In case you missed it, I recently did a “7 Day Drink More Water Challenge” on my Instagram page.
With summer just around the corner, and research showing that over 75% of Americans are in a state of chronic dehydration, it makes sense to dig into this topic!
We all know that drinking water is not just beneficial, but life-and-death critical, for our health. It distributes nutrients to cells, regulates body temperatures, removes toxins and excess sodium from our systems and more. Yet so many of us fail to do it adequately.
When you stop to think about it, it’s truly interesting that people with access to clean drinking water struggle to meet this most basic and simple human need.
Why is this? What interferes with your adequate water intake?
For many, it’s the simple fact that it isn’t a habit, and when things aren’t a part of our normal routine or rituals they can be easily forgotten, regardless of their importance.
If you’ve been reading along on the blog, you’ve noticed I write a lot about mindfulness. This is yet another example of how we can incorporate this practice into our lives to make tiny shifts that have huge impacts.
First, let’s assess your current water drinking habits.
Did you know you're supposed to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day? So, if you weigh 200lbs that means 100oz of water or 12+ cups. Don’t shoot the messenger, but if you exercise heavily or drink lots of caffeine or alcohol (both diuretics) then you need to drink even more!
Do some math right now and look at how your daily consumption adds up.
For most of you, there’s at least a little room for improvement (myself included!). Below are some ideas for ways to make drinking water a habit.
Imagine if I told you you're not allowed to drink ANY water for 8 hours today. Think about it… that's what happens when you sleep! It’s one reason among many why starting off the day with water (before anything else!) is so critical.
Leave a full mason jar or water bottle on your nightstand and drink it all first thing in the morning. For extra accountability, I like to pretend I'm not allowed to leave my room until I finish. I find it wakes me up and gets me on track right away without doing much work. If you have a long commute, I highly recommend doing this as a way to avoid chugging closer to your departure time and then needing to use the bathroom during your travels.
If you’re thinking “But Aileen, coffee is my morning ritual and I’m not giving that up (especially for boring water)!”
…I get it, and you don’t have to! But you can leverage that existing habit to build this new one.
Two of my health coaching clients have a ritual of making coffee first thing in the morning without any thought or effort (can you relate?). Each of them now leaves a water bottle/glass next to the coffee machine with a goal of drinking at least as much water as coffee before it brews, or before drinking it. If this is part of your routine, give this a try!
Often when we think we're hungry or craving certain foods, we're actually just dehydrated. When we're fatigued, or have trouble concentrating, it can be for the same reasons. Instead of drinking water, we reach for the mindless snack or grab another cup of coffee.
At work, when we’re in busy mode, we might go the whole day without really drinking any water (I’ve been there!). When that afternoon slump hits, and those stale donuts in the kitchen seem extra tempting, go to the water cooler instead and fill up. If you hydrated in the morning, your bathroom trips will help you move from your desk more during the day, which will actually help your productivity (fresh perspective!) and counteract so much sitting.
See how a little change can create a ripple effect?
Until drinking water becomes such a ritual that you don’t even think about it, you need reminders. I’ve had clients set alarms or push reminders on their phones, leave sticky notes on their desks and in their kitchens, set up recurring calendar reminders, and drink from bottles that have the time of day on them for extra accountability.
Which of these might be useful for you?
Outside the glass
Eating foods that have high water content can be a nice life-hack if you don’t drink enough water simply because you think it’s boring. Some of these foods include pineapple, watermelon, lettuce, cucumber, strawberries, zucchini, and celery.
In addition to how much you're drinking, what you're drinking out of is also important. I’ll do a future post about water quality and filters but focus on the simple stuff for now.
Did you know plastic water bottles (even reusable ones that say BPA free) can leach phthalates into your water? These are hormone disrupters and linked to ADHD, breast cancer, male fertility issues, and more. You may not even notice how often you drink from plastic, but here and there at the gym, conferences/work events, summer BBQ’s and picnics adds up.
One simple solution: buy a reusable water bottle made from glass or stainless steel.
Luckily there are tons of affordable options on the market (see my wellness resources for my faves). You may even get motivated to drink more if you have a fun bottle – nerdy but true! Make a habit of leaving it by your keys or in your work bag, or even have one at work and one at home, so you have it on the ready.
These are some of many ideas to help you up your water intake, one of the simplest ways to address a myriad of health concerns. Simple "healthy habits" like drinking water aren't usually mind blowing new information, and I think it's the same for a lot of nutrition.
It's often not about the fancy new superfoods or trendy workouts, but the basics like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, breathing, moving, and eating real food. I'm grateful to help people cut through the chaos of the wellness world to get back to the basics to find better health.
Which of these can you put into practice, or what other ideas do you have to make new hydration habits? How can you make some tiny tweaks in time for summer? Cheers!