Recently I decided I needed to drink more water. I really don’t drink that much water. I certainly don’t follow the 8 x 8 guideline of 8 oz. of water, 8 times a day. 64 oz. of water is a LOT of water. I probably drink about 20 oz. of water on days that I drink water. There are plenty of days that I might have a small glass of ice water or no water at all (and I don’t drink anything but water – yipes).

One of the reasons I decided I needed more water was because I live right on the edge of a terrible leg cramp in the middle of the night. What I mean by “right on the edge” is I can catch it and relax the muscle before it grabs and goes to a very bad place. Anyway, I was hoping upping my water in take would reduce the leg cramp panic.

I decided I would double my “usual” amount of water and drink 40 oz. of water a day for two weeks. I have a glass water bottle that holds 20 oz. of water. It was going to be easy. I just had to drink two full water bottles a day. No problem. WRONG. 20 oz. I could do. 40 oz. was a real chore. It was usually after dinner time that my husband or daughter would ask me how much water I drank. Every time they asked, I was 20 oz. low. I had to drink 20 oz. before bed. Yuck. That wasn’t fun. It was clear to me that I would never be able to drink the “recommended” 64 oz. Was I doomed? Were my leg cramps going to get the best of me? Was my skin going to shrivel up (more than it already has)!?

This made me wonder how much water I really did need to drink. 40 oz. felt like too much (for me). There was water sloshing around in my belly. I generally feel pretty good (aside from the occasional leg cramp panic). I drink when I’m thirsty. I know when I’m really thirsty because water taste like the best thing I’ve ever had. Hmmmm…

Over at MarksDailyApple.com, Mark Sisson says to drink when you are thirsty. I do like the sounds of that and that is pretty much what I do except on the days when I don’t drink anything. I do think I need to drink at least a little water everyday.

My research took me to the Scientific American site. They had an article call “Fact or Fiction? You Must Drink 8 Glasses of Water Daily”. The gist of the article was NO – you don’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Thank goodness.

If you have kidney stones or tend to get urinary tract infections the more water the better. If you are a healthy adult and feeling good you are probably adequately hydrated. The water you consume in a day comes from many sources – “including coffee, tea, milk, soda, juice, fruits, vegetables and other foods.” “…the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”(Scientific American)

Now, over at the Mayo Clinic they don’t think using thirst as a gauge is reliable for children or older adults. They believe “a better indicator is the color of your urine: clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.” (MayoClinic) It can’t hurt to have a visual indicator to go with your personal thirst gauge.

So, the final recommendations: Drink when you are thirsty and make note of the color of your urine. Thank you Mark, Scientific American and those of you at The Mayo Clinic.

Now, back to my leg cramps. I do think the extra water helped. I don’t get the “almost” cramp that often. It’s possible if I were more observant I would find that the leg cramp panic happens on nights when I really don’t drink anything during the day. In any case, I am going to try to keep my water consumption to at least 20 oz. a day and probably shoot for a bit more when I play tennis or exercise.

It’s hard to have a rule about water consumption that would be right for everyone. The amount of water a person drinks is really going to depend on what they are doing, how hot/dry it is, or if they have some sort of pr-existing condition. Know thy self.

If you are concerned about dehydration, here is a list of symptoms from the Mayo Clinic.

Mild to Moderate Dehydration:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased Urine Output
  • Few or No Tears when crying
  • Dry Skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness

One more little thing, I have been severely dehydrated so I do know how that feels. I ran a half marathon around the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was called Run The Rim. It was the inaugural race. I had never been in that part of the country before. It was beautiful and it was hot. I didn’t realize how hot it was. It didn’t feel hot me. I was used to heavy humidity not dry heat. The first sign that I was really dehydrated was the “sand” in my hands and all over my body. That was in fact salt/minerals from my body all sweated out and dried up. I still remember the feeling in the palms of my hands. I did stop at ever drink station and drink water and/or Gatorade. It just wasn’t enough (my husband and cousin were fine). Shortly after the end of the race I realized I didn’t feel well. I couldn’t drink anything and I couldn’t even look at food for fear of vomiting. I had to lay down. I was actually one of the lucky ones. I had to take it easy for a few hours and slowly sip liquids. By dinner time I was able to eat. There were a lot of other people in ambulances and on IV’s. It wasn’t a good feeling and I have no plans to ever feel that way again. Bring on the water!

Simplify & Feel Good

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