Ixnay on the N a

Holiday Time.
Being around extended family for a longer-than-normal amount of time.
Black Friday.
Excess of food left out at any given moment.
The bad kinds of food left out at any given moment.
Last minute work projects before holiday time.

Any and all of these things can spike up blood pressure. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time…..” -maybe. Sometimes.

Blood pressure is a sensitive subject in my household. My dear hubby of 19 years suffers from high blood pressure. A lot of debate exists when talking about whether genetics play a bigger role or if lifestyle and how you handle stress play a bigger role. Some recent findings say lifestyle plays a bigger role. I wanted to study up and see if there was anything I could do to help lower his blood pressure, but also get our family on a healthier path. Exercise was one area. We started walking 3 times a week together. What we put into our bodies was another.

Enter sodium. Dun-dun-dun-dun….

Americans get 75% of their sodium intake in processed foods. Sodium (when the amount is appropriate) plays a vital role in our health. Improved heart performance, needed for blood regulation, and glucose absorption. It is an important factor in the human diet for the regulation of cellular activity and nervous system function. You probably know what I’m going to say next. That McDonalds fries are some of the best fries on the planet?? You’ve got a gift. Sometimes you do just have to hit the drive through for the fries. Getting a small fry every 2 weeks is a treat. And a necessity. Ok, not a necessity, but there are some things you just have to enjoy.

Well, the other thing I was going to say is that with the good comes the bad. Too much sodium can lead to stomach cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), and can even lead to coma. So, how much should one take in? All blogs tend to agree that you should take no more than

2,300mg

of sodium a day and even LESS than that if you’re over 50. Think this is a fair amount and you shouldn’t have any troubles? Think again. The table below shows a typical day for anyone – especially a busy, working mom who tends to pick up food on the go.  I have been easily guilty of this. Throw in a few medium cokes, and a grande Starbucks Latte in there…no wonder I gained 20 lbs in 2 years!

Sodium Values

How can you control this?  Will my food still be good? Is there hope!?  YES, YES, and YES
*By eating less processed foods and preparing meals ahead of time – think FRESH
*By not picking up items like frozen cheese pizzas (that have over 800mg of sodium a serving)
*By eating fresh foods like more fruits and veggies
*By purchasing items that say “Reduced Sodium” or “No Sodium”
*By reducing your salt each recipe by 1/4 tsp, or not adding even more salt when you get a meal from a restaurant. Your taste buds will get used to this and your heart will thank you for it!

eve of 2012

I am a bad, bad blogger.  I have not kept up my blogging responsibilities and I am so sorry.  Actually, no I’m not.

I have had quite a 2011.  Lost a relative, lost 2 cats, lost my husband (only temporarily) due to work and school, dealt with 3 children on my own and without family support because of location, and gave up on my career for the time being.  What they don’t tell you when you get married at 21 is that you will face the most difficult challenges and you’ll have to handle them with grace, patience, and tenaciousness.  If you don’t, you will be judged.  By everyone.  By relatives, by friends, by co-workers, by your kids, by your kids’ teachers, other moms, by your spouse…but mostly by yourself.

“She will just have to do it.  I did it.  I don’t see what is so hard about it.”
“She should be grateful it’s not longer.”
“Oh, I knew she wouldn’t keep up with that.  She never does.  What’s wrong with that girl?”

No, I didn’t specifically hear or read these things from others.  I imagined this is what they were saying in my head.  And that is the biggest hurdle there is.  Doubting yourself and being the hardest on yourself.  THAT is what I take away from 2011 and plan to annihilate like a ninja in 2012.  I am hardest on myself.  I know this.  I recognize this and that is the best part.  That I do see it.  I am my own worst critic.  I have been told by at least 3 people, “Dude…you are so hard on yourself.”  I am.  I know this and see this and it is one thing I plan on working on probably for the rest of my life.

I truly love life.  With all the difficulties, the tears, the laughs, the pains, the beauty that lies in every detail of every object – I honestly love life.  I want to enjoy it.  I don’t want to spend it worrying about useless things that I have absolutely no control over.

So to sum up what I have learned and possibly for anyone else who is having trouble with sorting out their own path and happiness.  I would start with:  you gotta love life.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s the only one you have, and it’s not going to be forever.  And (to me) the way to love life is to love yourself first.  I don’t mean in an arrogant, it’s all-about-me kinda way.  Simple as this:

1)  Choose love.  At every turn, try to choose love over judgement.  Instead of insulting or judging or thinking someone is weak, unorganized, or lazy.  Offer something to help.  They may desperately need it, but are too prideful to say it.
2)  Forgive yourself for past mistakes.  You can’t go back.  No sense in going back.  Trust me, I’ve made some whoppers up there with the best of them.  You’re human.  What have you learned from it?  What good does it do to go back and relive it over and over?  It was awful to go through it the first time…why keep going back?
3)  Give of yourself more than you expect in return.  The greatest gift is giving kindness & love. This kinda goes along with #1 but in a broader way.  Volunteer, make cupcakes for a group, offer your time to a nursing home…the list is really endless.
4)  Let go of the toxicity.  Yes, some situations are out of your control but your response to them is TOTALLY your control.  The ones who claim “sometimes you can’t help…”  You ALWAYS can control your response.  If a certain situation is bad and you know it’s not pleasant and there is a choice to stay away…then stay away.  But to continue to be angry over it for days after….Heart (not Houston), we have a problem.  Holding on to things for hours, or days, or even weeks is not good for you mentally, or physically.  What good is it, anyway?  Seriously?  Who are you really harming by staying mad at the situation?  Them?  Sorry to burst your bubble, but they have looooong forgotten about the situation and also about little, ole’ you.  So, by holding on to that anger and toxicity, you are only harming 1 person in the process:  YOU.

Well, that is all for my little blog for the day.  I will try my best to keep up with my blog-although not going to be tied down to it with any deadline given by anyone-especially myself.  🙂  Happy New Year and here’s to 2012.  God bless.