Blog Posts, Fitness myths

Myth #28: Hydration doesn’t really matter

cat-2596030_640Feeling tired? Lethargic? Cold?  Have a headache? Feel like your feet have lead blocks on them? Having a really crappy workout and don’t know why? Ready to eat your whole town?  Aching joints? Before I start sounding like a 3 a.m. infomercial, let me cut to the chase.  Those are all signs of dehydration.

People are mindful of drinking enough when it’s blazing hot out.  But it’s actually really easy to get dehydrated this time of year, especially if you like to keep the heat in your car or house going.  And with as much as 70-75% of your body weight being water, you can bet that having enough is really important to your body. Every system in your body depends on having enough fluid.  Your circulatory system needs water to circulate your blood efficiently.  Your digestive system can’t break down the food for use, or send the leftovers out of your body without proper fluids.  Your skin is your largest organ, and not only will it begin to look like leather and feel uncomfortable, but it can’t do it’s work without enough fluid.  Think dry eyeballs sound great? Hey, they need fluid too! Point made?

How much should you be drinking?  As much as your body needs!  The old 64 (8, 8ounce glasses) is a good starting place, but may not be right for your body. Here are some other ways to know:

  • Check your hands: My clients don’t realize this, but before they workout, I look at their hands.  When someone is dehydrated, their hands look especially “old”, and lotion doesn’t help.  Occasionally when I’ve gotten busy enough to not be paying attention to my fluid, I’ll look down and realize that my hands look like they go to an 80 year old, not an uhem, 25 five year old.  (Before my parents hop in here to comment on my actual age… you don’t want anyone knowing you’re old enough to have a ________ year old daughter!)
  • Check for indentations: If you wear calf socks or knee highs or workout pants that hit you midcalf, check for indentations that last well after you take off the offending item.  If you are properly hydrated, your skin should bounce back quickly.
  • Check your…. uh… output:  I’m just gonna put this right here.  Pee should not be yellow most of the time. It should be very pale yellow to clear. (Yes, I know… someone always tells me theirs is neon green from B vitamins. You should still be drinking enough that most of that is flushed away through the course of the day!) You should also be drinking enough that you’re having to find the facilities every hour or two.  FYI– an average bladder holds about 16 oz.
  • Check how you feel:  If you feel any of the things I named above, or something just feels “off” with your body, trying adding in extra fluids and see how you feel. Many times, this helps.  Remember– if you’ve been sick, or working harder, or eating more salt or more carbohydrates, or been around extra air conditioning or heat (even your fireplace), you could be losing more water than you realize.

Also, just one more FYI.  Your body is very smart.  If you’re not giving it the proper amount of fluid, it will turn you into a human camel, and make you hold water.  This is brought to you through a miracle of life called the Anti-diuretic hormone. If you feel like you’re carrying a lot of extra water weight, try increasing your fluid for a day or two.

Struggling to take in enough water?  Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Put water bottles around your house and workplace.  Drink when you pass them.  (Thus create a new habit).  This sounds silly– but pick out water bottles that you really like.  You’re not going to drink from something you find ugly, or that dumps water down your shirt every time you drink.
  • Set timers on your phone reminding you to drink.  Of course, “there’s an app for that”, but you can just use the timer function or set reminders.
  • Make the water taste better.  People tell me they don’t drink because they hate the taste of water.  Yeah, I get it.  Try getting an infuser bottle and adding mint, or berries, or citrus, or whatever else makes you happy.  I’ll be honest, I actually flavor my water via the sugar free flavor packs you see in the store– like Crystal Light or Koolaid or whatever. I know, I know… they have all sorts of artificial things in them, but to me, I’m more worried about being dehydrated than I am about those chemicals. I may change my mind one day, but you know, lesser of two evils.

If you have problems with digestion, consider drinking your fluids at times when you’re not eating.  You don’t want to dilute your stomach acid. These days, I mostly have a few sips with a meal, but take my water bottles everywhere I go.

I’m not a big fan of disposable water bottles.  First we only have one planet that’s hospitable to life– we’ve gotta take care of it. At least recycle if you use these.  But also, most water bottles have BPA or whatever they used to replace it, which has been shown to be just as bad.  BPA is a phytoestrogen, which means it’s elevating your estrogen levels.  This is not a good thing, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.

Below is what I use. (Click on a picture if you are interested in purchasing a HydroFlask.  This will take you to my Amazon Affiliates link. I receive a small commission for anything you purchase through a link I provide.  This helps support the Pudge blog. But I don’t recommend anything I don’t use and love.  Amazon seems to have great prices, but they are also available–and sometimes on sale– through Dicks or most other sporting goods places.)  I love HydroFlask because:

  • They are really sturdy– they even hold up to me, who drops everything!
  • They are stainless steel, keep your fluid the temperature it is supposed to be (whether hot or cold) for a really long time,
  • don’t spill (unless you know, operator error), and…
  • come in tons of sizes and colors.  I have two of the big mama (40 ounce size) and have one with me every place I go.  I also have a smaller one that lives in my car.  In the summer, I’d infuse one big bottle with apple slices and cinnamon sticks, and another with Cucumber, Ginger, and Mint.  Find a system that works for you!
  • The  “Hydroflask Man” Logo makes me smile.  Every time.

In tomorrow’s post:

Afraid to start a meal plan because you won’t get to eat any of your favorite foods, or you’ll feel deprived?  You might be surprised what could be a part of a diet designed to meet your goals!

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