Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Getting Warmer - Stay Hydrated!

We all know that water is essential to the human body. Yet, many of us fail to drink it. We fail to drink enough of it, often enough. According the Department of Environmental Quality, the average adult needs to replace 10 cups (80 ounces) of water per day for their body's normal processes. This figure can more than double if the person is very active with strenuous activities and perspiring heavily.
Let's take a look at 10 tips to help correct the problem of not drinking enough water in an enjoyable way.
1. Drink a water that has a taste and flavor that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy the taste, you will not drink it easily. Try out several varieties of water, bottled water, tap water, spring water, and purified water (bottled, tap, or both) to find one that is preferable. Some tap waters taste like chlorine and will need a purification system. Other waters can tasty salty, sandy, or tinny or smell like rotten eggs.
If you don't want to invest in a purification system, taste several varieties of the bottled water. Most areas have refill stations in grocery chains that refill small and large bottles with purified water. The most natural water that can be consumed is spring water, this can be found in a bottle or if you have a well being fed by a spring that your household water is coming from. Just read your labels to know what you are drinking.
2. Make sure that the water is clean. Take a sample of your favorite waters to a place in your area that will test the water quality for impurities for free. Most areas have places willing to do this. Spring waters will have a higher mineral content which is usually fine for health. Impurities like lead are very harmful. The optimum water PH for health and healing of your body will be 7.5.
It is perfectly acceptable to have the spring or bottled water that you are using checked too. It would be a wise decision to mark it on your calendar to have your water tested yearly so that you can make sure what you are putting into your body is safe. I have brought samples of my well water, tap water, and bottled water in depending on where I have lived to have them checked. It is wise to check what you are drinking out when it is available for free.
3. Realize that your brain is 75% water and that the slightest dehydration will affect your thinking processes. It can cause decreased energy, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness according to the Registered Dietitians of the Suntory Good Health Advisory Board. Your body needs water for respiration, perspiration, and to clean out toxins as well as for many other processes. If you urine is not clear to pale yellow, then you are not drinking enough. People die of health issues that could be prevented every day by drinking enough water, eating healthy, and exercising. If you are reading this article, it means that you are much too smart to fall into that trap.
Thinking about why your body needs water can be a motivational factor because few people would choose to have an illness, cancer, or disease knowingly. Allow yourself to feel good about your decision to drink more water knowing that you are making a conscious decision to have better physical health, clearer thinking, nicer skin, and allowing your body what it needs to flush toxins out of your system. Knowledge is only powerful when we let it become wisdom - knowledge applied.
4. Since it is recommended to drink at least 80 ounces of water (10 cups) per day for the average adult, more if you are active, then drinking water will need to both convenient and easy to remember. Most people are visual, so whether you use a pitcher or large water bottle to store your purified water, put this front and center in your refrigerator. Make is very easy and convenient to stay hydrated with your water.
If you are very visual person, influenced easily by advertising and marketing, put your water in a nice looking container or pitcher. Aesthetics can be used to influence you to drink more water. If your pitcher reminds you of a vacation, beauty, health, etc. then you might be more likely to drink your water. For some people, the plain plastic water bottle or recycled massive container is not very motivating. For these people, putting their water in a beautiful pitcher makes it more appetizing. When you drink your water, you can also drink it in an elegant or beautiful glass designated as "your special water glass" or a frosted mug with ice. These simple alterations in presentation can make drinking water a much more pleasurable experience.
5. To enhance the taste slightly, if you need a little variety during the day to drink as much water as needed, add a slice or two of fresh lemon or lime. You can pre-slice the citrus and put it in a reusable container to store in a refrigerator at work to help you drink more water during the work day.
A few drops of lemon or lime, plus dropping the little circles of fruit into a nice clear glass will make your water taste fresher and appear more appealing to the eye. Little tricks like this can work wonders and make a big difference. Pop a nice umbrella to your glass and you will be reminded of a tropical vacation.
6. If you find that you need more flavor to drink water because you are so used to drinks packed with sweetness and flavor, then add half a squeezed fresh lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or another fruit from the citrus family. This will definitely change the flavor, yet it will still be a strong base of water to meet your daily requirements.
Try different combinations too, like half a fresh lemon and half a lime. Or half a grapefruit with a full tangerine. You will be surprised at what nice combinations you will be able to come up with that will be full of flavor and great for your health. After a few days, or weeks, up to 21 - 28 days of drinking water with fruit, you will find that your body will start to crave water. And you will develop an "inner knowing" of what your body is asking for, many times we mistakenly "mis-diagnose" our bodies thirst cries as hungry cries.
7. Another great way to get your hydration needs met plus adding extra vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants is to make a fruity blend of fruity juicy water with the pulp. Add 10 to 12 ounces of water in a blender, then add pieces of a whole piece of fruit chopped up. Blend and puree the mixture until it is a smooth juice.
Fruits to try that work excellent are peaches, pears, applies, citrus, kiwi, mangoes, and even tomatoes. Just 1 fruit to 10 - 12 ounces of water. Fruits have their own natural sugars and when you blend the pulp in you will be getting some added fiber. This definitely counts as an effective and delicious way to increase your hydration. Who says that drinking water must be boring and plain?
8. Drink a full glass of water whenever you think you are hungry. Drink a glass 15 to 30 minutes before your meals. We usually feel hunger cues 5 to 10 times per day and half of these pangs are really thirst cues. If you eat a snack when you are really thirsty, then you will find that you are still hungry when the snack has been consumed. You might also find yourself hungry 15 minutes later. This is because you are not actually hungry at all, you are thirsty. Try as you might, that candy bar will not quench your thirst. An added bonus to this step is that you will probably find that you actually eat less and may even drop a few pounds with no other adjustments to your meals or exercise routine when you simply drink water first before snacks and meals.
9. Enlist the help of a "Hydration Buddy," basically find a close friend or family member that you like, appreciate, and respect who you can use as an accountability partner for about 1 - 2 months until drinking water is a habit. This friend or family member can call, email, or text message you at agreed upon times like the afternoon and evening to remind you to drink a glass of water.
Accountability works. It works in breaking serious addictions, so it can also be used to pro-actively learn new habits that are healthy for your body and the mind. Remember drinking water is healthy for your mind because your brain is 75% water and needs it to function optimally.
10. Use technology to assist you in remembering to drink water. Set a clock or a timer to go off about every hour. Use that as a cue to take a break, stand up, do some stretches, take little walk or bathroom break, and then drink a full glass of water or refill the water from your previous hour.
At first thought, this might appear to be an interruption and a time waster. However, your brain needs the hydration to work at optimal performance levels and your body including your back and spine will thank you for taking the time to change positions and stretch it a little. You will find that you will actually be more productive, healthier, and positive when you take a stretch and water break regularly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Determining Your Fitness Goals

