Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Drink The Water...

We all know that water is good for us, but often the reasons are a little fuzzy. And even if we know why we should drink water, it's not a habit that many people form. But there are some very powerful reasons to drink lots of water every day, and forming the habit isn't hard, with a little focus.

The thing about it is, we don't often focus on this habit. We end up drinking coffee, and lots of soda, and alcohol, not to mention fruit juices and teas and milk and a bunch of other possibilities. Or just as often, we don't drink enough fluids, and we become dehydrated -- and that isn't good for our health.

I've made drinking water a daily habit. Although, I will admit that a couple of years ago I was more likely to drink anything but water. Now I don't drink anything but water, except for maybe an occasional cup of juice. I love it.

Here are 8 powerful reasons to drink water (with tips on how to form the water habit afterwards):

  1. Weight loss. Water is one of the best tools for weight loss, first of all because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn't have any calories. But it's also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we're hungry, we're actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss regimen.
  2. Headache cure. Another symptom of dehydration is headaches. In fact, often when we have headaches it's simply a matter of not drinking enough water. There are lots of other causes of headaches of course, but dehydration is a common one.
  3. Healthy skin. Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won't happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.
  4. Digestive problems. Our digestive systems need a good amount of water to digest food properly. Often water can help cure stomach acid problems, and water along with fiber can cure constipation (often a result of dehydration).
  5. Cleansing. Water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body. This can also help prevent the onset of colds, and other illnesses.
  6. Cancer risk. Related to the digestive system item above, drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  7. Better exercise. Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise.
  8. Clarity of mind. Water can reduce stress within your body (after it has cleansed out all the toxins) and provides for better thinking, clarity, and mental concentration. Who doesn't want to be smarter?

How to form the water habit…

So you're convinced that water is healthier, but you'd like to know more about how to make drinking water a daily habit.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • How much water? This is a debatable question. What's clear is that the old recommendation of "eight 8-ounce glasses a day" isn't right, for several reasons: that amount includes all dietary water intake, including food and non-water beverages; it also ignores a person's body weight, which is an important factor in figuring the amount; it also varies if you are sick or exercise. It's also not good to just drink when you're thirsty -- you're already dehydrated by then. Best is to form a routine: drink a glass when you wake up, a glass with each meal, a glass in between meals, and be sure to drink before, during and after exercise. Try to generally keep yourself from getting thirsty. A good guideline…drink ½ your body weight in oz. each day.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you at ALL times. A lot of people find it useful to get a big BPA free plastic or stainless steel drinking bottle, fill it with water, and carry it around with them all day. I like to keep a glass of water at my desk, and I drink from it all day long. When it's empty, I fill it up again, and keep drinking. I also put a glass of water on my nightstand so I can drink a glass f water before I even get out of bed in the morning.
  • Set a reminder. Set your watch to beep at the top of each hour, or set a periodic computer reminder, so that you don't forget to drink water.
  • Substitute water. If you would normally get a soda, coffee, or an alcoholic beverage, get a glass of water instead. Try sparkling water instead of alcohol at social functions with a slice of lime or lemon to add flavor color to your glass.
  • Filter. Instead of spending a fortune on bottled water, invest in a filter for your home faucet. It'll make tap water taste like bottled, at a fraction of the price.
  • Exercise. Exercising can help make you want to drink water more. It's not necessary or ideal to drink sports drinks like Gatorade when you exercise, they are often loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Just drink water. If you're going to exercise, be sure to drink water a couple hours ahead of time, so that it will get through your system in time, and again, drink during and after exercise as well. Another tip…on days that you exercise vigorously, add an additional 32 oz of water to your goal of “½ your body weight in oz.” water intake.
  • Track it. It often helps, when forming a new habit, to keep track of it -- it increases awareness and helps you ensure that you're staying on track. Keep a little log (it can be done on an index card or a notebook), which can be as simple as a tick mark for each glass of water you drink. If you track your food intake as well, track your water intake right along with it.

Now, I know a lot of you are thinking...

What about flavored water? Water with lemon? Bottled fruit water? Vitamin water? Powder packets to add to my water?? Most of these are loaded with sugar, artificial, and manufactured ingredients...none of which you want to be putting into your body.

Seriously, just drink the WATER. Plain and simple. You'll be glad you did.

Adapted from an article by Leo Babauta at Dumb Little Man

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Power of Acceptance...

So after about 6-weeks off because of family issues and scheduling conflicts in my life, I was gearing up to get back into the gym with my trainer this morning (which was rescheduled from Monday because of a nasty head cold). However, due to yet, another set of circumstances, I was not able to go. Sometimes it feels like I can never win. Some things are going great in life. My health counseling practice is sprinting forward with great success, my marriage is fabulous, the Christmas chaos has disappeared...but it seems that when it comes to desires I have that are close to my heart, the goals I have for ME...they too often get de-railed, side-tracked, or stopped in their tracks. This often leaves me feeling like the world is scheming and working against me!

These feelings remind me of a post I wrote back in September about dealing with disappointment. When sitting down to write about something else this morning, I decided it might be good to re-post that one instead. Sometimes it's good to remember that life will always have bumps, challenges, and road blocks. The important thing is that we continue to move forward and work at accomplishing goals...even if at a slower pace than we want. The key is to accept your circumstances as they are, stay positive, and keep moving forward when you can.

Continue reading my previous post on acceptance below...


