Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Count It All Joy:" Part II

Really, it's not.
I'm no stranger to being sick. Therefore, I expected some changes to hit my body as I moved further along in my pregnancy. There was nothing a little ginger ale, soup, and crackers couldn't fix. However, the dehydration, low potassium, low sodium, and 24-hour bucket fest was not something I signed up for as a newly pregnant mom. Hyperemsis Gravidarum (HG) is nothing you can fix with home remedies, back rubs, ginger in it's raw form, or even psyching yourself out. No, the sickness is not in the heads of those who suffer. No, just eating to help you feel better is not the answer. No, drinking this or that is not a quick fix. No, the sufferer can't just go to work with a barf bag, keep calm, and carry on. No. No. NO! Those who have been pregnant and actually dealt with morning sickness offer great advice, but no matter how many times HG is explained, the person with great intentions only seem to unknowingly become offensive. I want to shout out Princess Kate for making HG really public and making sufferers look less crazy. She stamped it for us.

The Life of an HG Sufferer

1. HG often requires multiple hospital visits. For those who suffer on the worst part of the HG scale, in-home care is required.
2. HG often requires medication to treat.
3. HG is so debilitating that taking a shower becomes a luxury.
4. HG has put its sufferers out of work and causes financial hardship.
5. HG can subside, but makes guest appearances throughout the entire pregnancy.
6. HG is famous for massive amounts of weight loss.
7. HG will encourage its suffers to disconnect from family and friends for extended periods of time (it is exhausting trying to explain why you don't look pregnant at seven months even though the baby is perfectly fine).
8. HG mostly affects the mom, not the baby.
9. HG SHOULD NOT BE LEFT UNTREATED. It is a medical condition far worse than morning sickness. You don't just "get over it" or eat and drink your way through it. 
10. HG sufferers need support, not criticism.
BONUS: HG sufferers spit a lot. No, we don't want to risk swallowing it because that will begin another vomit fest. Ptyalism Gravidarum (PG) is gross, and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

My Journey

1. Seven documented visits to the hospital (4 were overnight stays) are in my files. I was in the hospital for my birthday. One of my students saw me looking like the Crypt Keeper. She was kind not to judge me. Her pregnant sister was waiting in the ER as well. Bless my husband, AJ, for the many times he took off work to usher me to the hospital. Being wheel-chaired out of the classroom was not a good look, but I am thankful for my school admin team, school nurse, and co-worker L. Shack, for forcing me to go back to the hospital on two separate occasions. Super friends L and L met AJ and I at the hospital to make sure I was okay. My soror J9 took a shift driving me to the hospital while AJ finished up some work. My line sister, Tamu, drove all the way from Jersey just to make sure I was okay after being admitted the first time. My Aunt T came to visit just before my discharge and took me home. Two more line sisters, Doc and FBI, made home visits after being released from my hospital visits. My girl, Whiting came to help me clean up and throw a load in the laundry because I just couldn't move. Counting it all joy. 
2. I went through four different types of medicine. Zofran (click to read more) is the winner. Yes, I saw the commercials about the law suits. Baby is FINE. Seven months in, I'm still on it, but I'm managing. Still counting it all joy. This is the abridged version with some details left out...too much for anyone one human to read.
3. Thanks to my co-worker, Ms. K.C., I learned to struggle through a shower as she put sheets on the guest room bed for me. I am still counting it all joy.
4. God sustained us because I ran out of leave, and I did not have short-term disability. I did not have a full check from April through May. The first full check was seen in June. One check, for two weeks, was less than $200. Most bills were paid. Still counting it all joy.
5. HG gives me about two strong weeks, then I get sick again--that's with medication and staying hydrated. Counting the joy for the good days.
6. I started my pregnancy weighing 168. At the worst of my HG, I weighed 141 (from March to May). I am holding at about 151 at seven months. Pointing out the fact that HG sufferers lost weight or appear small as a pregnant woman is like shell shock to a vet. Don't "do it for the vine." It kind of sends us back into a dark place. I promise you, we weren't trying to lose the weight. Just ask how we're feeling THAT DAY (every day is different). Again, the baby is fine. Counting it all joy.
7. I disappeared from March to most of May. Texting and FB were my primary means of communication to the world. My fingers worked in between vomiting spells all day. I just started sleeping in my bedroom after five months thanks to a generous gift from Mrs. Standish--a body pillow--and deciding to use a tall trash can beside the bed so I don't mess up the floor. Our bed is really high. Stepping out of the bed still presents a challenge. Those who understood/undetstand my disappearances, thank you. I count you in my joy.
9. I prayed and prayed and prayed when I was at my wits end. I didn't want to have home-care 1. because I needed to go back to work and 2. because I'm not really good with 24-hour IV and such. My doctor was getting ready to recommend steroid treatment to help me at week 15 of my pregnancy which had birth defect possibilities. Although my symptoms were not 100% gone, there was no need for the next treatment level. However, many of my fellow HG sufferers were not so fortunate and remained on bed rest with in-home care.
10. Without my support system, I would have fallen into a deep depression. I was down and out and feeling worthless, but God and constant reminders to pray and be encouraged from family and friends from Connecticut to Abu Dhabi helped me through this ongoing HG journey (I still have it. It doesn't leave). At the risk of leaving any ONE person out, THANK YOU...yes, you (smile). This could get really long if I named everyone.

