Fitness Success: Just Add Water

One of the quickest and most convenient changes you can make on your way to a healthier you is to drink an adequate supply of water. Unfortunately, most of us are chronically dehydrated, meaning that we do not get enough of the one ingredient that is essential to life. Chronic dehydration will not only inhibit exercise performance, but can also lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, dry skin, and other unpleasant conditions. Many people are so out of touch with their bodyís need for water that they donít "feel thirsty," or worse, mistake thirst for hunger.

There are a myriad of benefits to be derived from drinking water: physical, mental and emotional. Water relieves or solves stomach aches, head aches, ulcers, dry skin, high blood pressure, pain from arthritis, allergies, overeating, cravings, and edema (water retention). Adequate water consumption has cured or lessened the effects of constipation, high cholesterol, asthma, depression, diabetes, bulimia, rheumatism, and hangovers. Water decreases the appetite, aids in digestion and gives the skin a youthful, fresh glow. Water also rids the human body of toxins, leaving the tired and weary feeling healthier, more energetic and completely renewed.

The amount of water needed varies by person, height, weight and physical activity. Some say to drink half of your body weight in ounces. However, you need to decide for yourself if this is the right amount for you. A good indication that you have reached the proper amount of water consumption is that your urine will be pale to clear in color.

As with any other fitness change in life, start your increase in water consumption off by using baby steps. If you never drink water, set your goal to drink one glass of water per day for a week. Increase your number of glasses per day after you have successfully completed the previous weekís goal.

A reformed water-hater myself, I had to gag down my share of water before my body adjusted and I started to crave it. My pre-water days consisted of four or five cups of coffee in the morning, followed by two or three sodas throughout the day. That was it. No water. Looking back now, I canít even imagine such a thing! These days, if I am awake and without water for more than hour, I feel as though I will die of thirst. That is a huge difference, and I would never want to go back to my old ways. The point is, everyone can learn to like water. You may have to be patient while you acquire the taste, but the results are definitely worth it.

When you first start to drink water, you may feel a bit bloated for a day or two. Desperate for water, your body may retain it, saving every drop as part of a natural survival instinct. Donít worry, once your body realizes that it is no longer deprived of its water supply, it will begin to release the stored water. At that point, you may wonder if you will ever see the world outside of your bathroom or public stall again! Donít worry then, either. The releasing water stage wonít last forever. Eventually your body will adjust to its happy hydration point (whatís known as the "breakthrough point") and return to normal- only this time, it will be a "new and improved" normal.

Drinking water is a wellness essential. Your New You will wonder how you ever got along without it. Drink up!

Melinda Rice is a fitness consultant and writer based in Northern California. She manages Successful Fitness (, a personal training program that incorporates concepts of psychology, nutrition, wellbeing and fitness into a Lifestyle Transformation plan. You can reach her at

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  • Name: Melinda Rice, CPT
  • Date: 01/10/06 at 11:30
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