Many of us don’t treat our bodies as well as we treat our lawn. Think about it. We trim the lawn when it gets scruffy, fertilize it when it’s not looking too healthy, and water it when it starts to brown. Let’s apply that to ourselves. Sure, it’s easy to see when we need a haircut, and we can pop a decongestant when we get a cold. But it’s harder to spot the symptoms of dehydration, unless you know what to look for.
Whether it’s sitting at your desk after lunch, or going about your business at home, we’ve all experienced those times when mid-afternoon arrives, and you feel like you won’t survive without closing your eyes for a quick snooze. When my last child went off to kindergarten, it was a big transition for me. I had freedom! I took my time at Target! For the first time in 10 years, I used the bathroom uninterrupted, and perused a magazine while having lunch. But on the days I was at home, I found that by early afternoon I was consistently tired, and started sneaking in a nap every afternoon before the school bus arrived.
And rather than feeling rested afterwards, I felt sluggish as I greeted the energetic kids with permission forms to be signed and playground stories to be told.
Then I did a little research on the afternoon slump, and found that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches. I had nothing to lose. The new plan: whenever I felt that 2 p.m. urge to check on the insides of my eyelids, I drank a large glass of water, turned on some music, and found something to keep me busy for the next 10 to 15 minutes. And guess what? Voila! Fatigue gone.
It’s not a miracle cure – you still have to try to get those seven to eight hours of sleep per night – but just having that extra glass of water mid-afternoon went a long way towards reducing my overall fatigue.
Here’s another example of the dramatic effect hydration can have on your body: I’m a fitness instructor, so I’ve heard all the standard advice about water before, during and after exercise. But we don’t always follow our own advice, do we? I’ll admit, I don’t drink the water I recommend to my customers during my hour-long classes, because I really don’t have time while teaching. After class, I’m fairly good at downing some H2O to replace all that sweat I just produced. But before class? I had lots of excuses. Too busy. I don’t want it to slosh around. I might have to “go” before the hour is up.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
Several months ago, I felt that my stamina was not what it used to be, and blamed it on being over 40. (How far? Don’t ask.) And then a little bell went off in my head. If water helped with afternoon fatigue, might it not help with mid-workout fatigue? I decided to try drinking eight ounces of water immediately before my workout, and was astounded at the difference in my energy and stamina during the workout. I shouldn’t have been – it only makes sense that an organism made up mostly of water would function better with a fresh supply. I could quote all sorts of statistics here as to why, but trust me.
Drink a good amount of water before your workout, and your body will work better.
It’s not exciting, it’s not flashy, and it’s not trendy. It’s just water. But it’s made a BIG improvement in my energy level. As Thomas Fuller said, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
Let me know if it makes a difference for you!