Optimal Water Intake Challenge

How much water should you drink? The general rule is 8 x 8oz of water (64oz total). But that number is a rough number and based on some research I’ve done, that amount does not provide for optimal health. Optimal health includes keeping the most skin supple & youthful, strongest & most elastic muscles, greatest memory & brain function, ideal joint function, best digestion & bowel function, improved immune system and weight loss/maintenance. Sure, if you drink 64 ounces you get some assistance with items on that list, but I am talking about optimal function and benefits.8-Glasses-blog

As I age, I want to seek optimal health and to do so I will utilize all tools at my disposal since genetics, and geography are not controllable factors. With my research, I found several sites with calculators for determining water needs based on weight. I find this to be more accurate because 64 ounces of water is going to have different benefits for a 100lb woman vs a 200lb man. To determine your optimal water needs; take your body weight and multiply it by .67 (67%). The resulting number is total ounces necessary for optimal health. Since we lose water when exercising, experts suggest adding 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise. This can be adjusted if you sweat more than most or workout in a hot climate. I keep repeating ‘optimal’ because this is a reminder that I am shooting for the best intake not daily minimums.

Based on this formula my numbers are as follows: 165lbs x.67 = 111 ounces of water. Plus 24 ounces for exercise/loss of water, bringing my grand total to 135 ounces of water per day.

I usually exercise for approximately 60 minutes per day (this fluctuates based on yoga vs runs vs boot camps and those days I more than 1 of those). But that is a safe number to play with. I am also not a heavy sweater.

135 ounces is a high number based on the general guideline of 64 ounces per day. Intimidatingly high number! I drink a lot of water, but don’t even come close to this ‘optimal health’ intake level? I decided to see where I stand, so I grabbed a Tervis Tumbler with the ounces measured on the container and started my personal challenge.

Day 1: I usually start my day with a couple cups of coffee so my actual water intake did not start until 8a. My tumbler holds 22 ounces of water and by 5pm I polished off 4 entire bottles. But that is only 88 ounces to my 135 needed for the day. I still needed to get a little more than 2 bottles down to get close. By 7p I had most my final bottle to go and did reached my 135oz prior to bed time. It was surprisingly easy to reach my levels but this is definitely more water than I typically consume in a day. My normal high volume provides me with frequent bathroom breaks, but this was more than usual. Further proving that I normally do not take in that much water.

Day 2: I decided to get a leg up on water intake and started with 22oz prior to my morning coffee. Yoga and a run put me at 90 min of exercise so my daily intake for optimal health is 147oz. Jeeze Louise, that’s a lot of water. By 10am I had 44oz down. I now know why they say you will lose weight drinking a higher level of water…you feel full all the time. By 6pm I started my 7th container so on my way to 154oz and off to teach yoga. Full, but taking in this volume is not a problem. Waiting for that ‘health bell’ to go off and magically feel sensational. Day 2 might be a little soon for that. Final total ounces consumed = 174oz.

Day 3: Again started with water to get the ball running. Was out of the house for several hours and only took 44oz with me. Was not enough to keep my hydrated and not being a fan buying plastic bottled water, I only made it to 110oz by 6pm. Morning workout was 45 min so with total intake and exercise my total goal for day was 129oz, so only 19oz to go to finish day successfully. Had to get up in the middle of the night to hit the little girls room. That is not normal for me.

Day 4: Another light workout day so total intake was 123oz. Was able to consistently keep water bottle close so had no problem surpassing that by bedtime. Friday night adult beverage did not take away from total water intake.

Day 5 & 6: Weekends can be days off workout wise, which was the case this weekend. Total goal for day is 111oz per day. Saturday made it to 111 oz. Sunday was out entire day and although I purchased bottled water (it pained me to do so) to reach my intake, only made it to 75 oz by the end of day. Oddly I was ill that night.

Day 7-14: My daily suggested intake ranged from 111oz to 154oz and I took in about 124oz on most days. Days I required the upper end of that range, I usually got close. I either hit it on the mark or got within 10oz of hitting it.

