I lived in Florida for about 10 years, so I am more than familiar with heat (and humidity!). When it's over 90º for 70% of the year, you learn how important it is to stay hydrated. Since moving to the Midwest where the temperatures are a little less dire, I've started slacking on my water game. My body isn't as loud when it tells me I need to drink more water. But being able to stay hydrated is so important, especially in these warmer summer months. I set out in the beginning of the year to make hydration a priority – it's actually the only New Years Resolution I can remember making, probably because I stuck with it! Here are a few ways that I'm keeping with my goal, and system you can use to teach yourself how to drink more water throughout the day.
What are the benefits of drinking water? Why should I drink more water?
We've all heard that we should drink more water (I don't know about yours, but my mom's been telling me that my whole life), but let's just briefly remind ourselves as to why it matters.
Our bodies, when happy and healthy, are full of water. The body of an adult female is made of about 55% water (and 60% for male bodies). Everything from your brain to your bones (yes, bones!) has water in them. If your body were a car, water would be the oil that keeps everything moving smoothly.
There are unending benefits of drinking water. When we stay hydrated, we're more alert. If you're groggy in the morning, a great way to wake yourself from the inside out is simply to start the day with a full glass of water. When you drink more water, you flushed toxins from your body. You're much less likely to develop kidney stones. You alleviate muscle cramps, you could lose weight, and your whole body just runs more smoothly.
What happens when we don't drink as much H2O as we're supposed to? Headaches, muscle soreness, crankiness… if any of this sound familiar, you're probably mildly dehydrated.
If we only drink water when we are thirsty, we're doing our bodies a disservice. When we start to feel thirsty, that's our body telling us that we're already dehydrated. It's essentially the “check oil” light to our car. That means that it's important not only to listen to our bodies, but to drink more water than our bodies are asking for.
But water is just so… blah. It's hard to figure out how to drink more water than we think we need, especially when it isn't a very exciting beverage to begin with. So we have to remind ourselves to remember, and trick our bodies into a routine. Here are five ways to do just that:
Set Road Blocks
If you're a reward-motivated person, this system could work for you. The reward, however, is just getting to do what you would normally do anyway – except this time, the thing keeping you from doing the next thing is drinking water. Set water challenges for yourself throughout the day, and prohibit yourself from moving to your next task until your water challenge is met.
For example… while I'm heating my lunch up during the week, I tell myself I can't start eating until I've drank a whole bottle of water. Yeah, I'm chugging water like a freshman chugs beer in the break room, but I'll definitely stay hydrated. Maybe you tell yourself you can't leave work until you finish the water in your bottle, or you aren't allow to start cooking dinner until you've had a glass of water. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, but I've found this to personally be the most effective way to get myself to drink more water.
Set the Clock
If you have trouble simply remembering that you need to drink water, a gentle reminder might just do the trick. Set periodical alarms in your phone to go off throughout the day, along with a note about how much water you should drink when the bell rings. Better yet, download a hydration reminder app that'll send you notifications along with recommended servings.
Maybe an notification on your phone isn't enough, and you need some additional hand-holding on your journey to being a more hydrated person. Consider splurging on an app-connected water bottle that tracks how much you're drinking, and aids you in achieving your water-drinking goals.
Build it into Your Routine
Much like Pavlov's dog, you can trigger your feelings of thirst and simply stay hydrated. Consistently drink water at specific points throughout the day (the previous system of setting alarms can help with this). Drink the same amount at the exact same time every day. Over time, your body will come to expect it, and you'll find yourself being thirsty at those times, regardless of whether an alarm goes off or not. Of course, this effect can wear off over time if you're not careful to continue to drink more water at the set intervals. If you can stay diligent, this could be the system for you.
Rather than refilling your water bottle several times throughout the day (lose count much?), fill up one supersized bottle – a gallon jug. Write down goals and timeframes along the side of the jug. It'll be heavy to lug around, but you may feel just ridiculous enough that you'll remember to drink more water.
Dress Your Water Up
If water is just too boring for your palate, and you can't stomach the taste no matter what you do, you can always dress it up. Add cut-up citrus to your water. Sip on some sparkling water (heads up: this will give you a full feeling faster than regular water because of all the extra bubbles). Try drinking a watered-down juice, like Spindrift. Or maybe an artificially flavored water is enough of a variation trick you into consuming more H2O.
Don't forget – at the end of the day, you're trying to stay hydrated for your health. Not because you're trying to lose a bunch of weight, not because you want to “magically” clear up your skin… Water might be able to benefit you in those ways, but ultimately you're staying hydrated because you body feels better when you do. Caring for your body is caring for your self. Be good to you, and good luck!