Winter Hydration Can Be Quite the Challenge

I’m about to make you thirsty.

Or at least that’s my goal…
We are heading into the cold. Yes, winter is coming and with that cold it’s easy for our daily water consumption to drop. I know, I struggle with it too. It’s cold outside, I’m cold inside and what I really want is a cup of body warming tea. Not a glass of cold water that’s going to make me feel like I’m sitting on a glacier.

The struggle is real, people. 😉 And I figured, if it’s a struggle for me, then it might also be a struggle for you.

Along that vein I’m going to share with you the ways I keep my intake up and the whys for doing it.

It seems most logical to start with the whys. You need a reason to even consider it, right?

The benefits to water consumption seem endless, so I’m choosing a few of my favorites to inspire you.

First and foremost, water oxygenates your blood and flushes toxins out of the body. By drinking enough, you ensure that all of your bodily systems will function well and at their best. When dehydrated, toxins build up weakening your immune system.

But it’s not just your blood that needs it. Your fascia, muscles and other soft tissues NEED water to stay soft, pliable and create that slide N’ glide motion. You need that. You want that. I promise.

Water helps in the production of lymph as well. Sounds important doesn’t it? It is! Lymph is something we hear about, but most people don’t know what it really is or how our lymph system works. To help you out, here’s an awesome, easy to understand video. But basically, without lymph, your body wouldn’t be able to transport white blood cells throughout your body to help fight off disease.

Another advantage to drinking water? It keeps your bowels from being dry and cranky inside. To put it less delicately, I’m talking about… poop. Yep, I said it.
Constipation sucks! If this is an issue for you currently. Please, drink up!

Feeling hungry? Did you know that there are times when you feel hungry but really you are just thirsty and dehydrated? Also- when you drink a glass of water before eating, you are less likely to overindulge in food. The water helps fill you.

This amazing liquid of life acts as a lubricant on our joints (goodbye, arthritis pain) Increases our serotonin levels (see ya later, depression). And creates melatonin (hello, sweet sleep).

Studies done in Europe concluded that people with higher blood viscosity (thicker blood) were more likely to develop heart disease than those with less blood viscosity (thinner blood). Some might take their daily aspirin to thin it, but it makes sense to drink more water too.

And lastly, allow me to appeal to your vanity. I’ve shared how much our insides need moisture, now we move to the outside. Your skin, hair and nails. Tired of feeling dry in the winter air and needing to carry moisturizer in your purse? Hair feeling brittle? Water, water, and more water. Hydrate your skin from the inside out. It’s my secret weapon. People are often confused about my age (especially at restaurants when they ask for ID). I’m turning 45 years old next month. But, I love looking and feeling like I’m 10 years younger.

Now that I’ve (hopefully) piqued your interest…

How much water should you drink? There is a simple calculation for that. Take your weight and divide by 2. That number is how many ounces to drink each day. You’ll need to add 8 to 12 oz. for each hour you work out and technically should add 4-8 oz. for every cup of caffeine or glass of alcohol you drink. That’s approximately 7-10 glasses a day for most people.

The harder part is figuring out how to get that much water down in a day. So, I’m including my favorite tips for increasing your water habit.

Start slow. Don’t make a huge jump in your intake unless you want to spend about a week or more running to the bathroom every 5 minutes. Your body and its tissues are one gigantic sponge and it takes a while for them to soften enough to suck it in if you haven’t been getting enough liquid for a while.

Imagine a potted plant you forgot to water for a LONG time. The soil is compacted and lightweight. You pour water into it to feed it, but all the water just keeps racing out the bottom. It’s so dry it can’t even take it it. The options are: Slowly keep adding water over a week or more until the soil starts to soften or completely submerge the thing in the sink, until after an hour or so, the soil starts feeling springy and spongey again. Submerging is super handy when you are a plant. Not so much when you are a human and need to work in the real world.

I also find that most people won’t stick to it for long when they jump right in and try to down 7-10 glasses of water a day. It just gets overwhelming. Plus, they never leave the bathroom. They are the plant. The water just races out the bottom.

Tip # 1- Find a glass you like to use and pour water up to the top. Not overflowing, but at a decent level near the top. Now, pour that into a measuring glass and see how much it is. To make it easier, I would recommend playing with the level until you get to an easy to remember and calculate number. Not, 1 and 1/8 cup for example. Make the math easy. You’ll be doing it in your head throughout the day.

One cup, 1 and 1/2 cups or 2 cups will work easier. Make a line or eyeball it so you know to fill the cup to that level every time you use it. Keep track of how many cups you drink throughout the day and you’ll know exactly how many ounces you swallowed.

Some choose to use a large water bottle and fill it twice throughout the day. I personally find that overwhelming and choose to use smaller vessels. However, I find that using too small of a glass (8 oz) is overwhelming as well. It feels like I’m constantly refilling, plus I lose track of what number I’m on. My personal daily cup is 16 oz. I drink 4 of those a day. Plus, whatever else I need to combat a sweat session or cup of tea.
Over time, your body will grow use to and enjoy this new amount of water.

Here’s how to start-
Begin with just an extra 16 oz. of water a day. And do it first thing in the morning upon waking. Your body craves hydration first thing, so let’s give it to her. I like to have mine even before my shower or anything else. Be warned, this may get your bowels moving in the morning (which is a GOOD thing), but you just might want to plan a few extra minutes into your schedule for a bathroom trip before you head out to start your day.

Stick with your new morning hydration routine at least a week (maybe longer), before you add more to your day. You’ll soon see how much your body craves its morning quench. This will slowly loosen up those tight, dry tissues and allow you to more easily soak up extra fluid later.

Then add more water to your day in small weekly increments. How much you add is up to you. I’d suggest 16 oz. but if 8 oz. is more do-able, then do that. There is no right or wrong way. It’s only your way. The slower you go, the more likely you are to succeed and make this a lifetime routine.

One last thing to make it more fun. Shake up your water routine. It doesn’t always need to be plain. Add in some lemon or lime. Drink it hot. When the weather is super cold in the morning, I often pour boiling water into a mug, drop in a slice of lemon and sip it like tea. You can also add fruit or herbs to your water. Make a jug and keep it on the counter or in the fridge for a day (no longer than a day though). My favorite combo? Cucumber, fresh ginger, slice of orange, and a mint leaf or two. Delicious! And of course, there is also sparkling water and its mineral benefits.

Good luck and happy hydrating!

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