Laughter has Serious Happiness Benefits

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh” – William James

Do we laugh enough or should we learn to laugh more? Joyful, good-natured, ‘mirthful’ laughter is a tonic for our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Whether we use it as a distraction, to cheer ourselves up, or as a practice to energise and enthuse us, laughing impacts every part of us. In many ways it is the ultimate drug, with no harmful side-effects.

On a physical level, laughter stimulates our cardiovascular and pulmonary systems by giving our hearts and lungs a vigorous workout. It stimulates blood flow, oxygenates our blood and energises our whole physical system even if we’re hospitalised. The US doctor Patch Adams has been using it professionally for years.

Its endorphin-triggering effect makes laughter a strong painkiller for emotional and mental pain, as well as physical. It has been proven that higher levels of pain can be readily tolerated and the healing process is speeded up. Both the Norman Cousins experience, described in his classic best seller ‘Anatomy of an Illness’, and the current RX Laughter project with children in UCLA hospital in Los Angeles provide the evidence.

Psychologically, laughter is the antithesis of depression. If we’re feeling any anxiety, it is an excellent antidote. In fact, in 2002 in Austria Dr Koutek started using the sound of spontaneous group laughter as part of his treatment for patients with depression. In our Bristol laughter club there are countless examples of people whose lives have benefitted from the ‘lightness’ that laughter induces. People’s faces change, their body language and posture become more open and relaxed, their communication becomes more playful and spontaneous. Even the simple smiling exercise based on the 1988 F. Strack, L.L. Martin and S. Stepper’s pencil exercise produces lasting results. All you need do is smile genuinely three times a day for at least 10-15 seconds and some people find it transforms their lives.

Laughter and playfulness, in turn, unlock our natural creativity. “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation” said Plato. Creativity is an essential part of a fun-filled life and helps neuroplasticity, our brain’s learning ability, by strengthening mental flexibility and resilience. Because of this – as we see in Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology – optimism, positivity and happiness become learnable skills. In short, we learn to become happier.

On the self-development path, the practice of laughter is the practice of joyfulness. Ancient traditions as well as new ones encourage us to practice laughing – with a sense of willingness. What ancient traditions intuited and experienced, and neuroplasticity shows, is a practice is learning new skills until they become second nature. Current thinking is that it might be only 21 days, as in the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. The key ingredients are single-mindedness, perseverance and tenacity to keep going until you become aware of the differences in your life. There are numerous recent psychological studies which show the beneficial impact of smiling especially when this is the genuine ‘Duchenne’ smile which uses the involuntary orbicularis oculi muscles. This genuine smile encourages an empathetic response and consequently stimulates sociability.

Top tips to laugh more:

  1. Look for laughter and laughter will find you. Look for as many opportunities to smile and laugh in your day, and importantly, communicate them. Not only will you feel better, you will also be encouraging a positive ripple in others too.
  2. If it will be funny later, it’s funny now. Often we look back and laugh at things. Can we laugh at them now instead?
  3. Start your day with a laugh. This is both a Zen and a Hawaiian practice. No matter what yesterday delivered, start today with a chuckle, a kinaesthetic version of a positive affirmation. Why? We get the endorphins. We may then feel more upbeat and better equipped for your day ahead. Its worth remembering, when we’re feeling really rough, that’s the time we need our endorphins most.
  4. Fake it till you make it. Feeling grumpy? Sluggish? Irritable? When you’re ready to change your mood, smile and laugh, even if you don’t yet feel like it. Your system will release endorphins anyway because it can’t tell the difference between the real joyful laugh and a fake one. The key is your willingness.

Source: ~ Author: Joe Hoare

What to Say When People Undermine Your Healthy Choices

Ever get the cold shoulder for not partaking in cupcakes brought to the office? Teased for waking up early on vacation to fit in a run? Or maybe you’ve “ruined it for everyone” by saying no to another round of drinks?

Yeah. We’ve been there.

Sticking to healthy habits can be hard, so it doesn’t help when your commitment is met with jabs and side-eyes. And while we all know sassy comebacks, responding to negativity with negativity is never a good idea. Not only will it get you and your naysayers nowhere, but it could end up causing resentment or damaging relationships. And it’ll definitely kill the vibe at brunch.

It’s important to remember that most of these critiques are the result of people who are misinformed but well-intentioned or people who feel insecure or disappointed about their own health-related decisions.

