This week, Jill talks about lifestyle, habits, and how to make positive change in our lives.
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Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
- Kidney Stone Diet Meal Plans
- Safe Snacks and Desserts Ebook
- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
- Private Coaching
Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
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.
Love this episode? There’s more!
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risks 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. Did you see my big thumb in there?
Jeff Sarris: Nothing wrong with that? Yeah, you get the notifications, though, because you do this all on your phone, which like it’s still amazing to me how good the phones are now with the cameras. I know this is completely unrelated, but it looks so good.
Jill Harris: And I have an old phone. Mine’s an 11, so it’s old. I hate spending the money. It’s so much money, phones. It’s ridiculous and whatever. That’s a whole other podcast: why Apple keeps telling us we need to get a new iPhone every year. It’s ludicrous! Anyway, I mean, they’re wonderful. I love cell phones, but I’m just saying it’s like really? We don’t need one every year for $1,500, thank you very much.
Jeff Sarris: But the holidays just passed for us. It’s the beginning of the new year when we’re recording this. Actually, I think it’ll go out in a week from tomorrow. How’s everything been going?
Skip New Year’s resolutions and focus on getting BETTER!
Jill Harris: Everything’s good. You see, my tree is still up and I was just telling Jeff this, I’m going to have a winter tree because it’s so gray here for so long. I went to Michael’s, got 70% off. I got like little winter birds and little winter animals. And that’s what’s gonna go on the tree. I took the decorations off and I’m putting like a winter theme. So that’s new in case anybody needs to think about a journal entry this evening. And the other thing I wanted to say is, yeah, New Year’s resolutions, right? So everyone–I mean there are so many diet ads. My gym is getting busy. It’s always busy this time of year. It’s packed. People who go on a regular basis, like me, are like, “Really, people?” But then by February 14th, everyone’s gone again. So it’s really interesting.
I’m not a real believer, not that anyone asked, but I’m gonna say anyway, I’m not a real believer in the resolutions that you know, “It’s a New Year, new you” kind of crap. I just like to always be like rethinking my life as I go along. Like, I don’t wait for a year. I’m always like what am I sucking out right now? What am I hitting out of the ballpark? I want everyone to remember this, we should also be tallying up all the stuff we’re getting done. Things that we are really crushing, instead of always looking at a list that’s never quite ever done. We need to look at the other side of the list all the things that have been crossed off. So you feel like you’re really making a difference. Otherwise, it can feel kind of depressing, right, Jeff? Like you’re always spinning your wheels. I really try to notice all of the things I’m crossing off every day.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it’s the sort of a cliche sort of thing, but we overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can achieve in a year. And it’s so important to sort of step back today, like the beginning of the New Year, but also just regularly trying to really let it sink in and give ourselves the the kudos and things that we deserve that we actually need to help continue on. And realize, “Oh, I’ve come a long way in this month, year, five years, whatever it is, and this is it’s worth recognizing.”
Jill Harris: In the Kidney Stone Prevention course, in those accountability support calls, I’m always reminding people. People come and say, “I really screwed up this weekend, blah, blah, blah.” I’m like, “Yeah, but you’ve lost 90 pounds in the last year.” You know, you forget because we’re so used to thinking about the things we’re not doing well, or, you know, we haven’t gotten done. And so I’m always reminding people, “Hey, look where you’ve been! Are you kidding?” And then they start cheering up a little. I do the same thing, too, but the reason I brought New Year’s is like, I don’t let a whole year go by before I’m like I need to get my shit tightened up. I’m always tweaking and re-looking. I notice if I’m in a slump, if I you know, what can I do? I’m mindful.
So I’m not all of a sudden, January 1, I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m a mess!” Because I haven’t been doing any maintenance for the last year. That’s super important to me. I’m not great at it, but I sure I’m always in the game with it. I think it’s really important because then you don’t feel so overwhelmed by all the things you would have to change or want to change. I’m always trying to think of ways I can change how I can make myself a little bit better because here at Kidney Stone Diet, what we’re looking for is better not best. I really don’t believe there’s a best. Once you get best, there’s nothing to work for. So we’re always trying to– no matter what the goal is for you–we’re always trying to get better. That’s really important. That’s all, better.
