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.