There were several very high volume days due to activity level. I looked up Hyponatremia, which is over hydration or water poisoning. It is more common with athletes and soldiers and based more on volume per hour vs just total intake. You cannot make up for low volume in a short amount of time. The general rule is 27-33oz in an hour put you in danger of Hyponatremia. Keep this in mind if you should decide to take on this challenge.

The changes I saw were primarily in my skin. Very little lotion went a long way into making it super soft and plump. My hair looked better too. Don’t know that I could identify improved organ function as I do not suffer any ailments in that area. Did not see any weight loss. I had hoped that would be one of my first benefits of increased water intake. I think that the weight loss portion of the benefits list is more of a long term item. It does fill you up so drinking before any meal will keep you from over eating. I need to work on taking water on the road. I have a Stanley water container that will keep water cold for a long time. I pack a regular tumbler then add in my Stanley container to get me out the door with 52oz for the road. For the record, I am a fan of flavored water. I infuse mine with fruit, veggies or herbs of choice. This challenge I had lemons in my water, but often I use cucumbers or mint for flavor.

I am happily taking in 124oz or more a day and will keep it up. I am very happy with the changes I see from this challenge. I now challenge you to see if you can increase your water intake.

The word DIET

Long long ago the word diet referred to what your dietary intake consisted of. Now it pertains primarily to what you limit your intake to. So when people ask me about what I think of ‘this diet’ or ‘that diet’ I often ask why they want to consider it and for how long will they be on it. Because if the ‘diet’ in question is only temporary, then I suggest you don’t waste your time or energy. Whatever gains or losses you make on this temporary way of eating will be lost when you return to your normal way of eating…thus your regular diet. Because your way of eating greatly supports your current health. But if you wish to make permanent changes to the way you eat, I am in full support. Because permanent changes in diet make for permanent changes in health. Temporary changes will get you just that…temporary changes.

When deciding what changes or ‘diet’ to implement, make sure they are lifelong options. If you wish to give up dairy, can you do this on a long term basis? If not, you may need to consider how much you can realistically reduce if that is the direction you wish to go. Same can be said for giving up meat, sugar and gluten. Decide what is realistic and make that small change part of your ‘diet’.

The real reason for my discussion on diet is because this world is obsessed with diets. Not what you eat but what magic diet of restriction and excess is in fashion. I recently got asked about the wisdom of the Paleo diet and the Ketone diet. Both will have a positive impact on weight or they wouldn’t be so popular. But can you live on it? From here on out? For many, that is a yes. But if not, what do you expect to happen to your body when you go back to your preferred way of eating?

What I would like people to consider is to learn about what changes their preferred diet suggests and make those changes to their current way of eating with the idea that this will be how they eat from here on out. With any diet or way of eating there will be moments where you stray but they should be so incredibly rare. Because this new way of eating is your lifestyle. So if you decided sugar was no longer in your plan, then what can you do to provide a delicious treat for your birthday bash? It will likely be something not traditional and more in line with your diet aka new lifestyle. Also can be said for those who gave up meat and went plant based. Your idea of barbequing is now likely to be veggies on the grill and not a burger. Your choices in restaurants will be reduced and going out or grilling are not excuses to revert to prior eating. Because you made these changes to your diet for a reason and those reasons still exists and are valid and worth staying true to.

So when you think the word diet, I want you to think of it as how you eat. Your food choices, your way of life from here on out.


Traditional Food Pyramid Problems

If you eat based on the USDA Food Pyramid, you may have a weight problem. More problematic with the USDA Food Pyramid is you may have other health problems like Type II diabetes, increased risk of heart disease and/or high cholesterol. Here is why this food pyramid is not recommended for optimal health.

