Angela | Keeping the Faith
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or professional fitness guru. I am sharing what I’ve learned through research and experience; you all must use your own judgment in deciding what is best for you and your own health, including checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise or dietary program.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. You’ve all heard about it and have surely read about it, but do you really understand why?
Why is hydration so important?
Your body depends on water for survival. Water makes up more than half of your body weight. Your muscles need water to stay limber and strong, your organs need water to do their work, your joints need water in order to move smoothly. Your body is like a giant battery, with electrical impulses flying from your brain to your nerve endings…and water is the conductor. Water is essential for good health.
One of the problems with water is that you lose it just as fast as you drink it. You lose it when you pee, sweat, or even breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is hot, when you exercise, or when you’re sick with vomiting or diarrhea. The water in your body must be replenished on a continual basis, or you get dehydrated.
That battery metaphor? What happens to a battery when it gets old and cracked and the conducting stuff inside drains out? (I know you’ve all seen corroded batteries inside forgotten toys!) Yeah. The battery doesn’t work anymore. Now think about your body as a battery…how well is it going to function without its water conductor?
Not at all!!
When you get dehydrated, you slow down. You feel sleepy, irritable and get a headache. In its natural, hydrated state, your brain has the consistency of very wet sponge. If you let it dry out, you won’t be able to think or react quickly.
Dehydration = Your batteries are running low!!
You have to keep your body battery charged by staying hydrated. Drink up. At least 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day, more if you’re exercising, even more if it’s hot outside. You can tell if you’re drinking enough if your pee is clear or very, very light straw color. If your pee is yellow, you aren’t hydrated enough. (Or you’ve eaten asparagus.)
Water is the best option for staying hydrated, and most of your fluid intake should come from water. Skim milk, fruit and veggie juices, herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee can also contribute to your daily fluids. Caffeine will dehydrate you if you drink large quantities of it, say five to seven cups of coffee or soda a day. Sports drinks can also provide the water we need with the benefits of electrolytes when exercising intensely in the heat, or when we’re sick. Be sure to read labels on sports drinks carefully before you use them. Most contain extra calories in the form of sugar and are pretty high in sodium, as well.
Have trouble remembering to drink water? Here’s how I do it.
■ Keep a bottle of water with me during the day. It’s on my desk, between the keyboard and the screen. I have to scoot it over every now and then to see something, and when I touch it, I drink at least 8 ounces.
■ Start and end the day with a glass of water.
■ Drink a quart* of water an hour before every exercise session and a quart after. And a quart (or two) during, especially if it’s exceptionally hot.
■ Drink a glass of water every time I pee. It sets up a sort of never-ending cycle that guarantees my hydration level!
*I drink water by the quart for exercise hydration. You may not need this much. I live in north central Texas where it is extremely dry and very, very hot in the summer. I once weighed my workout clothes, shoes and bike pads before and after a long bike ride, just out of curiosity. There was a 2.5 pound gain, which equates to a little less than half a gallon of sweat, not even counting whatever evaporated along the way.
Drink some water. Keep the Faith.
Next Week – Move It, Sweetheart!