AJ, you get your own lines. You have been very patient. You have truly taken the "in sickness and in health" vow to another level. I can't imagine being you with all that has happened in our home beyond me. Thanks for your sacrifice. Love you.

I have three months until B.B. arrives. He's moving, kicking, punching, and doing whatever babies seven months in the womb do. I can't hold all the salt because it is apparently needed during my pregnancy, but I am aware of what still goes into my body.

If you should come in contact with a pregnant woman who suffers from HG, please be mindful in your attempt to support her. It is a very sensitive condition and time for her. She might eat foods or drink beverages you're not used to seeing a pregnant woman consume (coffee, tea, Coca-Cola, etc.). She might not be able to eat much of the fruits and veggies she needs because they trigger the vomiting and she'll have to start her management cycle all over again; a lemon ice pop might be the most she gets as a fruit. She has to consume what is called, "SAFE FOODS." She might sleep the day away because movement is a trigger to sickness. Noises--soft or loud--bother her. Smells that are not "SAFE" trigger vomiting. She might not want to go outside to catch the sunshine because the light and heat may cause her to get sick again. Lastly, please don't assume she doesn't want to be helped or want the delicious meal you prepared to assist her. She can have a food item on Monday and by Wednesday it is the worst thing in the world. Her diet is not consistent. So, if you're annoyed, imagine how she feels not being able to know what she can and cannot eat on a daily basis.

Whatever you're dealing with, whether you are a believer in the Word of God or not, please count the joy you do have during your trials and tribulations. I'm looking forward to hugging B.B. in October of 2015 as my tougH Guy.

Hugs and love,

PS: HG has nothing to do with waiting until later to have a child, being stressed, ethnicity, or other causes that might make sense. It is the GREMLIN of pregnancy conditions after midnight.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Count It All Joy:" Part I

Painting by Victor Ehikhamenor
Woody Allen quotes what he believes is an old Yiddish saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans." I had one plan this year--have a baby. I am pregnant, and it came with more of life happening than I anticipated. As James 1:2 says, in the Bible, I must "count it all joy."

Since 2013, I have had to reduce my sodium intake to avoid a recurrence of the pain associated with my kidney stones. I opted out of the shock wave lithotripsy treatment to resolve my issues. It would affect my plans to have a baby. I didn't want anything messing with any of my organs. With faith and limited odds of getting pregnant, I was able to seek out fertility treatments and things worked out for me.

