I have a secret.
It’s the one thing I do to maintain my health, even if the rest of my life has gone to hell in a hand basket.
It’s the very last thing that I hang on to; the one thing that I know makes all the difference, even if I’m working 20 hours a day, getting only 4 hours of sleep, and eating mainly Tim Horton’s.
It is . . . WATER!
Yeah, I know – water is not half as exciting as say, the latest thermogenic pill, but isn’t that always the case? The solution is always so simple, and yet so complicated.
Oh, and by the way – I am in no way advocating Evian water (I just like their ads), or bottled water, for that matter. Read on to find out what kind of water I drink.
I also know that it’s not really a secret, at least not any more of a secret than The Secret was (seeing as the Law of Attraction has been part of the New Age/self-help/positive psychology movement FOREVER. PS, The Secret changed my life. But I digress).
We all know that our bodies are about 60% water; and that while we can survive weeks without food, we can only survive days without water (you knew that, right? Nod and say yes).
What you really want to know is: What does this have to do with you, and more importantly, what does it have to do with weight loss?
Simply put, maintaining proper levels of hydration keeps your weight in check. Now, I realize that sounds way too simplistic, so let me explain.
Most of us are chronically dehydrated. I am willing to bet that at least 90% of the you reading this article are dehydrated.
Further to that, I wager that many, if not most, of your physical ailments can be alleviated, at least to some degree, with proper hydration. In Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Dr. B postulates that many people suffer greatly from dehydration, and that the vast majority of our dis-eases stem from our failure to drink enough water.
A few of water’s functions:
- Regulates body temperature
- Keeps your metabolism in check
- Aids digestion and elimination
- Regulates blood pressure
- Cleanses and detoxifies the body
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes healing
- Increases energy levels
- Keeps you satiated (feeling full)
- Prevents water retention
The last two got your attention, right? Especially that last one, and I used to get this from my patients A LOT when I was practicing nursing:
“Why are you making me drink so much water? Don’t I have too much water? Isn’t that why I’m on a water pill? Don’t I have too much fluid in my body?”
So here’s the dealio: when your body doesn’t have enough water, it clings to what it has for dear life. It starts to retain fluid. In the renal and/or cardiac patient, this can spell disaster. In the normal, average person, this leads to CHUBBINESS. Sounds a lot like what happens when you’re overly restrictive with calories, no?
Also, notice that the more you drink, the more you pee? And if you keep drinking and get yourself to the hydration levels that are appropriate for your body, your pee starts to get clearer and not smell so bad? That’s a sure sign that your body is getting “cleaner”, so to speak.
What about being satiated, is that what this is all about? Is the big secret the fact that if you fill yourself up with enough water, you’re not gonna wanna eat the whole box of donuts? Well, yes and no.
First of all, I know for a fact that if you really want to eat a box of donuts, you’ll eat them – regardless of how much water you just drank. I also know that if you decide to eat the aforementioned donuts, you’d still be far better off having drank (drunk? drank?) some water first.
At the very least, it will certainly help ease the constipation that all of that refined sugar is sure to cause.
Here’s a trick:
If I’m feeling the need for a snack, and I know that I’m likely feeding my emotions rather than my physical body, I drink a full glass of water (or two) first. If I’m still “hungry” after that, I only end up eating half, if not less, of whatever it was I was planning on placating my feelings with.
Water is not just good for you, it is absolutely necessary for your health and wellbeing.
If I could recommend just ONE lifestyle change, it would be to drink plenty of water so that you are never dehydrated.
How do you know when you’re dehydrated? If you get to the point of feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You have to beat yourself to the punch and drink water frequently.
Seriously my friends, you have no idea what a difference this makes!
When I am properly hydrated, my clothes fit the way they should and the numbers on the scale make me happy.
I can get lazy with my water intake too – it happens to all of us! But it doesn’t last too long because I can feel the effects, and I see the numbers go up on the scale. And I know that it’s not all about the numbers on the scale, but I’m not going to pretend that you don’t care – because I know you do (I do too, that’s why I own a scale!).
So there you have it! For all of you who’ve asked me what my “secret” is, or how to keep your weight in check, etc. – WATER. Water, water, water.
And for those of you who are thinking, “Oh but I already drink lots of water!”, I’m gonna call BS. Sorry. In my personal experiences, whenever I have the water conversation with somebody (friends. students, patients, etc.), they always start by saying that they drink enough water. I dig a little deeper, and then find out that yeah, they drink a lot of water, but definitely not 8 glasses a day. Oh, and by the way, they hate the taste, or non-taste, of water. But I drink a lot of milk/juice/tea, does that count? Well, it depends on who you ask, but I’m gonna say NO.
How much water should you drink?
We’ve all heard of the “8 by 8” rule: 8 cups of 8 oz of water a day. This is a broad generalization that is adequate for normal, healthy individuals. Specific recommendations based on sex are actually greater: the Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups a day for men, and 9 cups a day for women (source).
I’m not going to recommend that you drink any particular amount of water, rather, I encourage you to drink water frequently throughout the day so that you never feel thirsty.
Water requirements vary between each individual: some require more, such as pregnant or lactating women; and some require less, such as those with renal (kidney) issues. You will also require more water on days that you are more physically active, versus a “sedentary day”. It is your responsibility to consult your MD or healthcare provider for their advice on how much water you should be drinking, especially if you think you have ANYTHING that bumps you out of the “normal” camp.
What kind of water should you drink?
Whatever makes your boat float 😉 I personally drink tap water, and I am more than okay with Edmonton tap water. In fact, they taught us in nursing school that Edmonton tap water is safe for newborns, ergo it’s good enough for me. However, I know lots of people who love their Brita, and I know someone who refuses to drink anything other than bottled water.
Honestly, I think it’s most important that you feel good about your decision. Again, I’m not going to make any recommendations either way. Just drink water, plenty of it.
Okay, I lied – I am going to make this ONE recommendation: if you live in Bonnyville, I don’t recommend the tap water. Go ahead, google it.
I’ll say it again: if I could recommend ONE THING that you could do to increase your health and keep your weight in check, it would be to drink plenty of water. Never let yourself get thirsty. WATER. Not green tea (although that is good for you), not water and Crystal Light, WATER.
Some drinking tips:
Drink water upon rising, drink it between meals, and drink it with meals. Try to stop 2 hours before bedtime (adjust accordingly; nocturia, or having to pee during the night, is a nasty thing that you shouldn’t have to deal with).
You can add lemon, lime, or apple cider vinegar (your mouth’s really watering now, right?). It’s hard, I know it is. But get over it. One day you will learn to crave the non-taste of water, I promise you! You will be a different person when that day comes.
I hope this was helpful! I truly believe in the healing powers of water. How much water do YOU drink? Do you add anything to make it more “palatable”? Share in the comments below!