And get all that heavy expectations off our plate where it’s just so daunting, right? So, yeah, I think I just kind of get a little sad with all these New Year’s things being thrown at people because I don’t know. People tend not to stick on things like that. And it’s also, you know, the diet industry is like fasting, and juicing, and things that are not going to be long-term. Yes, will you lose weight? You should because you’re barely eating anything, but our job here at Kidney Stone Diet is to teach you how to eat, how to eat, how to eat for a lifetime, and always tweaking a little bit, right? Because other illnesses may come up or vacations, whatever comes up. We’re teaching you how to eat. Not what to eat, how to eat. All right.
Jeff Sarris: And that education, I always like to sort of position it more just in wellness in general, there’s “a diet” and “our diet.” We’re trying to change our diet through an approach that is the Kidney Stone Diet. We’re trying to better ourselves, rather than like an on again, off again. It’s like a lifetime thing of our diet being a certain thing that improves our lives, rather than takes away from.
Jill Harris: Yeah, and here’s what I’m always trying to teach my patients and students that and–I know you have a caller that we’ll do, but maybe we change this video, Jeff, because we just fly here. We just do what we want to do. Maybe we change it because it is a New Year, and maybe it’s just a timely message. I think when you’re looking at changing your diet, and you know, if you’ve gotten a kidney stone, for sure, you’re really interested in making some changes because you never want to go through that again. That’s what every single person says. So the pain and the surgeries, perhaps sepsis–a lot of people got sepsis, whatever traumatic incidences with kidney stones–you’re very motivated to change. What I also have noticed, though, with people is they think they’re supposed to change this in one day.
And the diet industry will say you got to change, it’s got to be quick, it’s got to be easy. None of this is quick because you have a huge learning curve. That is my experience in 24 years. People have a learning curve. You’re not going to know how to go to a low salt died in a week, low sugar, get all those fluids in, the calcium. So, how do you actually make changes? It’s really lofty and you’ve got to reset your expectations. You can’t change everything. Just getting enough water in is super hard for people. So I think in the diet industry, everything is billed as quick and easy, and, you know, not a problem, and this is the “New Year, New You” kind of junk. I’m not a fan of it because they’re not teaching you how to eat.
They’re gonna tell you the stuff you shouldn’t eat and when you take away those things, then you can eat as much as you want of everything else, like spinach and almonds. That’s always a freebie that people can eat and then get a kidney stone for those who are prone. But who’s sitting down with people and saying, “Okay, you want to try this lifestyle.” And that’s one of the great things about the Kidney Stone Diet. You could do whatever lifestyle you want, as long as you fit into our goals. Whatever makes you happy. You want to do keto, it will be harder, but you can do it. You want to do IF, intermittent fasting, you can do it. Whatever you want. Paleo, whatever, low carb–I do low carb.
I do the Kidney Stone Diet, too. You’re diabetic? Well, you could do the Kidney Stone Diet because they’re a set of goals. But who is really teaching people how to do all those set diets? So lots of times, they’re done incorrectly. There’s no handholding. There is no support. That’s why we came up with the course. That’s why we came up with those calls. We can easily just say here’s the Kidney Stone Prevention course. Here’s your videos, sit down, have a cigarette, watch the videos, enjoy. We have the support calls that I lead because people need to, “Okay, I heard what you said in the video, but I’m just wondering from my lifestyle, how do I do that?” So then you get to have a conversation with somebody.
Also, other people there get to hear the conversation. There’s always something you’re learning in those accountability group calls. So, the point is, I would never be able to sleep at night if that wasn’t offered along with those videos. You must have that and that’s what’s missing. I think Weight Watchers does a really good job of having support. That’s really the only thing I can think of. There’s a couple things, but, again, they’re telling you what to eat. Weight Watchers, maybe with the points, but, again, I’m not a fan of zero points for spinach. So I mean, you know, it’s got to be talked about a little bit more–it has to involve more stuff. And people do really need to set their expectations, and people really should learn how to eat that benefits their body best because all of us are different.