The process of getting pregnant was the least of my concerns. Each significant step in the process fell on a loved one's birthday. More importantly, I knew before having the blood test done that I was pregnant. The evening of his birthday, my husband put up one of my favorite pieces of art by Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor. It was a fertility piece. Coincidentally, my husband, sister-in-law--K--, and the artist share the same birthday. I bought the painting in 2005 and remember telling Victor that it was going to give me hope of one day becoming a mother. As joy filled in my heart at the mere thought of our lives changing forever, I had to contain myself until I took a blood test.

The very next morning, my mother-in-law's birthday, I took the official pregnancy test at my local Shady Grove Fertility center, Dr. Kipersztock and his staff were my cheering squad since we started in 2011--survived multiple surgeries, repeat blood work, constant monitoring, etc. etc. I knew that I would get a call later in the afternoon to confirm the results. Life seemed to be on the slow motion setting while at work. It was just after lunch while I was grading papers when Nurse Sarah called.

"Hi, Yolonda! It's Sarah." I could hear her smile through the phone. She beamed as my heart celebrated in advance.

"Hi! I was waiting on your call," I said.

"Your test results came back, and you are definitely pregnant!"

The crowd in my head had to be contained because I wanted my husband to be the first to know. I had four hours to hold in the news. I just hoped he would be home and things would go according to plan. Again, God laughed. My husband was not home, so I had to track him down before heading to a book fair to meet my cousins, T and T, who I was anxious to tell.

"Where are you," I asked my husband while masking my excitement. I'm a bad liar, so I had to try really hard.

"Headed to Home Depot," he said.

I stopped in the house to speak to my father-in-law and then proceeded to do something I was often told NOT to do--I chased my man. Time was not on my side. I called my husband back to monitor his movements. I was starting to sound a little suspect when he revealed he was heading to a new location.

Anyone who has ever been in a car with me know that I received my license from Turtle Inc, LLC. On this day, I broke some laws trying to get to my husband. I could not contain the news until I got back from meeting my cousins. My law breaking proved successful as I was able to catch my husband leaving the parking lot of the store.

Beep! Beep! I honked my horn like a goose on a wild chase. He pulled over in the lot across from the store. My husband's expression was less than enthused as he didn't understand why I was the crazy stalker lady coming after him.

After greeting him with a card, I stood and waited with joyful anticipation. It was a congratulations card and revealed that he would be a father. With God on our side, we had beat the odds. We beat them pretty badly, too. With less than 1% chance of getting pregnant with one form of treatment, one fallopian tube, endometriosis, fibroids in my uterus, a bi-lateral ovarian cysectomy, a 16% chance of having any eggs retrieved when trying In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and a 46% chance of having a live birth after three (3) cycles of IVF, we hit the jackpot on the first go.

Everything went smoothly for nearly a month. By a month, I mean a month minus two days. I barely felt any signs of pregnancy. If I had not seen the baby's heart beat on my grandmother and cousin M's birthday, I would think B.B.--a name my friend, Bronze Diva, and I co-founded for the baby--was a hoax. Sure enough, on March 18, 2015, all joy flew out the window into an abyss of darkness. I was excited to experience morning sickness until it was no longer cute and I made my first of several moments in the hosipital. Thus, the beginning of a condition that would later force all efforts of holding the salt or consuming any food or beverage to come to an halt. Enter stage left: HYPEREMESIS GRAVIDARUM. To be continued...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cook at Home

Don't let the picture fool you. This is not what I ate. In fact, mine had vegetables in it. The outcome just wasn't as selfie-friendly. However, it was darn good. I cooked at home.

It has been quite a while since I've been on the campaign trail with Hold the Salt. I mostly regret it because these blogs hold me accountable. One cheat day turned into multiple cheat days. I fell off the horse by not watching EVERYTHING I ate, but I compensated for my failure by continuing to drink my water. The good news: I've been watching my sodium intake well enough that I have kept myself out of the hospital, and there have been no recurring attacks from the five kidney stones that still live inside my body (going on 2 years in March).

