Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Are You Drinking?

We all know that when we are trying to lose weight, we have to really watch what we eat. Count those calories. Get enough protein. More fruits and veggies. Less fat. But how much attention are you paying to your fluid intake? Did you know that what you drink can make or break not only your weight, but your overall health?

Did you know that about 60 percent of the human body is composed of WATER? We need water to function properly. It makes up most of our blood volume and is the base for many fluids in the body. Think about the fluids surrounding your brain, joints, and organs. How would you survive without saliva? Or tears? We take it for granted, but without enough water our bodies just can't work correctly. So make sure you drink enough water. Ask ten different people how much water is "enough" and you will get ten different answers, but most experts agree we need at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day.

Some people really don't like to drink water. Well, lemme tell you, it was very hard for me in the beginning too. But once you get in the habit, you will crave your water. I start every morning with a 16-ounce glass of water. I never eat anything before I have my water. It's a great start to the day and my body appreciates it. I also have a glass of water with every meal and snack. I drink more when I feel like it. I keep a Pur water pitcher on the counter at all times (I prefer my water at room temperature, mostly, but when I want it cold, I add ice). If the flavor of your water is icky, try a filter or just add a few drops of lemon juice to your glass. Sometimes I put a slice of real lemon, lime, or orange in my glass for a special treat.

There is something you can drink that is even better for you than plain water: tea. Tea is so beneficial, with its many antioxidants and no calories or fat. Green and white teas have special health benefits as well. Studies have shown that drinking as little as 2 cups of green tea per day drastically reduces your risks of certain types of cancer... including a 46% reduction in your risk of ovarian cancer. Just from 2 cups of green tea! Other studies show that teas can reduce your cholesterol, help prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve your immune system. Just do a Google search on the benefits of drinking tea. You'll be amazed. While most new research is on green tea, other studies have indicated that white tea and even black tea have similar health benefits. So instead of plain water, make some tea!

I can hear the whining now: "But I don't LIKE green tea..." Yeah, I know, I said I hated green tea last year. I only liked it with a ton of sugar in it. I didn't like the grassy flavor. But guess what... not all teas are equal. Some taste better than others. My first tea love was Bigelow Lemon Green Tea. I started making it last summer for iced tea, and I was hooked. I would take about 11 tea bags and put them in a gallon glass jar (from the dollar store), fill it with filtered water, screw on the lid, and set it in the sun on my deck in the morning. By afternoon I had a nice jar of warm tea. Then I would dissolve some sugar in it. I started with a half cup, and by the end of summer I was only added 3 Tablespoons to the whole gallon. Store the jar in the fridge and have delicious and healthy iced green tea all day long. I do this all summer. You can do the same thing with other teas, like regular Lipton tea bags, or even herbal teas (although herbal teas have entirely different health benefits). Now I LOVE green tea, with minimal honey or sugar. I drink it every day.

Over the winter I was hooked on coffee. I don't like iced tea in the winter, and I liked my coffee every morning and afternoon with lots of sugar and creamer. Unfortunately that probably contributed to my weight stall. So I switched to teas. Now I drink at least 2 mugs of hot tea every day. I add a scant teaspoon of fresh local honey to each cup, and sip it with breakfast or afternoon snack. I also really like chai teas, which are delicious spiced teas. But I never could quite find a chai tea that was really fulfilling. I was on the quest for the perfect chai tea.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered the best, most flavorful chai tea I have ever had. It came to me from Indonique Tea & Chai Cafe along with a lot of other high quality teas. I've been able to sample several of their teas, which come loose (not in tea bags) and are so flavorful and fresh. The white, green and black teas are fantastic. You can even use the same leaves to brew 2 or 3 cups of tea in a row, without the tea getting too weak! But their crowning achievement is their Masala Chai. SO delicious! I followed the directions on their website for brewing teas and chai, with fantastic results. I made my chai with a half cup of water and a half cup of skim milk, and 2 tsp sugar. The result is so good, I now drink that in place of my old weekly Starbucks indulgence! And the chai, prepared this way, has only 75 calories. I love the stuff and I highly recommend it. One really nice thing about this site is that you can request up to five free samples with ANY order you place. With so many teas to choose from, it's great to be able to try them and see what you like. Just name your five samples in the comments section when you order.

And let me say this. Soft drinks are NOT GOOD FOR YOU!!! Do not try to get your daily fluid requirements from sodas! When you suck down sodas, you are loading your body with either a ton of sugar or a load of artificial, chemical sweetener. Read the label. NOT HEALTHY STUFF. Stick with water, teas, or even diluted fruit juice, but it really is best not to drink a lot of calories.

When I was 278 pounds and in "I don't care what I eat" mode, I used to drink a LOT of Coke. I probably drank 3 or 4 cans every day. And I felt horrible, too. I know I usually went for weeks without ever having a glass of water. Big mistake! You are what you eat, but even more so, you are what you drink! Put something healthy into your body! You will feel better for it.


Marshmallow said...

Another thing I like to do to drink more water is to add either a lime or lemon segment to it. You could do the same with orange or grapefruit, to give it a bit of citrus tang. (Much better than putting a spoonful of Splenda in with!)

Anonymous said...

In South America they drink Yerba Mate more widely than either tea or coffee, and it is even more effective for weight loss than tea (which you should also carry on drinking!). It's also delicious. You may want to read this article on the health benefits of Yerba Mate.

