Gather round team, time for a (low-sodium) pep talk!

I don’t normally delve into my family’s day-to-day doings, but the strength of this analogy cannot be denied.

This is my daughter, Maddie.  Maddie started middle school in the fall and announced early on that she wanted to join the swim team. For a kid who’s never expressed much interest in sports and had never before played on a team, this was pretty big news.

Swim team started two weeks ago and with it daily practice. Overnight, Maddie went from her normal footloose & fancy-free (lack of) routine to a disciplined schedule. I braced myself for the possibility that she might not enjoy it. I half-awaited an announcement that the daily grind of school and practice was too much. But each day she’s returned home glowing. Her gusto for swim team is contagious.

Yesterday was Maddie’s very first meet. I watched with nervousness as she mounted the diving platform. Here was my daughter, a new & determined athlete giving it her all. Maddie placed third out of her 6-girl heat. Last night before bed she told me she couldn’t wait to get to practice today.

To see something so fundamentally good blossoming within my child, a love of camaraderie and competition, fills my heart with joy. It’s every parent’s wish: to instill in their child a desire to succeed, to encourage them in their passion, and through failure and success discover what life is all about.

Similarly, each of us comes to the low-sodium table not as a champion, but as a novice. We start with our first tentative strokes, and sometimes we come up choking. We may feel defeated. But I’m here to say don’t give up.

On those days when you feel as though you’re simply treading water or that you’re swimming on autopilot, remind yourself – you’re in the pool! Those above you on the bleachers can see your progress, even when you can’t. You may struggle with fatigue, but with daily practice you’re building endurance and ultimately, success.

Living without salt and without convenience is a pain in the.. I want to say butt, but it’s far more than that. It’s a chore. Much like my daughter’s daily swim practice, a low-sodium diet is something you must commit to. You can’t slack off and expect to make inroads. It can be hard, but like swim team, it’s easier together. When we motivate each other, encourage ourselves, and provide inspiration, making wise and healthy choices becomes rote.

Whether you’re living low-sodium because of heart disease, hypertension, renal failure, Meniere’s disease or something else altogether, I want to remind you: YOU ARE LIVING. Until that very last breath, you have the ability to do something. Food can heal. If you don’t believe me, pick up a copy of The China Study or watch the documentary film, Forks Over Knives. Food choices can change lives. I’ve seen it firsthand. The difference in my quality of life now, and that before the low-sodium diet, is night and day. And low-sodium days add up. In the same way a diet of fast food and convenience does damage to your body, you can help reverse that damage, meal by meal. Think of food as medicine. You are what you eat. Feed yourself accordingly.

Like most things in life, staying healthy and maintaining sanity on a low-sodium diet is all about motivation. It’s up to you. No one can put food in your mouth three times a day from now till the grave; it’s your responsibility. So make yourself, your health, and your happiness a priority, and I promise to keep rooting us on.

GO TEAM LOW-SODIUM!

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