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More Fitness, Less Sodium, More Health

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More Fitness, Less Sodium, More Health

Paula Kiger, of Big Green Pen, is joining the Sodium Blog as a Guest Blogger today.

“I don’t want to log my food anymore.” That was me, emailing my wellness coach in early 2015, backing away from the daily nutrition logging that she recommended that I do and that I had been doing for a year. I was training for a half marathon and was working with a coach who urged me to focus on my nutrition in order to complement my athletic training.


I was tired of sending “heads up” emails that I had dinner plans with friends and therefore wanted the night “off,” tired of her spot-on and accurate advice about my food choices, such as “you know you want more veggies,” just ….. tired.

Although I gained freedom from accountability when I stopped logging, I also gained pounds. Approximately 40 of them.

Time to Re-Evaluate

The fact that I am the heaviest I have ever been (except during my pregnancies) reflects several changes that have occurred in my life over the last few years:

  • I stopped logging my food (see above)
  • Throughout the last year, I have been eating when I was bored, stressed, or emotionally needy, long past when I was hungry
  • I stopped being coached (although my wellness coach is still all up in my business at my invitation!)

Getting Back on Track

The three factors I listed above are challenges and regressions on my “road to healthy” but it’s time to focus again on my health.

Admittedly, my role as primary caregiver for my father-in-law plays a huge part in my health right now. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, about six in ten caregivers in a national survey reported that their eating (63%) and exercising (58%) habits are worse than before.

Keeping in mind the fact that my caregiving is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and acknowledging that some of the three factors I shared can’t be changed or erased, I can change my response to them!

I can recommit to a fitness plan that burns calories, builds muscle, and makes my heart and head happy.

Although my budget and the fact that I am not currently training for a goal race mean I am not going to resume being coached, I gained so many helpful habits, such as planning my workouts a week in advance, asking my team members to hold me accountable, and logging my workouts afterwards. I am not paying a coach to manage my fitness plan, but I can get back into the great habits that led me to be at a healthier weight (and mindset) in 2013.

Emotional eating. Hmm. Well, the stressors and issues that are contributing to that apparently are not going to go *poof* and disappear. However, I can cut myself a break, acknowledge that caregiving is a huge stressor, and step up my self-care game. My tendency to eat when my emotional needs aren’t fulfilled is what it is. What I can do is value myself enough to ask for the support I need.

Now, about logging. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my coach recommended that I log my food for more than a year. It is easier than ever to log. A quick scan of a bar code on a package can often provide your log all the information that is needed. I have had my year of sabbatical from logging. It’s time to start again.

This Time, An Additional Emphasis On My Log

I have been learning more about the role of sodium on my health. One study estimated that if Americans reduced sodium intake to 1500 mg/d, it could reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure. Another study estimated that a gradual decline in the average sodium intake in the US population over 10 years to an average sodium intake of 1,500 mg a day could reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease by anywhere from 280,000 to nearly 1.2 million over the next 10 years.

Since I have decided to resume logging, I’m in luck! The app I use helps me track sodium easily and will help me break up with salt.

More Movement, Less Sodium

The three “factors” I shared: non-hunger-related eating, reduction in coaching, and cessation of logging are a trio singing a tune that has become quite dissonant. I know, though, that I am not alone in my resolve to break their hold over me and address them.

In addition to recommitting to my exercise program, I am going to limit my sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams per day. Here’s the plan, based on the #GoRedGetFit Initiative: at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week and limiting sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams per day.

Reduce sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams per day? Almost 90,000 other people have pledged to break up with salt.

Take the pledge to reduce sodium today!

Paula Kiger, of Big Green Pen, is joining the Sodium Blog as a Guest Blogger today. You can connect with Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen or via the Big Green Pen Facebook page.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.