Jeff Sarris: You don’t want to feel guilty about eating something because that’s the big thing. It’s like, “Oh, I can’t have that ever. Like, I’m done.” You’ve brought this up, whether it’s like bread or different things, too, to be like, “Okay, yesterday was the last time I’ll ever have a french fry, for the rest of my life,” which that’s just not feasible.
Have your Cheetos and get back to work!
Jill Harris: Well, and also we think of food as good or bad and, therefore, if that’s bad, we are bad. And women, especially–men, I don’t mean to be sexist here, but my experience shows me when I’m talking to women, they really, really, really, really struggle with that. Men are supposed to be billionaires, and, you know, be strong all the time and never show emotion. Again, I’m coming from 1963, so it’s a little generational how I’m speaking, but my patients and students are also my age so they’ll understand that. And also women and still till this day, have to be a sexpot, skinny Minnie. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Now women are supposed to have asses like the Kardashians. I mean, there’s a lot of people that don’t have that!
I mean, what’s wrong with the way we look? I just loathe it. There’s so many women that come to me and they have all these feelings about if they eat this, than they are that. Oh my god, it breaks my heart. It’s something I never get sick of teaching. It’s something I never get sick of talking about. It’s so very important that we–we must love ourselves. We must take care of our mind. We must be kind to ourselves. We must be grateful for our body. All these things because it really leads to more success. But beating ourselves up because we had, you know, a pastrami on rye? People, it’s only food! What happens? You have a sandwich, whatever it is, a piece of bread, whatever you were told you could never have again, and what’s going to happen to you. Nothing would happen if somebody made that just normal!
Have a piece of bread! Guess what, you’re not going to have all those depressing, angry, upset, I’m-not-good-enough-kind-of-feelings because you had a bun. I mean, we’ve lost our mind, but that’s what the world has done to us. And, so, we vilify food, as if, you know, one food is better than the other. Yeah, a Cheeto is less healthy than an apple. Come on. But does that mean you can ever have a Cheeto? Absolutely not! Do I want you to have a diet of Cheeto and vodka? No, I do not. But if you want a vodka and Cheetos, sometimes, you do it and you get right back to work! What’s one of our slogans here, “Have what you want and get back to work.”
Not spinach and almonds, too bad, so sad. But when people come to me and they start learning, and letting go, I think mostly this is what we’re talking about here–learning to let go of the crap we’ve been taught. And it’s really hard because for so many of us, it’s been ingrained in our childhood for decades. It could be our parents. That’s what their parents told them. A lot of food shaming with my patients. That’s why they are 300-400 pounds. They’re using food as a coping skill. That’s what people do and to hide themselves because they do feel ashamed. And when it gets really deep, I say, of course, please talk to a licensed professional therapist, you know, of course.
But I’m just saying, you know, you can eat whatever food you want if you get right back to work and be mindful of eating healthy most of the time. All food is on your table here at Kidney Stone Diet. We do take away spinach because it’s so high in oxalate, and almonds are high, too, so we take those away, but everything else, even the higher oxalate foods, have a little bit, get your calcium needs met every day, and you can absolutely whatever you want. It’s when we can’t control our portion sizes, that’s when weight comes on and that’s when issues happen. But if you’re maintaining your Kidney Stone Diet goals with salt, and sugar, and all that, you’re definitely going to have to eat less portions, right? Because you’re never going to make those goals.
So it’s kind of worked into the plan, but I’m just saying it always breaks my heart how much I hear the sadness, and the frustration, and the way people beat themselves up over food. It is a real big thing. Once we start pinning, eating well to health, and not how we look, and not who we are, then it really does get magical because there’s less–you know, you don’t beat yourself up. There’s less shame. There’s all of that. Now you have a healthy reason to do this. Not just look like Brigitte Bardot. I mean, come on. It’s ridiculous. So, you know, that’s just my thought going into the new year. I always think about this because I hear, like I said, specifically, women are always talking about how ashamed they are.
