How much do you drink?

Everyday we have a plethora of choices about what to put into our bodies. Hopefully we’re making more good choices than bad choices. One of the best and easiest choices we have to make is how much we’re drinking each day. How much water we’re drinking. Not coffee (although that is my second favorite and does have some health benefits, at least that’s what I tell myself), not juice, certainly not soda, not alcohol (although I bet that’s what you thought I meant :)! Asking ourselves this question is important too, but meant for another blog). Back to the why and how of drinking water…

Did you know that roughly 60% of your body is made up of water? And, the majority of your brain, heart, lungs, skin, muscles, kidneys, etc. are made up of water!

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Water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going:

  • Water helps maintain the health and integrity of every cell in our bodies.
  • Water keeps the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels.
  • Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  • Water moisturizes the skin to maintain its texture and appearance.
  • Water helps eliminate the byproducts of the body’s metabolism.
  • Water regulates body temperature through sweating.
  • Water moistens mucous membranes such as those of the lungs and mouth.
  • Water lubricates and cushions joints.
  • Water reduces the risk of bladder infections.
  • Water aids digestion and prevents constipation.
  • Water serves as a shock absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord and in the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus in pregnancy.

Practically speaking though, what does water do for us?

  • Drinking more water helps with several health problems, such as headaches, fatigue, joint pain, constipation, kidney stones, and skin problems such as acne.
  • Drinking water will help both physical and mental performance.
  • Drinking water can cause mild, temporary increases in metabolism. (Some researchers estimate that drinking ~68oz. in one day can increase energy expenditure by about 96 calories per day).
  • Drinking water about a half hour before meals can help us automatically eat fewer calories. (One study showed that those who drank 16oz. of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks, compared to those who didn’t).

How much water should we drink each day?

We’ve probably all heard the 8×8 rule of thumb, which is that we should drink eight 8oz. cups of water for a total of 64 oz. each day. If you are just beginning to increase your water intake, this would be a great place to start. But, that number doesn’t necessarily account for the many shapes and sizes we come in and our varied activity levels. Sixty-four ounces of water may not go far enough for many people, especially for those who have a larger stature or include exercise in their routine.

A rule of thumb that I have heard many times (by reputable sources such as friends who are registered dietitians), is to drink the number of ounces of water that is equal to between one half and the number pounds you weigh. For example, a 100 pound person should drink between 50-100 ounces of water each day.

What are some easy ways to make consistent water intake happen?

I once was terrible at drinking water. But, I now follow the above rule and regularly drink four – five 750ml Camelbaks, which is 100-125 oz./day, every single day. If drinking water is so good for us and should be so easy, why is it so hard for so many of us? Here’s what helped me become a regular water drinker:

  • I bought re-usable water bottles that I love and that are mine.
  • I carry my water bottle with me wherever I go. It’s on my desk, in my car, literally with me at all times. If I go out anywhere, I grab my keys, my phone, and my water bottle.
  • Drinking water is a family routine/rule. My kids have their own water bottles and carry them with them wherever they go. We don’t do juice. We definitely don’t do soda. We drink water (or milk).
  • If you struggle to drink water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to add variety. Add, ice cubes made from fresh fruit. Or infuse your water with cucumbers, mint, or another flavor you like.

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This is what my counter looks like on a daily basis.

Why not fruit juice and soft drinks?

When I worked in the Pharmaceutical industry, I talked to hundred of pediatricians regularly. I would often spend a day with some of them, while they saw their patients. Over and over I heard the same thing. Juice and soda were the biggest contributing factors they saw to cavities and childhood obesity. Now sports drinks have also been added to that list.

Drinks containing sugar such as fruit drinks, most juices, vitamin-style water, flavored mineral waters, energy and sports drinks, and soda might provide energy to our diet, but provide basically no other essential nutrients. They are great for excess calories, tooth decay, reduced bone strength, causing us to crave additional sugar, and lots of other life-long health problems. These drinks steal water from our body and never actually quench our thirst. They interfere with digestion, essentially stealing the nutrients from the food we just ate.

I am kind of a nazi mom with my kids about drink intake. I can’t remember the last time I bought soda and when I did it was for a party or to take somewhere as requested. I don’t buy it for our family to drink. Outside of our beach vacation which is the one time a year my kids get to pick out special (JUNK) snacks and drinks, I have never bought juice for them to drink. Instead of juice, they get a piece of fruit. Instead of packing a juice box in their lunch box, they get their water bottle. In fact, my 11 year old son tried soda for the very first time this year at youth group – nice :)!

