This post is the second part of the why and how of staying well hydrated. If you missed the first part, read why water is so important to every other part of your health here. Now that we are motivated to drink more water, we are going to talk about how to get it done.
Drink Well to Be Well
Yesterday, we looked at the dangers of not drinking enough water. But that’s not the only problem. Not only is not drinking enough water a problem, but some drinks like coffee, soda, alcohol, and energy drinks can dehydrate you even more. This is when NOT drinking will help you stay properly hydrated.
How much water is enough?
So how much water should I be drinking anyway? There are many ways to answer this question. The one that is easiest for me to remember is ½ ounce for every pound you weigh per day. For example, a 150-lb person would need to drink at least 75 ounces a day.
Keep in mind that you need to take activity level, season, and climate into consideration as well.
Of course this isn’t an exact formula. You need to listen to your own body and learn to read your own signals.
Your kidneys are key to maintaining the proper fluid levels in your body, so the best test of how hydrated you are is the color of your urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.
When I was in Basic Training, the upperclassmen’s constant refrain was, “If you’re not peeing clear, you’re wrong.” It was summer at high altitude and we were exerting ourselves physically all day long.
Keeping us hydrated was how they kept themselves out of trouble.
Sometimes, they were overzealous though. And we, being basic cadets, were not allowed to listen to our bodies. We were required to listen to the upperclassmen. So when they said “drink more water!”, we drank whether we needed it or not.
In fact, after one such “hydrating episode”, the water I just drank starting pouring out my nose because there was nowhere else for it to go. I don’t recommend you drink that much. Please listen to your body and stop drinking before it is forced to come back up on its own!
Can I drink too much water?
In case you were wondering, there’s is such a thing as drinking too much water. It’s rare and difficult to do, but it is physically possible to drink more water than your body can process, especially if you drink a lot in a short amount of time.
This dilutes important chemicals in your body like electrolytes, stomach acid and your blood to such an extent that the body cannot recover. It usually happens with elite athletes pushing their bodies to extreme limits. If you want to learn more, look up “hyponatremia” or “water intoxication”. I bet you didn’t know you could get water drunk, did you? Well, know you know.
But, unless you are an elite athlete or in basic training under the supervision of fanatical trainers, you probably don’t need to worry about drinking too much water. More likely, your challenge will be not drinking enough.
Practical Ways to Drink More Water
The easiest way to track your water intake is to get a large water bottle you like that has fluid amounts marked on it. Do the math once to figure out how many bottles you need a day. Then just fill the bottle to the top only after you finish the whole thing.
With the water bottle I use, I know I need to aim for 3 full bottles a day. It’s much easier to keep track of 3 bottles than it is to count 8 glasses or 80 ounces.
- I try to drink one in the morning while I’m doing my morning devotional before breakfast.
- I usually have a second one while I’m working out. At the end of my workout, I finish whatever is left.
- Then I have the rest of the day to finish off a third bottle which is not hard to do. Easy Peasy.
I try to always have water nearby. I keep a reusable bottle in my purse, at my desk, and beside my bed. These three are in addition to the measured bottles I just told you about. I’m not as concerned about keeping track of how much I drink of these bottles. They are bonus.
I find that I am just more likely to drink water if it’s right there and easy to get to. Having water next to you at your desk is great because you will probably sip it absent mindedly just because it’s there. (Kind of like the chips at the Mexican restaurant or the M&Ms at Bunco only much better for you! :-))
One hindrance to drinking more water is that plain water can taste a little bland and uninspiring, especially if your taste buds are used to soda, fruit drinks, and coffee.
Here are some tricks to try:
- Use frozen fruit as ice cubes
- Add diced cucumbers or whole berries
- Squeeze a little fresh citrus fruit into your glass (lemon, lime, orange)
- Soak fresh mint (or other herbs) in your water
- Add a dash of cinnamon or stir with a cinnamon stick (Cinnamon has the added benefit of helping to regulate blood sugar!)
- Drink herbal tea
- Add a splash of your favorite 100% fruit juice (Not too much though, or you’ll spike your blood sugar.)
- Try to drink your water at room temperature. Your body has to work that much harder to process water that is too cold.
So hopefully, I have whet your appetite for more water. Don’t just sit here staring at the screen. Go fill up your water bottle and start drinking to build a stronger body!
Join us again next week to hear how to incorporate exercise into your busy life.
What are you going to start doing this week to drink more water?
Click the image below to find the links to all the posts in this series.
Next post in this series:
Week Four: Exercise Consistently
Part 1: Get Motivated to Exercise Consistently