Monday, October 6, 2008

The Habit-A-Week Challenge Begins!

Are you ready???

Welcome to Week 1 of the Habit-A-Week Challenge! For some of us, it's a fresh start, with new hope. This time won't be like all the other times. This is the time we will LOSE the weight, and keep it off! For others, this is an opportunity to keep on going with our health and fitness or weight loss... a way to brush up on the good habits we already have, and form new habits for a healthy life. Either way, if you stick with it, I promise you'll feel better (and most likely lose weight) by the end of the 16 weeks. Which, by the way, takes you through the holidays and into the new year with a bang! (For those of you wondering what I am talking about, today is the first day of a new challenge in which you work on ONE simple, new healthy habit each week for 16 weeks. You don't have to set a weight loss goal, and you don't have to uproot your entire life in one day trying to revamp EVERYTHING to lose weight. You just do one baby step at a time. If you succeed in the Habit of the Week, you are a SUCCESS for that week, even if you ate deep dish pizza for dinner every night. For more background or to sign up for the challenge, see this post: Habit-A-Week Challenge.)

Now. About that image at the top of this post. Did you notice it is a brick wall? Why do you think that is?

Because each habit is a building block to a healthy life. You want to feel better? You want more energy? You want to lose the weight for good? Build it. That is the wall you are trying to build, brick by brick: a healthy life. Try and think of each habit like that. Maybe some weeks you will think, "this is a stupid habit. This isn't going to help me lose weight." But I bet you it will. Just give it time, have a little faith in yourself, and trust me on this one :)

Okay I know you're dying to know. What is the Habit of the Week? Well here ya go:

Fix your water intake.

This week we are going to focus on drinking enough water. (If you already drink enough water, keep reading. There are layers to the habits. Everyone can improve). Now, I am not a person who believes you have to drink gallons of water every day to lose weight. Some people do that, and that's fine (as long as you are aware of the risks of water intoxication, from drinking too much water in too short a time period, but you'd have to drink a LOT of water to create this situation). The recommended intake for a healthy adult is generally a minimum of 8 to 12 glasses of water per day (a glass = 8 ounces). Here's some great information about the benefits of water and factors that influence how much you need: Mayo Clinic Water Info. And here is a really cool Hydration Calculator. Check it out! It'll factor in your weight, activity level, climate, and health and tell you how many ounces a day you need. I don't think you need to drink any more than that.

How to do it?
1. Find your water source. Everything I have read says that most tap water is just as good as most bottled water, so don't feel like you have to buy your water. I personally do not like the taste of chlorine from the tap, and I want to filter out possible contaminants, so I bought a Pur water pitcher. It was $14 and holds 7 cups of water. So decide now whether you want to drink straight from the tap (which should be FINE, most of our water sources are safe these days) or use a filter or bottled water.

2. Get a cup. Yeah, I know it sounds silly. But if you have a dedicated water cup that you leave on the counter all day, it makes things simpler. Mine is a 16-ounce cup because that's how much I try to drink at a time. If you gag on water, you can start with a smaller cup/glass. Anyway it'll save you from washing cups all day. Just wash it every night so it's fresh the next morning. If you want, you can use a water bottle instead.

3. Make water your friend. I personally do not *usually* like cold water (as in, stored in the fridge) so I leave the pitcher on the counter. Decide how you like your water so you can make this more pleasant. Cold? Get a pitcher for the fridge. Room temp? Leave the pitcher on the counter. Or drink from the tap if you like. Iced work better for you? Be sure you have some ice trays full every night. Be prepared. And what about flavor? Does plain water gag you? I like my water plain usually, but it tastes nicer with a drop or two of lemon juice in it. If you can't stand water, try putting a slice of fresh lemon, lime, or orange in your glass. It tastes much better this way. And if all else fails, just drink it and quit complainin'! You'll get used to it.

4. Make it a HABIT (yes, that's the goal!) Here is an easy way to get your water in. Every morning, first thing in your mouth before anything else, drink a glass of water. I drink a full 16 ounce glass of water every morning. I don't sip it. I just drink it down. It's not so great at first but once you get used to it, your body WANTS it and feels so much better once you get that water in. Then, have a glass with every meal. I drink a 16 oz glass with all 3 meals each day. If you drink half of it before you even start your meal, it does help fill you faster and you tend to eat a bit less, which is a nice side benefit. I also drink a full glass with EVERY snack. I tell you what. If you MAKE yourself drink a glass of water before you eat a snack, every time you have one, you will get full and eat less snacks. EVEN IF YOU BINGE this week... drink just an 8 or 16 oz glass of water before you start eating. Seriously. This is a good habit to have. It will help you in many ways. Even if you are just sitting down to have ONE cookie, have that water. If you are keeping track, you noticed that with 16 oz upon arising, 16 oz per meal, and 8 oz with 2 snacks, you will have your ten 8-oz glasses of water per day ALREADY. And remember you can always grab a glass when thirsty or when you *think* you are hungry or want to eat. Try this: next time you are between meals and want to eat, just have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. If you still want to eat, eat. But sometimes, just the water will be enough.