basic-pyramidAt the top they ask you to limit fats but not all fats are bad. In fact, many plant based fats benefit the heart such as fats found in nuts, olive oils and coconut oils. They suggest that you need your protein from meat, this is also not true. Unfortunately, if you get your protein from red meat you also take in high levels of cholesterols and saturated fats which are not heart healthy. There is no mention of beans or nuts, which are great sources of protein and heart healthy as well. They state that dairy is necessary which is also not true. They believed this was necessary based on its source of calcium for strong bones. You do need calcium in your diet, but dairy is not the best source of calcium. You can get plenty of calcium from spinach, broccoli, oranges, kale, almonds, sesame seeds and figs. Most horrifying for me is they only recommend 2-3 servings of vegetables and fruit verses starchy carbs at 6-11 servings per day. You cannot take in 6-11 servings of pasta, bread and potatoes and expect to maintain a healthy weight. Especially since those items are usually topped with sugar and/or saturated fat food like pasta sauces or butter. Not to mention these simple sugars break down in the body quicker resulting a higher glycemic value and creating havoc with insulin levels.

Ironically the foods protected by the government are simple carbs (grains & sugars), dairy and red meat. The government supplements many crops such as corn, wheat, soy & dairy to the tune of about $20 billion a year (source: USDA). They are not the healthiest choices in any diet yet this is why chips, bread, red meat, milk and sugar are so cheap to consume. It is also why those items are often more affordable than eating plant based. Vegetables, nuts and beans are not supplemented by the government so you pay real value.

In the old days, way back when we used animals for transportation, the rich were fat and the poor were thin. In today’s society where vegetables are costlier than bread and bologna we see the rich are thin while the poor are suffering with obesity and the negative health effects of obesity. Individuals and families who can afford to make these changes are seeing increased health and lower weight but these changes are costly. Healthy changes are financially challenging for low income populations. db3eb5613fbedcf90f766db99367f619

There have been attempts to implement new pyramids by Harvard and other nutrition based organizations but the standards of the old pyramid are ingrained in everyone’s understandings and beliefs about what foods are good and what to avoid. Please consider the new pyramids as a starting point to make necessary changes to your overall health and maintaining a healthy weight. Long term health is a worthwhile goal.


Its not the size of your kitchen… but what you do with it!

If you have ever watched HGTV shows relating to fixing up homes or selling and buying homes, then you know the biggest part of any decision always includes the kitchen. Everyone seems to want, need or require a gourmet/large kitchen. I find this ironic because so few people I talk to admit to actually cooking regularly or liking to cook in general. In fact, more people admittedly prefer quick foods (i.e., prepared foods), eating out or ordering delivery. You don’t need a designer kitchen to heat up water for Mac n Cheese or pizza delivery. Not sure why are kitchens so important when so few people cook?gour kitch

I think kitchens are incredibly important because we all need to be cooking more. We all need more time in the kitchen, both men and women. We need to prep our meals for those who work and need food to take for lunches. We need to cook from raw ingredients as often as possible and utilize our kitchens more. In fact, we need to be in them daily, cooking from scratch. Doesn’t matter if they are large, gourmet or tiny little galley kitchens. It’s what you do in them that’s truly important.

We aren’t cooking enough and boxed/fast food choices are bad for our health and our waistlines. We are all busy but cutting out the cooking portion of our day is like ‘robbing peter to pay paul’. You short cut the one thing that truly helps you stay, be and live healthy. What are you making time for by not cooking from raw ingredients? More time in front of the television? More time to work extra hours from home? If you have a big fancy kitchen, its even better for family time or together time. Even those little galley kitchens make for some cozy cooking and conversations.

Cooking isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you are used to always wanting short cuts. But eating food you prepared from raw ingredients is always the healthy way to go. So many prepared foods are loaded with chemicals and added sugars so that you are never better off taking those short cuts. Take the time to learn how to make a few meals you enjoy eating. Plus, learning to cook is so much easier now days with easy access to YouTube, cooking shows, cooking channels, online recipes or local cooking classes through private chefs, cooking schools or culinary retail shops.

The healthiest people I know cook all their food from home and often from tiny kitchens. They may enjoy a pizza on the weekend but they made it at home and from ingredients that are fresh and clean. And yes, they taste great.

You don’t need a big kitchen to be a cook, but if you have one…utilize it!


