Are you really drinking enough water?

20 Dec

WaterWe all know how important it is to drink enough water and to stay hydrated.  It’s important for your metabolism, your skin, your brain, your heart, eyes, etc. etc.  During pregnancy it’s even more important because you’re creating another human being.  Generally it’s recommended that we drink at least 6-8 full glasses of water per day, 8 full glasses during pregnancy.  With my generally pretty healthy lifestyle, I’ve been kind of assuming that I was in fact drinking enough water every day.  So it came as a complete shock the other day when I had checked into the hospital because of contractions and nausea – I’m 8 months pregnant at this point – and was told that I was dehydrated and needed to be hooked on an IV for rehydration.  Dehydrated?  Me?  This incidence prompted me to consciously take a closer look at how much water I was really drinking in a day.  The discovery was sobering…

While I usually started off my day pretty well with a tall glass of warm water with lemon and finished my day with a big mug of herbal tea before bed, it turns out I actually didn’t do so well during the work day, especially when I had a meeting-filled or generally hectic day.  On average I drank about 3-4 glasses of water or mugs of herbal tea during the day, not including my before-bed tea.  That means I am consuming a total of 5-6 glasses of water on a normal day, and on most days, I am short 2-3 full glasses!  Coffee does not count since it’s a diuretic.  Well, first of all, when I’m really busy, I’m probably not consciously thinking about whether I could be dehydrated because I’m  too amped up getting stuff done.  I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who forgets drinking enough during a busy day.  It’s also very annoying to have to run to the bathroom so often, especially when you’re pregnant.  But an even sneakier problem is that most people, including myself, wait to feel somewhat thirsty before they rehydrate.  It’s a common misconception that you associate dehydration with thirst.  Thirst, however,  signals that in fact you have gone past that point already.  So I was told after my dehydration incidence that it’s important to not feel thirsty in the first place by drinking water continuously throughout the day, which takes conscious effort and discipline.  My doctor at the hospital advised me to keep track of how many glasses I drink throughout the day, either by always having  a bottle of water or mug of tea, or by downing a full glass at set times of the day.  I combine both approaches and keep track of how many glasses or mugs I finish.  The bigger lesson for me though:  I can’ take for granted that I am actually following certain healthy habits just because I know what they are and because they seem pretty easy to follow.  To me, drinking enough through the day had seemed like the easiest of all healthy habits to follow until I learned the hard way that I wasn’t actually doing it.  Same applies to other little things like good posture, proper breathing, minimum exercise, etc. etc.  My advice:  Take a step back once in a while and take an honest look at the basics your lifestyle.

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