First, pause to consider if they have a point. All healthy lifestyles need balance. But assuming your choices are sound, stick to your guns with grace. With that in mind, here are several productive ways to fend off unwelcome flak.

1. Thanksgiving Dinner

The situation: Although your family is aware of your healthy-eating style, they remain hell-bent on pushing food:
“Just eat it, it’s not going to kill you!”
“You could afford to have some.”
“But I made this just for you!”

What you’re tempted to say: “You made this just for me? Really? Clearly you don’t know me as well as I thought you did.”

Do this instead: It’s tricky when you’re dealing with family members and don’t want to disrespect anyone. But you don’t need to give in either, says Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Your aunt [or another older family member] is of a different generation, where expressing love for people meant cooking for them,” Pagoto says. “There’s no point in trying to change the way she thinks.”

The quickest way to end this interaction is to say thank you with a smile and eat what you originally planned. If anyone insists on seeing you finish the portion, make an excuse about feeling uncomfortably full and ask if you can take it home. Later, you’re free to do with the food what you wish. (Read: Chuck it.)

2. The BBQ

The situation: You’re the only non-carnivore at your friend’s annual bash. While he is thoughtful enough to grill you a veggie burger, fellow guests aren’t as considerate:
“I feel bad for you—how can you live without bacon?”
“Isn’t fake meat gross?”
“How do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?”

What you’re tempted to say: “Here’s an idea: How about you don’t ask me about my protein, and I won’t ask you about your cholesterol?”

Do this instead: While trainer and dietitian Erica Giovinazzo keeps an animal-protein focused diet, she understands the frustration of her vegetarian clients. Her advice: Remember that you make your own choices. “Pressure is likely to come from everyone telling us what we should do, and sometimes we forget we’re in charge of our lives,” she says. “Once we remember that, we’re able to better deal in situations that challenges those decisions.”

Giovinazzo says the trick is to stay positive rather than defensive. Try: “My veggie burger is superb! You should try one! You’d be surprised how good it tastes!” They may or may not take you up on it, but they’ll know not to argue further with someone so confident.

3. The Visit Home

The situation: Seeing family means you’re instantly fair game for unsolicited commentary on everything from love life to career choices. But today’s hot topic is your body:
“You must work out all the time—you’ve lost so much weight!”
“You’re so thin! How much do you weigh?”
“Looks like someone could stand to eat a cheeseburger!”

What you’re tempted to say: “I weigh somewhere between ‘buzz off’ and ‘mind your own business!'”

Do this instead: Often people become judgmental of others’ healthy habits when they feel threatened. “The criticism can really be a veiled expression of jealousy,” Pagoto says. Rather than biting back, diffuse the situation: “Thanks for being concerned about my health, but there is nothing to worry about. My doctor said that my weight is healthy and to keep up my good eating and exercise habits.”

Giovinazzo also suggests taking the focus off your appearance and enthusiastically sharing how your habits have helped you in other ways: “I feel better and more energetic than ever since I started working out regularly! Can you believe I can do pull-ups now?”

4. The Dinner Party

The situation: The spread is butter-laden, deep-fried, and carb-dense. Eating this meal equals a massive food hangover. You help yourself to what you can, but when others see your plate, they exclaim:
“Why are you barely eating?!”
“What? You don’t like any of this food?!”

What you’re tempted to say: “I don’t feel like committing gustatory assault on my system, ’kaythanks.”

Do this instead: “You shouldn’t have to explain to others what you do or don’t put into your mouth,” says Lindsey Joe, R.D. Don’t feel pressured to justify your choices. Joe suggests simply stating, “This is plenty for me. Thank you for preparing all this!”

Another tactic, recommended by Tina Gowin, R.D., is to smile and redirect the conversation. Try: “I’m just pacing myself with this great spread! Hey, how was that vacation you just went on?” It’s bound to get your host chatting and gently steer the focus away from food. No matter what you say, both Joe and Gowin stress the key is to be polite.

5. Lunch at the Office

The situation: Everyone wants the fast-food chain you can’t stand. You don’t want to be disagreeable and go along with the order, but then your coworker passes you a box of sugary churros:
“Come on, you can be unhealthy for a day!”
“If we split dessert, we can split the calories!”

What you’re tempted to say: “Hey, you can make poor choices all by yourself. Look at that haircut, for example.”

