Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Art of Moderation...

The Art of Moderation, or Why I Do Not Deprive Myself Too Much or Push Myself Too Hard

Hi, my name is Natalie, and I have high blood pressure.

Whew.  Felt good to get that off my chest.

I'm 27, so this whole high blood pressure thing is not good, to say the absolute least.  It runs in my family on both sides--my mom and dad both have high blood pressure.  I'm sure the fact that I've gained a little weight doesn't help, either, but even before that happened, I had high blood pressure every time I went to the doctor.

Part of it, I'm sure, is the cuff they put around my arm--how tightly it has to squeeze definitely stresses me out.  Plus, being in a doctor's office for any reason is definitely not fun--I can feel myself start to get so nervous that I begin to feel sick to my stomach, though I'm not even really sure why.  Nothing THAT bad has ever even happened to me at the doctor's office.  I'm just a weirdo, I guess.

When they take it manually, it's lower--but, still high.  Just not AS high.

Anyway, for months now, I've been saying I'm going to do this and that, but let's be real for a second: it's hard.  It's really, really hard to eat healthier, exercise more, and generally be healthier.  And it's ESPECIALLY hard when you work night shift, like I do.  Most people can go home after work and cook a nice meal (even though they're tired).  I can't do that.  I don't get home until 1am, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later, and the last thing I want to do is cook.  On top of that, you're not even really supposed to eat after 7, 8, or 9 or whatever the rule is anymore.

So, a few months ago, I found myself eating out a lot--it's convenient, and although it's not cheaper, it's definitely a time-saver.  I've definitely cut back on that in the last two months, though, and instead I've been turning more to frozen meals which are cheaper and also more convenient.

But, I've not deluded myself into thinking that these packaged meals are healthy.  Not by a long shot.  I'm well aware that they are terrible for you--the overly processed food from a box that sits in the freezer for months can't be good for your body, not to mention that most of these frozen meals pack in the sodium to make up for a lack of taste.

So, despite the fact that I've only been (usually) eating a frozen meal a day, and a few snacks or sandwiches for lunch (also packed with sodium in the form of lunch meat), I haven't really committed to a low-sodium lifestyle, which I think I really need to do if I want to get healthier and be able to have a child someday.

But, that is gradually changing.  Last week, when looking through Ye Olde Internet for some low-sodium snack options, I came across this blog (www.SodiumGirl.com) with which I was totally unfamiliar.  I spent a bit browsing the page, looking at some recipes, and then decided to order her cook book through Barnes and Noble.

Then, I decided to try and take this a little more seriously.  I went to the gym Friday - Sunday, and am planning on making that a regular thing that I do.  It's weird because by Sunday, my stamina running was already improving.  I was able to run a 12:43 mile, which isn't very impressive, but the previous two days, I was hovering around 14 minutes, closer to 15.

The cookbook arrived yesterday, and I went through and wrote down some ingredients I'll need, and am planning on getting them this Sunday, then making a meal plan.

Sodium Girl's story is actually pretty incredible (not to mention inspiring!)-- she went into complete renal failure, she was on a transplant list and everything, and then she decided to really make a change for the better, and she was taken off the transplant list, and her kidneys pretty much revived themselves.  She studied low-sodium diets, made a habit of reading labels in the store, and has really turned things around.

When I ordered her cookbook, I didn't know this story-- I didn't know that she completely changed her life like that.  I find this feat pretty amazing, actually, and I hope it continues to serve as an inspiration to me to do better, to be healthier.

My first step is to try to stop the excuses-- I've been giving myself them for months (Oh, I can't go to the gym because I'll be too tired, or Cash will be sad, or I'm too sore from going yesterday).  Or, the excuses for why I can't cook (I work night shift, I don't have time, heating stuff up in the microwave causes the nutrients to be destroyed) etc., etc., etc.  I'm gradually giving myself fewer excuses, and one day I hope to not have any.

I'm going to have cheat days-- at least right now.  I have to.  Hence the title of this blog-- the short explanation of the blog title is this: I know Me.  

The long answer is that pushing myself too hard at the gym, or depriving myself completely of things I love (In-N-Out, movie theater popcorn) won't work. It just won't.  Not for me right now.  So, I have to start small.  I have to make healthier choices when I feel I can-- I have to deprive myself when I feel I can, and not when I feel that I can't.  And, so, that's what I've been trying to do this week.  I'm snacking on almonds (raw, unsalted) and craisins (0mg of sodium) as I write this, and when my boyfriend and I went to the movies on Sunday, we shared a medium popcorn instead of a large.  

Doesn't sound like much, but it adds up-- and, I'm confident I'll get there someday, and hopefully soon.

Until then, I will continue to make healthier choices when I can, and to not deprive myself of too much, too soon.  I will continue going to the gym, and trying to be more active, but I won't kill myself when I go--I'll do what I can, and push myself to do a little more than that, but not tons more.  At least, not right now.  

Truthfully, my will to do this is still a little fragile--but, the good news is that I get that, understand it, and am not ashamed of it! Which means that I might really be able to do it this time.

If you're doing any diet restrictions/exercise plans, leave me a comment and let me know! I could use some moral support. 


  1. Dear Natalie, I recently went 8 weeks without grains, alcohol, sugar or dairy and I found that my migraines (even the ones that I thought were entirely exercise induced) completely disappeared!! It was a long 8 weeks, but it is SO awesome to feel awesome. I am finding new recipes all the time, and I will allow myself 1 cheat day a week.

    P.S. Don't judge my writing/grammar.
    P.P.S Put down the chimichanga.
    P.P.P.S. I found a typo in your post and it made me happy.

    1. Dear Jazmin,
      I saw that on Instagram! That is so amazing. You're already like 40x healthier than I am, anyway, but that is really impressive. Maybe I'll be there in like 50 years. ;) Since I'm starting from a totally less healthy place than you. If you have recipes that are low sodium, I'd love for you to share them with me!

      P.S. I did not.
      P.P.S. Don't lie, I know you ate that chimichanga.
      P.P.P.S. I haven't bought a chimichanga since.
      P.P.P.P.S. That's because I don't proofread my own stuff. :(

  2. Good job you! I honestly think the biggest thing is making small changes, sticking to them, then adding to them. I joined a gym about 5 months ago and am making good progress. At first I totally overdid it and hurt myself then I realized that I can't try to do what everyone else is doing - I need to find what works for me and do that. Since I decided that I've been going about 3-5 times a week and gradually making changes. I feel healthier and stronger and it is awesome. I tried counting calories for awhile but I can't stick with it. I try to keep a general idea, but honestly, I love cooking and don't want to cut out my baking and cheese :) I guess that'e the next thing I need to work on.

    Good luck finding what works for you!!! Anytime you need a moral support workout buddy you know who to call :)

  3. I think slowly modifying your lifestyle is so much better than doing it drastically. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I think its easier and more condusive to long-term change if it's a little at a time. The little changes become routine, until they aren't hard anymore and you can add in others. Be proud of yourself for what you've accomplished so far! It's all those little things that start to add up :)

  4. PS. I have high-ish cholesterol and just had it reconfirmed through bloodwork last week, so I'm in the same boat. Family history of heart attacks :/ Definitely need to start exercising more (or at all! a lot of days it seems lately!). I'm really good at making myself too busy to exercise but I need to make it a higher priority!