I never go to the doctor. Ever. I avoid it any chance I can. So when I called my mom from the bathroom floor, asking her to take me, she knew something was wrong. She was on her way home from work so she called my sister to help me up and get dressed. It was the most terrifying moment of my life.
I was helpless, delusional, and weak. I couldn’t even keep my head up or my eyes open. I’m told that I passed more than once. When I got to the hospital and my mom told the nurse what happened, the nurse became worried and asked if I had ever had a stroke before. She started to ask what time I first passed out when my dad found me slumped on my office chair. As we were guessing she said, “I really need to know the exact time in case she had a stroke. This is important.”
I started panicking. A stroke? I’m only 26. I have goals. This year is going to be the year I launch my business. What about my son?
Nothing was different about that day. Everyone kept asking me what I did differently, what happened? I kept repeating myself: I had my breakfast shake, I worked out, I went home and made lunch. The fear I felt about potentially having a stroke felt like a gorilla sitting on my chest.
After all of that, you know what had happened? You know what it was that quite literally brought me to my knees?
I was dehydrated.
I hadn’t been drinking enough water. Not enough water caused symptoms similar to a stroke. Not enough water caused me to collapse onto the shower floor. Not enough water caused me to become delusional.
I could hardly believe it. Water? My own lack of hydration is what caused all of this?
This is why water is so important. This is why I tell everyone they need to stay hydrated.
But I don’t want to pee all of the time.
I don’t like the taste of water.
I just forget.
It’s your choice: you can make an effort to drink water, or you could end up in the ER for hours, potentially needing to be hospitalized. There isn’t any other option here. Yes peeing a lot is remarkably irritating. But being stuck to a chair with an IV in your arm unable to move is so much worse.
It’s common sense that you need to drink water. Yet most of the USA, if not the world, is chronically dehydrated. You are more than 70% water – of course your body needs it on a consistent basis.
Dehydration can seem like hunger. So if you’re hungry a lot and don’t drink a lot of water, you should start there.
If you’re consistently bloated, that is also a sign that you need to drink more.
When you’re dehydrated, your body holds water. So when you don’t drink enough water, your body will hold on to any moisture it can and become quite bloated. While it seems counter intuitive, if you’re retaining water, it means you need to drink more of it.
When you don’t have a consistent stream of water going into your body, your body can’t trust that it’ll get enough. When you give your body the proper amount of water it needs consistently, your body goes, “Phew, ok. She’s finally giving us what we need. We don’t have to have these extra water stores – let ‘em go, boys!”
This is when you begin to pee a lot, but you’ll suddenly look in the mirror and it’ll look like you’ve lost weight. Your hands and feet won’t seem as puffy. You may even lose a pants size, depending on how bloated you are.
What about things like soda, coffee, juice and tea? Those are liquid – so they count, right?
I hate to break it to you, but things like soda and coffee don’t count toward your water intake. Both of these things dehydrate you, meaning they pull even more water away. So you can’t drink eight cans of soda a day and claim that you’re hydrated. In fact, you’ll need to drink even more water to try to counteract the dehydrating you just did.
You need to be drinking the bare minimum of water every day before you even think to consume anything else. If you’re someone that can’t survive without their coffee in the morning, then be sure to drink a big glass of water first. Then keep your water bottle close so once you’re done you can get to work drinking water again.
So now the big question: how much should you drink?
Before I answer this question, I’m required to say:
Disclaimer: consult your doctor before you make any drastic changes to diet or exercise.
Obviously this varies from person to person, but this is the formula I use with myself and others that works well: Half your body weight (lbs) in ounces.
If you’re 200 lbs, you need to drink 100 ounces of water a day. I prefer to measure in cups instead of ounces, so I then divide that number by 8 (there are 8 ounces in a cup), and that tells me how many cups to drink. 100 / 8 = 12.5 cups.
This also makes it easier to track. In order to keep track of my water, and to remind me throughout the day, I use the app Drinking Water. It’s very basic and super easy to use. You can set it to however many cups you want to measure per day. When you hit that number, it claps for you. I’m dead serious – it has a full on applause to congratulate you on hitting your goal. How cool is that? (I’m not affiliated with this app in any way – I just absolutely love it.)
Another way to gauge it is to look at the color of your pee.
Yes, I’m going there. It is an excellent way to see what your hydration level is at. Your pee should be slightly yellow, not dark yellow. So if you take a peak before you flush and it’s dark, go chug some water. If it’s already pretty light, then you’re on the right track. Your hydration will fluctuate from day to day, so you can’t drink a ton of water one day and no water for the next two and consider yourself hydrated. You need to drink water consistently throughout the day, every day. Some medications and supplements will change the color of your pee, so be sure to keep that in mind.
This is a topic I’ve always been passionate about, but after landing myself in the hospital on Christmas Eve, you won’t ever be able to shut me up. You need to stay hydrated. It is so important.
Here are some hydration tips to make it easier:
- Get a cute water bottle. If you enjoy looking at it, you’ll be more apt to bring it with you when you’re going places.
- Go with the most convenient that you enjoy. I really like straws, for example. So most of my water bottles have straws in them. My friend prefers those with smaller pour spouts. Others prefer the wide mouth bottles. Find one that you naturally drink more water with.
- Take your bottle with you everywhere. Don’t leave the house without it, even if you’re just hopping in the car for a trip to the post office. Get in the habit of taking it with you. This ups your chances of drinking more consistently.
- Set reminders. If you use the Drinking Water app, you can set reminders in there directly. But if not, use the alarm function on your phone to remind you throughout the day. After a couple of weeks of reminders, your body will go on autopilot.
I hope these tips resonated with you and will help you as you get hydrated. Please never take water for granted. If you have access to clean water, take advantage of it.
How are you on your water intake? Are you usually pretty consistent, or do you struggle?