Do this instead: You don’t have to feel hesitant to pass on something you genuinely don’t want, but remember, you work with these people five days a week, so keep it civil. Joe uses a simple, “Thanks for offering, but no thanks. I’m stuffed from lunch!”

One of Gowin’s go-to responses is, “I’m going out for a nice dinner later and want wiggle room for a juicy steak!” White lies are OK, Gowin says, as long as they aren’t too complicated and won’t get you in trouble later (i.e.—Don’t say you’re going gluten-free and then get caught eating pita chips). To avoid awkward moments in the future, she also suggests making a game plan. “Keep paper menus of the restaurants you and your coworkers order from and highlight your best options,” she says. “This way, you know what to get no matter what.”

6. The Workout Buddy Who Bails

The situation: You text your friend to confirm tomorrow’s post-work running date and she bails for the third time in a row:
“Let’s play hookie! Netflix and takeout beat pounding the pavement!”
“I’ve been slammed at work. Can’t you take a break too?”
“What’s the big deal? We’ll just reschedule.”

What you’re tempted to say: “Sure. First I’ll just remind your S.O. what you think of commitment.”

Say this instead: While it can be frustrating to have a friend cancel on you repeatedly, there’s no need to blacklist someone for flaking, says Justin Robinson, a sports dietitian and strength and conditioning coach.

Acknowledge the fact that balance and rest days are a part of any fitness plan, but stick to your guns: “Thai food sounds awesome, but I took a day off earlier this week and I’m booked tomorrow. So I really need to get this workout in today. Let me know what your weekend plans are and we’ll meet up.” Moving forward, Robinson suggests shopping for a new fitness buddy who shares your dedication.

7. The Mexican Food Truck

The situation: When your burrito arrives, you pull off the tortilla (rice and beans are enough for you) and dig in with a fork. You’re then hit with comments from your fellow diners:
“That is so weird.”
“Can’t you just eat it the way it is?”

What you’re tempted to say: “I’m sorry, food police! I didn’t realize I was over the limit in the no-tortilla zone.”

Do this instead: The comments may have nothing to do with you, Pagoto says. Watching your healthy habits may remind your fellow diners of their own struggles to do the same and bring up feelings of resentment. Keeping that in mind, she recommends responding with a light comment: “You guys have known me for years and only now realize I’m weird?! I just don’t want to fill up on tortilla when it’s the filling I really like.”

Giovanizzo’s tactic of returning their question also works: “I always get too full if I eat it with the tortilla. Don’t you hate feeling stuffed?”

8. Post-Work Happy Hour

The situation: You’re out with coworkers, but you’d rather just enjoy their company and skip the booze. When you pass on alcohol, your colleagues start in:
“You’re so boring!”
“Oh, come on, just have one drink!”
“Are you anti-alcohol now too?”

What you’re tempted to say: “Well, no, but this interrogation is going to drive me to drink!”

Do this instead: Over the years, Robinson’s experience has revealed that the more you talk and make excuses, the more your friends will pry. His advice? “A short answer is best when discussing why you choose not to drink: ‘I just don’t feel like drinking tonight.’”

Limiting your behavior to that moment (versus a lifestyle choice) deflects any larger debate. If that doesn’t do the trick, humor is another great option: “Now you have a sober driver to make sure a lightweight like you makes it home!” To appear social, Robinson suggests ordering a club soda and lime or even an iced tea with lemon. Both look like cocktails, help you hydrate, and may get people off your case. Win-win.

9. The Unhealthy Restaurant

The situation: While the rest of the table starts with fries and mozzarella sticks, you opt for a salad. Your friends are immediately annoyed:
“Of course, you always get the rabbit food.”
“Are you on a diet or something?”
“Ugh, I can’t imagine eating just a salad for dinner.”

What you’re tempted to say: “Don’t worry. I’ll ask the waiter to batter and deep-fry the lettuce so we can match. Twinsies!”

Do this instead: It’s frustrating to feel attacked by your fellow diners, and as tempting as it may be to criticize their choices, it’s better not to be judgmental, Gowin and Joe say.

If simply laughing it off and changing the subject won’t work, give them some insight on why you’re eating the way you are: “The grease upsets my stomach and I’d rather feel good instead of ending up in a food coma and having to go home early.” If you’re with true friends, Gowin says, you can honestly talk to them about your lifestyle preferences and ask for their support.


