Small Steps Toward Health: What Is Better Than Coffee?

When Jackson and Kate were little I knew I needed to make significant changes to become a healthier person. I was working full time with a long commute (2 hours minimum) and “being healthy ” felt like one more thing I couldn’t squeeze into my busy life. I’ve found though that, several years later, I am significantly healthier because I’ve slowly implemented changes one step at a time. Instead of trying to do all the healthy things at once, taking small steps has resulted in me being the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my adult life. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share a few of the changes I’ve made over the past 7 years that have restored my health (after having 3 c-sections within a 4 year span, I had some serious work to do).

One of the not-so-big secrets to health and overall energy is this simple thing called drinking water. If you had told me years ago that I would love something more than coffee I would have laughed. At the time I was convinced that nothing could give me a boost of energy like my precious coffee. Sipping (or gulping) coffee was the first thing I did every morning. While I was nursing Lynleigh, though, I noticed she was irritable when I drank a lot of coffee so I cut back on the coffee and began drinking more water. I suddenly noticed how much more energy I had throughout the day. On average I now drink close to a gallon of water every day.

If you’re like most of us and want to be healthier this year, this is one simple thing you can do to start: drink more water. Like any habit, you have to start somewhere so here are a few suggestions:

  • Buy a water bottle you enjoy using. Find what works for you. I’ve been doing this so long that it’s become a habit. One pod-caster I follow suggests filling your bottles and placing in the refrigerator so you don’t have to keep up with how much you’ve consumed. I don’t have that kind of extra room in my refrigerator, so I just refill my water bottle.
  • Determine how much water you want to drink per day. Be specific. Not everyone needs a gallon of water per day. I am not a doctor or expert, but generally if you take your body weight and divide it by 2 you then have the number of ounces you should drink per day (150 lbs/2=75 oz).
  • For the next week, focus on building the habit of drinking water. Set a timer on your phone. Have a checklist on your refrigerator. Find something that works for you, based on your tendency.
  • Remember water is like most things: an acquired taste. So many people complain about not liking the taste of water, but do you really like feeling dehydrated? Choose to give yourself the gift of staying hydrated for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. Sometimes I even motivate myself by not allowing myself to drink another cup of tea until I’ve had another bottle of water. Do what works for you but remember you can train your body to like something. If you spend at least 1 week of adequate water intake you will discover you feel more energized. Yes, you will spend a lot of time in the bathroom (and nobody feels your pain more than I do). But as your body becomes accustomed to feeling hydrated you will most likely crave water. Coffee, sugary drinks, etc. dehydrate. I’m not saying don’t drink them, but limiting them has been a huge help in me feeling significantly better. Focus on how you will feel, not how much you dislike the taste of water.
  • Include your family. People sometimes ask how I get my kids to drink water. I don’t have a magic solution for this, but this is what works for our family: we make sure everyone has a fresh water bottle at the beginning of the day and we simply do not have sodas or tea in the house. Sometimes we let the kids have organic juice boxes (thank you, Aldi, for making these affordable) with a meal (usually Friday night), but 99% of the time they are offered (and therefore drink) water. When train our children to drink water we are giving them a gift of health and hydration.

Americans are chronically dehydrated, which is crazy considering how blessed we are to have easy access to clean water. So often when we think we need an energy drink or coffee  our body is really crying out for water. If you want to become healthier then simply start with the basics of hydration. Do what you can to drink more water and don’t worry about doing it perfectly. If you can only start out drinking 2 bottles of water a day – do that! It’s about taking little steps to feel better and be a strong, healthy person. Not a perfect person.

Let me know if you try it and how drinking more water works for you. May you find joy in your well-hydrated busy nothings this week!

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