Or this is very common. throughout my day: “Jill, I was so bad this weekend.” No, you weren’t. You ate maybe a couple unhealthy foods, but you were not bad. And I’m telling you, think about it, people. And I know there’s not one person listening here that hasn’t used those words, that they’ve been bad. That’s not good for you. Please stop doing it. You’re a wonderful, beautiful human being that just had a Dorito. It’s ok. Just get back to work. Do you have any of that, Jeff? You are younger than me and you’re a man, so do you think men have–do you think it’s less for men–And I know I’m setting you up, but I’m just saying what are your thoughts on this?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I mean, I do think like the guilt can be similar to feeling bad–I would say, in the end, we’re all humans. We have the same broad stroke experiences and perspectives and feelings towards things, especially maybe things that aren’t like self love and the positives. A lot of the negatives will overlap, but then they will be different in ways, like maybe it’s like, “Oh, push it down.” You can’t be vulnerable, maybe, like whatever it is. So there’s definitely the variation, but I think it’s universal just across people. One of the things that I think, too, about the new year that could actually be a positive is to take it and use that as the inspiration to be like, “Okay, I am going to make a change,” but also the inspiration to continue to use that feeling.
It’s not only the new year, it’s like, oh, it’s a new year. It’s a new day, every day, it’s a new week, every week, it’s a new month. And if we can reframe it in a way, like okay, maybe maybe the first of the month, instead of the first of the year, we look at ourselves and be like, “Oh, how did we do this month? How did I compare?” And not like to be crazy analytical, but just overall, how am I feeling? How do I feel about myself? What can I do to make sure that I’m feeling good about who I am, and what I’m doing, and how I’m pursuing life, and living life to the fullest? I think that’s just a valuable approach, overall.
Jill Harris: I do, too. I think eventually what I’d like to do, what we should do with the YouTube channel is segment this up Kidney Stone Diet, and then the “Living Your Best Life” because it all goes together. Food, and healthy lifestyle, and all this, and then Living Your Best Life segment, which, obviously, we’ve turned this into that today. But, you know, the fact that people don’t understand–and I’m working with really educated people, I mean, smart people, smart, smart people I’m working with every single day. They don’t know where to begin because the diet industry has so much just have clouded–we have no rationale as far as how to make a dietary change. We just are.
Again, I speak from 24 years experience. This is what I hear every day. Really smart people have no idea, “How do I look at the label? What am I looking for? What does that mean?” No one’s helped us with understanding nutrition. And nutrition is like a really new field. I mean, it’s hard to study it because you have to get people in a room, and feed them, and take blood tests, and all that. It’s hard and it’s expensive, but what no one ever talks about, again, is making a lifestyle change in this case, food. It’s going to be to take some time. It’s going to take practice. It’s going to take really educating. It’s going to take what you just said, checking in with yourself every week or whatever, however you want to set it up.
I would suggest every weekend, at first, and then when you get a lot of practice in, you can set it up every month. And I think what you said is actually pretty brilliant, where you’re just doing a body scan. Don’t forget up here. I don’t give a shit about your ass. I’m talking about here, mostly, folks. How are we feeling? How is our heart feeling? Do we feel stress? Have we gained weight and only because maybe the goal is you’re trying to lose weight because you’re trying to get off a blood pressure medication, or your A1C is getting up. I don’t care about fat and skinny, I’m talking about due to health care reasons. So it’s going to take time. Lifestyle, anything you change is going to take time, and then practice for the rest of your life. No one ever says that.
