Hydration is essential to health. Your body is composed of about 60-70%+ water. It is essential to the functioning of your organs, your metabolism and cognition (aka you need to be well hydrated to think well)! Water is also the medium that all the energy processes in your body require! (read: essential for good energy!)
If you’re not typically well-hydrated here’s what you likely notice:
- you get sluggish mid-afternoon
- you struggle with headaches
- you feel puffy/ bloated
- you retain water
- you feel draggy (generally)
So – all this to say…DRINK UP!
But don’t get too stuck on # glasses per day. The whole “8 glasses per day” is a bit of an urban legend. So how much do you need generally speaking? It depends (ugh, not helpful!). It varies based on your expenditure (think sweat, respiration and elimination). It also varies based on your size (the bigger you are the more fluid your body needs to service all your cells)! So a general guideline is 1/2 your body weight (lbs) in ounces. ISH. Keep in mind all the things I mentioned above. It will vary based on the season, your activity and the other things you consume (think: things that dehydrate you like salty foods, alcohol and caffiene beyond a couple of cups per day). Like most things in health & fitness – this is a science, but the application is an art!
If you read that 1/2 your body weight recommendation and nearly fell off your chair, don’t worry! You’re not alone!
My simple strategy? Add 1 glass per day until you get there. And keep in mind that it doesn’t ALL need to come from water. Your daily hydration also comes through smoothies, juices, broth, teas and coffee (yes, even caffeinated up to a couple of cups per day is ok!). You can also consider soups, water rich veggies and fruit. So how do you know if you’re getting enough?
Read your pee. Yup. I did type that. As long as you’re not using supplements that impact urine colour – it should be a very pale yellow. If it’s not, it’s time to drink up!
And keep this tip in mind: if you haven’t been drinking enough then you’re likely to be like a dried up plant when you water it. The water will just run through. It takes a while for all your cells to return to good hydration and be able to absorb this goodness. Be patient, and know that the trips to the bathroom will settle down as your body adjusts!
Shifting habits is never easy, so here are my Top 5 Hydration Hacks:
- Routine. Drink up in routine ways. I always start my day with a BIG glass as soon as I get up. There’s some pretty compelling evidence that this is generally a GREAT habit. It kickstarts your system after being DEHYDRATED all night (through sweat & breath) and gets your metabolism moving. I also have a glass with every meal & snack. Right there I’ve got 7 glasses! Add in a cup of herbal tea at night and I’m at 8. Add in some with a workout…and BOOM!
- Pretty bottles. Yup. I’m a sucker. It helps. I also like drinking out of big mason jars. Don’t know why…but it’s also helpful during the day to keep track.
- Keep track. Use an App (Plant Nanny & Gulp are great). Other hacks? Add an elastic around your bottle for the number of bottles you need to drink. Take one off each time you complete it (hello SIMPLE!)
- Keep it interesting: it doesn’t have to be ALL water. Remember it doesn’t ALL have to come from water. Keep that all in mind AND keep the actual water you drink interesting by adding frozen fruit, citrus or make it cold or hot herbal teas!
- Listen to your body. Yes, check your pee, but also listen in to other symptoms for optimal hydration/ dehydration. Are you feeling sluggish and foggy (even though you’re well rested)? Do you have headaches that pop up in the mid-afternoon (even though your work station is set up properly)? What about your water retention? Are you retaining water in your hands (rings tight) or feet (sock lines)? These are all clues your body is giving you. Note: if water doesn’t clear up these symptoms – speak to your doc!