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You’re listening to the Plan Podcast, Episode number 39. If you know me AT ALL you know that I am passionate about hydration and it’s something I could talk about all day. I am sorry if you are someone who has ever dared to ask me a hydration question because it likely turned into a 3-hour conversation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about proper hydration it’s that hydration is really just a bunch of small daily habits and in today’s show, I’ll tell you what they are and how to build them so that you can reap all the benefits of deep, consistent hydration.
One of the things I don’t think most people realize about hydration is that consistency is really important. It can actually take up to two weeks of consistent hydration before you start to feel all the benefits — especially the cognitive benefits. But, for a lot of us, it’s hard to prioritize hydration each day, and so we have good days, and then days where we maybe drink barely any water, and our hydration goes up and down and our bodies don’t get a chance to exist in a state of consistent hydration.
This is why I tell people that hydration has probably been a challenge for them because they’ve never truly felt what it’s like to be properly hydrated. And I always say that once you reach optimum hydration and feel the difference, prioritizing it becomes so much easier because you’re so much more sensitive to the changes in your hydration level and the way it impacts how you feel and perform.
But I also think it’s important to stress that every day doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s really just about doing your best and trying to have more good days than bad days. With over 75% of us existing in a chronic state of mild dehydration, even adding just a couple of hydrating habits to your daily routine can make a huge difference.
Although I could get really technical, I wanted to keep things really simple and actionable in this episode. If you want to dive deeper into hydration, head over to HydrationChecklist.com. There you’ll find my two-week course on hydration. I’ll send you an email each day for two weeks to help you build these hydrating habits, and you’ll also get an eBook with my daily hydration checklist, my grocery list, and over 20 of my favorite recipes for hydrating meals and beverages. You’ll also get my three best-selling organizational tools which are all designed to help you prioritize hydration. It’s a great resource for anyone struggling who is ready to commit to a more hydrating lifestyle.
Okay, now, without further ado let’s learn more about some of my favorite hydrating habits and how to implement them.
My 5 Favorite Hydrating Habits
As I said, hydration can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be — those 5 habits are some of my favorites and the ones I find to make the biggest difference in how I feel, so I hope it’s helpful for you.
Signs of Proper Hydration
I thought we’d wrap this up with a quick discussion about the signs of proper hydration, as well as the signs of thirst.
So a great way to tell if you are properly hydrated is actually to pay attention to your urine. You’ve probably heard people say that if you’re hydrated your urine will be clear, but according to Dr. Dana Cohen, the author of my favorite book, Quench — that’s actually not accurate. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if your pee is clear it can actually be a sign of overhydration and you might be flushing nutrients from your system rather than allowing your body to absorb and utilize them. Dr. Cohen suggests aiming for a color that is a light straw shade, or similar to watered-down lemonade. This range is representative of someone who is properly hydrated and also eating a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. BUT even more important than the color of your urine, you should pay attention to the frequency at which you urinate.
A properly hydrated person should urinate AT LEAST every 2-3 hours, and you should have a strong stream that lasts around 10-25 seconds.
You didn’t realize we were going to talk about pee so much today, did you? One more thing I’d say about urination is that one concern people always seem to have when they start hydrating is that they are peeing so much and always running to the bathroom.
So first, remember that a normal, healthy, hydrated person should urinate at least every 2-3 hours. I’d say even every 1-2 hours isn’t unusual. And recall how important regular movement is to hydration. So, if hydrating means you are peeing every 90 minutes, try to view that as an opportunity to get up and move. The other thing I’ll say about this is that it DOES get better. ADH — antidiuretic hormone — is the hormone that regulates our urine output. I always tell people that babies, old people, and drunk people produce LESS ADH and that’s why they all pee their pants. When you’re chronically dehydrated your body gets used to needing low amounts of ADH, and it can take a week or two for your body to take note of your new hydration level and start producing more ADH. SO, if you feel like you’re constantly going to the bathroom try to be patient and see if it gets better within a week or two. If it continues try to assess if it’s really that often or if it’s just a healthy, normal amount.
If you still feel like frequent urination is a problem, visit your doctor. Sometimes it can be a sign of bigger health concerns.
Oh, and an interesting fact that I always like to mention — is that anxiety can actually cause us to feel like we need to urinate. Even just mild stress or anxiety can cause us to tense up muscles that put pressure on our bladder. A little known and often undiscussed symptoms of anxiety.
To summarize that, a great way to know when you’re properly hydrated is to pay attention to your urine. It should be a light straw in color, and you should urinate at least every 2-3 hours with a strong stream for 10-25 seconds.
As you become more hydrated you can also look for positive changes in your appearance — brighter skin, fewer breakouts, brighter eyes, fresher breath. You might notice that your hair, fingernails, and skin are less dry. All of these physical changes are wonderful and they are usually the ones people enjoy talking about the most — but I really nerd out over the cognitive changes that occur when we are properly hydrated.
When all the tissues of your body are hydrated your brain is able to function and communicate more effectively and efficiently. You might notice that your response time gets faster, that it’s easier for you to recall thoughts or memories, that you have way more energy, feel more creative or motivated, and even that you are less moody and have an easier time processing emotions or dealing with difficult situations. It’s really incredible and hopefully, that gives you just a little insight into why I love hydration so much!
And a quick recap….to help monitor yourself for proper hydration you can monitor your urine color, your urine output, and frequency, and watch for both physical and cognitive improvements over time.
Signs of Thirst
Now a quick note about thirst. A lot of us think that a sign of thirst is feeling thirsty or getting a thirst pang, right? But if you feel thirsty that actually means that you are already dehydrated and have already been dealing with more mild signs of dehydration. The first signs of dehydration are actually sleepiness or fatigue, moodiness, and brain fog. It’s actually all the cognitive signs that start to diminish first and these are your body’s first cues to you that you need to drink more water. As I said, we learn to suppress these natural thirst indicators when we are living with chronic mild dehydration, and it can take a while to learn how to listen to your body and pay attention to these messages. This is why I love habit number 3, where I suggested that you get a designated water cup and keep it with you throughout the day —- because you’ll be more inclined to watch for subtle changes in your mood, ability to focus or energy level and take a sip of water. So — don’t wait until you are thirsty. Watch for any signs of cognitive decline — sleepiness, moodiness, brain fog — and drink water!
And that is pretty much it for today.
If you feel like you struggle with developing new habits or routines I’d suggest learning about Habit Stacking. It’s my absolute favorite method for habit development. I’ve used it for everything from remembering to apply face serum, to creating a weekly workout routine. Scroll back to Episode 026 for an entire summary of how to get started with Habit Stacking.
I hope that this quick episode and some of this introductory information is helpful and inspired you to get consistent with hydration. As I mentioned earlier, I have a 2-week course that includes daily accountability from me, my best-selling hydration planners, and more than 20 of my favorite recipes. If you’re interested in doing that 2-week course with me you can head over to HydrationChecklist.com to learn more.
Get my recipe for Morning Water
Learn more about my 2-week hydration course: HydrationChecklist.comMy favorite book about hydration: Quench by Dr. Dana Cohen and Gina Bria
Q+A with the Authors of Quench, Dr. Dana Cohen and Gina Bria
Holistic, sustainable planners designed to help you align work + wellness.