Can the New Wave of Watery Workouts Help Your Arthritis?

Last one in the water is a … Remember this challenge from your childhood? For today’s fitness-conscious adults, it has new meaning. Don’t be the last person to discover the new wave of water workouts — for strength and cardio training, flexibility, relaxation, rehabilitation, and weight management.

“We’re seeing growth in both ends of the spectrum [of aquatic workouts], from high-intensity exercises like kickboxing and circuit training to mind/body workouts like ai chi, which combines tai chi and shiatsu massage,” says Julie See, president of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) in Nokomis, Fla. “We’re working against a perception that aquatic exercise is just for old people, not the young and fit. With younger people coming into the water, we’re starting to see a lot of sport-specific training and one-on-one personal training.”

“If it’s been a decade or more since you had a water fitness class, you’ll see many changes,” says Jane Katz, EdD, associate professor of health and physical education, City College of New York, and author of Aquafit: Water Workouts for Total Fitness. “Back then it would have been traditional skills of breathing, floating and swimming, which are still taught today, but with the addition of stretching and vertical exercises” done in a standing position.

Another difference, she says, is the abundance of exercise equipment. A lot of landlubber gear has made its way to the pool: handheld weights, rubber tubing, even bicycles and treadmills. Plus, the old aquatic stand-bys like fins and kickboards are no longer “one-size-fits all.” They’re engineered in a host of styles to suit specific applications.

Who Can Benefit From Water Exercise?

Water exercise can benefit virtually everyone, says Katz. A former Olympian, she teaches fitness and swimming to New York City firefighters and police officers and also has a special fondness for a class for women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Athletes use water to rehabilitate after injury or to cross-train. People with arthritis or other disabilities that can’t perform land exercise use water to improve fitness and range of motion and to relieve pain and stiffness.

Age and physical condition aren’t issues in the water. Kids love to play in water without realizing it’s good for them. Seniors who rely on a walker or wheelchair on land can stand in water with the help of flotation belts and water’s buoyancy. Water exercises provide less stress on the bodies of pregnant women.

Also not at issue is the ability to swim: Most water workouts consist of exercise done in a vertical position (with the bonus of keeping your hair dry).

Water’s buoyancy accommodates both the fit and unfit. Water cushions stiff and painful joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, it’s 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%. In addition, says See, the lower gravity promotes the return of blood to the heart from the extremities.

While water significantly reduces exercise’s impact to the back and joints, running and other vertical shallow-water exercises do cause some impact. That’s one reason experts advise wearing shoes. “Initially, any type of shoe will work,” says See. “You don’t want to invest a lot of money when you start an exercise program.” For starters, she suggests lightweight sneakers such as Keds. “Once you get hooked on water, which usually takes a couple of weeks, invest in a better shoe.”

Water provides at least 12 times greater resistance than air, and in every direction. “No matter which way you move, it challenges you,” says Katz. “You don’t need equipment, you don’t need an Olympic-sized pool. All you need is your body.”

Water cools your body and prevents overheating. See points out that even in 80- to 85-degree water, the recommended temperature for exercise, you should warm up in the water before your workout to prevent injury. Just as with a land workout, you will sweat during water exercises, so it’s important to drink water.

Intimidation may not be the first thing you think of when you consider the differences between land and water exercise. But it’s important, because concern about appearance or proper technique prevents many people from being physically active.

“Water is democratic,” says See. “Once you’re in the pool, we’re all the same. There’s less intimidation than walking into an aerobics studio surrounded by mirrors. You don’t have to wear a swimsuit. If you’re more comfortable, wear Lycra pants and a T-shirt. And it doesn’t matter if you’re on the wrong foot. As long as you’re moving, you’re getting the benefit.”

Can It Help Me Lose Weight?

There’s debate as to how efficiently water exercise burns calories. Katz says there’s some evidence that water exercise isn’t as effective as land exercise for losing body fat. One reason is that the big muscles in the legs and buttocks don’t have to work as hard in water.

Nevertheless, she says, water exercise can contribute to weight management. Strenuous exercise curbs appetite and promotes relaxation, factors in controlling compulsive eating.

Also, studies of water walking have showed that the number of calories burned increases with the depth of the water. Katz says a half-hour of deep-water running burns 300 calories, compared with 200-250 for running on land, 150 for tennis, and 150-200 for aerobics. Also, a 150-pound person swimming at his or her target heart rate burns about 600 calories per hour.