A new chapter in my life is beginning to open, so I have to be more diligent about what goes into my body. That said, I was reminded of my family's inherited fight with kidney issues. I had conversations with family from as close as 15 minutes away in the next county to as far as 9 hours away in Abu Dhabi about our family's kidney failure history. As I stopped the tears from the latest health news in my family to thinking about Grandma's passing due to so many health complications, it was no question how my future meals would be prepared--COOKED AT HOME the majority of the time (at least five times per week for all meals).

Now back to the picture above...

I love IHOP's corned beef hash omelette with three pancakes on the side. I used to live for the day someone asked, "Wanna go to IHOP?" Duh?! It was a no brainer what I was going to order. Well, since 2012, I've only been able to eat half that order. Even still, that meal, alone, has a sodium intake of 3,630. Yeh...smh. It's about two plus days worth of the intake for colored girls who considered food suicide when bacon and eggs weren't enough (toasts Ntozake Shange, now sips water--both me and my dog, Kobe).  Instead of going into a sodium coma, this morning, I decided to create a breakfast as equally satisfying and cutting the intake down by 2,850 mg. (I also cut out the pancakes); It can be done without ANY salt added.

Here you go:

1/2 cup of Corned Beef Hash (410 mg.)
2 eggs (180 mg.)
1/4 cup of mild cheddar (170 mg.)
Saute the following raw veggies in olive oil:
1 cup of spinach (16 mg.)
.33 ounces of chopped onions (6 mg.)
.33 ounces. of tomatoes (6 mg.)
.33 ounces. of mushrooms (4 mg.)

Cook the corned beef in olive oil. Set to the side. Saute the veggies. Pour your eggs (beat before pouring) over the veggies. Add the corned beef. Flip again. Add your cheddar and tomatoes. Enjoy.

You may have your own version of making an omelette. I'm just sharing mine. Have fun with the ingredients and drink your water. I'll check back with my progress as I get back on the wagon...again.


Love y'all!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don't Deprive Yourself!

Who doesn't like a great snack or a piece of junk food every now and then? I know, I do. We call them guilty pleasures. Greetings, everyone! I'm back. I am happy to report that I have not seen any parts of an emergency room nor have I signed papers for my admittance to a hospital for over a year. That's enough catching up; let's get to the point.

If you've been following this blog or just visiting for the first time, please note that the Hold the Salt Campaign is not advocating the elimination of sodium from your diet. I am simply encouraging  the limitation of sodium chloride (NaCl). Separately, the two elements are dangerous for humans to consume. Together, the elements form a compound essential to life. Ellen Paula reminds us in her article "Health Side Effects of Salt" that consuming too much or too little salt can effect our health. With that said, please know that I am excited to report that after my initial period of cutting back my salt, I have been able to moderate what I eat by reading labels and consuming my water regularly. All the while, I have NOT stopped enjoying my comfort foods, junk foods, snacks, or other indulgences. I simply plan my meals and eat accordingly.

Some people are shocked to see me consume foods that appear high in sodium. I like a good Wendy's burger every now and then. I enjoy the fries as well. The type of bun and omission of cheese makes the difference for my sandwich. The omission of salt makes the difference for my fries. Just ask for your meal to be prepared the way you need it to eliminate the amount of sodium you consume.

I like Oreo cookies. I know exactly how many I can eat based on the sodium content. Two Double Stuffed Oreo cookies is 90 mg. of sodium. I love mac and cheese. Because I like to make it myself, I can use unsalted butter. If I use salted butter, I know I can have a few tablespoons of the ooey gooey goodness. It's all good. Really, it is. Do you know why? I have been flushing my system out with water throughout the day. I abstain from dark sodas as much as possible. I drop my lemons in my water for taste, on occasion. Now that I know my body, I can, say it with me, PLAN ACCORDINGLY (you'll see why in a moment)!

