The number one piece of advice Donna recommends is to pick a single goal and set concrete action steps to reach it. Be sure your goal is specific and measurable so that you know exactly what you’re working toward. And, make sure you give yourself a deadline so you stay on track.
“Once you set your goal, tell a loved one of your plan,” Donna says, that way you have both an accountability partner and a support system. “It can be tricky to reach your goals if you don’t have support from significant others, especially people you live with.”
On the path to reaching your goals, it’s important to keep an eye out for common roadblocks that get in the way of reaching them. One common pitfall is setting unrealistic goals and actions, and then losing steam because your goal is not achievable.
For example, if you want to become more active but currently don’t exercise, would you set a goal to walk a 5K in three months? Probably not! But, if you want to increase your physical activity, a more realistic goal is to go for a walk three times per week for 15 minutes. This provides a rest day in between each walk so you don’t burn out and become discouraged. Mark your walk and rest days on your calendar so you always have a plan. Enlist a friend, family member, or neighbor to join you at least once a week to hold yourself accountable. Don’t forget to reward yourself for taking steps toward your goal so that you stay upbeat and focused.
Here are some sample CKD-related nutrition and wellness goals to start your year off right.
Goal: Be aware of your usual blood pressure.
Why: Your kidneys play an important role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. High blood pressure may have a harmful effect on your kidney health. Ask your doctor what a safe range for your blood pressure is so you can make sure it stays in that range.
Action: Take your blood pressure at home, at least once a week. Keep your blood pressure cuff next to a blood pressure log and record each reading. Bring this log to your doctor for review. Here’s a handy Blood Pressure Log to download.
Goal: Limit sodium.
Why: Having too much sodium, aka salt, in your diet can cause high blood pressure—and high blood pressure can wreak havoc on your kidney function.
Action: Skip the saltshaker and, instead, make your own homemade seasoning blend! A simple mix of onion powder, dried onion flakes, garlic powder, and black pepper can add great flavor to savory meats and vegetables. Mix the seasonings together and keep them in a glass jar so you have it on hand when cooking. Try adding citrus such as lemon to brighten up flavor without the salt. Just squeeze one over salmon or chicken breast and enjoy! Learn more about sodium and CKD.
Goal: Avoid high-phosphorus foods.
Why: Phosphorus is a mineral responsible for building healthy bones. Your kidneys are responsible for removing extra phosphorus because too much of it can steal calcium from your bones, making them weak. “Inorganic phosphorus” is especially harmful for your kidneys—and it’s often present as a preservative in processed foods, frozen meals, dairy products, and fast foods.
Action: Cook at home at least 4 days a week or limit eating out to 2 days a week. And, when you’re itching to hit your favorite ice cream shop, opt for the sherbet flavors instead! Check ingredients labels to be on the lookout for inorganic phosphorus sources so you can steer clear. Download some more phosphorus tips.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to set health goals, but it doesn’t stop there. Use these tips and tricks throughout the year to set more goals that stick and avoid ones that don’t. Focus on your growth, celebrate your wins, and lean on your loved ones as you kick your kidneys into shape!