Choosing a Water Exercise Program

Here’s a roundup of some popular types of water workouts:

  • Aerobics. Water aerobics classes feature vertical exercises that often mimic land exercises, like dancing, walking, running, jumping jacks, and kickboxing. While swimming is a horizontal exercise performed on the top of the water, vertical exercises increase the workload because they’re done below the surface where drag is greater. If you’re just beginning an exercise program, start slowly by walking in shallow water. Gradually increase the intensity of your workout by moving to waist-high, then chest-high water, and adding movements that use both arms and legs. Always do a five-minute warm-up and cool-down.
  • Deep-water exercise. Deep water provides a no-impact workout and has long been associated with rehabilitation, but it’s also a great place to get a high-intensity athletic workout while preventing overuse injuries. Using flotation belts, you can jog, run, do sit-ups, and more.
  • Swimming laps. Katz says many people think swimming laps is boring, but there are ways to vary routines: learning different strokes, practicing dives and turns, and adding equipment such as kickboards, foam noodles, and fins. Even if you do land exercises before entering the water, always begin your session with a warm-up, which can be a few laps of very relaxed swimming, to raise your core body temperature and put your body in the groove for swimming. A beginner — someone who can swim 10-25 yards without stopping — should plan a 30-minute workout that includes a 10-minute warm-up, 15-minute main set, and five-minute cooldown. Katz advocates a progressive program that takes swimmers from a total distance of 100 yards up to two miles. As your speed and endurance improve, you’ll want to add strokes to your repertoire, time yourself on the different strokes, and test your endurance.
  • Holistic workout. Take your favorite yoga, Pilates, and tai chi exercises to the water or join a class to learn these popular mind/body movements. Some exercises offer multiple benefits. For example, the yoga “warrior” position performed in waist-high water provides relaxation, relieves stiffness in the waist and rib areas, stretches the entire body, and strengthens arms and legs. Water’s support and the fluid movements of these exercises make them ideal during pregnancy and rehabilitation. Katz recommends 30-minute routines that include five minutes each of warm-up and cool-down. The workouts can focus on relaxation, strength and toning, cardiovascular and aerobic exercise, or flexibility.
  • Sport-specific workouts. Katz says water workouts add variety to sports conditioning, offer relief in hot weather, and enable training to continue after an injury. In addition, you can isolate certain moves and reinforce them in the water. For example, a golfer, tennis player, or baseball player could stand in chest-deep water and practice their swings, paying close attention to proper technique. Resistance devices, such as paddles, can be used to make the workout more challenging. For variety, do an aquatic circuit-training workout that incorporates exercises such as boxing punches, soccer kicks, and cross-country skiing movements.
  • Prescriptive workouts. For the past 25 years, water exercise has been “prescribed” for people with arthritis. It improves range of motion and flexibility and relieves joint pain and stiffness. Lesser-known but equally important are workouts that target other health conditions, including asthma, obesity, pregnancy, back problems and more. Experts advise consulting with your doctor before beginning a program.
    Many gyms now offer a variety of aquatic exercise programs. But if you don’t have access to a water exercise class, don’t despair. Books and videos are excellent ways to learn proper techniques and create your own program.


Source: ~ Author: By

How Do I Know If I’m Dehydrated?

“Dry mouth, headache, and dizziness may occur.” Sounds like the fine print warnings on a medication bottle, right? But these symptoms can also indicate dehydration. Yikes! Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid and can’t adequately replace it. This can happen for a number of reasons, but it’s most commonly due to fever (more water evaporates when body temperature goes up), diarrhea, vomiting, or long periods of exercise with excessive sweating (especially in hot or humid climates). When fluid levels get low (no, not like Lil’ John), the body goes on high alert. Read on to find out what signs to look out for, and how to avoid the dry-time blues in the first place.

Body of Water — The Need to Know

The body is approximately two thirds water, and losing some of it throughout the day in sweat, tears, and urine is totally normal. That lost water can be easily replaced by sipping on some good ol’ H2O or other drinks (sorry — not the alcoholic kind!) and many foods.

But when the amount of water drops too low for normal body functions (like maintaining temperature, protecting organs, and getting rid of all the bad stuff in the body through urination, perspiration, and… other things), it can lead to dehydration.

