My Hydration Experiment (why water is MAGICAL!)
There are times when I feel inundated with health suggestions, and I understand that the body is complicated, so I tend to analyze health recommendations to see if there are changes I need to make in my day-to-day life. But let’s face it: if we had 24 hours per day to dedicate to ourselves, of course it would be easier to incorporate health changes. However, there are other demands on our time. So what I do is conduct my own personal “clinical trials” by identifying a positive self-care habit, researching it, making a plan to incorporate it daily, and commit to trying it for 2 weeks! In this post, I will let you in on my personal secret hydration results that will have you trying this yourself!
Once I identify a habit and make a plan, I make sure to journal every day or so about how I feel during that time period. At the end of 2 weeks, I reevaluate: Was it something that was fairly easy to add into my daily routine? Did it make me feel better? Then I decide if it is something I am going to continue or not. This was my approach to drinking more water daily and the results were shocking to me!
The body is composed of water by approximately 60%, surprisingly over half of your body weight, so it makes sense that one of the reasons for this is because your body needs it for every single function. You need to have a large reserve. There are medical conditions that disrupt this balance, but for most healthy adults, our body compensates when we are not drinking enough water daily. For me, I thought I drank a pretty good amount. It wasn’t always pure water, but I would have coffee, tea, seltzer water and thought that adding the recommended amount into my daily routine wouldn’t really change things. So I committed to giving it a try.
Day 1 I grabbed a gallon jug of water and filled it based on the calculation to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. One gallon is 128 oz and so I used a measuring cup (8 oz) and filled it with my predetermined amount (and no, I’m not telling you how much mine was!). An example would be this: someone weighs 180lbs, therefore they need to drink 90 oz of water daily. Take an empty water jug, use an 8oz measuring cup and pour 11.25 cups into the jug (90 oz divided by 8 oz). Mark that line and you never have to measure again.
Then, I placed that jug on the counter either at home or at work, next to a large empty glass (10-12 ounces). I had preset times throughout the day that I would just stop what I was doing, fill the glass, and chug the water. (For my schedule and how I fit it into my daily routine, read my post here) For me, the visual cue of seeing the gallon jug and the marked line was very helpful. And the fact that it saved time by easily pouring into an empty glass that was already next to it kept me on track.
At the end of Day 1, I was annoyed. I felt like I did nothing but drink water and pee all day long. It interrupted my day and I couldn’t see how this would help anything. But, I had committed to trying it and was stuck for 13 more days.
By day 5, my bladder was used to the extra volume and I noticed that I was settling back into a “normal” day. I would stop for 30 seconds to “chug my glass,” but it wasn’t disruptive. I thought that maybe I had more energy and was thinking more clearly, but I couldn’t tell if it was just that I was looking for positives. I did notice, however, that I definitely had more energy mid-afternoon and had stopped reaching for my 2pm cup of coffee. I didn’t need it and if I wanted something hot to sip, I just grabbed caffeine-free herbal tea instead! That really surprised me because I did not intentionally try to stop that afternoon caffeine pick-me-up.
By day 8, I was a true believer in the magic of water. I felt AMAZING. I would wake in the morning with a clear head and felt that I had gotten a quality night’s sleep, even if it wasn’t a full 7-8 hours! My skin was clear despite “that time of the month” which usually brought at least 1-2 painful zits around my chin! I didn’t feel the need to put on makeup because my complexion was even. I had increased energy all throughout the day and I lost 5lbs without trying at all! That itself was a miracle for me because losing weight is normally incredibly difficult. And I also noticed that my body was responding with increased, regular bowel movements, which took away the bloating that I often had after a long shift at the hospital. (you can read my tips on treating constipation here)
Now to some of you, these changes may seem dumb and trivial. And that’s ok! But for me, these small things made me feel alert, confident, and healthy! Which in turn lead to additional positive habits that I wanted to explore! That experiment was 1 year ago, and there have been weeks that I haven’t been as consistent with drinking water, but after feeling fully hydrated and experiencing the benefits, I try very hard to incorporate this daily! It is my second most important health habit next to sleep in my personal self-care pursuit! (You can read my post on the importance of sleep here)
- Decreases Joint pain and Muscle Aches and allows for easier ability to exercise
Water provides interstitial lubrication, ease of blood flow, and therefore increased oxygenation. Athletes who are well hydrated have been shown to have better performance!
- Evens skin tone and decreases blemishes¹
Water has been shown to make the skin appear more “plump” with even tone. Also, the viscosity of hydrated blood allows for improved blood flow, thereby delivering oxygen and nutrients to the small vessels in the body.
- Decreases over-eating thereby leading to weight control
Often times we think the body is providing feedback that we are hungry when we are in fact, just dehydrated. By increasing water consumption, our own body regulations are more controlled. We feel full and only feel the need to eat with stronger hunger biofeedback triggers.
- Memory Improvement: helps with retention and concentration
Our brain is a very delicate organ and requires a significant amount of water to function properly. Increased hydration improves mood, memory retention, and concentration. Hydration also helps us to feel alert and refreshed.
- Decreases risk of Kidney stones and Urinary Tract Infections¹
Our body uses the kidneys and urinary tract to filter and flush out toxins. By staying well hydrated, we flush toxins out more easily and regularly, preventing build up which otherwise can cause kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
- Helps prevent Constipation
Hydration increases movement through the gastrointestinal tract and triggers peristalsis (the action our body uses to move and absorb food) which helps prevent constipation. Without adequate hydration, our body looks for more sources of water and can absorb it from stool, which leads to impaction and constipation.
- Decreases Headaches and chronic migraines
This links back to the above mentioned fact that our brain is very delicate and requires hydration to function properly. When our bodies are not well hydrated, we can experience changes in the small blood vessels of our body. Some of these small vessels are located in the brain and can be responsible for inducing headaches and triggering chronic migraines.
- Promotes Mental Health by diminishing the mental side effects of dehydration (irritability, sluggishness, forgetfulness)
Sometimes our body does not know how else to tell us that we are dehydrated and instead makes us feel tired, irritable, sluggish. By staying hydrated, our overall mood and mental health improves.
Keeping yourself hydrated isn’t difficult, but it does take planning and awareness.
Consuming plain water on a regular daily basis is a free way to improve your health in a noticeable way! Comment below to let me know your own experience with hydration! I’d love to hear from you!
Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It’s about listening to the needs of your soul and then honoring them.” – Kristi Ling