Why I hate ‘cheat days’

I am not a fan of ‘cheat days’, ‘cheat meals’ or anything with the word cheat in it. I do not like the attitude that such an idea supports. If you are making changes to your diet for whatever reason (usually health or weight loss), then what purpose can any cheating provide?

Cheating suggests that the plan is less than desirable and ‘cheats’ that contradict the plan are worthy rewards. That is completely opposite to what your goal is. Taking an entire day to undo all the positive changes of your week is the worst idea I have ever heard. Cheat meals are also a bad idea but in a smaller package. With this attitude you forever set yourself up for failure. You have set the tone that your ‘positive’ changes for healthy eating are somehow bad and ‘cheating’ or eating items you know sabotage your goals are rewards and should be valued. What is the point of your goal if you make plans to undermine it?

Now I am not saying you can never indulge in items that are not on your ‘healthy only’ list of foods. I am saying that you need to treat your changes with the seriousness it deserves. It’s a worthy plan or goal and you need to give it the respect and proper attitude necessary for success. I prefer that people look at their diet as an 80/20 plan. Eighty percent of all foods will be in your ideal plan. For some that is all plant based, for others, no processed foods or fast food. Others, maybe its following a paleo diet or vegan diet. So 80% of the time the diet is dead on, then the other 20% is for your food choices that are not typically in the diet you chose.

An 80/20 rule allows for life. If you know that you have dinner plans with friends or a big work lunch, wrap up the week with all meals on point. Then that meal with friends or co-workers can endure your slips due to options available. Also, don’t allow that situation to be a ticket to go hog-wild (pun intended). If you gave up soda, then don’t use dining out as a chance to splurge. If you gave up meat and dairy, then pizza night needs to be at a location that serves other dishes so you can make another food choice. If you chose Paleo as your path to fitness, then you know that when ordering your sandwich or burger, tell them to leave the bread behind. When you chose to consume something that is not in your plan, keep them to a minimum as they will fall in your 20%. You are making a lifestyle change at your own doing for your own good. Honor it.

Take ‘cheats’ out of your vocabulary and out of your diet. Cheating doesn’t work in marriages, taxes, or when taking tests, so why would this work in health, wellness or diets?


The lies we live with…

If the item is bad for you but tastes good, does the ‘tasting good’ have weight in deciding if it’s truly bad or only partially bad? I’m starting to think that is the case. I have even heard people state that eating ‘bad’ food is OK every now and then. Unfortunately, that typically means regularly. Because if you rarely eat bad food, when you do eat it, you will feel ill. It takes regular consumption for your body to process bad food without disruption of your system.

How about when we take a good item and processing makes it bad but tastes better than the original good item. Now we are all in trouble because yes oats are healthy, but oatmeal cereals are very unhealthy. Oranges are great for you but orange juice is the worst thing you can drink. Grapes are great but grape jelly is not. Potatoes are good but French fries are bad. Based on what takes up more space on grocery store shelves I can tell you which forms are sold in greater quantity.

Healthy looking packaging, farm scenes and use of those words make items appear healthier. Looking at the processed meat aisle I was shocked at how many farm scenes, craft paper-like wrappers and the use of the actual words ‘farm’, ‘fresh’ and ‘natural’ were used in the name of the product. I can tell you that processed meat will never be healthy no matter how pretty they wrap it up and suggest that it is. The same can go for the cereal aisle.

Commercials that proudly announce the health benefits of their products. This is often on those once ‘good’ food items that have been processed and no longer good for you. Boxed cereal is the biggest culprit in this scam. Wheat, sugar and lots of chemicals make up most boxed cereals and they should not be considered a healthy breakfast choice. But they will tote that a breakfast with whole grains support a healthy meal and therefore healthy for you. Sadly, anything good was is lost when items such as whole grains are heavily processed and added to the sugar and chemicals also found in those boxed cereals.

We live in a world where fast and cheap win over quality and health. It will never be easy, fast or super cheap to eat healthy. You will have to work for health and it’s not always cheap. But health is always worth working for.