The Water Challenge

Since November of 2017, I've been trying to up my water intake. In January I really kicked this into high gear. I know a lot of us have trouble drinking water so I've decided to chronicle my journey with tips, pros and cons, and other thoughts in case they are of help to you.

Introduction

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Monika Grabkowska
Drinking water is the ultimate exercise in humbleness and fasting. You—or at least I—get zero pleasure from drinking it. Growing up, the only time I ever drank water was when I was dying of dehydration. Once I became an adult, I drank it a little more frequently, opting for water when I was too cheap to pay for a drink at restaurants.

Soda, on the other hand, is much more compatible with my taste buds. I love the fizziness, and of course, the flavor, but like anything else that has sugar and/or caffeine, once you start, it's hard to stop. Both sugar and caffeine increase our dopamine levels, giving us a false sense of happiness. Both are essentially addictive.[1][2] Soda is basically the opposite of water. So, you can probably guess that since I wasn't consuming water as a child, I was consuming a lot of soda... A normal day in high school saw me drink about four 20oz bottles of Pepsi. In college, I didn't drink quite as much, but aside from periods of fasting, I still had at least 20oz a day.

People have always made snide remarks to me about my consumption of soda. They'll brag about how they never drink soda and make statements like "I take care of my body." Which would make sense given what we're taught, but these people were often overweight or constantly fighting off viruses and colds while I remained healthy. The catch is that I eat well. My critics would berate my soda choices while drinking their water with a meal from Wendy's or Chick-fil-A, but I was drinking my soda with a homemade salad or fresh veggies and fruit. All of our choices play a role in our health.

Motivation for Change

Since none of them could articulate and validate the so-called benefits of drinking water versus soda, I wasn't inclined to change my habits. However, now that I'm getting closer to 30, I've become a bit paranoid about my skin. I've always had dry skin, but I started to feel like my skin looked dull. As such, I decided to give this whole drinking water thing a try. After all, drinking water is supposed to be a key ingredient of flawless skin.[4]

Consuming H2O

Since January 1, 2018, I've only had 1 soda (a 12 oz can of caffeine free Coke) and I've been drinking at least 1 liter of water a day—many days I drink 1.5 liters and on a few occasions I've made it to 2 liters. The general thought is that you're supposed to drink about 8 cups or about 2 liters a day, but in actuality, the recommended daily amount of water to drink varies by lots of factors. Based on one calculation, I should be drinking about 2.2 liters a day.[5] Mayo Clinic suggests 2.7 liters[6] and WebMD suggests .5 to 1 ounce per pound, which puts me anywhere between 1.6 and 3.3 liters.[7] I may still be under the threshold, but considering how little water I drank before, this is pretty good!

Noticeable Changes

Since the goal is to see if there are any noticeable changes, I figured I'd post updates every once in a while about what I notice.

Positive Changes

Saving Money

Depending on what kind of water you buy from the store, water costs less than soda. If you invest in a purifier, it's free! My job has a water dispenser so I can drink water all day for free. However, a bottle of soda is $1.60 and a can of soda is $.90. By sticking to water, at least I save money.

Acne Reduction?

I've never been overly plagued by acne, but I do get pimples from time to time. My skin seems to be a bit clearer, in terms of acne, over the past week. However, I also reduced my consumption of dairy products, which is also rumored to improve acne. As such, I'm not sure if the water had anything to do with clearing up my skin or not.

Flushing the Kidneys

It may be TMI, but an improvement is an improvement... Most people know that the color and smell of your urine is a telltale indicator of your dehydration level as well as your kidney health. Naturally the replacement of soda with water in my diet has made my kidney's job much easier. This is apparent when I use the bathroom.

Negative Changes

Laziness

Since I ramped up my water intake and cut out my soda intake, I've been pretty tired and lazy. Of course there are multiple explanations for this. Before you claim withdrawals from caffeine, I switched to caffeine free sodas about 6-7 months ago, and I've done plenty of fasts in which I don't consume caffeine, so I'm pretty sure it's not a symptom of withdrawals. More than likely, the lack of energy is stemming from the season and drop in calories. Typically, darkness and cold weather make me lazy. Since it's the middle of the winter, I'm already a bit sluggish. I won't be able to comment on my energy levels with certainty until Spring settles in and I've actively replaced those lost calories.

Flushing the Kidneys

Having healthy kidneys and clear-ish urine with no odor is great. However, needing to go to the bathroom ever five minutes is not. Luckily, I have a job in which this is more of an inconvenience than a problem. However, if I were still a cashier or if I were a teacher, there's no way I'd be able to handle these extra trips to the bathroom.

Tips for Kindred Spirits

If you're like me and you struggle to drink water (really, how can I drink 80oz of Pepsi without batting an eyelash, but 60oz of water is like force-feeding myself!), here are a few things that made it easier for me to make the switch.

The Water Bottle

Anything that requires extra effort makes habit changing hard. To combat this, I keep a water bottle on my desk at work. This water bottle is a bit obnoxious and gets in the way of almost everything on my desk. However, it's presence reminds me to get water. Since the water is in the break room which is closer than the vending machine, it's easiest to simply get the water. Once the bottle is filled, it's easy enough to drink from it every so often.

Infused Water

There are countless posts online about "infused water." The basic concept is that you put combinations of fruit and herbs in your water to give the water flavor. It's a little like ordering a lemon with your water in a restaurant, except the fruit sits in the water longer and thus provides maximum flavor. I've tried several combinations to spruce up my water, but my favorite is cucumber mint. This was most helpful in the beginning, however the more I get used to drinking water, the more of a hassle infused water seems. As an avid fruit eater, placing the fruit in the water until it loses its flavor and purpose seems like such a waste. I'd much rather eat the fruit instead. Nonetheless, its great for a treat and really helps on the days I'm just not feeling the water.

Sparkling Water

People usually assume I like soda because of the caffeine (since caffeine is addictive), but it's actually the fizziness that I'm in love with. Sparkling water or carbonated water has really helped in this area. I get the fizziness of soda without the acid, sugar, and caffeine. I'm not a huge fan of the flavored waters like Le Croix, and it took me a while to get used to the taste of plain sparkling water. However, sparkling water can be infused just like regular water and that makes for a pretty great taste.

Juice Water

I love juice. I could replace soda with juice easily, if it wasn't such an inconvenience at work. Of course, the sugar in many juices is still pretty high. Some juices taste just as good watered down. I used to laugh at my grandfather for filling his glass halfway with water then adding juice, but it's actually a nice compromise. I've learned that sparkling water really makes this trick work. Sparkling water with apple juice or grape juice tastes pretty awesome.

References

  1. Eliza Barclay. "Why Sugar Makes Us Feel So Good". NPR. January 16, 2014
  2. David DiSalvo. "What Caffeine Really Does to Your Brain". Forbes. July 26, 2012
  3. "Why Does Coffee Make Us Feel So Good?". Psychology Today. October 28, 2011
  4. "The Benefits of Drinking Water for Your Skin". University of Wisconsin Health; January 2018
  5. Kristen Mccaffrey. "How to Calculate How Much Water You Should Drink A Day". Slender Kitchen. September 14, 2012
  6. "Water: How much should you drink every day?". Mayo Clinic; visited January 2018
  7. Gina Shaw. "Water and Your Diet: Staying Slim and Regular With H2O>". WebMD; visited January 2018

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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