Cammy said...

Great post! I'm making the Diet-Coke-to-water conversion now, and it hasn't been that difficult. The key, I think, is to have a really cute mug. :)

Heather said...

all great suggestions! I am lucky enough to be one of thsoe people who loooved drinking water hwne I was overweight, I just never drank enough. I have never drank pop in my entire life which i have been lucky for too, but juice was hard for me to limit. I love juice but it is so loaded with sugars. so now I just drink water.however take coffee away from me, and I think I will shoot you in the morning!

Yogi Wannabe said...

As always, a great and thoughtful post. I am learning to love green tea. I love the pomegranite green tea.

Lillian said...

I love tea. I do herbal tea, green tea, oolong, black. I also drink lots of water in the morning. It keeps me hydrated so I can do my exercises. One needs lots of water. It's so important and it's not only for losing weight.

I have a cute mug that says "Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated!"

Em said...

First off, Happy Easter! I hope you did well with all of that chocolate around the house.

The unfortunate thing is, I am addicted to caffeine. I have majorly horrible headaches when I don't have it, and it's really sad.

I have to drink TWO cups of coffee in the morning [but I drink it black.]I got addicted to caffeine because my mother kept it in the house constantly. [I am only fifteen years old] She told me I could not have it, but of course I would sneak and drink it.

Then I would come home from school without having had caffeine that day with a very bad head ache. My mother decided to stop keeping it in the house, but then I would just have my boyfriend bring it to me in the morning at school.

But since I could not drive, I had no way of getting it myself. So my mother made me drink coffee. She now drinks hot green tea every morning to offset the head ache [because she is addicted] but I just cannot bring myself to drink it.

And this makes me feel like such a baby because I want to be in the army and *not* doing something makes me sound wimpy.

I do drink a lot of water, though.

In case you are wondering why I am reading this blog, well... I myself am not overweight. But I used to weigh about 170 pounds. Now I weigh 136. I admit that I lost it all in about three months in VERY unhealthy habits.

But losing the weight has taught me enormous amounts of self-control. I just started weight training, and it is amazing. It is ALL self-control. I really think you should try it! You would love it, I think. Weight training makes me feel so strong and alive. Yeah, afterwards you get pretty sore, but that's only the beginning, and beginnings always stink.

But you are only competing with yourself. And weight training has results that are really easy to notice. It will really help with your muscle endurance.

My mother is about the same weight as you are, and she and I weight train together. [She is WAY stronger than me, but I beat her butt at cardio.] My mom is also trying to lose weight the healthy way, too. I am right along with her. I know I don't need to lose weight, but I am her personal cheerleader and I make sure she sticks to things and drag her to the gym three days a week.

I just wish my father would do what you are doing. I think he is more than morbidly obese. He is probably super obese. He is just too embarrassed to do anything. I know he wants to, but he's afraid.

Maybe you'd have some advice for me. If you don't, that's okay, too. Just consider the weight training thing. And you really are an exceptional role model. Your blog posts always bring a smile to my face; your optimism is so contagious! Keep it up!

P.S. You looked FABULOUS in those pictures you posted at the beginning of the month. That is AMAZING progress!

Also... don't look at the scale everyday... Make it a weekly thing. Especially if you start weight training. Because you will be gaining muscle weight instead of just regular weight, it might discourage you, and that would SO stink!

angelina said...

Hi Lyn, I've been reading your blog for a while (found your blog at marshmallows) and I love it, you always write such thoughtful posts, and intresting ones like this one =O .. wow!! I didn't know that tea was so good for health or how many flavours existed (I wanna taste that chai one =D).

Keep up with the great work Lyn, you are inspiration to many women who are fighting against their weight, I have always admired courage like yours. You are succeeding and I'm sure you will reach your ideal weight ;)


sorry for my dreadful english, not my first language hehe.

Lyn said...


Hi there! I tried to locate you to send an email or comment, but was unable to, so I hope you return and find this.

You sound like a very wise and intelligent young lady. I do have a bit of advice for you, on three issues:

1. Caffeine addiction: hon, it's hard, I have been there myself. You have to cut back slowly... if you are drinking 2 cups, cut back to one and a half cups for a week. Then down to one... then a half, and so forth. You may have to take something for the headaches (Tylenol, Advil, whatever you usually take) for awhile, but once you are off the habit you will feel much better. You can try subbing hald decaf coffee to trick yourself as well. I personally switched to teas, which are lower in caffeine.

2. Your weight. You are on the right track with the exercise. Keep it up for your lifetime, and you will be doing yourself a whole lot of good. But also take the time to educate yourself about nutrition. Take a class, read some books, whatever it takes to learn all you can about the benefits and drawbacks of various foods. You can always learn new things. I am still learning! You will find this information so valuable to you as you get older.

3. Your dad. I think the one thing you can do to motivate him the most is to give him a great big hug, and sincerely express how worried you are. Tell him you love him and you're scared he won't be around to see you grow up, walk you down the aisle, watch you graduate college, see his grandkids, etc. Be sincere. Hopefully, knowing how concerned you are will touch his heart. Because it really has to come from within him.

You are doing great by helping your mom. Please check in sometime and let me know how things are going! Hugs!