And I dunno about your bathroom, but mine just isn’t such a fabulous oasis of delights that I care to spend half my day in there.
Still. A healthy person’s gotta do what a healthy person’s gotta do, and a healthy person’s gotta drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water every damn day. That’s three Grandes, if that’s how you count, or one and a half litres. More if you’re bigger or you’re working out or you live somewhere so hot you’re sweating a lot.
Now, there are many anecdotal tales of water being the key to weight loss, including my favorite tall tale, that drinking ice water burns calories as you heat the water up inside yourself. You’d have to drink more icewater than a narwhal for that to make a difference, actually. But the fact is that the body uses water as part of the chemical breakdown of fat and to get the waste products of that breakdown out of your system, so you do need a base level of hydration or you’re not going to see any progress. If you’re on a high-protein, Atkins style diet (which we do not recommend) you’ll need to drink even more, because of those very waste products.
How do you know when you’re drinking enough? Simple: CLEAR PEE!
Oh, it can be a bit yellowish (that shows you’re getting some decent vitamins in your diet) but it should be pretty darn close to water. Anything else means you need a glass, stat. Kidneys should not be taken for granted; make life easy on them by being sure to drink enough water.
How can you do that without expiring of boredom or camping out in the bathroom? Try these tips:
- buy slightly overripe fruit on sale, wash it and slice it up, and then freeze it on a tray or plate; pop the frozen bits into a plastic bag in the freezer and you’ve got ice cubes that will give a calorie-free bit of flavour to a pitcher of water. Because the fruit is frozen, the cell walls have been burst and much more flavour gets into the water than if you just put the pieces in lukewarm. Limes and berries and oranges are great for this.
- keep a pitcher of water in the fridge and put some mint in it. Mint-flavoured, calorie-free, unsweetened water is three dollars a bottle at the gourmet store, and that’s for sixteen ounces! Spearmint is a weed, and even I can grow it. If your thumb is black, you can generally pick up enough to flavour six or eight litres for a couple of dollars at the store; put a couple of washed stalks in the jug and wash and freeze the rest to use later.
- High Voltage swears that it’s easier to drink out of those little bottles than out of a glass, and it’s true for me at least. And they’re easier to take in your purse. Just be sure to buy the bottle with a “sport” or “action” top; that’s the nipple, not the screw cap. You can wash and reuse these a number of times (but not indefinitely! Toss yours and buy a new one at least once a month). You do not need to buy a new bottle every time.
- if you can afford it, try the designer waters. Make sure, though, that they’re sweetener free; there are too many things out there with artificial sweeteners or sugar in them, and you don’t need those. But an ozonated water or some ginseng-infused thing in a decorator bottle makes a nice treat and you get to feel smug because it’s so darn healthy.
- think about cutting your morning juice 50/50 with sparkling water. It is much more than the sum of its parts, and after awhile you’ll probably prefer it to straight juice. Half the calories, too.
- be aware that mineral waters are a lousy place to get your minerals from. Read the nutritional labels to see: most have less than 10% of your RDA for any mineral. And some have arsenic!
- bubbles or no bubbles, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that sometimes bottled water has too much sodium, so if high blood pressure is an issue for you and you’ve been advised to cut back on sodium, you might want to check your labels. There are low-sodium mineral waters out there, but Club Soda, while basically the same thing, often has a lot of sodium, which is a damn shame.
- if you love bubbles but don’t want to spend two dollars a bottle on San Pellegrino, haunt second-hand stores for a soda syphon. These squirters are CO2 powered (you’ll remember them from Three Stooges movies, I’m sure) and they work with any water.
- oh yeah: to avoid spending too much time in the bathroom, do not drink the water all at once. Take a glass or bottle at a time; if you chug a lot of water it goes right through you and your bladder fills up like a balloon. If you space it out, your body uses what it needs and the rest isn’t so much that you’ve gotta waddle out of the interview in an undignified crouch.
- if you’ve got a medical condition such as you’re going through chemo, you’ve got a fever, or you’re dehydrated from exertion or heat and you WANT to retain the water in your system, drink gingerale or an uncaffeinated soda pop that is sweetened with sugar, or juice. A nurse taught me that when I had cancer. I gained so much weight you wouldn’t believe it, but it was all water and when I didn’t need it anymore, it left the body naturally. A handy trick and now that old “drink gingerale when you’re sick” thing makes much more sense. The Brits produce Lemsip for the same purpose.
- if you tend to get wrung out in the heat, go to the drug store and get a pack of dry electrolytes. They’ll probably be in the First Aid section, but ask if you can’t find them. Every drug store has these. They’re nothing more than a dried sample of the molecules that are in your bloodstream when you’re healthy. You add them to water and presto! Instant Gatorade replacement. They have zero calories, and usually they have no particular taste, but if you’re really dehydrated and you suck down a glass of water with these and it tastes FABULOUS, you know you really needed it. They’re about a buck a dose, so cheaper than Gatorade and no calories if that’s something you’re worried about.
- for every caffeinated or alcoholic drink you down, have a glass of water too. They are diuretic, ie they pull water out of you, and you need to replace it. Besides, water is cheaper than beer. Some new studies question whether caffeinated drinks are diuretic if you’re used to them, but personal experience leads me to question this. You can test it out yourself; drink coffee, tea, or iced tea all day and then hit the bathroom. Clear pee?
- not all herbal teas are water-positive. Some, the so-called “dieter’s teas” actually pull water out of you. Stick with mint teas, chamomile, hibiscus or rose hip, and fruit teas. Those count as a serving of water, and they’re fabulous cold, over ice. Rose hip and other fruit teas are particularly good for you, as they are often full of vitamins.
- some people find that having a glass of water with or before every meal helps them meet their daily water intake. I am not one of those people, but I pass it along for what it’s worth.
- if you’re the kind of person who responds to a challenge or who likes company when you’re working towards a goal, check out these threads on 43 Things, a most interesting website where people write down what they want to accomplish and people join their quests.