Especially as summer approaches, it’s essential to be on the lookout for the common signs of dehydration (or what’s medically referred to as “volume depletion”):

  • Dry mouth. The mouth may be first on the scene by becoming dry or sticky. Saliva is 99 percent water, after all.
  • Lowered blood pressure, headaches, and dizziness. Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s actually about 83 percent water, and less water circulating around the body means less blood, too. This can lead to lowered blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, and even a rapid heartbeat as the heart needs to pump faster to make up for having less blood.
  • Muscle fatigue. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75 percent water, so when the body’s short on water, muscles are more easily fatigued.
  • Dry, cool skin. When the body’s dehydrated, it does what it can to hold onto to whatever fluid is left — even stealing water from Peter to pay Paul. The skin is the first place to be robbed of water, resulting in dry, cool skin.
  • Thirst. Duhh…
  • Feeling lethargic and irritable.
  • Lack of urine. When the body’s short on fluid, no wonder it doesn’t want to expel even more! If the yellow tide (too much?) stops for more than 12 hours (or there’s only a very small amount of dark yellow urine), something’s definitely wrong.

Eat, Drink, and Stay Hydrated — Your Action Plan

The surefire way to beat dehydration? Start hydrating before that thirsty feeling hits. Drink plenty of fluids every day, and even though everyone is a little different when it comes to water requirements, 1.5 liters per day is a good rule of thumb .

Mild and moderate dehydration can usually be cured by drinking fluids to replace lost salts and fluids. And while getting enough fluids during the day is important, not all beverages are created equal. Water is always a good go-to drink. Juice, milk, and coconut water are other great options . And after intense workouts or activities, sports drinks are a good choice too, not only to replace water loss, but also to replenish electrolytes and sodium, which are just as essential to replace . Don’t be afraid to eat salty foods after a hard hot-weather workout, either — serious athletes can suffer just as much from low salt levels as from low water levels! Two things to definitely steer clear of are alcoholic and caffeinated beverages (such as coffee, teas, and sodas), which tend to pull water from the body and may actually fuel dehydration.

As far as avoiding dehydration, the proof is in the pee. Clear, pale, or straw-colored, urine is good. If it’s darker, keep on drinking.

It’s important to drink more during hot weather, but even humid weather, high altitudes, feeling ill, and even cold weather necessitate some seriously hydrating action. And don’t forget to hydrate during exercise and activities! For every hour of strenuous activity or exercise drink one additional liter of fluid.

Expert’s Take

We asked two of our experts to weigh in on the topic. Here’s what they had to say:

Dr. John Mandrola:

“If I had a dollar for every case of heat-related heart problem that I have seen over the past two decades… well, I’d have plenty of money for a new Retina MacBook. As our summers grow hotter, heat-related illnesses are becoming more commonplace. People, even young healthy people, need to take the summer heat seriously. Here are a few tips.

  1. Start the day topped off: One morning a few years ago, I had to drink 30 oz of water for a kidney ultrasound. It was hard to drink that much water, but I learned something that has stuck with me. I felt so good that day. My workout went better and I had better energy through out the day. Most of us don’t get enough!
  2. On the dangers of caffeine: Though it is true that caffeine may help exercise performance in some cases, I have little doubt that caffeine impedes exercise in the heat. Not only is it a diuretic, which promotes fluid loss, but also, caffeine’s stimulant properties increase body temperature — a real negative in the heat.
  3. Pre-workout hydration: Not enough summer exercisers start the workout topped off. Before I leave for a bike ride in the summer, I usually chug an entire bottle of water. Again, it’s hard to drink that much fluid, but when going out in the heat for a few hours, your body will thank you. One negative side effect: An early pee stop.”

Dan Trink:

“As critical as hydration is for regular, day-to-day activities, it is even more important when exercising to optimize athletic performance and body composition. As little as a two percent loss in hydration will affect performance in the weight room, so you want to make sure that you hydrate before and during your session.

A good general recommendation for both weight training and endurance athletes (assuming they are fully hydrated before training or the competitive event) is to drink 7 to 10 oz. of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes. If you are someone who perspires more than average or if you are competing in extreme climates or altitudes those amounts should increase.