Things get a little tricky in the summer--backyard barbecue season. Can I be honest with you? All bets are off between July 4th and July 6th. I have an annual family barbecue I attend (shout out to Uncle Rick and Auntie Felicia). I look forward to Tommy's grilled sausages with peppers EVERY year. That one sausage, alone, is my daily allowance of FOOD for the day, but HAaaah MAN (D.C. colloquialism for Amen), it is so worth the back log consumption of water and guilty pleasure abstentions for two days. If I know I am to encounter a juicy grilled burger with onions, I plan accordingly. If fried fish is on the menu, I plan accordingly. If Aunt Shannon's mac and cheese is anywhere NEAR a fork in my hand, I MUST plan accordingly. There is a price to pay for everything; the week-long stay in the hospital during Christmas was a big enough wake-up call for me to get back on my plan to reduce the salt, and PLAN ACCORDINGLY!
Now that I know how things work, I know I can't eat those guilty pleasures every day and expect my body to process them in ONE day. It took me years to develop the stones. I don't want them inviting Sly and the Family to come take up residence now that I have them under control.

So, let's recap:

1. Sodium is necessary. Just hold it. Table salt has about 540 mg. of sodium per teaspoon. Trust that your foods have enough in them without you adding more.
2. Read your labels. See the last statement in #1.
3. Drink your water. I attempt four bottles per day (truthfully, I try 32 oz. per day). Talk to the water police who will have something to say about what brands to drink and  not drink. How much to drink or not drink. To boil, to purify, or to strain through cheese cloth or not to boil, not to purify, or not to strain through cheese cloth.  I'm not that girl. Just drink your water.
4. Enjoy your comfort foods, but plan in advance when you want to indulge.
5. Cheat day can't be every day. If you're going to indulge, be sure to get back on your flushing routine to get all parts of your body in working order.

I'm going to throw in exercise, because I am supposed to do that too. I'm a work in progress. I chase students for a living, but I'll get moving a little more often outside of the classroom (head nod to Byron Johnson and Dr. Janice Armstrong). Don't judge me, family (smile). It's real in these sweaty streets.

Until next time...LOVE YA!

Ellen's Article: 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Year in Review

Yolonda is still holding the salt in order 
to prevent the growth of more kidney
stones. One of five, was dislodged after 
a small surgical procedure. Four continue

to take residence in her kidney. She is
convinced they will either pay rent or
dissolve due to her lifestyle change. Either
way, Yolonda is claiming victory over her

I can hardly believe a year has passed since the pain in my side and incessant regurgitation sent me to the hospital for a week to reveal I had kidney stones. It was the second time I missed Christmas, but the first time I missed out on a week of life's events, marveling at the snow, and delivering my Christmas cookie dough. I remember the kind nurses who attended to me. I remember the nurses who ignored me. I remember the smell of the antiseptic before the technicians drew my blood what seemed like every hour for five days. One tech was convinced he was the best as I encouraged him to use my right arm because the veins in my left arm were obstinate. He soon discovered that, somehow, the well was dry and would draw nothing. He finally humbled himself and used the right arm (pun intended). Day after day, the nurses had to find new vein portals because I seemed to have nothing left to give, not even in my finger...but God!

I remember my husband being by my side every step of the way---sleeping on the hard hospital coach in between work shifts. He ate every single slice of cake I had baked the night before I got sick. I know because my nose tingled from the scent of the lemon extract I used in the pound cake. It was rich, but my poor health would only allow me to imagine the taste. His meal time joy was finding out that a Roy Rogers had opened up in our area (Christmas dinner). 

I also remember, after a few moments of hallucinations from the drugs, I kept seeing demonic images (that dang dilaudid and percocet). I made my verbal will on the third day of my hospital stay because the doctors seemed to keep pumping me with those same drugs but my condition didn't improve. I remember the moment I asked for my cell phone and sent out a prayer request on Facebook because I remembered you, my praying friends. I remembered who I served and I knew how to pray for myself. FB family, you answered the call, and I re-learned a very valuable lesson: 

P.U.S.H. "Pray Until Something Happens,"---author unknown.

