Monday, 7 January 2013

Water, water everywhere ...


“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
                                                                        by: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

… or in my case, to paraphrase Mr. Coleridge, water, water, everywhere nary a drop I drink!  No matter where I looked or how much research I did the fact remains: if you want to lose weight successfully you need to drink water, and lots of it!  Oh, the information varies from site to site, article to article and expert-to-expert but the bottom line is always the same.  To function efficiently the human body needs approximately 2 liters (8 cups) of water daily.  Truthfully, I think I would slosh when I walk and never step out of the bathroom if I consumed that much water.  Another, in my opinion more reasonable, study suggests that the way to determine exactly how much water your body needs is to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water per day.  Of course, exercising would require consuming more water throughout the day in order to replace the liquids your body loses in sweat.

My problem stems from the fact that I really hate drinking water.  My best friend M is on this weight loss journey with me and, when we go out for a meal, she regularly orders hot water with lemon.  She did this even before we made a conscious decision to diet.  She - actually - likes - it!  I have tried it room temperature, hot, cold, even frozen … it doesn’t matter … its still tasteless and bland to me.  The only time I really drink water is when I am working out.  When I am hot, sweaty, miserable, and my throat is parched from (no doubt) breathing incorrectly as I get tired, admittedly water tastes pretty good.

Water is the topic I discussed at TOPS this week so I wanted to make sure I was well informed.  To that end I printed off pages and pages and pages of information from reputable sites such as, and as well as various sites offering ways to make water more interesting, such as and  Hopefully I have put it all together here is a readable and concise way.

The best place to start is always at the beginning, so let’s have a look at exactly why water is essential, in general, to keeping your body functioning.

1.  The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water, muscle consists of 75% water,
bone consists of 22% water, blood consists of 83% water and your brain consists of 90% water.
2.  Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells.
3.  Water protects and moisturizes your joints resulting in fewer cramps and sprains
4.  Water is a detoxifier that helps in digestion and constipation.  Fiber and waste go hand in hand, so water aids in regular daily bowel movements.
5.  Water helps regulate your body temperature, keeping you feeling more comfortable in general, but especially when exerting yourself through exercise.
6.  Water helps internal organs absorb nutrients more efficiently.
7.  Water moisturizes the air in your lungs.
8.  Water protects your vital organs.
9.  Water aids in metabolism.
10.Water helps prevent dry skin.  Your skin is the body’s largest organ and needs to remain properly hydrated.  Water helps to replenish skin tissue, moisturize skin and increase skin elasticity.
11.Water is source of energy and gives you a boost when feeling fatigued.  If your body lacks water, your heart, for example, needs to work harder to pump the oxygenated blood to all the cells, as well as your other vital organs.  If your heart and organs are exhausted … so are you
12.Water is a natural remedy for headaches and back pains often caused by dehydration
13.Water gives you better overall productivity since your brain is made up mostly of water keeping it hydrated helps you think better, be more alert and helps concentration
14.Water decreases the likelihood of illness.  Drinking plenty of water helps fight against flu and other ailments such as kidney stones and heart attack.  There is mounting evidence that heart attacks and strokes occur mostly during the night.  By drinking a glass of water just before bedtime you help thin the blood.  Those on blood pressure meds or on an aspirin regime taking your meds just before bedtime does, in fact, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Water with added lemon is used for ailments like respiratory disease, intestinal problems, rheumatism and arthritis, etc.  Water improves your immune system.
15. Some recent studies have shown that drinking a healthy amount of water may reduce the risks of bladder cancer and colon cancer.  Water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shorten the time in which they are in contact with the bladder lining.  ( )

Wow … that’s a lot of benefits from a glass of clear liquid!  Who knew?  Okay, we probably all knew and just put it aside in favor of soda, coffee, tea or juice.  Needless to say, we I do not always do the things we I know we I should.

It would seem obvious that when your body is functioning at maximum efficiency eating properly and exercising would be enough to promote healthy weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight when your personal goal has been achieved.  But water is such an essential tool in helping to accomplish all that as well.  How exactly does water help us lose weight?

1.  Water fills you up!  Water does not contain any calories so it cannot do much to eliminate hunger (when its real hunger) but drinking water with your meal creates more volume in your stomach so you end up feeling satisfied faster.  A diet tip that is included in every legitimate diet I have ever come across is drink one to two glasses of water before each meal because the water helps you feel full sooner.  In fact if you look at any of the (really, really, really expensive) diet supplements and “magic pills” on the market all of them suggest taking one, or two or three pills with a large glass of water before every meal.  I would bet you dollars to doughnuts … oops, poor choice of words … I would bet my last nickel that it is the water that works the magic not the (really, really, really expensive) supplement.  The only thing supplements accomplish is putting money in the pockets of the manufacturers.

2.  Water cleanses the palate!  When you decide that you want to treat yourself to a certain food or treat you I never intend to overdo it, but boy that treat tastes so good and the taste lingers in your mouth making you want another bite and then another and before you know it, yup, you’ve I’ve overindulged.  If you drink a glass of water after eating a treat the water washes away any trace of the taste.  Removing the taste and the extra hydration will stop you from going back for more.