I've recently begun working out with my trainer again. It has been a many, many months since exercise has been a regular part of my life. Today was one of those days where it seemed like I just couldn't catch my breath and get into my groove, which initially was a little frustrating because I felt like what I was doing was not really a knock out, drag down workout...which is one of the things I really appreciate about this guy, he doesn't train like least not so far! But as I was leaving, he mentioned I could try and get some more cardio in on the elliptical or I could accept where I am physically right now and call it a day...which I did.

As I was leaving I was thinking about that statement, "accept where you are..." and how important it is for us to do accept who we are, and where we are, NOW. When you decide to accept yourself the way you are, you allow yourself the freedom to change. When you criticize, talk negatively, or fight with yourself, you remain stuck and prevent change from happening.

I once read in an article that acceptance means honoring and loving yourself just the way you are. Maybe you feel confused and think that accepting yourself means you don’t want to change. You may think, “I don’t want to accept myself – that‘s why I want to lose this weight (or whatever it is you want to change)!” But it’s just the opposite. Making peace with where you are is the launching pad that gets you to where you want to go.

Whatever you focus your attention on grows. So when you talk negatively to or about yourself, your negativity grows. This results in self-punishing behaviors and you stay stuck. But when your attention is on where you want to go, and you accept yourself the way you are, your behaviors lovingly reflect the new life you’re creating and you move forward.

You know you want to make changes in your life. Great! Make peace with where you are and you will reach your goal more quickly. Where you are today is totally irrelevant. Your current situation carries no power over you unless you offer it negative attention. Accept where you are and remain focused on where you’re headed. You then become free to change, and change will happen.

This isn't an easy task. I know this from experience! It is hard to be positive when you aren't satisfied with yourself or your surroundings. But one thing I have learned is that when you do make a shift in attitude and focus, and are accepting of the situation at hand, suddenly the pressure is off and the success comes if to just fall into place. Today I accepted that I couldn't do all that I wanted to. But I know that that's OK because I am still just fine right where I am, and if I continue to work, I will gain the strength and endurance I need to complete that work out next time. And the positive thing least I went to work out, right??

Monday, January 4, 2010

Get Slow...

To continue on this theme of slowing ourselves down and allowing time for rest, here is a list of ideas on how to do just that. Is there anything in this list you could do today?
  • Leave your watch on the bedside table.
  • Check email only twice a day.
  • Take the scenic route.
  • Light candles before you start to cook dinner.
  • Make up rituals.
  • Say a silent word of thanks and make eye contact with everyone at the table before you start eating.
  • Let the phone ring several times before answering.
  • Make a handmade present for a friend.
  • Set aside one night a week all for yourself.
  • Spend as much time outdoors in natural settings as you possibly can.
  • Pay attention to cycles of the moon and the shifting seasons.
  • Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer.
  • Take a few moments before you climb out of bed in the morning to remember your dreams and think about what you want from the day.
  • Factor in an additional 25% every time you estimate how long something will take.
  • Always jump at the chance to play with a child.
  • Never pack your schedule so that there’s no room for a short walk.
  • Take a left where you generally take a right.

What do you do to slow down your body and allow it time to take in all that you seeing, experiencing, and feeling? How do you incorporate rest into your day?

Adapted from an article by Marco Visscher and Jay Walljasper. Ode Magazine, Issue #15.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slowing Down...

This morning I woke up with a head cold. My nose was runny but at the same time congested. My head felt like a balloon was blown up inside and every time I moved I felt like I was in an action movie but in slow motion know what I mean? I was "swooshing."

The last 4 weeks of life have been hectic. Two of my ballerina daughters danced in a professional production of The Nutcracker, there have been school Christmas programs, endless family gatherings, we have had extended family in town now for close to two weeks, I have been very busy within my career world, and within our household, we have lost a family member. My 19 year old niece, who was living with us, has moved out, and we are all missing her and adjusting to her absence. Thankfully, I have been healthy all along to deal with all the chaos and changes going on in my world.

So when I woke up this morning not feeling well with only two days left of the "holiday break" and wanting to get reorganized for the week ahead, needless to say I was irritated. I have been craving routine for awhile, and today was my day to get it together so the transition come Monday would be smooth. I had a to-do list a mile long, and nothing has been checked off of that list. And to top it all off, my husband is moping around the house, in his "holiday crash" as well, complaining of cabin fever, and I suspect he is as burnt out and craving routine as much as me.

I have been contemplating my afternoon and how to attempt it while sitting here going through my Kleenex box like it's going out of style, and realized something. This head cold, as annoying as it is, is a good thing. It is telling me to SLOW I don't crash and burn come Monday. Our bodies are amazing things, you know! They know just what they are doing. I'm taking this head cold as a sign that the chaos is detoxifying itself through it, to get me READY for Monday and the eminent routine of back to school and work. It's telling me to rest!

So rest it is for the remainder of the day. This evening we are going out to dinner with my husband's parents and siblings. It's the last official family gathering of the Christmas Season. I know if I bust my hump getting things done this afternoon, I will not want to go, and instead curl up in my pj's and go to bed early. That would disappoint my husband, and I love that guy way too much to do that.

So the plan for the rest of the afternoon is to SLOW DOWN, allow my body to REST, and readjust the "to-do" list to accomplish over a span of the next few days, while my head cold heals, to get to all those projects and clean-ups done that I wanted to do today. I'm OK with this. Resting feels good. And besides, I would be really ticked off if I was down all of next week because I didn't take the time NOW when my body was tapping me on the shoulder letting me know it has had enough.

What is your body telling you lately? Are you listening? Take the time to find out and give it what it needs!