One thing I did not mention from my weight-loss post two weeks or so ago was the importance of staying hydrated. This really seems like an elementary school concept, one that most people would smack their heads and loudly proclaim “Duh!” over, but it has always been a huge problem for me. I guess I just figured I was getting enough fluids in my body through the things that I drank, and that the 8 cups of water thing was vastly overrated. I also always thought that 8 cups of water meant 8 cups of liquid, and I was surely getting that.
Again, I’m no expert in this, but I think that if you are drinking soda and juice and other beverages in lieu of your 8 cups of water, you might be hijacking your weight-loss goals. Aside from all the calories and sugar you are consuming, beverages containing caffeine may just be flushing all the fluids straight back out of you (too many trips to the bathroom, maybe?) While some diuretics are good, especially for ailments like high blood pressure, flushing the fluids back out of your body at an elevated rate seems, at least to me, to be the same as not even drinking them in the first place. Yes, you may be flushing sodium and things that aren’t healthy for you, but your body is roughly 60% water, so flushing out excessively by drinking beverages that are diuretics doesn’t sound like the healthiest thing to me. I could be wrong on that one, but it makes sense, right?
Even just looking at it from a layman's perspective, drinking other fluids in place of water doesn’t make much sense. You don’t wash your clothes or dishes with soda or juice, do you? You wash it with water, because water is (hopefully) clean. You clean your floors with water. You wash your car with water. Water is pure and has zero calories. And if you try to argue that diet sodas have zero calories, try mopping your floor with a can of diet soda and see how clean it feels afterwards. Eww.
Water is great at deception, because when you drink it, it tricks your tummy into thinking you’ve eaten something. Drink two cups of water a half hour before a meal, and you’re probably going to want to eat a little less than normal. Do it for all of your meals, and you’re probably going to end up quite a few calories shy of your normal dietary intake.
Water has other benefits too, like keeping your skin looking good and healthy, keeping you regular, etc. Seems like a no-brainer to drink it. But here’s where I and lots of others get stuck. I remember my dad once saying, “I’m not going to drink water. That’s all I had to drink when I was younger, and so now I’ll drink whatever I want.” It’s a very common perspective. Water is so ho-hum. It doesn’t taste like anything. You’d naturally rather drink something with flavor. Well, you could always get the flavored waters or packets to add to your water, but I always found them to taste like weak Kool Aid--no doubt because all of the sugary soft drinks and fruit drinks I've had my entire life have messed up my palate. And adding those flavor packets to your water 8 times a day can be expensive and a hassle, and it’s not something that someone who is struggling with their weight may be able to do consistently.
Here’s what I’ve trained myself to do. In the morning, I’ll get up, and the first thing I do is get a 16 ounce glass of it and gulp it down. By doing that, I’m already a quarter of the way to my 8 cup goal. Oh yeah! *said like the Kool Aid man* It also helps when your water is cold, so if you don’t have a water cooler, put some tap water in a pitcher and keep it in the refrigerator. Ice cold water, at least for me, goes down so much more easily than cool or luke-warm water does.
I have a 24-ounce plastic cup with a plastic straw that I keep in the office with me. As soon as I get to work, I fill that up and try to have it empty by lunch. I don’t really sip at it, though. I’ve tried that, and it always seems like I have way too much left with 10 minutes to go before noon. Instead I’ll chug about a third of it every hour or so. That’s a cup an hour, and so typically by the time I’m done with work, I’ll have had my 8 cups. Easy peasy.
If you are following along with me in trying to make some lifestyle changes, here’s a good assignment for you. Get a measuring cup and some clear glasses, and measure yourself out 8 cups of water. Then look at what you have. That’s what is recommended that you drink each day. Most of us will probably be surprised by that amount. But when you start to develop a routine of drinking it more often, you won’t even think about it. It will just become a natural part of your life.
And if you’re a heavy soda drinker like I am (was), perhaps it will even curb your appetite for those types of beverages. After all, it’s hard to drink a can of soda when your belly is so full of water!
P.S. This will most likely be my last post until the New Year. Like everyone else, the next two weeks are going to be busy busy busy with the typical end-of-the-year merriment. So happy holidays, and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones!