This week, Jill answers what may be the most frequently asked kidney stone question on the internet: “What’s the This week, Jill talks about the grief that she’s experiencing, how it affects her diet, and shares her techniques for getting back on track.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. Do you know, Jeff, every time we play that music at the beginning, I look at your sweet, handsome face and I want to laugh. Because we have to be quiet and I’m a perpetual, like teenage boy. I’m always like, “Oh, we got to be quiet. Let’s giggle at each other and see if we can make each other laugh.” It’s the silliest thing, but that’s what I’m doing when I’m smiling, so y’all know!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it makes sense. I mean, it is funny, because it’s so relaxed. We’ve been talking already before we started recording, but it’s just like a formality that we don’t really typically follow.
Jill Harris: Well, you know, and people they’ll write me emails and stuff and they’ll say, “You know, the reason why I like your guys’ podcast is because, you know, you just do what you want to do.” And, listen, one of the reasons I have to work for myself, and Jeff, you, too, we kind of really do want to do what we want to do. We’re not gonna have anyone tell us otherwise. Am I correct?
Jeff Sarris: Oh, absolutely! Yeah, I had a job long enough and that was it. Like, once I left there was no turning back. It was one of those things I like to say that–once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it, you know? I was in it and I’m like, “This is not the space for me.” I’m not one to, at times, have to almost pretend, you know, like, pretend that I need to fill this time. Because, otherwise, that was a red flag. It’s an issue. If you’re not like filling all of your hours and looking busy, even if you’re efficient at your work. You’re not necessarily busy all the time, potentially, at least at what I do anyway, when it comes to hardware stuff.
Jill Harris: I understand. Plus, I think in order–there’s a couple things in life that I think are really important. Number one, you have to be yourself in order to be your best. And, you know, a lot of people are in jobs that they really cannot be themselves, right? So, they can’t be their best, I believe in that. And then the other thing is, you should be able to wear clothes that also make you feel comfortable, so you can be your best. So, you know, to be buttoned up, and tight, and ties, and it’s just not my deal. It’s just silly things, but that makes such a big difference in life I think, you know? And also that you can swear sometimes! And I know I have some followers that are like, “I don’t like that you swear, Jill.” First of all, if you understood how toned down I am for this podcast, you’d be like, “Wow, she’s basically a nun!” Just want to say that! I gotta be transparent, people! So, you know, it’s all important to be yourself. We couldn’t roll any other way.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! So, yeah, a lot has happened lately. It’s a tough time. With the holidays coming around–which we were talking about how unbelievable that is. It doesn’t feel like that’s possible that we could be at this point in the year already. It’s just zoomed right by!
A Note About Love, Loss, & Grief
Jill Harris: Yes, it has. And, you know, it’s funny to me, because it seems like the older one gets, the faster time goes by. And that really is true, but this year, boy, it just was a blip. And to comment on what Jeff was just talking about–to my followers, so many of you already know, but unfortunately, I lost my beautiful brown dog, Luke, my big chocolate lab. He died a couple days before Thanksgiving, unexpectedly. He woke up on a Sunday, and he couldn’t walk. And of course, I was like, “Well, what the hell! Maybe I walked him too much the day before. I don’t know what happened.” He’s limping a little. My son’s like “He’s limping.” I said, “Nate, it’s like he’s paralyzed. I don’t know what’s wrong with him!”
So we took them to the ER vet and they said, “Maybe he, you know, hurt his neck or–” Obviously they didn’t look very well. So, I came home with painkillers for him and some anti inflammatories and then the next day, Monday, I brought him back to the vet and they did do imaging and they’re like, “He has a huge tumor on his spine. And it’s compressing some of his nerves and he’s not able to walk.” And also this tumor was so big, it displaced his esophagus and his larnyx. And so that was it. I had to put them down and when I tell you–everyone’s like, “Well, of course, Jill. Of course you’re upset.” No, no, people. Down for the count. Down for the count upset.
I’ve always had dogs my whole adult life. I never thought it would hit me like this. And one of the reasons I bring that up is because this is very important for everybody listening. People will say, you know, “I’m going on vacation. This is happening. I have a lot of errands to do. What am I going to do? I can’t keep up with the goals of the Kidney Stone Diet for this amount of time.” Here’s the deal, people. Life throws shit at you. That just happens a few times a week, sometimes daily for a while. Meaning you’re never going to be perfect with lifestyle changes. You just won’t be. And the diet industry wants to make you think you’re either on a diet or off a diet. And they like you to be off diet so they can sell you new ones. We are not in that business to do.
We are in the business to tell you that stuff’s gonna happen: your dog will die; you may get a divorce; you may have a new illness; you may have a fight with your spouse; you may have a kid that’s on dope. Yes, I’m that old. I said dope! Whatever the case is, what are you going to do when something hits you? So Luke dying, sent me–I was totally gone for several, several days. This just happened a week and a half, two weeks, right before Thanksgiving. And so my default unhealthy way to live is that I don’t eat when I’m upset. I don’t care about anything. I’m only monofocused on what is happening to me at that point.
