Is it normal for you to feel tired during the day, experience headaches often, get dizzy when exercising, or have dry skin? These, are common symptoms, amongst others to be described later, that are culprits of dehydration, in which an estimated 75% of the population unknowingly and chronically lives with on a day to day basis.
Hydration: How to be a grape
Ever thought water was the best thing ever during a workout? You just couldn’t get enough? Water is just as important when we aren’t collecting sweat in a workout. Though not always the most exciting beverage, it is essential for optimal health and survival.
We are approximately 60% water. A true liquid asset to our health, water does so much for us including the regulation of body temperature, lubrication of our joints and body tissues, delivery of nutrients and oxygen to cells, flushes out waste products, prevents constipation, and maintains blood volume.
So how much do you need? A basic recommendation is 8 cups a day (imagine a half gallon of milk). That's the pretty bare bones minimum though, so if you aren't even meeting this, it's time to step your game up.
Depending on your age, weight, gender, environment (extreme heat or cold), and obviously how much you exercise, this number could be a serious low-ball.
Math Cap On
The infographic above gives guidelines on ounces for the average man, woman, and additional liquid if you are an athlete. You can also use the following basic equation:
What's Your Pee Look Like (Not to Be Creepy)
Most of us know that a dark colored and smelly urine is a sign of dehydration. Anything leaning towards more yellow than clear is a sign you need to sub the coffee for some agua.
Additional physical signs of dehydration can include a dry or sticky mouth, weight gain, joint pain and stiffness, and bladder or kidney problems¹. Yes, you read right, weight gain. Water helps us suppress hunger, reduces our body's sodium levels, and maintains muscle tone and metabolism. Motivated to drink more water yet?
Night time activities like drinking alcohol and sleeping can also dry you out. Drinking a large glass of water right after you wake up is a great way to rehydrate from sleeping and kickstart your day.
Tricks and Tips
If drinking water consistently really is a struggle for you, spice things up by adding slices of fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Fruits may include orange slices, fresh or frozen assorted berries, cucumber slices, watermelon slices, lemon and lime slices. Herbs can be anything from mint, sage, cinnamon sticks, and basil—explore!
Another tip is to buy a "water timer bottle". When it’s in sight, it’s in mind, allowing you not only easy access, but an easy decision when you need a drink.
Secondly, create a chart that will allow you to see your daily water consumption from drinking water specifically. This will allow you to see if you met your goal for the day. The small wins add up! Eventually, you may be able to do without the charting as it becomes habit to consume the proper amount of drinking water.
1 "Dehydration and Weight Gain." Spirit of Change. October 19, 2017. Accessed August 03, 2018. http://www.spiritofchange.org/alternative-health/Dehydration-and-Weight-Gain/.
2 "Water, Hydration, and Health." Popkin, B., D'Anci, K., Rosenburg, I.
Water, Hydration, and Health. Accessed August 03, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
Take a second to imagine what a stack of 1 billion dollars looks like, you can even google it if you'd like. It is a substantial amount of money, enough to fill 10 pallets stacked to the height of a person.
Now, try to imagine what $511 billion dollars looks like. Can you? I can't. Yet, that is the amount of money the United States pharmaceutical market made in 2019, a $75 billion dollar increase from 2018. This astounding number comes from the fact that prescription drugs in the U.S. are among the most costly to get in the world, AND that we as a nation are one of the most unhealthy in the world¹.
Now imagine that there is a drug that would cost you nothing financially to take and is in never-ending supply.
You've already guessed what it is thanks to the title of this article, it's exercise, and it is so powerful that when regularly "taken" you could throw out your Lipitor, Nexium, Plavix, Crestor, and whatever else resides in your medicine cabinet.
Brain Hypertrophy: both amazing and possible
For the non-fitness nerds amongst us, hypertrophy is the scientific term for 'swoll', 'buff', 'jacked', so in other terms, it is the growth in size and (as a result) the strength of a muscle.
It is fairly obvious that with frequent exercise, particularly resistance training, your muscles begin to hypertrophy, but did you know that this can actually happen to your brain as well?
Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki summarizes the PSA-style point in her Ted Talk, The brain-changing effects of exercise, in that exercise is a "miracle drug" for your body and mind.