3.  Water washes the toxins from your system!  When you lose weight, you create toxins and water helps flush them out of your system.

4.  Water decreases bloating!  I know, I know, it seems like drinking these vast quantities of water would make you look and feel more bloated, but in actual fact just the opposite is true.  By keeping your digestive system moving, helping fibre and toxins to pass through your system more efficiently you will look and feel less bloated (also helping to prevent inflated numbers on the scale due to “build up”).  Foods high in sodium cause severe bloating, but if you find you have consumed a little too much salt and extra glass of water will help “rinse” that from you system a little quicker too.

5.  You cannot burn calories without water!  The process of burning calories efficiently requires water.  According to dehydration slows down the fat-burning process, reduces blood volume thereby reducing the amount of nutrients going to your muscles.  Slow calorie burn + muscle fatigue = reduced weight loss.

6.   Research supports drinking water!  Discovery News reported that a study done indicated that obese dieters who drank two glasses of water before each meal lost five pounds more, on average, than dieters who did not increase their water intake over a three month period.  Follow up research showed that those maintaining their water intake were also more successful at keeping their weight off.

7.  Water is the best alternative!  All living things need fluid for a healthy existence.  In this day and age we are so overwhelmed by choices of beverages that water seems to be low on the list.  Many of the beverages we have to choose from are high in calories and sugar and very low in nutrients.  These drinks do little to crate a sense of being full, and in fact may encourage your body to crave more sugar.  So instead of nutrient lacking drinks enjoy a healthy snack of nuts or a piece of fruit and wash it down with a glass of water.

And this last point on my list (borrowed from is the one that I found the most interesting because it is not one that I came across anywhere else.  Way to go Sheelagh Daly.

8.  Drinking water gives you something to do!  “Many people who begin to attempt to lose weight are often overwhelmed by the extra time they suddenly have because they are not constantly eating.  Unfortunately all that free time can make you crave bad foods even more because they’re all you can think about.  Water can help in this situation too.  When you fell like reaching for a juice or soda, grab a glass of water instead.”  Holding a glass of water in your hand in social situations usually involving alcohol also give the appearance of have a drink and may prevent an extra trip to the bar or someone handing you a drink you do not want or should not consume.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog there is so much information available on water consumption and dieting it would take years to wade through all of it.  Most of it is repetitive, which I take to be a good thing …it means everyone agrees.  I’ve tried to pick through quite a bit of it and synopsize here but every once in a while, there is something that puts a new spin on things.  Some are so obviously ridiculous they are not worth reading but one article I came across suggested that there is a correct time for drinking water.  I am including the suggestion here because I want to cover all the bases.  And you never know if it helps once person (maybe me) to get in their water everyday then it is a good suggestion.   At the following suggestion is made as to scheduling your water intake:

  1. Two glasses of water – immediately after waking up to help activate internal organs.
  2. One glass of water – 30 minutes before a meal to help the feeling of fullness and to aid digestion
  3. One glass of water – before taking a bath helps to lower blood pressure
  4. One glass of water – before sleep to avoid stroke or heart attack

As I said, I am including that schedule as “available information” and not as hard and fast fact.

Now, how can you insure that you drink those requisite 8 x 8 ounce glasses of water everyday?

1.  Have a bottle of water with you whenever you leave the house.  That ensures you will always have water with you when you feel thirsty, and will not be tempted to substitute another beverage.
2.  Set a reminder alarm on your phone to go off every hour to remind yourself to stop, take a little break and rehydrate.
3.  When eating out water is a free beverage.  Continue to sip water throughout your meal.
4.  When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Try to avoid this by drinking in advance.  Be especially careful when participating in activities where you may not be able to stop to get caught up.
5.  Use a water tracker.  It’s merely a device of some sort to help you keep track of how much water you drink.  Our TOPS food diary charts have little squares to tick off at the bottom of each day to ensure you are getting enough water.
6.  If you are able, keep your daily water in one container then you know that when the container is empty, you’re good.
7.  Make markings on a water bottle to track your progress in completing your recommended daily water intake.  Tracking progress is a great motivator and gives you a good sense of satisfaction when you are done.  This idea was posted on Pinterest and I thought it was a good one.

HUNGER CONFUSION is one of the biggest triggers for failure on any weight loss program.  You may mistake your body’s signals of thirst for signals of hunger.  Before you reach for a snack, drink one or two glasses of water and see if the cravings subside.  I have heard about “hunger confusion” many times before but always shrugged it off, but it makes sense if you think about it.

Wouldn’t it explain that irrational craving for something that you cannot identify?  “I feel like snacking on something but I don’t know what I want”.  When I am in that situation I often find myself grazing … something sweet into my mouth – nope that didn’t do it, something salty maybe – nope, not that either, sour – nope, spicy – nope … well maybe it was something sweet after all? – NOPE!  By this time I have grazed myself into calorie overload and probably nauseated myself in the deal as well.  Duh – the light bulb sometimes comes on – I was probably thirsty!