It was on the fourth night I remember my husband bringing movies for me to watch. I was partially clean from dilaudid, and I was able to contain the vomit spells for two hours at a time. By noon the next day, I demanded to have the stent placed in my kidneys to dislodge the stone that interrupted my life. 

On December 20, 2013, I felt the same pain as I did a year ago. I propped my feet in my classroom after the children left. I prayed. I drank my water. I rested. I didn't let "it" take control of me. By the evening, I felt better. I am able to manage my health. I am able to pray with confidence. Something happened in a year's time; My faith increased beyond my imagination. My life, beyond my health, improved because of my faith.

This holiday, I'm thankful for the little things because Christ is so BIG. I am thankful for a husband who truly committed to the vows "in sickness and in health." That card has been played many times in our marriage. He gets a renewed get out jail free card for Christmas. I am thankful for my sister and brother-cousins, sister and brother-friends, my co-workers/admin team (they didn't replace me while I was out for two separate weeks of recovery), and family who wish me well throughout the year on Facebook and beyond. I am thankful for the support groups who helped me with recipes and the needed push to monitor my sodium intake---P2P, Marguerite, Tamara, and Angel. I am thankful for the meals that have been prepared, Chef Sara Simmons, and the Sheri's Berries deliveries. I am thankful for my school's cafeteria staff members who always give me extra vegetables. I am thankful for the investments you all have made to my classroom ministry. I am thankful for my aunts who treat me like their own in the absence of my mom and uncles who called and visited me in my time of need. I'm thankful for my dad who faithfully ushers me into my work day with early morning phone calls on my one-hour commute. I am thankful for arriving home safely, each day despite the fact that I doze off after being gone from 6:30 to 9 at night four days a week. I am thankful for the students who allow me the chance to reach them. I am just thankful not to be tied to a machine that checks my vitals.

Here's to another year of thanksgiving this Christmas season. In the words of my grandfather, CHRIST is the Messiah And Savior. Merry CHRISTMAS).


Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Eat the Cake, Anna Mae!"

Photo and cake baked by Bianca Mitchell of Maryland.
Note: I call her cake lair (puns are everywhere in this post)
Not the Box Bakery.
My sister-friend, Matice, often uses Ike Turner's line, "Eat the Cake, Anna Mae," when I'm not following instructions or my heart. It was made known as a popular culture saying after the release of What's Love Got to Do With It about the life of super star Tina Turner. While Ike meant harm in forcing Ms. Tina to eat the cake, these days, I have no problems running away from cake.
Periodically, I run into people who haven't seen me since being sick in December. I look a bit different, a little younger; and I am about 4 dress and pant sizes smaller. They wonder how I got so small so quickly. They ask me about my secret. I promise, nothing I've done is a secret. My entire journey lives here and in the ears of those who really care to listen. So what is it? Let me recap a bit for those of you who are new to the Hold the Salt Campaign.
My weight loss is simply an effect of a lifestyle change and my personal goal to stay away from hospitals and surgery unless absolutely necessary. My health issues are analogous to the story of David and Goliath. My David was five small kidney stones that shut down a 184 pound body for a week in December and a week in March with three weeks of recovery in between that time. Holding the salt in my life was not for the purpose of losing weight, but it was for the purpose of getting and feeling better. Please let me be clear that I have no ambition to look like a microphone. In fact, I am the same size as I was in college. I promise I am not wasting away.
Of the almost 40 pounds I lost, 16 of those pounds were a result of the sickness; my body expelled whatever remained as the kidney stones blocked the natural passage of fluids. At the same time, my body rejected anything new. My doctor encouraged me to minimize my salt intake, drink more water, and enjoy lemonade. Since I am sick of hospitals (pun intended), I took it to heart and followed through with my new diet. Nine months later, my body is conditioned, so not only can I eat cake, when I wake up the next morning, I weigh myself to find that I lost a pound or two. What's happening? It seems my body is functioning normally and digesting anything I intake.