I personally stop drinking water after dinner so I can stop peeing my brains out by bedtime. And yes, your body should get used to the water over time and you should pee less.

5. Drinking other things. Here is the part where everyone can benefit, even those who are already drinking a ton of water. Maybe there is something even BETTER for you than water! Something you could drink INSTEAD of water sometimes, which would still count as a glass of water, which would taste better than water, and have LOTS of health benefits! I am talking about green tea! Green tea (and white tea also) has TONS of antioxidants in it, NO calories, and helps prevent many types of cancer. Just a cup of green tea per day could reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 54%. Read more about it here. I will have a post later this week on the health benefits of tea. If you are thinking, "I don't like tea. Green tea tastes like grass," I am with you. I hated green tea for a long time. But I found that certain brands taste better than others (I have settled on Bigelow Lemon Green Tea) so try different ones. Also, steeping it too long makes it bitter, so read the label and steep it on the short side. And I dilute my tea and drink it cold or iced. I use about a cup of tea and a cup of water and then I need no sweetener. White tea has many of the benefits of green tea, but has a milder flavor. You can get all kinds of white and green tea flavors: blueberry, pomegranate, apple, peach, etc. Try them until you find one you like... and do try diluting them if the flavor puts you off. They are so healthy it is worth fitting them into your diet somehow.

Finally, for those who ALREADY drink lots of water and tea, here are the Advanced Habits:
Switch from whole, 2% or 1% milk to skim. If you drink any kind of soda, cut back! You can do this gradually, by switching from sugared sodas to diet ones, going from 3 cokes a day to 2 and then down to 1, or subbing unsweetened iced tea for sodas. When I go out to restaurants I ALWAYS order iced tea, unsweetened. Even if you add one sugar packet, that's just 16 calories. Much better than soda. Pay attention to ALL liquids going into your body. If there is no health benefit, don't drink it. Water and tea are best!

If anyone has problems with this challenge, please post in the comments section so we can help each other overcome any roadblocks! And if you like, you can weigh yourself and then post your loss or gain in next week's challenge post. But ONLY if you want to. I hope to hear how everyone is doing. Hopefully by this time next week, everyone will have improved their fluid intake in some way.

And here is a nice little icon you can put on your blog or website if you wish, to show you are part of this healthy challenge. (Just right click on the image, save it, and then upload it to your blog). It's a reminder of just what you are trying to build.

Now go forth, and drink up!

37 comments:

Skinny Inside said...

Awesome link, thank you! I was shocked to find I need to drink 3 liters a day, I thought 2 was sufficient...I'm taking you up, especially on drinking 16oz first thing in the AM!

MizFit said...

I LOVE THIS!
the info.
your challenge.
that you started with something I *sorely* need to get back with/on.

all of it.


M.

Hanlie said...

I'm in with the water as of today! I've been far too slack lately!

Jessaleigh said...

Can I just say that I stopped reading in the middle of this post to go get a glass of water? I've been meaning to work on this for awhile - no excuse to put it off any longer!

Love it!

Diana said...

I love that water calculator, and wouldn't you know, I'm not drinking enough water. On a good day I might get in 64 oz, but that's rare because I've really been slacking on it lately.

Thanks!

lcinsunnysocal.wordpress.com said...

Does anybody else struggle with the whole "spend the day on the potty" issue of drinking so much water and other liquids? I guess I'll try to get enough hydration in before 3pm to not be up all night!

Lynne said...

Drunk - check...

I am with you!!!

spunkysuzi said...

I actually don't have too much of a problem drinking water although i will get a jug and fill it to use during the day! Nice tip.
What i can try is drinking more green tea, i do drink it but not daily, so this week that is my challenge to drink more green tea :-) By the way thanks for doing this challenge, i'm looking forward to checking it out weekly.

Dinah Soar said...

Great idea, adding the green tea to water to dilute it...I found an Orange Jasmine by Tea of Life green tea that I especially enjoy...it is the only green tea I've had that I like unsweetened.

Andrea said...

Ok - I'm on board. Better get to drinking up now!

Karyn said...

Interesting timing! I just set one of my goals for this week to get back to drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. I've been lazy about water lately.

I am going to try to add at least one cup of green tea a day - although I am not much of a hot drink person and I'm sorry, but cold tea? Yuck.

Sherre said...

Before I read your explanation, I laughed when I saw the brick wall. This whole journey is like hitting my head against a BRICK WALL sometimes. :) So -- in addition to drinking water diligently, I'm going to change my attitutde about bricks. They're not there for me to bang my head against, but to build by adding habit after habit.

doogiewen said...

I like water and green tea. The brand I like best is Good Earth Green Tea with Lemongrass - very tasty. You are so right about not steeping it too long - a couple of minutes is plenty.

GF said...

Thanks Lyn!

We're on our way and it feels good!!

Anonymous said...

i didn't think i'd be participating but I AM! woohoo, thanks lyn for the motivation.


cindy

skinnyhollie said...