For years the mantra has been DRINK 8 glasses of water, DRINK your water, DRINK, DRINK, DRINK water.  As time goes by researchers, doctors and those in the know (probably sloshing dieters) realize that there are other sources of water available.  And in the cases of severe water aversion, like mine, it does not have to be in addition to drinking water, it can actually be included in your water intake count.  So what are some acceptable sources of water intake that you include in your daily consumption?

1.  Soups … broths and clear soups, not creamed soups
2.  Non-starchy vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables and surprisingly … broccoli!
3.  Juices … try adding a little water to your juice to decrease sugar and calories
4.  Soy and Rice Milk
5.  Skim Milk
6.  Melons
7.  Most raw fruits

Water has the benefit of being sugar, salt and calorie free … so if you are including these food suggestions in your diet they have to count as food … dang!

Enough information … this has gotten much longer than I ever intended so let’s get have a look a making water a little more fun, maybe a little more flavorful (even water lovers can get bored) and maybe a little more palatable for water-haters like me.

Add some lemon and make it tart and tangy.  Add few slices of lemon in the pitcher to get a glass of fresh and aromatic water. In fact, you will have the added benefits of  consuming vitamin C by having a lemon infused drink. Another option is to squeeze the juice of lemon and put them in ice cube trays for freezing. You can add the lemony ice cubes for instant tangy water!

Add fresh herbs.  Mint, lemon grass, and basil leaves are some great herbal options to make the flat water more interesting. You may need to crush them to get the flavor out of the leaves before putting it into the water. The herbal water also aids digestion.

Be a cool cucumber.  Slice thin rounds of cucumber and drop in the pitcher of water. Wait for some time to let cucumber release the flavor. It is very cool and refreshing by adding an interesting taste to the water. You will also get the benefit of Vitamin C (boosts immunity), Vitamin K (keeps the bones healthy and strong) and Vitamin A (good for vision, cell growth and enhances immunity). Did you know that cucumber slices is an effective aid for weight loss?

Mix of fruits.  Make the water look colourful and tasty by adding strawberries. Mash them slightly with a fork, before you put the slices in the water to get that instant strawberry flavor. You can add any type of berries, slices of orange, pineapple, pomegranate and peaches also to make it more interesting.

Thanks to for the above suggestions and pictures, they all look really yummy … yup, even to me!

There are so many recipes on line, just google infused or flavoured water and the results are boundless.  Or google Jamie Oliver, he has recipes on line for infused water as well.  Or even better yet … make up your own … go wild.  They can be sweet, savoury or spicy according to your own taste.  I’d love to hear about infused water ideas you’ve come up with.

One infused water suggestion I came across made me giggle a little, so of course I have to share it.  (Do not try this at home)  “Kitty infused water” made for pet cats that do not like to drink water.  See, I’m not alone.  This kitty water is infused with catnip.  Might get kitty to drink but you might find kitty hanging from the top of the curtains or bouncing off the walls as well.

Now that we’re all gung-ho on the water idea, there is one question left to answer … how long can water be stored?  Bottled water has an indefinite shelf life if stored under optimal conditions.  In North America bottled water is date-stamped for two years.  This is for stock rotation purposes at retailers and does not imply that the product is compromised after that date.  However, aesthetic changes could occur such as off-odor or taste.  It is suggested bottled water be stored in an unopened container at room temperature (or cooler), out of direct sunlight and away from solvents and chemicals.

Tap water can be stored for up to six months under optimal conditions and should be stored for water emergencies only.  Water should be stored in thoroughly washed plastic, glass or enamel lined containers.  Plastic containers such as soft drink bottles are considered a good choice because they are BPA free.  Containers need to be tightly sealed, labeled and stored in a cool dark place.

There was no definitive information on storage of home-made flavored/infused water, so my suggestions would be to only make as much as will be reasonably consumed over a period of a day or two.  I did notice some infusee waters made and sealed in mason jars, but if you were thinking about that, definitely do some more research on the subject.

Too much fun? What's that mean?
It's like too much money, there's no such thing
It's like a girl too pretty, with too much class
Being too lucky, a car too fast
No matter what they say I've done
I ain't never had too much fun

And then there is always the flip side to any good thing.  Daryle Singletary said in his song that there’s no such thing as too much fun, but apparently there is such a thing as too much water.  Water Intoxication occurs when too much water enters the body’s cells causing the tissues to swell with excess fluid.  The medical term is hyponatremia and a very complicated explanation can be found on line.  No worries for the ordinary water consumer though … the kidneys of a healthy adult can process fifteen liters of water a day.  You are unlikely to suffer from water intoxication as long as you drink it over time as opposed to intaking an enormous amount of water all at one time.  As with food intake and everything else in life … moderation is the key!


My best intentions were for naught and my TOPS weigh-in tonight was not as good as I hoped, but honestly, it was pretty much what I expected.  I admit it ... the holidays got the better of me.

As far as the contest I put up for a dues free month ... half the group succeeded and half did not.  Not bad all things considered.  We did go three weeks without a weigh-in, that means three weeks without accountability.  Well done group!

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