Monday, June 27, 2011

Drink, drink, drink. And then drink some more.

This past Saturday, I participated in a Big Brothers Big Sisters scavenger hunt with my 'little sister'. The two of us teamed up with another big sister/little sister match and ran around downtown Raleigh for an hour and a half, snapping pictures of various places and marking clues off our list. We learned a lot about the history of Raleigh and we had a blast.

But it was HOT. And while I was hauling around a couple of water bottles for the girls, I had foolishly NOT thought to bring some for myself.

BBBS of the Triangle had told us there would be a free pizza lunch at an Italian restaurant at the end of the scavenger hunt (that was really nice of them to do that for us!). But as the four of us wrapped up our picture-taking and headed to the restaurant, all I could think about was getting some WATER. I was parched! When we got there, I saw a cooler FULL of ice-cold cans of pop... but no water! I walked with the other 'big sister' in our group to the counter to ask for a glass of water; there, a grumpy waitress barked, "If I have to bring you out some water I'm gonna have to charge you for the cups." Okay, fine, just give us some water! She charged us a quarter each, and then proceeded to fill up regular washable glasses of ice water for the two of us. The other big sister and I exchanged bizarre glances... I guess WASHING your glasses is pretty expensive!

All that to say... it was worth the quarter. There is NOTHING better to drink than water, especially during the summer when your body needs to stay hydrated. I definitely got my refills on my 25 cent water glass.

I recently discovered that the best thing I could do for my body this summer was to ditch the old '8x8' rule (drink eight 8oz. glasses of water per day). Our bodies are 50-65% water (females on the lower end)... so a woman who's 5'4" and sedentary is going to need a different amount than a 6'2" landscaper who's out in the sun all day.

But before I explain how to determine how much water you should be drinking, I want to emphasize how badly we NEED water. Did you know that water is one of the best cures for common health issues? I had a friend who used to say, "If you have a headache, drink water! If you have a cold, drink water! If your muscles are sore, DRINK WATER!" Turns out he was right (this website has more info on that - it's fascinating).

Water also suppresses appetite and speeds up metabolism. (By the way, next time you feel hungry even though you 'just ate', try drinking a glass of water. We often mistake our thirst for water for hunger.) If you are trying to lose weight, your first priority should be drinking the right amount of water for your body and activity level. And then once you drink that much, drink more!

Water is the source of life. It cannot be substituted with energy drinks, diet sodas, milk, or juices. Just because something is liquid does NOT mean it is hydrating. Caffeinated drinks, by the way, work as diuretics... so when you drink your diet pop, keep in mind that not only are you consuming lots of strange chemicals, you are also prompting your body to lose water!

"But I hate water." I hear people say this, and it frustrates me. It's the equivalent of saying, "I don't like clean air" or "I hate having access to a flushing toilet." Well, that's unnatural. Your ancestors, who had nothing like your access to fresh, clean water, would be ashamed of you! Learn to like it! My mom, for example, doesn't like the flavor of plain water. While I think that's utterly bizarre, I applaud her for not switching to Gatorade or Diet Coke. She just squirts some lemon in it and drinks it down. Good for you, Mom.

Finally, the advice that some people give - "just drink water when you're thirsty" - is wrong. Anyone who's upped their water intake will tell you that the more water they drank, the more they were thirsty for it. We can't rely on our perceived 'cravings' to tell us what to eat or when to drink (remember how we mistake thirst for hunger? ...that's a prime example). I always have a large water bottle with me. It reminds me to drink, and I can easily remember how much water I've had.

OH YEAH! I almost forgot. The amount of water I've determined I need is at least 75 oz. per day. (To determine your ideal water intake, read this article, Fitness by the Numbers. On days that I exceed this minimum, I feel GREAT.

I'm telling you this because I care about you guys. So... drink up!


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