Notice Your Grief Eating Patterns
So, for me, I totally digress and just cannot eat because I’m so upset. Now, because I know that about myself–and you may be saying, “Well, what the hell are you talking about yourself for?!” Because you can learn from it! Calm down. Listen, hold on. This is about you, really, not about me. But I always like to throw me in the mix because a lot of people say, “You’re so lucky! You got it down! Bla bla bla bla.” No I don’t! I got to work just as hard as you do. And this is why we say this is a practice every single day, okay? So, when Luke died, I wasn’t eating. I noticed that within 24 hours because I know what my default is. So, I put him down on a Tuesday morning, did not eat most of the day on Tuesday. But then Tuesday night, in the midst of my blubbering and depression, I said to myself, “Look, obviously you’re upset about this, but you not eating, or drinking water is not going to make this any better for you.”
Meaning, when we are going through something and we’re not taking care of ourself, it’s even more important that we get back on our healthy lifestyle. Because why make ourselves feel worse? So, look, I still have a full client load. I’m still doing the Kidney Stone Prevention course every day. I got stuff to do. And of course I’m allowed to feel depressed and and all that and grieve, but I have to nourish my body because I can at least prevent myself–do what I can–from what just happened to me and do what I can to make it doable. Better. Keep on trucking. Does that mean I’m happy? Does that mean I’m okay now? A hundred percent no. I’m still not okay, quite frankly, but I’m going to do what I can to get myself back to where I need to be. And so a lot of people undereat a lot of people overeat.
So, for those of you who are trying to feel better and take comfort, by eating when something happens, no matter whatever that is–the point is, you’re not helping yourself. I know it feels good for about 10 minutes, and then you eat that unhealthy food and then you feel worse about yourself. So the reason I’m bringing this up and explaining to you about Luke and what I went through, is because I have a choice and so do you. When you’re going through something in your life, no matter what it is, pay attention to the unhealthy habits you default to. For me, it’s not eating, not hydrating. For you, it may be overeating overhydrating with gin, picking up a pack of cigarettes, whatever it is. The quicker you notice it and get back to your healthy lifestyle, it will not fix the original problem that perhaps led you to your default, but you can notice it quickly and move on with trying to nourish your body in the best way for you at that time, so you could least start physically feeling a little bit better. Does that all make sense, Jeff?
Jeff Sarris: Oh, it absolutely does. I mean, it’s so difficult. And we all sort of cope with experiences like that differently. And a lot of people do turn to food, but like you said, you turn away from food. So, what were some of the things that you notice maybe? Like, how did you first notice, like sort of stick a pin and be like, “Oh, like, I’ve seen this.” Was there any moment that happened?
Two Questions to Ask Yourself Every Night for Healthy Habits
Jill Harris: Yeah, I think that’s an excellent question, and I think it will be different for everybody. But when I’m talking to my patients, or my students, I tell them this so it becomes a habit. Every night, before I go to bed–some people have different rituals–while I’m brushing my teeth or after I brush my teeth and go to bed, I do a quick scan of my brain. Like I said, I ask my patients and my students to do this. Take 10 seconds, six seconds, four seconds, ask yourself this: “How did I do today nourishing my body?” One question. And number two, “How did I do today with fluids?” Those are two things that you can ask yourself every night before you go to bed to–really it takes less than five seconds. And you can say, “Hey, you know, I didn’t drink as much as I would like to. I’m going to start getting right back on that tomorrow.”
So again, we’re always practicing. “I did not meet my calcium needs today. Gotta make sure I get them tomorrow. I overate sugar today. So, I’m going to get back on the wagon tomorrow and keep practicing.” And so I noticed I’m like, “Okay, Jill,”–between like I said, blubbering–”how’d you do today?” It’s just part of my habit. Just like I wouldn’t go to bed without brushing my teeth. So, I said to myself, “You barely ate a thing. Tomorrow, in order to get your strength back, you gotta eat.” Plus, that happens to be–you’re talking to somebody who went through stage four cancer, divorce, all the things I’ve been through in my life, a lot of stuff, by the way. This dog has brought me to my knees. My companion, my best friend, he’s been there through everything for me, through really hard times in my life. And I guess this whole video is going to be about Luke. Oh well, Jeff, sorry.
Jeff Sarris: No, no apologies!
Jill Harris: The reason I talk about Luke, too, is because, you know, animals are such a wonderful thing. Whether you have a human best friend, a cat, a bird, frog, a dog, whatever it is, I think, you know, he brought me such comfort in such a tumultuous time in my life for the last seven years or so. So, the calmness he brought and the comfort and the joy that he brought me is still breathtaking to me. So, that’s all I can tell you. And then, also, I listened to somebody and this is what they said–and when I emailed all my patients back, so many people wrote me because my newsletter was about Luke and his passing. So many people wrote me so many kind words and one of the things I learned throughout this–and that’s the one great thing about grief, or sadness, or bad things that happened to you in your life you learn so much. And one thing I learned was somebody said, “Grief is all the unexpressed love you have for the departed.”
