I’m a big water drinker and have consistently consumed at least 64 ounces a day (with some exceptions here and there because I am human) since high school. I really do believe in its relationship to my health and athletic performance. Plus I get horrible migraines and hydration is a key factor in prevention. I wrote this post a while back about how I hydrate in case you’re interested.
However, in the last couple weeks I’ve kind of been sucking on the drinking water front. What’s happened? I have no idea! All of a sudden I just realized that my water drinking had dropped out of my daily habit. I guess I thought since it was a habit, I didn’t have to pay attention to it. I guessed wrong. I have barely been drinking 30 ounces of water a day for weeks, which is very unusual for me! I’ve also been more fatigued, headachy, and generally cranky sooo yeah.
I suppose this just goes to show me that I just have to remain vigilant about drinking water. In an attempt at course correction, I’m back on the water drinking bandwagon. I’m about 20 ounces in for the day right now… still a ways to go! I thought today I’d put together a post about the strategies I use to make sure I drink enough water and stay hydrated every day. Here’s my list:
- Start the day strong. I am a devoted coffee drinker, but I try to start each morning with a mug of warm water with lemon. I still get the warm beverage that coaxes me out of bed, but it a solid 8 ounces of water to start the day before I hit the gym. Plus the lemon mixed with warm water has a number of health benefits.
- Make it a routine. When I arrive at the office in the morning, I have a mini routine. Put down my bags, start up my computer, grab my coffee mug and water jug, and head to the kitchen to stash my lunch in the refrigerator. Here I make a cup of coffee (because I LOVE COFFEE) and fill up my water jug (I use the word jug very intentionally because it is massive… see below). This starts my work day off with a fresh, COLD water supply. I don’t really enjoy room temperature water as much.
- Get supplies that work for you. I get made fun of A LOT at the office for the size of my water bottle. I bought it at Walmart probably 8 years ago, but I think it is amazing. It holds 64 ounces of water, which is the baseline amount I shoot for every day. This means that I can fill it up first thing in the morning and not have to fill it again for the rest of the day. I also make sure that I leave it empty every night when I pack up to leave work. This works FOR ME as a way to regulate / visualize my consumption. The water bottle is way too big to actually drink out of, so I use a cup for easy consumption. Do whatever works for you… get a water bottle with a straw if you’re more likely to sip while working!
- Drink water with meals. I love a glass of wine or a beer as much as the next person. But interestingly enough, I don’t often like to drink alcohol with meals. I like to have a drink before a meal or after but during, I prefer to drink water (or occasionally diet soda as a treat because I’m sorry I WON’T GIVE IT UP!) I find this allows me to enjoy my food while eating, my alcohol when drinking, and sneak in some extra water. Triple win!
- Do a midday check in. Sometimes my mornings get crazy at work and I forget to start hydrating. I like to schedule a “mental check in” with myself around midday to see if I’ve drank enough water. This is a tactic I actually learned from Intuitive Eating (you are encouraged to stop midway through a meal for a mental check in and I find it works very well for me).
- Spice it up when you get bored. I am a big proponent of drinking plain water and I don’t like adding anything with artificial sweeteners (at that point… I’d rather have a Diet Dr. Pepper because it takes delicious). However, I love to add slices of citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) or cucumbers to my water to give it a little flavor if I’m feeling uninspired. The lobby of my building always has a huge jug of cold cucumber water set out and I totally dig it.
Share with us:
- What are your “hydration strategies”?
- How much water do you drink every day?
- Can you tell when you’re not drinking enough?
Sometimes I think we don’t give ourselves enough credit. I certainly do not. This week has been completely and totally work dominated (it isn’t normal that I work until 8 pm two out of three nights … sorry if that is normal for your job but it’s not for mine) and my workouts have really suffered. Yesterday I found myself dwelling in my mind about how bad it was that my workouts were so cut back this week and how bad that was for me. (I may have also found myself wandering back to the “you’re so fat and lazy” place, but I tried to reel that in) But today I’m once again moving my perspective into the positive. Today I’m going to acknowledge all the little things that I do to improve my health and wellness daily. Maybe this list will serve as a reminder to some people to acknowledge their good habits, and maybe it will provide others with some useful tips / suggestions! Please chime in and let me know what your little health habits are!
- I walk to and from work. I live just about a mile from my office (I live in a city so I realize this is not applicable to everyone) and by adding about 10 minutes to my commute I can walk it instead of taking the bus. I also save money… hollaaaa! It just adds steps and movement to my day even though I wouldn’t necessarily consider it “exercise”. Even if you can’t walk the whole way, could you walk more than you do?
