A few years ago, while on vacation in Iceland, I broke my ankle. The break was so severe, I had to have a surgery, complete with plates and pins. In addition, I was stuck in bed for over two months, unable to walk, stuck with crutches in the middle of a very icy Winter. I was trapped inside.
As this was my first experience breaking anything, I quickly learned how painful breaking a bone was, and while I was at the doctor's office, I observed other, older women, with painful breaks and cautionary tales. They all finished their stories with "Take care of your bones!"
Although the women in my family have healthy bones, I had a very low risk of Osteoporosis. Yet, as I previously had bad surgery, I did not care to deal with additional problems. I was still was very serious about improving my bone health.
Immediately, after my cast was taken off, I was assigned a rigorous strength training routine, including weight machines and the bike. My physical therapist was fantastic, keeping me motivated and encouraging me to strengthen my bones.
Between my physical therapist and researching the Mayo Clinic website, (http://www.mayoclinic.com/) I started to include bone building workouts such as Tai Chi, Yoga and Brisk Walking, in addition to the weight machines I was already using.
Besides getting physically fit on the outside, I needed to start to include more calcium on the inside. First, I tried to take Calcium pills. Between remembering to take the vitamins, with my busy schedule, and the enormous size, I quickly realized that this was not going to work. Then, I started to load up on milk products, although I was never much of a milk drinker growing up. Cheese was fine, but high in calories, but drinking so much milk made me feel bloated and uncomfortable. Between the weight gain and the uncomfortable feeling, I went back to square one.
After reading such blogs as Nutritionist Monica Reinagel's, The Nutrition Diva, (http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/) I learned that spinach is not the best source of Calcium and that the average American, not-so-healthy, Diet already includes 250 mgs of calcium a day. Also, as she is not a huge fan of taking vitamins she encourages her readers to get their vitamins from food and emphasizes fruits and vegetables.
With my new resolve to get vitamins from food, I started by adding fortified orange juice and a lot of vegetables from the cabbage family. I started to either boil or saute, at least a cup, of kale, bok choy cabbage or mustard greens and added a little bit of lemon and olive oil, and enjoyed this calcium rich food as a side dish.
I soon found that finding calcium in main dish items easy. Although canned sardines are not my sort of thing, I did start to eat calcium rich canned salmon, featured in either a salad or in salmon cakes. White beans, as well as navy beans, are also a good source of calcium. In the Winter, I make a white bean soup with kale or cabbage. In the Summer, I make a salad with white beans, finely chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes and topped with olive oil, lemon, a bit of garlic and chopped fresh dill.
Almonds are a fabulously tasty snack and great source of calcium. I make my own trail mix with a variety of calcium rich nuts, chop up almonds to put on my salads or enjoy a handful as a late afternoon or evening snack.
My journey with calcium has made me feel both empowered and in control of my own health. Feeling good is my reward.