And that made me feel so much better. So, I always say to my patients, too and students, turn it around, Buster Brown. Whether you’re looking at nutrition labels or maybe you’re looking at diet in a negative way, turn it around and look at it in a different way, a positive way. So, instead of, you know, freaking out and taking to my bed like an old Italian woman, “I’m grieving I’m grieving,” I liked thinking about it that way. Grief is, you know, all the love–all the unexpressed love–you had for the departed. I think that’s a beautiful way to look at it and it’s helped me tremendously. So, that’s how I’ve been looking at it. That’s all I got on Luke. I miss him every day. Everyone wants to send me a puppy. I don’t think I’m ready for that yet, but I miss him greatly. He was definitely my best friend.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and I think it’s great because you know just the amount of love and care that you received from him, but also that you gave, too, for all those years. So yeah, it just means a lot.
Jill Harris: It’s funny when you have a pet, you think you’re not doing very much. That’s how you feel because you get so much but then yeah, you know I did things, too, I guess.
Jeff Sarris: I wish we were in person for this one.
Jill Harris: I know.
Everyone’s always like, “God, I hate when Jill cries because she never does! Geez!” But, I mean, I’m a big sap in real life, people, I gotta say. So, you know, you get through it, though. What’s interesting is watching the process. So I am a pretty mindful person, you know, so I watch my process, and every day gets a little bit better. And then you have a day where you see a piece of hair that I still didn’t sweep up, and you’re like, “Oh, my God!” You go back and forth for such a long time or something you thought you threw away, and there’s, you know, you find an old toy under a couch. It’s hard. It really is, but it shows you how much animals bring to your life. It really is amazing, and I’m so very grateful–he died, I think, a few days before his 10th birthday–so I had him for the most important parts of my life, really. And I’ll always be grateful, so I have all those wonderful memories. I don’t know. Do you want to talk about sugar now, Jeff? Or we can just make it into the next video. I don’t know.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, yeah, I think this is a good spot to wrap it because it’s important to share about what you’re going through. This is a piece of you; this show is a major piece of you. And Luke is and was everything. So, it’s important to share and sort of get it out there, and also for other people who are grieving and going through things and like understanding what you’re going through and how you’re going through it. That is extremely valuable.
Jill Harris: It is and the thing is because people think, “Ah, she’s always bodybuilding. She’s doing this, she’s doing that.” But it’s not easy for me either, and this is why I tell people, “Look, what I’m asking you to do, what Jeff has asked me to do, what Dr. Coe is asking you to do, my mentor, we understand that this is hard.” And when life throws stuff in your way, it’s even harder. You’re going to, no matter–I’ve been eating healthy for years and years, it doesn’t mean that when there’s something I’m going through, it doesn’t mean that I don’t go to my default. But I have to know that about myself and get back to work as soon as I can. Also, the next day I went to the gym. Why? Because, again, I’m always chasing outcomes. I know that if I go to the gym, I’m going to not only feel stronger, physically, I’m going to feel stronger mentally. And, for me, that’s everything. So, again, I will ask patients and students, please, please find healthy coping skills. They are amazing. And they are so beneficial when you need them most, right?
So, you know, it’s not easy. I wanted to just take to my bed the whole day after died for many days, but I have work to do, and I have things to do. That includes my daily regimen of working out. So, again, it’s important to have those go-tos because it makes you–even though you still feel crappy–you’re going to feel a bip better. And that’s what we’re looking for; that’s what gets you in the game quicker. So that’s why I think it’s important to talk about Luke are anything that I go through just to show people that, “Look, I’m gonna have an unhealthy day, too. So what?” I don’t care about it, if people have an unhealthy day or two. The fact is–because life happens–the fact is, though, the quicker you get back in the game, the better you will feel no matter what you’re going through. So that’s, more importantly, the message for today’s video.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a perfect note to wrap on. And if you’re–I feel funny doing like the normal outro for it–but head over to kidneystonediet.com, and there you can find everything that Jill has on offer. We have premium products, like the Kidney Stone Prevention course, and then free things like the weekly newsletter that Jill sends to your inbox every Saturday. Also, the Kidney Stone Prevention course on Facebook for the community because when moments like this happen, it really means a lot to have a community. And that community feels very tight knit, you know.
Jill Harris: Yeah, I will say this to that Facebook community and the newsletter community. There’s thousands and thousands of people in both of those communities–and I’ve talked about this, too–I thought I was building those communities for them. I cannot tell you how much the community I created happens to be–it has been so much for me. I thought I was creating it out of the goodness of my heart for everybody, but it has become such a great support and value in my life and companionship. Everything that I wanted to give, I’ve gotten back a million fold. I mean, I don’t even know what to say. So many times I’m rather speechless about at all. It’s a wonderful community. If you are on Facebook, please join the Kidney Stone Diet group. And in my newsletter, I always send out things on Saturdays, talking about diet and habit-forming things, all kinds of stuff. So, join that community. They’re great.
Jeff Sarris: So, I think we’ll wrap right there. Thanks again for listening and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Bye, guys! Thank you!