As we sit here in freezing cold Chicago in our warm cozy houses, close your eyes and think about summer, or a warm destination you’d like to visit. Picture a rolling ocean, a sparkling blue pool or a clear majestic waterfall. Chances are, you’re getting a little thirsty as you dream. Perhaps now you’re craving some ice cream, chocolate, or a cold iced coffee, things we crave when we’re thirsty.
Our bodies are more than 60 percent water and we need water to live. Our blood needs water to flow freely and our cells and tissues need it to function properly. Feeling achy after a workout? That could be because you need to drink more water. Our joints use water as cushioning, and if you’re not sufficiently hydrated, you’ll feel it in your knees, elbows or wrists. Drinking enough water helps us think clearly, and remember more, since our brain cells need water to work their best. Water keeps our skin looking fresh and hydrated, and it helps us lose weight by speeding up our metabolism and reducing sugar cravings. Taking a long flight? Make sure to hydrate yourself before and during your plane ride, drinking water can help you get over jet lag faster. Water can help prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections, it prevents constipation and it even increases milk production in lactating mothers.
In my health coaching practice, I work with clients on taking small steps towards attaining long-lasting health. Usually, the first thing we work on is adding water to our daily food and drink intake because of all the benefits water provides. I aim for half of our body weight in ounces, so for someone who weighs 130 pounds, I would encourage them to drink 65 ounces of water a day.
Easier said than done, right?
I advise my clients to always break down their goals in their mind and instead of 65 ounces of water looming over their heads all day, I suggest they take it one cup at a time. The smaller the goal, the greater the likelihood that you’ll reach it.
Make drinking water new and fun, by buying yourself a cool new water bottle, or make it convenient by keeping a case of bottled water in your trunk. You’ll have it on hand no matter where you go. You can keep a pitcher of water with added lemon or cucumber slices in the fridge to make it more refreshing, or squeeze half an orange into a cup of hot water to give you a warm pick me up. Here are some more practical tools I use in my practice to help my clients reach their water intake goals:
Sheila sets alarms on her phone to remind her when to drink. She is very busy and she finds that having her phone ring at specific times throughout the day helps her remember to drink all her water. The alarms ring at times she knows she’ll be able to drink one cup of water. Her alarm rings at 8:15 am once her children have all left for school and the house is quiet, then it rings again at 9 while she’s walking into her office and passing the water cooler. Again at 11, after her first meeting of the day is over and so on throughout the day. Sheila weighs 140 pounds and she has 9 alarms set to go off at different times during the day. When her last alarm rings at 7 pm while she’s putting away the dishes from her family’s dinner, she knows she has accomplished her water goal for the day without a whole lot of effort on her part.
Another strategy I use is called habit stacking, where we create a habit by doing something new at the same time we do something that is already habitual. I used this method with Carl to help him drink his daily water. Carl always brushes his teeth after he gets dressed in the morning. He created that habit as a young boy when his mother encouraged him to do so, and there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t brush his teeth as soon as he gets dressed. I encouraged Carl to drink his first cup of water for the day right after he finishes brushing his teeth. By attaching a new habit of drinking a cup of water, to the established habit of brushing his teeth, Carl has not missed a day of drinking that cup of water.
Try setting some reminder alarms on your phone at times that would be convenient for you to drink some water, or create a new water drinking habit before you enjoy your morning coffee, or breakfast and let me know how it’s working for you!
The next time you reach for that cup of soda pop, coffee with extra added sugar or that candy bar you really aren’t hungry for, try drinking some water, your body will thank you!
Bryna Chinn is a graduate of The Integrative Institute of Nutrition. In her coaching practice, Back 2 BasiCs, she coaches clients in creating their own customized health goals, and keeps them accountable to those goals. She is passionate about helping adults and teens feel their best by discovering how they can achieve wellness using an individualized approach to their food and lifestyle choices. Ready to start feeling better? Schedule a confidential, complimentary consultation with Bryna today by contacting her at [email protected]. Bryna lives in Chicago with her husband and five children.