Wow, the calculator says I need to drink 160 oz, which is DOUBLE what I drink now, thinking I was doing good. I'll try it, though!

Leslie said...

Geesh!! I should be drinking 4.5 - 5 litres a day (partly because I'm breastfeeding) - I'm gonna be floating!

Thanks for the challenge inspiration - I'm on board!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought - I drink cold flavored green tea that I actually make from bottled extract. It's SUPPOSED to deliver something like 5 cups worth of antioxidants per dropperful...(if something sounds too good to be true??) ANYWAY, my point was going to be that I don't like tea unless it IS sweetened, and I use stevia, with great joy :) - Lyn, do you make your iced green tea by making hot tea first, and if so, do you do it every night so it's ready, etc.,etc.? Thanks - Dancingqueen

Vicki said...

Before I started trying to lose weight, I never drink water because it made me feel sick and my stomach feel sloshy. But I made myself drink it and after a week or two I loved it and the shoshies went away. Never had green tea, but I'll give it a try.

bbubblyb said...

I'm with you. Thanks for starting this challenge I'm sure it will be really helpful to me. I do try to drink at least 2 liters but as the calculator said I should be drinking at least 3 so I've upped my water starting today.

Twix said...

Count me in! This fit right in line with my personal challenge this week. I will drink 8 glasses a day! :D

Melissa said...

I'm a new blogger and I just wanted to tell you how inspirational your blog is to me. I love the calculator and I'm definitely going to try out the challenge.

Michelle said...

I don't usually post on blogs, but wanted to mention a few of things:

a) I love your blog & just know you'll get back on top of things :-)

b) Online calculators provide APPROXIMATIONS. There's no doubt that drinking plenty of water is great for your body, but overdoing it is very bad news. Without going to the extreme of water intoxication, downing a lot of water without also providing the body with enough electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.) can give you chronic, low-level dehydration. To get graphic, if your pee is pale clear-yellow & there's plenty of it, you're body is hydrated.

c) It's critical to remember that you account for the water in your food - the calculator's quoted 20% figure is no guarantee, & if you eat a lot of juicy fruits, soups, etc., you may be getting more than the 20% from your food. Another reason why your pee is the best judge ;-)

d) Don't forget that green tea often has more caffeine than black tea (but usually less than coffee), & caffeine is a diuretic - it draws more fluid from the body (that you pee out), so if you drink a lot of teas or coffee, it's generally recommended to drink an extra glass of plain water per cup of tea or coffee.

~~

All the VERY best to everyone on this journey. Best wishes for health & happiness. :-)

Tina said...

ummmm...the peeing stops when? :)

Paula said...

so does this mean you're only going to post once a week now?

Lady Bug said...

Thanks for the challenge, Lyn! I was feeling the need for a little helpful encouragement, as I've been spinning my wheels a bit lately.

I do have to agree with a previous commenter though- I've never gotten to a point of fewer bathroom breaks. lol I'm resigned to hustling to the bathroom like a pregnant woman for the rest of my days. *laughs*

I look forward to the new habits in the challenge, as they come. I've added the challenge to the sidebar of my blog. I just added one brick for this habit, and am looking forward to building myself a little wall of positive habits. :)

Big Girl said...

I'm off to go get water right now...

Lyn said...

No, Paula, I will still be posting several times a week. I will also post a new Healthy Habit each Monday. One of my children is having some health problems at the moment, but hopefully I will have time to post when I get home from the doctor's this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the challenge Lyn. Just for clarification, is the intention that each week we add an additional habit challenge or that we switch to the next one?

WebRover

Lyn said...

WebRover, it's cumulative. You keep all the habits along the way, so that they build a wonderful foundation for a healthy life! So at 16 weeks you will have mastered 16 healthy habits :)

Anonymous said...

Hi -- re the "switch to non-fat milk" idea: CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which has been shown to prevent cancer cells from forming and retard the growth of existing cancer cells, is found in dairy products -- but is not found in non-fat dairy products. Personally, I just keep my dairy chaoices to low-fat, rather than non-fat.

Just because and just in case. :)

Boo Bear's Place said...

I'm defiantly up for this habit a week challenge. I'm thinking of buying me a brita water pitcher soon. The lady i work for has one at her home so while I'm there I can use her but,I could def be drinking more water! so count me in. I maybe late for the challenge but its came just in time for me!!

Erin said...

I just found out that I need to drink 5 liters a day. How is that even possible? I predict I will be spending much time in the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

Ok I'm in drinking a bottle of water as we speak

Verena Daniel said...

I am 27 years old and 293lbs, so weight lost has been the hardest thing I had to deal with in my life. I'm just fed up with being this way and I want to get healthier. I just wanted to find more like minded people to encourage me, and drinking more water is going to be the first thing I will conquer.

Mamabear10 said...

To add to that...theres sugar in low fat and skim milks. Animal fats are ok for us so whole milk seems to be a better choice if you want to cut out sugar. Personally, I switched my family to almond milk. :)

Avy said...

Thanks for posting this weekly plan thingy. I think the structure will help me and focusing on one thing at a time should decrease the chance of epic failure lol