The non-secret secret:
1. Salt intake - Between 1500 to 3000 mg. per day.

2. Water consumption - Average of 4 bottles per day
I am like a fish out of water when I don't meet my water quota. I crave it.
3. Lemonade brand - as fresh as possible.
After I share this non-secret with those who ask, I get the same response, "...but I don't really eat a lot of salt. In fact, I don't put salt on my food." I totally respect that. I said the same thing. I didn't have a heavy salt hand. No one knows what they consume until they do. Read your labels.
Read the nutrition facts of food you eat while sitting down at your favorite restaurant.
We are a culture of flavor. We love it. We have to have it. I get that. Consume what you will, just know what you're consuming without completely sacrificing your indulgences.

I am now able to consume burgers, fries, pizza, dessert, or a steak and cheese in moderation, but they can no longer be staple items in my diet. I know which products to buy when preparing them myself. I know which restaurants I can patronize. I can always ask chefs to hold the salt because some foods just have sodium already in them; and I can calculate my sodium intake for each day so that when I drink water it is to help me stay hydrated and flush my system.
Can I stand to go to the gym to tone up? Absolutely! I'm putting a plan in place for that. Should you check with your physician before minimizing your salt intake? That would be wise. Should you go ahead and, at the least, begin drinking your eight glasses of water? Get on that yesterday! In the meantime, I'm going to not only ask for a slice cake, I am going to eat it too because I can without guilt.
So what's going on with my kidney stones since my lifestyle change? Some are still taking up residence in my body. I refused the shock treatment and decided to take the chance of them either signing the mortgage papers for Kidney Estates or moving out naturally. I have a strong belief that one moved out the weekend of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. I was a bit bent over as it marched through me, but I pressed my way back home. I'm fine. It just means three remain. I'm taking blood pressure medicine to reduce the chances of any new stones forming and drinking my lemonade.
Until next time...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What does it all look like?

Stock Photo
Greetings, Hold the Salt Campaign members! I have made a few cameo appearances this summer, and I was often asked by family and friends, "What are you doing [to lose weight]?" I want to go on record as noting that my weight loss is an effect of me taking control of my health. The answer:

1. I do not add table salt to my meals.
2. I calculate my sodium intake.
3. I measure my food.
4. Water is my drink of choice (I attempt four 16.9 ounces each day). My second drink of choice is lemonade (as close to fresh as possible). http://www.holdthesaltcampaign.b

4. I have increased my fresh fruit and vegetable intake.
5. I make my own salad dressings. Check out

Following this routine has caused me to lose almost 40 pounds. I have only started going to the gym and walking when my summer vacation began.

The Hold the Salt Campaign was originally started to increase awareness about the types of food we eat with high sodium content in an effort to help people 1. monitor their kidney and heart related illnesses through diet and 2. to encourage those who don't have health issues just to eat better so they won't have to develop unnecessary illnesses due to a high sodium diet.

Since January, I have moderated my sodium intake, first at 3000 milligrams (mg) per day. Pump the breaks, I know health critics will say, "3000 mg is still a lot. The average for most should be 2300 mg and 1500 for those ages 51 and over or African Americans." Yes. You are absolutely correct. I like to counter it with the following: My average Saturday intake used to be 5065 mg. What did that look like?

Breakfast (Prepared at home)
3 pancakes with syrup (680 mg. + 140 mg.)
2 pieces of turkey bacon (400 mg.)
2 eggs with cheese (340 mg.)
16 oz. of orange juice (15 mg.)
TOTAL: 1575 mg.

1 Chic-fila-A sandwich deluxe w/cheese (1510 mg.)
1 medium Chic-fil-A waffle fries (180 mg.) not bad, actually They don't add salt.
1 lemonade (45 mg.)
TOTAL: 1735 mg.
Dinner: Let's say I've been running around completing errands, visiting friends, and don't feel like cooking. What do many people do? Pick up a pizza, some take out or something. Let's go with a favorite. Pizza. I am going to go with the best value. Little Caesar's $5 pizza because I may have just spent $200 on groceries.