Determining your personal fitness goals is one of the most critical steps needed to facilitate your success in taking an active role in your health and well-being. The probability of success is far greater when you define what the end result should look like prior to beginning the task. In relation to your personal fitness goals, you want to make sure that you will achieve the results you desire in the timeframe you have defined. For example, your short-term personal fitness goal may be to lose 25 pounds of body weight and a total of 12 inches within the first 3 months of participating in your fitness program.

By defining your personal fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness routine, you can monitor your progress as you embark on your journey towards better health. One benefit to this approach is that, by actively monitoring your results, you will actually see your results in real time, thus improving your motivation and sense of accomplishment. A second benefit to defining your fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness program is that you will quickly be able to assess whether you are obtaining the results at a rate necessary to accomplish your personal goal in the timeframe that you had defined. If you are not on pace to achieve your personal fitness goals within your defined timeline, then you will still have time to modify your fitness program to allow yourself to get back on schedule.

Determine Current Fitness Level

The first step in setting your personal fitness goals is to determine your current fitness level and abilities. In order for you to increase your probability of achieving your personal fitness goals, you need to ensure that you avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself. For example, it would be extremely unrealistic to set a short-term goal of becoming a bodybuilder or a seasoned long distance runner when you have no previous training in those specific disciplines. In fact, this exact type of scenario is one of the leading reasons why individuals get very discouraged with their fitness routine and give up altogether. It is imperative that your personal fitness goals are realistic and represent goals relevant to your current level of fitness. Thereafter, all that's required to achieve your personal fitness goals will be effort, persistence, patience and time. 

Set Flexible, Short-Term Goals

When you first begin your fitness program, or any other goal-oriented project, it is important to define several interim sub-goals (also known as milestones), thus allowing you to monitor your rate of progress in relation to your primary goal. In addition, as you begin to achieve each of the interim milestones along the way, you will begin to believe that the actual obtainment of your goal is achievable. This approach toward goal setting will facilitate a higher level of belief, confidence, motivation and probability of success. There is no correct or incorrect method for defining and setting your sub-goals. For instance, your first milestone could be defined as arriving at the fitness center on time and three times during your first week of exercising. If you were able to achieve this milestone, then you should feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you are on the right track and on schedule.  

It's important to remember that once you have defined your milestones and goals, they are not etched in stone. Just as life is diverse and ever-changing, so is the possibility that your goals are as well. However, a word of caution: any modifications that you make to your original sub-goals and goals should be closely scrutinized. It is not acceptable to reduce the level of difficulty associated with your goals because you do not feel like focusing and working hard. However, if you find that your original goal was too simple or that there have been several changes in your personal life that simply will not allow you to set aside as much time as you had defined for a fitness program, it may be necessary to adjust your goals. In the event that you had originally set your goals at a level that was insufficiently challenging, you can modify them to a more aggressive and challenging level.  

Challenge Yourself with Variety

As you become more and more comfortable and consistent with your fitness program, you may even want to challenge yourself by trying a couple of different types of fitness routines. For instance, if your fitness program consists of riding a stationary bike, running on a treadmill and circuit training on weight training machines 3 times a week, you may want to add an aerobics class, a swimming routine or a jogging routine to the fourth day of your existing fitness program. Another option could be to exercise with a workout partner that is slightly ahead of you in terms of fitness. By following the pace of your new workout partner, you will instantly increase the level of intensity of your workouts.   

No matter your current fitness level, it's important to always remember that having a carefully constructed plan, coupled with a challenging but obtainable set of goals, will provide you with a higher level of focus, clarity, and appreciation for the effort you put forth. This type of reward (the attainment of a challenging set of goals) will always provide you with a sense of pride, accomplishment and the motivation required to take the next step in your ongoing fitness program.