Finally, keep in mind that hydration effects muscle growth, recovery and weight loss in a big way. As mentioned above, approximately 75 percent of muscle tissue is water. So it’s not hard to see how critical proper hydration is to gaining lean muscle mass. Water is used for countless metabolic processes, many of which effect recovery. From muscle repair, to protein synthesis, to nutrient absorption (digestion), water and hydration levels play a huge role. To put it simply, you cannot recovery properly without adequate hydration. Lastly, staying hydrated is a key component to a smart weight loss plan as it flushes toxins out of your system, keeps your digestive tract healthy and can even help you feel fuller, cutting down the risk of binge eating or consuming excess calories.”

Source: ~ By: Kristine Lockwood

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

Water is the best thing you can put in your body, yet so many of us ignore it throughout the day. Here are some great ways to trick yourself into developing a healthy habit of drinking lots of water every day.

Why You Should Be Drinking More Water

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

We need water to survive, but drinking enough to get by isn’t ideal for your body. Water is required to cushion and lubricate your joints, protect your brain and other internal tissues, regulate your body temperature, and remove waste from your body through urination, bowel movements, and perspiration.

When you don’t have enough water, dehydration comes out to play. When you’re dehydrated you’ll experience dry mouth, low blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, dry skin, and worst of all, fatigue.

A simple way to tell is by taking a look at the color of your urine. A light-to-medium yellow (or clear) is what you want to aim for. If that yellow is more of an amber, it usually means you’re not getting enough.

So how much do you need? While it’s hard to determine an ideal amount exactly, we previously consulted with Dr. Pamila Brar and there are some guidelines you can follow:

  • Men should drink about 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total fluids a day.
  • Women should drink about 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total fluids a day.

Men need a little more because they tend to be larger on average and naturally have a little more muscle mass—which holds water better than fatty tissues. Of course, pregnant women and nursing mothers need more water as well. If that seems like a ton of water to you, that’s a bad sign. It actually breaks down to just four to eight sips of water per hour, but remembering to drink it can be hard—especially if you’re busy at work and don’t have time to worry about that lingering feeling of thirst, or if you have a workout later in the day and don’t want to feel like crap.

Not only do you have to remember to drink it, but you also have a lot of other tasty beverages out there competing to make their way inside of you. While a soda or sports drink may sound thirst-quenching, the sugar and other extras aren’t going to do you any favors—and they might even make you more thirsty. If you can help it, stick to water. But if you really want a different beverage, at least drink water in addition to it. Remember, water is the cheapest drink out there! According to Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar, choosing to drink water instead of soda could save you about $312 every year.

Keep your daily activities in mind, too. If you’re exercising or doing any strenuous work, staying hydrated beforehand can ensure you feel good during that workout later on. The same goes if you’ve been drinking a lot of coffee, caffeinated tea, or alcohol. They act as diuretics, causing you to urinate more and lose some water. Also, if you’re in a warmer climate, you perspire more and need more water than you would in a temperate zone. It is possible to drink too much water, so don’t overdo it, but your body can process 15 liters of it every day. The “happy medium” range is pretty wide.

Hide It In Your Daily Routine

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

If you already have a good morning and bedtime routine, make drinking water a part of it. You can still have your morning coffee, but add a glass of water in beforehand. The Natural Choice blog recommends having a glass at the same time and in the same place during your routine every day:

…get in the habit of drinking a glass of water right after you get out of the shower, or right before you wash your face at night. This is an easy way to add at least two glasses of water a day to your routine.

Wake up, have a glass of water. Get ready for bed, have a glass of water. Just by doing that you get a head start on the rest of the day. If you’re having a hard time remembering to incorporate it in your routine, find ways to make your water more visible. Put a glass of water on your nightstand so you see it before you go to bed or have a glass waiting by the coffee maker so you remember to have a glass while your joe brews.

Get a Decent Water Bottle and Mark It with Time-Oriented Goals

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

Water bottles are an excellent way to increase your water intake. Get a high-quality one, even if it costs you a little more. A good stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic bottle should do the trick. Once you’ve found one you like, take it with you everywhere.

You can take your water bottle usage to the next level by coming up with your own timed drinking goals and marking it on the bottle. Get some tape or a label maker and start marking how much water you’d like to drink by a certain time every day. This way you can actually see your water drinking goal and you’ll know whether you need to play catch up or if you’re ahead of the game.

