I’m working on my water consumption. I’ve been working on it for a while, and it’s the one thing that I consistently struggle with in terms of my nutrition habits. This may sound odd coming from a person who has drastically changed her eating habits over the past 10 years, but the food changes I’ve made – for whatever reason – have not been as much of a challenge for me as regularly getting enough liquid into my system.
This is a little embarrassing to admit, given that proper hydration is crucial to a distance runner. It’s not hard for me to drink water during a run, though. In fact, you’ll usually see me with a water bottle – even on short runs – because I know how important it is to stay hydrated when my body is sweating out water, salt, and goodness knows what else.
The trouble comes in when I have downtime and, therefore, a relaxed schedule without a routine. It’s in these moments that I don’t have a trigger for drinking water…and, without a clear trigger, I rarely succeed in drinking the fluid that my body needs.* I’ll have a glass of water here (sometimes with Nuun, for a little bit of flavor) and a mug of tea there, but my water intake tends to vary by more than 20oz (plus or minus) from day to day.
Here are my working hydration triggers:
- Drink a bottle of water (or more) while exercising, depending on duration and intensity of workout**
- Keep a glass of water and/or tea at my desk and fill it up again as soon as it’s empty
- Drink a glass of water with dinner
- Drink a glass of water before going to sleep
Here are the habits I am working to build:
- Drink a glass of water upon waking up
- Drink a full glass of water immediately after filling up my glass (before I go back to doing whatever it was that I was doing before I went for the refill)
- Keep a bottle of water in the car and drink at least half while on short trips (<30 minutes)
My goal is to keep my existing hydration habits intact while adding the new ones above. This will even out my water intake and ensure that I am staying properly hydrated, even when I’m not following my usual daily routine.
If you struggle with drinking enough liquid on a daily basis, you may want to try creating similar triggers for yourself. Another suggestion would be to track your intake, perhaps with a fitness or nutrition app (e.g., Map My Run, which I use for tracking my runs and other workouts, also allows me to track my water intake). Sometimes, it helps to make a game out of it and see if you can set a record (e.g., 7 days in a row of drinking the recommended amount of liquid or drinking a glass of water at every meal).
Of course, if something isn’t working, you can always try something else. I try to make new habits fun for myself in order to stick with them, and I highly encourage playing around to see what works best for you. I’ll let you know how the hydration habit is going in a future post.
* Rather than following the “8 glasses of liquid a day” rule, I prefer to follow the “half your body weight in ounces per day” recommendation. For example, if one weighs 150lbs, the recommendation would be that she drink 75oz of liquid each day. This article is also a good reference for how much fluid we should drink each day.
** When exercising, it is necessary to drink additional fluids to replace those that have been lost through sweating.