Submitted by former LCW Board Member, Trevor Workman
Five Tips for Better Hydration:
Confession time. I’m not a person that loves drinking water. I know the importance of it, but I’ve never been one to get excited at the prospect of drinking it. Why would I drink water when there are other better tasting choices around? And, when I read about how much I’m supposed to drink per day (almost 4 liters for men and almost 3 liters for women), I’m usually just one to give up. So, I’m writing this mostly as a way to help myself, but if you’re anything like me I invite you to read along and hopefully help yourself to anything you find useful.
So, let’s start with why this is all important in the first place. It’s July. It’s going to be pretty hot soon and well into August. It’s during the hot months that the risk of dehydration is the highest, because our bodies tend to use more water in higher temperatures. When the body gets low on fluids, things don’t go so well for us. While many of us may know that the human body is mostly made up of water, we may not know exactly what that means. The human brain is composed of 95% water, lungs 90%, blood 83%, muscles 76%, and bones 22%! Wow. Now, imagine with me for a moment what begins to happen to our bodies when we don’t have enough water coming in. To be frank, our bodies cease to work properly. Water assists in regulation of our internal body temperature, lubricates our joints, cushions vital organs, and promotes good mental health and cognitive function.
So, I think it’s safe to say that getting enough water is important, especially during times when our bodies use the most water, like the summer months. But how does a person who isn’t naturally inclined to drinking water all day begin to change that habit? Here are some practical tips to help you have better hydration during the hot summer months.
1. INVEST IN A BOTTLE THAT GETS YOU EXCITED
It’s no secret that when you’re excited about something, it’s easier to do. So go out and get a water bottle that gets you excited. Although that might sound a little odd, trust me on this one. Some of the water bottles they have out there nowadays have a lot of nice features (how you access the water, the temperature it keeps water at, etc) that might do it for you. When you spend some money on a new bottle two things will happen. First, you’ll remind yourself of the habit that you want to start, and motivation will begin. Second, you may develop what’s called the “sunk cost fallacy”. What that means is that because you spent money on the water bottle, you’ll use it so that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted money on it! While the sunk cost fallacy usually is a negative thing, you may be able to use it to your advantage here.
Or, if you’re a craftier person, it might get you more excited to invest some time into personalizing a water bottle for yourself. You can start by getting a cheap bottle, decorating, painting, using stickers, or whatever you like to get you inspired.
2. SET A GOAL FOR A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF WATER TO DRINK PER DAY
Start by looking up how much water you need to drink per day. It differs per your weight and individual characteristics, so one size (amount) does not fit all. What may be helpful is to break down that overall goal into achievable increments. For example, I’ll give you some simple (and totally inaccurate) numbers. Let’s say your goal is to drink 100oz of water per day. Let’s also say you go out and buy a water bottle that holds 25oz. From there, think about it this way: all you have to do is drink what’s in that bottle four times per day. That’s one at breakfast, one at lunch, one at dinner, and one before bed. Of course, the numbers will be different for each individual, but the concept will still apply.
3. INFUSE YOUR WATER WITH FRUITS OR VEGGIES
I have a few friends who simply can’t stand the taste of water (is there a taste?). What’s worked for some of them is infusing their water with fruit or veggies. Some water bottles come with infuser sections where you can house fruits or veggies to soak in your water. It’ll give your water a slight taste while also giving you some of the nutrients of the fruit. I would recommend strawberries, kiwi, cucumbers, and pineapple, just not all at once!
4. DRINK MORE WATER BASED BEVERAGES
Who ever said you have to just drink water? Why not throw in some tea, coffee, or lemonade? Now, if I’m going to give you this advice, I have to qualify it by saying that there is more to it than just drinking these other things. We have to recognize that with each of these beverages we are putting more than just water into our bodies. With these drinks often comes extra and unnecessary sugars, caffeine, and who knows what else. Especially if you add things to them like milk, cream, or sugar. So, while drinking more of these things technically results in greater water intake, you have to weigh out what you think is more important: Water intake versus whatever else you’re taking in.
5. "EAT" YOUR WATER
Along the same lines as #4, there’s no rule out there that says that all your water intake has to come from drinking. If you’re like me and making yourself drink water is difficult, try to fill your diet with more water-rich foods. This includes a lot of fruits and vegetables that have high water content like watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, grapefruit, strawberries, and lettuce. The added benefit is that not only are you increasing your water consumption, you are also getting important vitamins and other nutrients from these healthy foods. It’s a way to get more hydrated (and reap the nutritional benefits) without feeling like you did a lot of work!
(BONUS TIP) TRY SELTZER WATER!!
Before I tell you this tip, I need you to know that the other options should be tried first, not that this is a bad thing, but focusing on wellness means breaking bad habits, and although this is a step in the right direction, it’s not necessarily breaking the habit. For a lot of people that struggle to drink water, the root of the problem is that they’ve become too accustomed to soda (or pop for many of us Michigan-bred folk). For these people water either tastes bad (or like nothing!) or they feel the urge to have the fizzy sensation. A quick way to fix both of these problems is by combining seltzer water with a small amount of fruit juice to make a makeshift fizzy drink. It won’t be as sugary as a typical name brand soda, it’ll taste like whatever juice you used, and you’ll get that fizzy sensation. It’s a win win!