It doesn’t hurt to really make your water bottle your own, either. Cindy Dyson at SparkPeople suggests that the more you like your water bottle, the more likely you’ll want to use it:

Whether it’s your favorite color or a unique design, the more you bond with your bottle, the less likely you’ll be to lose it. Slap an inspirational sticker or image onto it, or even write on it with a permanent marker. Now you’re ready to drink from it throughout the day—don’t forget to refill it as soon as it’s empty.

There are a lot of good options for water bottles out there, but the most important thing is that you like it. You’ll never stay on track with a water bottle you hate using or are embarrassed to be seen with.

Make It a Game

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

Gamification is an effective way to get yourself to do a lot of things, and drinking water is no exception. Incentivize your new water habit by rewarding yourself when you reach milestones. Go a whole week drinking your goal every day? Treat yourself to something you don’t normally get. It goes both ways too. Forget to drink enough water yesterday? No Netflix or video games until you’ve made up for it.

Competition is a great way to keep your drive too, and on her blog, the “Tri Sport Girl” suggests a race is the perfect way to compete with yourself:

Everything is more fun as a competition…. Apply the same concept to water consumption, and suddenly you’re racing to see how much water you can drink by lunchtime (my current PB is 1.25L) or how soon in the day you can finish 2L (my PB is 2:36pm).

Just be sure you’re not just drinking a bunch of water in the morning and none for the rest of the day. It’s best to spread it out, but a challenge is always a good way to keep yourself engaged. However you like to gamify your life, find a tool that works for you and track what you do. When you can see how well you’re playing your own game it can only help you.

Set a Timer and Create Mental Triggers

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

If you’re still having a hard time remembering to drink water, set a timer on your phone. Create a few alarms set to go off throughout the day and when one goes off chug a big glass of water. This might seem like overkill, but nothing snaps you back into a routine like a phone screaming at you to drink.

Part of building a new habit is finding a way to do things without the need of outside help, however, so it’s a good idea to create your own mental triggers. For example, if you start to feel hungry, have a glass of water. This does a few things for you: it’ll help your stomach and intestine on the digestive front, keep you hydrated, and possibly even curb your hunger. In fact, you may not even be that hungry and your brain just sent you the wrong signals for what it needed.

You can also make mental triggers for other things like having a glass of water every time you use the restroom or taking a sip of water every time you stop working. Have a sudden craving for junk food? Grab a glass of water instead. Triggers can be requirements you have to meet as well. Lauren Conrad—yes, that Lauren Conrad—made a rule that she can’t start each meal until she’sfinished a one liter bottle of water. It sounds kind of extreme if you don’t spread out your drinking, but it’s a great way to force yourself to focus on water first and food second.

Jazz Up Your Water Drinking Experience

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

You might be more inclined to drink water if it was a little more interesting. If that’s the case, there are plenty of ways to go beyond plain, boring H2O. Some fruit or cucumber in your water adds a little flavor without adding in the sugar you’d find in straight fruit juice. Freeze some lemon slices in ice cubes for an easy water upgrade or try a little ginger and herbs to switch things up a bit. If you’re missing the fizz from your soda, try some sparkling water or club soda. You’ll get the bubbly without the other not-so-great stuff.

Just like a personal water bottle, having a good water glass that fits you is important too. Use a glass you love and you’ll feel better about drinking from it. For example, I drink my water from a large Spider-Man glass (seriously, it’s awesome). It reminds me that super heroes drink their water, so I should too.

If super heroes aren’t your thing, consider a fun straw. If a crazy straw will get you to drink more, do it. Plus, drinking from a straw can help you drink more in the long run. You’ll sip and sip, not realizing how much you’ve actually had. Sure, you could probably drink just as much by chugging, but sipping from a straw takes less effort so you’re more inclined to do it.

Eat Your Water

How to Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water Every Day

Yes, food has water in it too. It may not have enough for you to only eat your daily intake of water, but there are some foods you can snack on that can help. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of water, and also make for a healthy alternative to chips or candy. Here are some of the fruits and veggies with the highest water content:

Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery, Radishes, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Cauliflower, Watermelon, Spinach, Strawberries, Broccoli, Grapefruit, Apricots, Cherries, Grapes, and Zucchini.

Pick your favorites and keep those around. It’s important to note, however, that when you cook these things, they lose a lot of their water, so they’re best eaten raw.

Drinking more water can literally change your life for the better. When you’re properly hydrated, you can digest easier, sleep better, and think clearer. Learn to love the taste of water, because every single sip is good for you.

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