It’s January, which means about 42 percent of you have made a New Year’s resolution for 2017. The rest of you likely have at least thought about what you can do to improve yourself for 2017, but maybe don’t want to call it a “resolution.” You’re probably fully aware of their track record.
While we may start the year off strong, an average of only about 25 percent of people actually keep their well-intended New Year’s resolutions. Love them or hate them, resolutions are all about hope, starting fresh, and making positive changes. Nothing wrong with that.
You can probably guess what the top New Year’s resolution is, as it hasn’t changed in years. Nielsen says “staying fit and healthy” was at the top of the list for 36 percent of people and losing weight was number two at 32 percent. Being that this makes up nearly 70 percent of us, let’s assume you have thought to yourself, at least once, that this is the year you’re going to start exercising more, sign up for that 5K, or perhaps compete in an Iron Man. Awesome. The first step to a better you starts with a plan and making a goal means you’re on your way.
Of course, every good athlete knows you need the tools to make it happen. You may have purchased all the right gear, hired a trainer, signed up at a gym and/or already hit the trails, but chances are, you haven’t thought about hydration.
Proper hydration is critical in achieving your fitness goals and must be part of your New Year’s fitness plan.
I know, we hear a lot about how important it is to drink water, but do you really understand how hydration works and what amount is right for you? If you’re thinking you need eight glasses of water a day or should drink half of your body weight in ounces, you need more information.
Water, Water Everywhere
Water. It’s the most basic of human necessities yet many of us know surprisingly little about its value beyond simply helping us satiate our thirst. Some of us love it and drink tons of it, while others loathe it and opt for sports drinks, sodas, juices or some other concoction to quench our thirst. While some drinks are just fine, others can contain added sugars, salt, chemicals and artificial ingredients that do more harm than good. Water simply can’t be ignored.
First, we aren’t camels and our bodies cannot store water. We therefore must replace any fluids lost. About 60 percent of our bodies are made up of water and our organs, muscles and tissues need it to work well. Just ask anyone who has passed a kidney stone. Beyond the daily functions of our body, additional water is required when we sweat or exert any energy, which you are going to be doing more of with your new fitness plan. It doesn’t take vigorous exercise to get our blood flowing and muscles needing more water. Even a moderate walk will mean you need more water than you drink on a day that you don’t exercise.
Water hydrates every cell in our bodies, helping us feel good, look good and perform well, inside and out. It cools us, protects our joints, gives us energy and has about 100 more benefits you can easily Google. Without it, a myriad of ailments can pop up, some cumulative, as in kidney stones and dry skin, and some more acute, as with headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Staying hydrated means considering your water needs before, during, and after your workouts.
Now that you’re going to be exercising more and pushing yourself to achieve your fitness goals, it’s time to think about increasing your water intake, not only to feel better and stave off potential health issues, but to actually perform better. Plainly stated, you simply cannot perform at your peak if your body is dehydrated.
How Much Water Do I Need?
The answer to how much water you need is, “I don’t know.” It’s not because I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that I actually do. Your specific water needs are extremely personal. If anyone tells you to drink eight glasses, drink until your pee is clear, or drink your body weight in ounces, they, my friends, do not know what they’re talking about and here’s why.
Your body is different from anyone else’s and that means your water requirements are going to differ from others. Your weight, height, gender, sweat rate and heart rate all make you unique. Added to that, your exercise regimen may vary from day to day, along with your physical exertion and the climate. For instance, how hard your muscles have to work in the higher elevations of dry Colorado is going to be vastly different from the sea-level elevation of humid Louisiana. Running on a treadmill in your airconditioned gym may produce less sweat than if you rain on an outdoor trail with hills. You get the point.
All of these data points have to be considered before you can have an idea of how much water your body actually needs. Thanks to technology, there are smart water bottles linked to fitness trackers that can track all of this information plus how much water you’re drinking, then send you push notifications on your smartphone to let you know how you’re doing. No more guessing or going off of old wives’ tales. You can drink exactly what you need, when you need it.
When Do I Hydrate?
We’ve all heard that once you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. This is true. Your body signals to your brain that it is thirsty when things have already started heading south. This doesn’t mean you need to guzzle gallons of water everyday to make sure you never feel thirsty, but it does mean that hydration starts before you think you need it.
To keep your body hydrated, you need to drink before, during and after your workouts. Your smart water bottle can help here, too. By considering all of the different factors about your body and your workouts, a smart water bottle with an app can tell you when to drink as well. Much like a fitness tracker telling you when to get off your butt and move, a water drinking app can let you know when you need to get more fluids into your body.
What Do I Hydrate With?
As I said before, your body needs water. Sometimes, however, we need more than just H2O. Depending on your body, your workout and the timing, you may need electrolytes, too. Electrolytes are naturally produced in the body, like sweat, and are made up of four minerals: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Don’t rush to drink popular sports drinks, however. These drinks are packed with artificial colors, chemicals and sugar your body doesn’t need. There are plenty of options here that you can easily find in most grocery stores. Electrolyte water is everywhere now and doesn’t contain anything but the four electrolyte minerals and water. If you do want something flavored, you can add a sports powder to your water, just be sure you choose a powder that has ingredients you can pronounce and nothing artificial.
Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages actually dehydrate your body, pulling water from the body. Juices often have too much sugar and can upset the stomach unless diluted. And those energy drinks? Be careful with those as many contain massive amounts of caffeine and/or other stimulants that can be hard on your heart, particularly during exercise.
No matter what fluids you choose, the best smart water bottles will be able to measure the amount of any fluid you drink out of it so you won’t be limited to just water. If you drink from anything other than your smart water sports bottle, be sure to log that information into the associated app so not a drop is missed.
2017 Is Going to Be Great
Now, you are ready to hit the trail, the gym, the pool, whatever. You know more now and can optimize every workout. You are going to be in the minority of people who actually achieve their resolutions because for you, this isn’t just a passing fad. This is a lifestyle. You’re going to feel, look and perform better by the end of 2017. You’re going to be stronger, faster, leaner and better than you are right now. Need some help to get started?
Here are a 10 tips to make sure you hit the ground running and never look back:
- Set achievable fitness goals with activities customized to what you enjoy.
- Make “challenge” goals where you add opportunities to go above and beyond.
- Aim to do some physical activity everyday.
- Change up your workout routine daily or weekly to keep it fun and work different muscles.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, just get back into the groove ASAP.
- Eat and drink right, eliminating as much processed foods/drinks as possible.
- Stay hydrated at all times so you can perform better in whatever activity you do.
- Get good sleep for 7-9 hours per night.
- Work out with friends sometimes to keep you accountable and having fun.
- Get outdoors for an instant boost of energy, fresh air and good ol’ fashioned sunlight.
Tags: hydration, peak performance, smart water bottle, water