About two months ago, I started practicing a new habit that took me from struggling through my mornings—I was usually sluggish, sleepy and tired after waking up—to more energetic, focused and calmer in a matter of minutes.
If you’re guessing exercise or meditation, you’re not quite there (although these habits come highly recommended as well). In fact, this little tweak was so deceptively simple, I didn’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.
Here’s what I did: I swapped my usual morning cup of tea with milk (I’m a total tea addict) for water—and even more of it throughout the day.
The Institute Of Medicine recommends that men drink 3.7 liters (about 15 cups) of water, and women, 2.7 liters (or roughly 11 cups) a day. These recommendations may sound like a lot, but they’re manageable once you break them down into mini water breaks (which is what I like to call them). Plus, the results are well worth it.
Here’s how I get my daily hydration quota met:
1. I start the day with water
The first thing I drink after I wake up is a cold glass of lemon-infused water (two to three slices of lemon is perfect for this), sometimes two.
The cold and lemon wake me up instantly, and by the time I’m done, my sleep inertia’s worn off, I’m feeling charged up and alive.
2. I have two glasses of water before each meal
Before I eat, I spend about 20–30 minutes taking in two glasses of water.
The benefits of this habit are twofold—it keeps me feeling energized and stops me from overeating when meal time rolls around because I’m no longer ravenously hungry (even if I was to begin with).
3. Have a glass of water before and after my workout
My workouts are intense and usually last no longer than 60 minutes, so loading up on water before keeps me from constantly having to reach for my water bottle (although you might end up going to the bathroom more often when you first start practicing this habit).
Following up with another glass or two right after ensures I stay hydrated throughout and after my workout (plus, ice-cold water after an intense sweat sesh is h-e-a-v-e-n).
Finding it difficult to down plain water? I used to. When I was struggling with my weight, all I drank was soda (it’s no wonder my scale kept creeping upwards!) because I absolutely hated the taste (or should I say non-taste) of water.
What I eventually ended up doing was flavor my water with lemon or lime juice for a refreshing, sugar-free twist. My water-aversion problem: solved.
The other upside this hydration turn-around? The more water I drank, the more I got used to and fell in love with it. Now, the taste of soda or any kind of overly-sweetened beverage turns me off.
5. I have a re-usable bottle of water with me at all times
If you’re having trouble keeping track of how many glasses of water you have in a day, or are on the go all day, try this simple hydration trick that I use: Buy a large re-usable water bottle (go for one that can hold two to three liters of liquid) that you can fill up and take with you wherever you go.
What’s in that bottle is all the water you need to drink for the day. Set a reminder on your phone to drink 250–500 milliliters every two hours, and you’re all set!
A word of caution: be careful not to go over these recommendations because too much water can lead to hyponatremia, where the salt content in your blood drops too low. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to get your doctor’s green light before putting this habit into practice.