Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to drink more water, but I am having trouble getting my eight glasses a day. This may sound crazy, but I just don’t like the taste of it! Any ideas for making sure I get my daily quota?—Barb
DEAR BARB: First off, you aren’t crazy. Does anyone absolutely crave the taste of tap? Not me.
Yes, staying hydrated has a number of health benefits—it keeps your kidneys and digestive system running smoothly and helps fight bloating, prevents fatigue associated with dehydration, energizes your muscles and allows you to put more oomph, and helps keep skin soft and supple from the inside out. Plus, while it’s hardly the fat-burning fluid some tout it to be, it can help you control your weight by filling you up on zero calories.
RELATED: Why Water is Important
Just so you know, that blanket recommendation of getting eight, 8 oz. glasses of water per day is just an estimate. How much fluid you need is highly individual, dependent on your health, how active you are, and the climate where you live (whether it’s extremely dry or extremely hot, for instance). But the most current thinking from the Institute of Medicine suggests that women should drink approximately 2.7 liters (about 11 cups) and men approximately 3.7 liters (more than 15 cups) of total water a day.
That’s not just plain water: Just about any kind of liquid (except alcohol) and water-packed foods like fruits and vegetables can count toward your daily total. But for your health—and your weight—it’s best to try to get most of your liquid through plain, calorie-free, chemical-free water.
Knowing why you should drink more and doing it, though, are two different things. How do you get into the habit of downing more water, when it’s not exactly your beverage-of-choice? Here, I’ve listed 21 ideas for upping your intake, many of which I use myself.
1. Never pass a water fountain without sipping. Exploit any opportunity to drink.
2. Sip between bites during meals and snacks. This has the added benefit of slowing you down while you’re eating, allowing you to savor your food, and (potentially) be satisfied on fewer calories.
3. Use a shot glass. I suggested this strategy for my mother, who also has an aversion to water. Think about it this way: Sipping is something you do when you want the flavor of a beverage to last—you’re reveling in it, enjoying it. Taking a shot, in contrast, is a painless way of getting a liquid past your tastebuds and into your gullet in the most expedient way possible. Take shots throughout the day (use an alarm or alert on your phone or computer, as suggested below, to keep you on track if you need to).
4. Guzzle. Chug. Gulp. Forgive me as I regress back to college days. But building on the same principle as the shot glass—skip the sipping and do your best frat boy impersonation a couple of times a day.
5. Focus on it during the a.m.
6. “Take” it like a pill. Stop thinking about drinking (unintentional rhyming alert!) like it’s optional. It’s almost as essential to your health as the multivitamin you take in the morning. Changing your mindset might make it easier for you to get over your hydrophobia.
7. Never be without. No matter where you’re going, get into the habit of stashing a refillable bottle in your bag.
8. Alternate glass for glass with coffee and alcohol. You’ve probably heard of this as a way of keeping your alcohol consumption in check. But chasing each cup of coffee with a glass (or at least a shot) of water will make a dent in your daily quota.
9. Drink while waiting for your coffee to brew. If you haven’t yet switched over to the single-cup coffee makers, use the time while you’re waiting for your first pot to brew to down a quick glass of the wet stuff.
10. Spruce it up. Borrow this classic spa trick and add slices of cucumber and/or citrus to a pitcher of plain tap water, and keep it in the fridge to have with meals or anytime you’d like.
11. Fill a pretty pitcher and keep on your desk or dining table. That way, water is easily accessible both at work and at the table.
12. Eat your water. Most fruits and veggies contain a high amount of water. Since (almost) all forms of liquid count, make sure you’re getting at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (really, the more, the merrier).
13. Go fizzy. If you crave the fizz of soda, try plain or flavored, unsweetened seltzer water.
14. Take a water break. We’re hearing more and more about the health dangers of so-called “sitting disease” (read Fitness 4.0 blogger Mary Weaver’s take on it here). Mini water breaks throughout the work day will get you off your duff and get you closer to your quota.
15. Set an alarm. To make sure you take a water break every hour (or more often), set an alert on your phone or computer to remind you.
16. Go room temp. I’ve found that it’s easier to down water quickly if it’s at room temperature, rather than cold.
17. Use a short glass. Contrary to common perception, short, squat glasses hold just as much or more liquid than tall, thin glasses. Use this trick to fool yourself into drinking more.
18. Always order water first at a restaurant. Before putting in your order for wine or cocktails, ask the server to bring you a glass of water so you can sip until the more interesting beverages arrive.
19. Keep track. Competitive types might groove on recording how many glasses they consume each day. There’s even a smartphone app called Drinking Water that will set alerts and help you keep track.
20. Drink and drive. I make sure I pack my refillable water bottle during my 25 minute commute in the morning—and finish it before I get to the office.
21. Make it a pre- and post-workout ritual. Add downing a quick glass to your stretching and warmup routine before working out, and to your cool-down routine afterward.
Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Spryliving.com. Ask her your question here.