I’m going to start off by making an assumption. You are here because you want to improve your health. I mean, who doesn’t want to have more energy, look better, live longer? How many of you started off the new year with another resolution about getting in shape or going down a dress size? The problem I see a lot is that people have good intentions, but don’t know where to start. You want to see results so you try and tackle everything at once. You go on a restrictive diet, join the gym with the goal to be there 4 mornings a week, buy the latest protein powders and shakes etc. What if you just stopped for a minute and really took the time to understand the changes you need to make? What if you picked one thing and did it religiously until it became a habit? You would be building a strong foundation, one step at a time, until you were standing on top of a mountain of healthy habits.
So where do you start? Simple, with water. Hydration is so important and easy to implement which makes it a great first step. In adults, water makes up about 60% of our body weight. It plays an important role in temperature control, waste removal, joint lubrication and nutrient transportation, to name a few. An average adult will excrete 2.5L of water a day through sweating, breathing and going to the toilet. That’s close to 4.5 pints! If you exercise, are out in hot/dry weather or are pregnant/breastfeeding, that number is even higher.
Another big reason for drinking more water is your brain can confuse mild dehydration with hunger. The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that regulates your appetite. This includes both hunger and thirst. If you haven’t drank enough water, your brain can get it’s signals crossed and make you think you need food, when in fact a glass of water will do the trick. Next time you think you’re hungry and you know you shouldn’t be, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If that feeling goes away, then you were in fact thirsty, not hungry.
So how much water should you be drinking a day? You can Google that and get a lot of different answers. The National Hydration Council recommends that the average woman gets 2L a day through food and drink, with about 1.5L coming from fluids alone. Some people say you should drink half your body weight in ounces (yes I’m American). So for example, if you’re 160 pounds, you should drink 80 ounces of water a day. Using handy Google again, that’s 2.3L or 4 pints.
I can already hear some of you saying “but I don’t like water” or “there’s no way I could drink that much a day” or “but then I’ll need the toilet all the time”. Here’s the hard truth. You can keep making excuses, or start making a change. If you don’t like water, add some fruit to it to flavour it. If you don’t think you can drink that much, start by adding one glass a day and build up slowly. And yes, you will need the toilet more, that one I can’t help you with.
You can do this! Even if it’s the only thing you do for right now, making this change will improve your health. When drinking the right amount of water a day becomes a habit just like brushing your teeth or washing your face, then try taking another step towards lifelong wellness.