February 14, 2017
Do you agree that drinking water is important to your health? It's not exactly a newsflash that our bodies need water to function properly. Maintaining a proper weight and having a beautiful, glowing complexion are both helped with proper water consumption. If we know water is crucial to our bodies, the question then becomes how much water should we consume each day?
I've found that there are two main views on this very subject. One view is that getting enough water is simply a mathematical equation. The equation is based on your weight. Along this same view point is that you should drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water per day. That's easy enough to remember, but is it enough water?
The second view point is that you should listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty. In fact, some health experts who fall into this category believe that drinking too much water, especially around mealtimes, can dampen your digestion and lead to gut issues. I've read countless articles that argue you shouldn't drink water 30 minutes prior to your meal, during your meal and up to 30 minutes after you've finished eating.
Which method is correct? Is it a clear calculation or does it involve getting to your individual body's needs?
Unfortunately, many people are out of touch with their bodies. We stink at listening to our body when it tells us we are hungry or thirsty. This is key, and for most of my private-coaching clients I find this is where they need to start. Learn to listen to your body!
Here's the method I advocate:
Fill a gallon jug of water at the start of each day.
Each time you fill your glass or water bottle to drink, use water from this gallon jug.
At the end of the day take note of how much water you've consumed.
Record in a journal how you felt that day. Did you feel energized? Did you have a headache? Were you tired and sluggish? Was your digestion on point or did you feel bloated?
Do this for two weeks.
You may not finish the gallon of water each day. That's okay. The point of this isn't to force yourself to drink the entire gallon. The point is to get you in touch with your body. Begin to take note of the amount of water you drank on the days you felt the best. Aim to get that amount of water daily. This amount may vary from time to time depending on the weather and your activity level. That's okay. The point of this exercise is to bring awareness. It should help you tap into your body's thirst signals.
For example, many of my clients, when they initially seek my help, are so out of touch with their bodies that they often mistake thirst for hunger. I've found this exercise to be the most successful at bringing awareness of your own body.
After the birth of my second child, I took the advice of a well-intentioned friend. My daughter could not breastfeed so I chose to use a hospital grade breast pump and bottle feed her with my own milk. It can be difficult to keep your milk supply up when you rely on a breast pump instead of the baby. I didn't feel that my supply was where I wanted it to be so a friend suggested I increase my water intake. I don't remember the amount she told me to drink daily but it was an enormous amount. I have always been an avid water drinker so the idea that I was somehow dehydrated seemed absurd to me, but I took her advice anyway. Within two short days of following her stringent "water plan" my milk supply dropped by more than half. Where before I was getting around 6 ounces each time I pumped, I was now only getting about 2 ounces. I called my lactation consultant, completely dismayed and looking for answers. She told me, "Hannah, stop drinking all that water! You're peeing out the hormone your body needs to make the milk!" In a nutshell, she told me to drink when my body told me it was thirsty. I went back to my former ways and my milk supply returned to normal.
I realize you may be thinking, 'that's great, but I'm not a nursing mother so what does that story have to do with me?'. The point of the story is not that I was a nursing mother. The point is we should be listening to our bodies! Following formulas and forcing water into our bodies when we're not thirsty may backfire on you as it did on me. It's along these same lines that I don't believe in counting calories or dieting in the traditional sense. It simply won't work.
On another note, as you take actions to clear your skin by increasing your intake of nutritional foods, you will naturally be increasing your water intake. The truth is fruits and vegetables, especially when eaten raw, contain a certain amount of water. Regardless of what some may believe, this does in fact count towards your daily intake of water! Sometimes when we begin eating healthier, we may actually notice we're a little less thirsty than before. It's no surprise when you're consuming raw produce!
What are your thoughts? How much water do you currently consume and how do you feel most days? If you need help in this area, I challenge you to two weeks of my water exercise.
Fill a gallon jug each day
Observe your body and write it down
Learn how your body feels when it's thirsty.
Learn to obey those signals and see what happens with your health!