3 slices of pepperoni (560 mg. per slice)
16 oz. of juice (75 mg.)
TOTAL: 1755 mg.Other popular establishments:
Pizza Hut = 890 per slice
Papa  John's = 610 mg. per slice
Domino's = 920 mg. per slice)
NOTE: I didn't drink ANY water. Sigh. Whoa is me.

With the above diet, I was creating a home for kidney related illnesses. The Mayo Clinic provides a great explanation on what I and others face when consuming too much sodium. The staff of the Mayo Clinic writes, "Some people's bodies are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. If you're sodium sensitive, you retain sodium more easily, leading to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If this becomes chronic, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure." See the full article:

The best thing we can do for our health is look at what we're eating and how much we're eating. Take a look the image below. Which plate is your reality?

Prior to December 22, 2012, the plate to the right was my reality; it was usually accompanied by a piece of bread (add another 200 mg. or more of sodium). Now, I often eliminate rolls from my diet. In the past, my salad (next to the corn) would likely be doused with Italian dressing (add 340 mg. of sodium per 2 tablespoons). I now make my own salad dressing (85 mg. per tsp.). Note: The plate to the left includes salad. It is just under the steak. My new eating habits don't eliminate my favorite foods, I just modify how they are prepared and cut most meals in half.
For instance, I only ate 1/3 of the size of steak as the one on the right (about 85 mg.); it is seasoned with rosemary and garlic (65 mg. of sodium per 1/4 tsp.) v. season salt (350 mg. of sodium per 1/4 tsp.) Corn on the cob does not contain sodium, adding 1 tbs. of butter or margarine is about 90 mg. of sodium. Instead of a full serving of mac and cheese, I had 1/4 cup of the yummy goodness(approximately 400 mg. of sodium). Guess where I get most of the flavor? Which is the real entrĂ©e? The mac and cheese is the meal. Total sodium intake for the meal on the left: 595mg. Total sodium intake for the meal on the right: 1395 mg.
Let's take calculate one more meal. I know breakfast comes first, but hey...I ate waffles in college for dinner FIRST and then my meal. Work with me.
My typical breakfast during the week includes 1 cup of Safeway Crunchy Granola Raisin Bran (180 mg. of sodium) with a 1/2 cup of 2% milk (62.5 mg. of sodium).  A typical Saturday breakfast still includes pancakes, bacon, and eggs. However, I prefer pork bacon which allows me to consume two strips at 200 mg. of sodium total to 1 strip of turkey back at 200 mg. of sodium. Instead of three pancakes, I eat two. I usually eliminate cheese from my scrambled eggs (-200 mg.), and I only add pepper (0 mg. of sodium). This is a very big breakfast (792 mg. of sodium). I usually consume a breakfast this robust in sodium when I'm a. planning to eat light for the rest of the day or b. I've noticed my weight is dropping. To minimize the sodium, I just eat one piece of bacon and one egg---simple fix. The same breakfast at IHOP (two, two, and two) is 1790 mg. of sodium.

Please know that I'm not encouraging you stop eating what you like or even stop eating at your favorite establishments. This blog is to encourage better eating habits so you can be at your healthiest state in mind, body, and spirit. Now that you know what it all looks like, be conscious of what you digest.

Until next time...drink at least 4 bottles of water and eat fresh fruit and vegetables. When you're ready to hold the salt, come on back and get some tips.

Here's to your health.
Calculate your own Chic-fil-A meal in the future if you want to monitor your sodium, caloric, or any kind of intake. It won't hurt to know what you put into your system.

Moderate your IHOP meal in advance.

What's in your salad dressing?

To see the nutritional facts for other popular restaurants, please check out my archived post "Let's Eat Out." Click: