A simple and effective strategy that can help you “master your craft” is to make sure that you stay well hydrated. Water comprises about 60% of an adult’s body weight and has a multitude of functions:
- Carries nutrients throughout the body
- Serves as a solvent (dissolves minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose, and other small molecules)
- Cleanses the tissues and blood of wastes
- Actively participates in many chemical reactions
- Acts as a lubricant around joints
- Serves as a shock-absorber inside the eyes, spinal cord, and joints
- Aids in maintaining the body’s temperature
Water requirements are dependent on several factors: diet, environmental temperature, humidity, altitude, and a person’s physical activity levels. However, as a general guideline, men should consume 13 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids (e.g., water and other beverages such as milk, juice, coffee, soups) during the day while women should consume 9 cups (2.7 liters).
Since there is such a wide variety of palatable beverages (e.g., sodas, juices, energy drinks) in our super markets, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. Therefore, I will outline for you several strategies that you can use to increase your water intake during the day.
After sleeping for 8 hours and not drinking any water, your body is dehydrated when you wake up. Therefore, right when you get up in the morning, drink 2 cups (0.5 liters) of water before ingesting anything else (e.g., coffee, tea, food).
Since you do not always have immediate access to water (e.g., water fountains), carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go! This will enable you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Refrain from buying sodas and juices, and when you have the option (e.g., restaurant) opt for a glass of water. At the beginning, this can be a hard task to accomplish so make it one of your ongoing goals. A great way of staying well hydrated is to use the power of self-talk, which is a strategy that I covered 2 weeks ago on my blog. When you are grocery shopping or about to eat food, tell yourself, “drink water”. The more you tell yourself to drink water, the more it will become second nature and eventually you will not even have to think about it!
An important point to keep in mind, however, is to not overdue it! Drinking too much water can have a toxic effect on the human body. Do not drink water to the point where you feel nauseated or bloated.
Therefore, you need to find a balance. An easy way to monitor your hydration levels is to look at the color of your urine. Try to keep the color of your urine clear or slightly yellow.
Here is a study that shows how hydration levels can impact cognitive performance (e.g., mood, concentration, alertness, short-term memory). In 2009, D’anci and colleagues separated trained college athletes into two hydration groups (dehydrated and hydrated) and then asked them to complete several cognitive tasks. The authors achieved the different levels of hydration by making the athletes complete a team practice with or without water replacement. The results demonstrated that the athletes in the hydrated group had higher positive mood ratings and performed better in the Vigilance Attention task compared to the athletes in the dehydrated group. However, it is important to note that the dehydrated group performed better on the Digit Span test.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
D’anci, K. E., Vibhakar, A., Kanter, J. H., Mahoney, C. R., & Taylor, H. A. (January 01, 2009). Voluntary dehydration and cognitive performance in trained college athletes. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 109, 1, 251-69.
Sizer, F. S., Piché, L. A., & Whitney, E. N. (2012). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies. Toronto: Nelson Education.