We spend so much time trying to figure out the best way to improve our health and wellness when one of the most important factors is often overlooked. Hydration (ie. getting enough water). And while you can put in hours everyday at the gym, spend your hard earned cash on the best organic/natural products, and eat well - not getting enough water can totally undermine the results you're looking for, plus not getting enough water can havoc on your body, and even mild dehydration can impact your brain function, your mood, and even your pelvic health.
A Google search of "How much water should you drink?" will give you no less than 1,710,000,000 (plus 1 now that this blog post is out there). That's a lot of mixed opinions on what IS this magical number of water consumption we need. Here's the thing, water makes up about 60% of our bodies, so it makes perfect sense that water is important, but can we really rely on a set amount being good for people of all shapes, sizes and lifestyles?
Now, it wouldn't be a Dominique Gauthier blog, if I didn't bring pelvic health into the mix.
Let's cut to the chase, you've heard of all the benefits of drinking water, but did you know it could be the reason for you're leaking/peeing your pants/not making it to the bathroom on time? Here's the part that may surprise you, drinking too much water is NOT the reason you're leaking, it's actually the opposite - it's when you choose not to drink anything before you go somewhere where a bathroom might not be readily accessible.
Here's the thing, not drinking enough water could be the reason you're peeing yourself.
When you don't drink enough water, your urine becomes SUPER concentrated and this irritates your bladder. Now, your bladder only has the ability to send on of two messages to the brain
- "I don't have to pee."
- "I gotta pee!" or in some cases, "I've gotta go NOW!!!!"
Your irritated bladder know something's bugging it, and the only thing it can do to get rid of that irritated feeling is signal you that you need to hit the bathroom now.
How do I know so much about this pehnomenon, you ask? Because this was actually one of my main incontinence issues. Can you imagine? For some of us, making sure you stay hydrated can significantly reduce your leaking!
Sounds like an easy fix, but true be told, I've never been great at drinking water. I've had my moments, but I grew up as an apple juice kid. And I tell you this, because drinking enough water in theory seems really easy... but the struggle is real, and I know first hand. Even with all the other more mainstream benefits we know about:
- regulating your body temperature
- lunbricating your joints
- replacing fluids lost through sweating
- brain function like mood, concentration, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, and memory loss
- flushing bacteria from your bladder
- supporting digestion
- normalizing blood pressure
- stabilizing your heartrate
- carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- giving you greater skin elasticity - buh bye dull and wrinkly skin!
SO, HOW MUCH WATER DO I NEED?
Back to that magical number, but I get it, sometimes we need a little guidance. Possibly, one of the most prominant answer is 8 glasses of water a day. If you're like me, you might be panicking what IS a glass of water, because all of mine are different?!?!!? As near as I can tell, we're talking about a CUP of water, also known as 8oz, but truly, I'm taking a wild guess here.
Let's do a little math here.
[YOUR WEIGHT IN LBS] ➗ 2 = [the amount of water in oz YOU PERSONALLY need to consume]
This makes sense to me, becuase it's tailor-made to YOU, not some arbitrary number someone threw out there. Again, the more I learn, the more I feel like there isn't a single formula that works for everyone, but my experience working with 100s of women, and I'd say it's a great place to start.
So what can you do to try to get more of that good stuff into your body? ... water, I'm still talking about water here.
Let's get one thing straight here, not all of your water needs to come from a glass of water straight up. About 80% will in fact, come from liquids you consume, including juices (yay apple juice!), coffee, and tea - after all, they're mostly made from, you guessed it, water. As for the other 20%? It typically comes from food!
You could start off by eating more water based foods, especially if drinking water is tough. Try hydrating foods like:
- broth soups
- citrus fruits
You can even get super fancy and add some of these berries, fruits ang veggies to your water for a little extra flavour.
START WITH A SMALL GOAL
It can be really tempting to go for gold when you decide to make a change. But that can be super overwhelming. So I always encourage my clients (and I this on myself too) to set small goals that I can get to with relative ease. Then when that goal becomes easy to sustain, I give myself my next goal.
Example, if you are currently drinking 0oz of water a day and you have a goal to drink 80oz of water... that's gonna feel really daunting! Instead, what if you start with 20oz of water? Same amount of water as a pint of beer at most restaurants here in London, Ontario, Canada. Still too much? No problem, pick something that's doable for YOU. Then only when that becomes SUPER easy, you can add your next achieveable step until you evenutally make it to your 80oz of water a day. Sound like a plan?
TRACK YOUR WATER CONSUMPTION
Have you ever seen that girl at the gym, rocking her workout with her enormous water bottle? And if you got an especially close look you may notice either times on the bottle or it has cute little words of encouragement on it next to the measuring ticks:
- WAY TO GO!
- YOU'RE AT THE HALFWAY POINT
- YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!
These are called MOTIVATIONAL WATER BOTTLES, and personally, they don't work for me. Those huge water bottles look so intimidating, but there's something to be said for having the ability to see how much water you've consumed, and an idea of how much you have left to go before you hit your goal.
I have a 750ml water bottle - which still feels a little intimating, and I'll often pour a glass from the water bottle. My FAVOURITE thing to use is a mason jar that says the measurements on the said. They typically hold two cups of water, a cup of water is
8oz x 2 = 16oz of water
Remember the calculation from earlier? That's a pretty good start!! The point of this is - find a measurement system that works for you.
DRINK A GLASS OF WATER WHILE YOU'RE WAITING FOR YOUR COFFEE
This one helped me out a lot, because I'm someone who's success relies on how I start my day. I have the most BORING breaksfast ever. Every. Single. Day. Becuase it works for me.
- 1 (or 2) Soft Boiled Eggs
- Slice of Gluten Free Toast (#celiacproblems) with butter and raspberry jam
So I tried this concept out with my water consumption. We have a Keurig (no this isn't sponsored by Keurig™️), which means it doesn't take long to brew a cup of coffee. In that tiny window of opportunity, as long as no one emptied the Brita water jug (also not sponsored by Brita™️) I pour myself a mason jar of water and get my first 16oz of water in, while I await my sweet cup of liquid gold.
If I'm feeling super fancy, I'll even add some lemon to it.
ANOTHER POINT ON URINE
Not leaking this time, but the colour can be a window into your hydration. Typically darker urine can indicate dehydration, we're aiming for a pale yellow colour, bordering on clear.
ONE MORE THING BEFORE YOU GO
The bottome line is, there's no one single formula for water consumption that is right for everyone, and a variety of factors can come into play like general health, your activity levels , intensity of physical activity, and wether you're nursing (among other things). But one thing's for sure, water is essential to your health and wellness, and tuning into your body's signs of thirst and hunger will go much further than filling that magical water quota.
Do you have any other tips for staying hydrated? Please post below and share it with our community.
And last but not least, however you wanna go about doing it... DRINK YOUR WATER. Your body (and bladder) will thank you for it.
Until we meet again,