Chemical Element Sodium

Holy Sodium, Batman!

I’ve been tracking my calories again, using My Fitness Pal. It’s a neat experience. First and foremost, if you’re tracking your calories, don’t get frustrated!

You will not be perfect.
You will not get every calorie.
You will over-estimate,
    under-estimate,
       forget to estimate …
you will become distracted and forget what you’re trying to say <-- yeah, just happened. Oh - and yeah, you'll wonder if you really burned an extra thousand calories, and you might even eat a thousand calorie ice cream sandwich because you thought you had the extra calories. ugh - that was my Wednesday. So why do it? What's the point? Everyone get's something different out of it - here's my thing:

  • You will see how much those “small snacks” are screwing up your attempts to get healthier. You don’t have to stop eating them, but maybe skip one or two of them.
  • You will see other things: like how you think you’re having a great week but how that superbowl party, while awesome, not only killed your day, it killed your week!
  • You will notice how much it’s not just the 650 calorie Dunkin Donuts sausage, egg, and cheese that’s screwing you up – but the 1250mg of sodium that came with it.

Wait – the what?

Exactly.

Yesterday I did a decent job on calories. Despite the Dunkin Donuts for breakfast I only took in approximately 2600 calories … and 5200mg of sodium! More than twice the amount you’re supposed to. Holy crap!

But why is this important?

In my usual “barely researching enough that I can talk about something but not pretend I’m an expert”, I found this article on what sodium does to the body – and, yeah, holy crap.

Here’s the short version: high sodium causes your kidneys not to be able to strain out fluid appropriately, so you retain water (yeah, you’ve heard that before).

So what? Well, too much water in the body raises your blood pressure – too much fluid in the veins.

Meh – still not impressed? The veins need to get stronger to hold the pressure – the muscles around them get stronger. Now think about that – how do your muscles get stronger? You can do this … they get bigger – thicker – take up more space. Your vein walls get thicker, and the capacity for the blood to flow through them gets smaller as the veins compress a little …

So what? haha – yeah I know. So you retain water, your blood pressure goes up, your veins get stronger but make the openings smaller, making your blood pressure raise more, making them get stronger still, making … you see the cyclical problem? Blood pressure keeps raising causing it to raise more. Fun times.

So now your on blood pressure medicine. But what else? You mean adding one more pill to your daily routine isn’t enough to inspire you to eat one less Whataburger and more extra cup of fresh kale? or, uhhh, salad? or, uhhh, how about just less processed meat?

Well – this is worse case scenario stuff, but we’re talking about lowering your body’s ability to process and deliver oxygen to your organs, slowly killing your cells and making those organs weaker – like your heart which is already straining with the high blood pressure. We’re talking about a heart a attack. We’re talking about your kidneys working too hard and failing. We’re talking about … well … the opposite of becoming healthy.

Don’t get me wrong – I ate that Dunkin breakfast sandwich and it was grand, and I had frozen fish sticks last night, and French fries – and I mostly don’t regret it. More importantly, I’ll do it again. And again.

However, knowing how much sodium is in what I’m eating is helping me realize that maybe I don’t need to eat frozen food AND that Dunkin sandwich on the same day. Maybe I need that sautéed kale and fresh fish on the evening I have the fast food for breakfast or lunch.

Tell me – how aware are you of the amount of sodium you’re putting into your body?

Go check out our new fat arse support group, Fat Arse February on Facebook, and find some other people who understand how hard it is to get just a little bit healthier.

[ image source – eastpenn.k12.pa.us / dhertzog ]