Oh, if you think you are in the clear because you’re choosing “diet” drinks with artificial sweeteners (which is what I used to drink too much of and is now my very occasional special treat), you’re wrong. Artificially sweetened drinks add very little calories to the diet and therefore may not contribute to weight gain, but that’s pretty much all they have going for them. The list of the negative affects such as headaches and other potential dangers associated with artificial sweeteners could be another whole blog.

Bottom line: Drink water. Make it your primary drink. Buy yourself a re-usable water bottle and keep it with you wherever you go. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February and the Run That Nearly Made Me Quit

February has been quite a month! My Journey to Boston continues to become more exciting and intense, with some really difficult parts thrown in along the way!

I logged a total of 173 running miles in February, spread out over 21 runs. Those 173 training miles included three speed, 2 hill, and 2 pace setting runs. They also included two long –  20 and 22 – mile runs. On top of the running miles, February also had 4 cross-training work-outs which included yoga and incline treadmill walking, planks, crunches, squats, and free weights. Then, the other four days that rounded out the month of February were rest days. Ahh, four whole rest days!

You may think that since runners love running, that they love it everyday, and all the time. Not the case. A couple weeks ago, on Feb. 12th, I did my 20 miler. It was horrific. Like, literally, the worst run of my life. By mile 3 I wanted to quit, and yet I knew I still had 17 miles to go. Seventeen whole miles. My legs felt heavy. My knees hurt. My back hurt. I had zero energy. I hadn’t slept much the week prior. I was mentally and emotionally spent. Each step was absolutely draining. If it wasn’t for my mental determination, and knowing that others were counting on me, I never would have finished. And, even with that mental drive, my body literally stopped moving several times, no matter how much I willed it to keep going. So, I stretched. And, gave myself several pep talks. And, continued on. I am convinced, amongst other things, I was experiencing full lactic acid build up. If you’ve never experienced lactic acid build up, you can’t quite imagine it. The symptoms include a burning feeling in your muscles. Your legs feel like concrete blocks that are hardening more with each second. They ache and hurt like nothing you’ve ever experienced. You have cramps, and nausea, and weakness, and exhaustion. It’s very different than the soreness you experience for a couple days after a really intense workout. It’s actually your body’s way to tell you to stop doing what you’re doing. That is how I ran my last eight of twenty miles that day. By the end I was in tears. I told myself that I wasn’t a runner and that I never would be. I convinced myself that I didn’t want to ever run again. Like never. Ever. Ever. Ever.

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Two days later, I ran again, because there are people counting on me, and because I was supposed to and I’m a rule follower. It was an 8 miler and it was warm and sunny and it felt good. And, I knew I was back.

Two weeks after my horrific 20 miler that nearly caused me to quit running for good, it was time for my 22 mile run. My mind started to mess with me. You can’t quite know what it feels like in the days before you are about to make your body run a near marathon until you’ve done it. The nerves. The questions. The doubts. The lack of sleep. The pressure. It all adds up, and builds, and builds. And, when you nearly quit on your previous long run, the doubts intensify. I tried to pull myself together. But, it took every emotional, mental, and physical ounce of strength I had to convince myself I could do it.

Thanks to the amazing support of Team Alyssa and those who have been encouraging me and praying for me along each step of the journey, I conquered my 22 mile run last Friday. It was only a decent run, but it was a life changing run at the same time. I spent each mile praying for a specific person or family or topic. And, when God brought someone to mind related to that family or topic, I briefly prayed for them as well, specific prayers, specific names and needs, and then went back to who that mile was focused on. I also took one mile to pray for my church and each staff member and their families by name. I took one mile to pray for our country, politicians, and the current candidates and their families. And, I focused my very last mile 22 to pray about cancer – those who are fighting, those who have lost loved ones, research, and everyone we know who’s been affected. I almost always pray over the course of my runs no matter how short or long, but this was the very first time I focused so specifically on names and needs and topics and outcomes and weaknesses, one mile at a time. And, it changed me. Along with the fact that I know many were praying for me over those hours, I know it was the reason I made it through that run after having wanted to quit.

Another huge February accomplishment is that my team met our goal and continues to raise funds to provide treatments that are saving the lives of patients today. LLS is making cures happen by providing patient support services, advocacy for lifesaving treatments and the most promising cancer research anywhere. And it’s all happening now. Not someday, today. I am so honored to be a small part of this!!

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With just 6 weeks and 6 days until race day, the countdown is certainly on! I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has supported me both financially and through prayer and encouragement.

March will be a very big month including a 24  mile run in less than 2 weeks and then a 20 mile run up in Boston with Team in Training!! Stay tuned for updates!