- I include vegetables or fruits with every meal and snack. I’m not saying that I absolutely always always always eat strictly healthy foods, but I make a concerted effort to include at least one serving of vegetables or fruit with every meal and snack. You’ve probably heard the saying “Strive for 5” (meaning 5 servings of vegetables or fruit every day) and this the easiest way to do it. Most days, I make each meal/snack a 50/50 split with veggies and fruit. If I can’t make it exactly 50/50, I at least get something in. Are you striving for 5?
- I always have a water bottle with me. Some days I drink way more than others, but no matter where I am I have my water bottle with me. Drinking water and being properly hydrated is so important (refer back to this post) and I notice a real difference in how I feel. Are you properly hydrated every day?
- I stand up at work.I work a desk job and some days I’m sitting for 10 hours a day. Extended sitting is a serious health risk. While I can’t change my profession, and I don’t have the dough to buy a treadmill desk, I stand up whenever possible. I walk around the office as much as possible, and I even prop up my computer on a box and work standing up. Could you stand up more at work?
- I look inward. I’m far from perfect, which I think is pretty evident at this point on the blog. But what I try to do everyday is be introspective and self-aware. Yes, sometimes my head goes to “the dark place” but at least I am able to recognize it and acknowledge it. I ask myself every day, what can I do to improve my position in this world? What can I do to be the best me possible?
So, I’m curious, what do you do that makes you the best you possible?? Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back every know and again for the little things. And go ahead and forgive yourself for the brownie you ate last night (haha ok that was me)
Also… here’s a picture of me wearing a viking helmet. Just because.
The beginning of this post might sound somewhat conceited but just bear with me because we’re going somewhere good. I am in really good health. I don’t mean I’m super skinny (I am not), or that I am in SUCH amazing shape or anything like that. I mean that I hardly ever (and by that I mean almost never) get sick. I got sick immediately following my marathon but prior to that the last time I was really sick was February 2010 (my senior year of college). As I’ve made clear on this blog, I try to live a lifestyle that is rich in mostly healthy eating and exercise, but I attribute my good health mainly to two different factors: getting ample sleep and staying hydrated. I know I mentioned yesterday that I am a “champion sleeper” and it’s really true. Getting 8 hours of sleep a night will literally change your life. However, today I’m in the mood to talk about hydration.
How much water do you drink every day? I aim for a minimum of 64 oz of water per day (that would be the old standard 8 8oz glasses). I use a Nalgene bottle most days (which is 32 oz) and aim to drink at least two (32 oz before lunch and then another 32 oz before dinner). Some days I drink another 16 – 32 oz on top of that. Depends on how hard I workout, how much I sweat etc. I definitely drink more on days I do hot yoga, because I lose a lot of water. On a typical workday, you can find this on my desk at all times (bottle of water and a cup of iced black coffee).
But sometimes I just want more than plain water! I LOVE carbonated water as a treat. I’m dying to have a Soda Stream, but haven’t worked up to actually purchasing one for myself. I usually grab a couple liter bottles of Vintage Seltzer at the grocery store, or a case of La Croix cans at Costco. The only thing I watch out for with carbonated water is added aspartame (the Harris Teeter generic brand of carbonated water has it! Disappointing).
Before I started running, I NEVER drank sports drinks. I just never felt like I needed them, and all my weird eating / food issues really flared up when I thought about drinking calories during or after a workout. However, once I started running, my need to fuel my body right for peak performance started to trump that. I still don’t drink a ton of sports drinks, but there are a couple I’ve come around to. Hydration is all about what works for you, and I find that when I sweat a lot I lose a LOT of salt (literally like white crystal film covers my entire face after a race… yuck). I therefore tend to prefer sports drinks for the electrolytes rather than a lot of sugar. A little sugar prevents me from getting an exercise induced migraine, but I tend to use running supplements (like GU gels, Jelly Belly Sport Beans, or Clif Shot Bloks) instead of sports drinks for that purpose during exercise (usually only long runs / races).
I like coconut water a lot and I love how it’s not artificial / loaded with sugar. My favorite brand is Vita Coco. They have really good flavors but the plain is just as good. Their coconut water is not from concentrate too (unlike Zico).
I also sometimes drink Gatorade G2. I like having this lower sugar option both for nutrition and taste. If my only option is regular Gatorade, I usually mix it with water (approximately 50/50 ratio). This is usually after a hard workout. During a workout, I’m all water.
I am also slowly but surely coming around to the idea of Chocolate Milk as a recovery drink. I totally scoffed at it at first. I mean I just worked out really hard… MILK? I gag. But then I tried it, and it was actually like having liquid heaven after a race. I haven’t made it a regular part of my routine yet… but I’m coming around.