So when people don’t lose 50 pounds, or, you know, their relationship doesn’t change in two weeks, they’re like, “Well, forget this! This is a waste of my time!” You gave it 14 days! How much weight do you think you’re gonna lose in a month? It took you two years to gain 150 pounds. I mean, what are we thinking, but we had been brainwashed. And so you could say, again, “Very dramatic, Jill.” But, again, if you heard what I heard every day, and how people are so upset with themselves, and beat themselves up, and feel so down, and feel like they’re a failure, well, then you get real hot under the collar, too, about this. So what we’re trying to do here, again, at Kidney Stone Diet, we’re trying to change the way we–forget about low salt, forget about oxalate. We’re trying to change the way you think about nourishing your body.
Of course to prevent kidney stones, but prevent lots of stuff. And by following this diet, go on the Facebook page, you’ll see how many people lose weight, get off their hypertensive medications, their A1C’s down, blah, blah. Not because Jeff and I are genies in a bottle. It’s because people work hard. They take the conversation, they take the education, and they work it every single day. And there’s not one person–the first person I worked with 24 years ago, they’re still working. Me? I work at this every day and I check in just like Jeff said. I check in every night because it take two seconds when you do it that way. And then I’m not, like, already screwed three weeks later. And I’m like, “Oh my God, what’d I do?”
I check in every week, every night before I go to bed, five seconds. How did I do today? More people coming to me? Did I let somebody talk to me poorly? Did I have a bad experience? Did I overdo salt? Really, at the end of the day, people, your salt and sugar, you won’t have to pay mind to that. I’m talking the heavier things in life, like, are you being treated well? Are you surrounding yourself with good people? Unless you do things like that–is your job bringing you any kind of happiness? I get that you have to pay bills, so you may be stuck in a place that doesn’t bring you 100% happiness, but is it bringing you more happiness than it is sadness? So, for those reasons, too, that’s why we’re eating. Because we have a lot of not-joy and we try to get joy momentarily with food!
So all of this is complicated and it’s certainly not going to solve anything in one YouTube, but I do want to open these conversations. We need to talk about this more. I do talk about it every day in my practice in the Kidney Stone course, but it’s something that needs to be talked about more on YouTube. Don’t listen to all these influencers that are not eating for a day and now they’re ready for their bikini. It takes time, people, and you want to learn how to do a lifestyle well, but mostly, all of this is going to start up here first. We’re gonna start up here first. Undoing the things that you think and then incorporating the new information, and then taking action once you get the information. It’s one thing to collect data. It’s a whole other thing to put that data into action. That’s where the real magic happens.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! I think that’s a great note to wrap on. I mean, this is a very valuable topic.
Jill Harris: Jeff’s like “Oh my god, if I don’t say this, she ain’t ever gonna shut up. Tick tock, Jill!”
Jeff Sarris: No! Like, this is such an important topic and it really just comes down to action, and trying to make a better life for ourselves. This is gonna be a good one, a valuable message to start the year. We’ll have more questions in the next episode, but if you have a question, the number is 773-789-8763. And we will feature you on a future episode. Also, we just set up a Patreon. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a membership platform where you can support creators, and there’s not a lot going on. It’s only because Jill has been asked, “How can I support what you’re doing?”
Maybe someone’s been in the course. They’re not in it anymore. They don’t need the calls, whatever it is. So we just have three tiers set up and you get a shout out at the end of the episode right around here. That’s what we’re doing for now. Maybe in the future it changes, but just so it’s out there so people could support when they’ve asked about it. So it’s patreon.com/kidneystonediet, but, obviously, no pressure. All the free stuff is at kidneystonediet.com. This is always free. We’re just here trying to connect and support as many ways as possible, but just wanted to throw it out there because it’s brand new.
Jill Harris: Yeah, I think it’s great. I mean, I get things all the time. “Jill, how can I support what you guys are doing? I want to help other kidney stone formers get that information out and you’re doing all this hard work. Can we support it in any way?” And that’s there because people have asked. If they want to do it, they do it. It’s extra. I mean, you know, you don’t have to do it. But it’s there because people ask every day so we set something up for you. If you want to do it, great. If you don’t, that’s great, too. We’re happy you’re here.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! With that, we’ll wrap for this week and we’ll see you next time!