised? Don’t be. Since discovering that I had a heart attack sometime in the past, I’ve been working harder than ever to get my diet in line. I was already doing pretty good in keeping my fats low and started cooking for myself and am getting a little more “Mediterranean” in my eating and food choices each week (more fish, more veggies, less sugar). So, I thought it was time to take the next step and reduce my sodium intake.

Ha!

I now understand the trials and tribulations of people with high blood pressure. Sodium is in everything that is even slightly processed. Fast food, sit down restaurants, frozen food, soups, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables (but not always), baked goods, lunch meat, you name it and I bet it’s got more sodium than you would think.

Fat free means “added salt.” Pizzas should be called sodium pies. Surprisingly, things that taste salty, like potato chips, may have less sodium than a small can of spring peas.

According to the American Heart Association we should be eating no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, 1,500 if you have high blood pressure. But, the average American consumes more than 3,400 mg each day (more at the AHA website)! And I know from MyFitnessPal that I’m somewhere north of that figure on any given day. How much is 2,300 mg of sodium? About 1 teaspoon of salt per day.

Now in my case, I do not have high blood pressure and my heart attack does not appear to have been caused due to any dietary issues (arteries, with the exception of the one where the damage occurred are clear and “beautiful” according to my cardiologist). It’s likely, in fact, that the heart attack occurred due to my Crohn’s. And, I could choose to side with some of the research out there which suggests that if you don’t have high blood pressure sodium intake isn’t really an issue. However, with one big strike against me, I don’t think I should risk a second. So, I’m going to keep doing my best to get my diet in line and that means lowering my sodium intake.

Now should we talk about the amount of potassium in salt substitutes and the effect that has on someone taking ACE inhibitors?

The struggle continues.

Onward!

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Fitness Quest: Mental Prep, Attitude, and Success

A friend of mine is a runner. Not a casual jogger but a real honest to goodness “why walk when you can run” distance runner. If there’s a race, he’s done it. Five Kilometers, 10K, 15K, half-marathon, full-marathon – you name it. But, though he’s put more miles on his shoes than most of us put on our cars, he told me that occasionally he gets negative comments while running. Here he is, working each day to better himself, and some loudmouth feels that it’s his right to pull up beside him and, for want of a better term, taunt him. Things like “run, fat boy” or worse and though he doesn’t have the typical marathoners build, he isn’t fat.

But, instead of letting himself get down over these comments though he keeps running, improving his times, his health, and his outlook on life. This is why he inspires me and kept me going through some of my own struggles (especially the running kind).

His experience though got me to thinking about all the comments I’ve heard or have been made to me about my working out and/or about my physique. These fall into two categories, positive and negative. Here are those I can recall:

Positive: 

  • I can’t lift that much weight (former workout partner after I completed my set)!
  • Your arms are bigger than his (comparing me to someone I thought was bigger).
  • How did you move that?
  • Your inspiring.
  • How do I get calves like yours?
  • You underestimate the size of your triceps.
  • Wow, you’re hard (mind out of the gutter – this was after she touched my forearm)!
  • Looks sort of like the Mississippi and it’s tributaries (comment from a technician about to draw blood from my arm).
  • You’ve been working out.  Your arms just blew up like…(makes a hand motion to indicate the size of a basketball).
  • He’s definitely getting bigger (a guy talking to my “trainer” about the workout I was using).
  • You motivate me to keep working out.

Negative: 

  • You’re fat.
  • You don’t have muscle tone.
  • Are you doing this to yourself (when my Crohn’s was at it’s worst and I weighed about 135 pounds)?

Now, notice that the positive comments I recall from over the years far outnumber the negative.

But guess which ones I focus on more? Right, the negative.

I think, unfortunately, it is in our nature to focus on the negative things that people say about us because deep down we want everyone to like us. So any negative thing is magnified. Sometimes to the point of wearing us down and causing us to stop looking at all the good things we’ve done and, frankly, just give up.

How much further in our fitness goals – or any goals for that matter – would we all be if we just focused on our progress, looked back at how far we’ve come, and kept going?

Try focusing on the positive things someone says about you for a day and see how you feel. Then try two days, then three, etc.

The world is full of jerks waiting to tear us down. Be determined to be someone who builds themselves and others up.

Onward!

 

 

 

Thoughts on Race Relations in America Today

A few weeks ago I had an experience that in light of recent events in Charlottesville I feel is worth sharing.

In late July I traveled to Florida and was checking in to my hotel. A very nice “high end” hotel by all standards which caters to what would be considered the upscale traveler and conferences.  As I stood in line waiting for my turn to check in I noticed something odd. With the exception of a couple hotel clerks, I was the only white person in the lobby and one of the few men. Everyone else appeared to be African American and for the most part were women.  I looked around and chuckled to myself and even thought, “so this is what it’s like to be a minority.” I figured a group of some sort was checking in and didn’t think much else of it.

I was early for my meeting so I decided to go across the street to a Subway for lunch. Upon arriving I noticed a long line there so I looked walked along the strip mall to see what other options I might have. Again, I noticed something was “off.” On the sidewalk were small groups of people of color here and there, many who were teens. Each restaurant I looked into was filled with more people who’s skin was darker than mine. Even the grocery store’s deli/sandwich line was made predominantly of so-called “minorities.”

I finally settled on the Subway and waited in line as the only white man in a sea of color – and one of the oldest people in the restaurant to boot.

I finally noticed that all the teens and most of the adults had t-shirts with religious slogans (Christian) and also realized there were several vans and buses in the parking lot with the names of area African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches. The hotel I was staying at was hosting a large AME conference. Mystery solved. I finished my lunch and continued on with my day.

Why do I think this experience is significant now? Well, remember my earlier statement that I thought this is what it must be like to be a minority? Well, that thought was completely and utterly wrong. In fact, just being outnumbered by people with a different skin color barely even scrapes the surface of what I imagine is the experience of African Americans and others in this country.

Why? Because at no time did I feel unsafe or threatened. I was always treated with respect and courtesy by those I met (holding doors, etc.) and returned the same. In fact, I even felt a kinship with all these people when I discovered that they were from the AME church since I am a United Methodist and both denominations share the same Wesleyan roots. No security guard gave me a second look, no woman clutched her purse closer because I passed by, no one paid much attention to me at all in fact – except to take an order, hold a door or perhaps smile at me as they passed.

So when someone speaks about “white privilege” it’s worth remembering that many of us experience this privilege every day – even if we (white guys) didn’t get the job we thought we should have gotten or the spot on the team or any other transgression or slight or injustice we feel has befallen us.

Privilege isn’t always about the big things, but sometimes the small things that everyone should be entitled to regardless of skin color or religion.

My two cents.