As a neuroscientist, she became very intrigued on how exercise affects the brain and summarized an enormous amount of research into four main points, which we will dive into below.
Prepare for your mind to be blown (pun intended)!
"Exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today." - Dr. Wendy Suzuki
The Big 4
Negative Side Effects
For more side effects, most of which are hilarious, check out this article by "Greatist".
The Question Everyone is Asking: how much?
This is a fair question being that your pharmacist lays out a detailed time table for your prescription. According to recent research, the minimum amount of exercise needed isn't much. This does not need to involve heading down to the local gym, it could include activities as simple as aggressively vacuuming your house and rearranging your living-room furniture. See the graphics below for recommendations by age.
Get Your Office Active
You would think that sitting around at your desk more leads to greater work output, but the opposite is actually true. The average American workplace is becoming increasingly more sedentary.
In 1950, 30% of Americans worked in high-activity occupations. By 2000, only 22% worked in high-activity occupations. Conversely, the percent of people working in low-activity occupations spiked by 14% in that same 50 year period, jumping from 23 to 41%.
Ironically, this decreased physical activity leads to presenteeism, which is being physically at work, but mentally somewhere else; and absenteeism, having to take leave from work due to illness or injury. Both presenteeism and absenteeism obviously contribute to lower work output levels (ACSM, 2018).
Perhaps you work in a company that has recognized the direct and indirect costs of inactivity, and has created a few workplace initiatives to combat this.
Some examples may include bike to work programs, worksite wellness initiatives, treadmill or standing desks, or paid workout time. Did you just say paid workout time? Heck yeah I did. Why aren't more companies doing this?!
How You Can Help be the Change
The ultimate goal is that you and your fellow co-workers want to be healthy for yourselves, not for the benefit of your company, although it's great that they may reap the benefits of your health commitment.
At my former job, one department organized a "Transformation" contest in which the person with the biggest weight loss at the end of 3 months would win a pot of money that they all chipped in to.
No incentive from HR, just good, friendly, competition to improve each others health.
Come to find out, this is a rather common practice in many companies, one such being Draper, Inc. who created not only a 10 week weight-loss challenged dubbed "Dump Your Plump", but its own Wellness Park that includes a one-fifth mile track, workout stations, ping pong, and volleyball courts.
Other great option would be to check out the Sweat Collector Challenge. Challenge #3 is specifically geared towards increasing your daily exercise by 30 minutes.
What Other Companies Have Done
Google is an excellent example of a company who actively wants to improve the health of its employees, so much so that it has its on research and development team on the subject. The workplace is pimped out with a slide, ping-pong tables, nap pods, swimming pools, and even LEGO stations.
Motley Fool, a company that specializes in stock analysis, gives all of its employees access to free personal training sessions and wellness consultations as well as 50% reimbursements on race fees. This has skyrocketed wellness engagement in the company to around 86%.
Zappos, like Google and Motley Fool, employe a wellness coordinator, who has created free fitness classes, nap rooms, marathon reimbursements, and reduced gym memberships.
Their coordinator, Kelly Maher says, "It's about getting people to want to do things voluntarily, not forcing them. Success programs are the ones that get team members energized versus forcing it on them."
There is one thing, that when regularly prescribed to, can have you scooping all your prescription drugs into the trash.
We know this is exercise, which could not only keep us out of the doctors office, but save us billions of dollars in money spent on pharmaceuticals.
Imagine a world in which insurance companies aren't helping cover the cost of your prescriptions and surgeries, but instead help cover the cost of gym memberships, race or school sport fees, or even absorbing some, if not all of the cost of personal training.
In the meantime, you can find accountability with people who spend most of your time with, like co-workers, family, friends, and so forth, can help you start building positive habits in regards to exercise.
Test the waters a bit and see if you can be a trend setter at your work, or even at home, by starting or joining a challenge or getting more people on board with being active.
It benefits both you, them, and your company! A true win win.
¹Mikulic, M. (2020, November/December). Topic: Pharmaceutical industry in the U.S. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/topics/1719/pharmaceutical-industry/
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). (2018) Schools and workplaces. Retrieved March 2nd, 2018 from https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php/schools-and-workplaces/
Suzuki, W., Dr. (2018, February 28). The brain-changing benefits of exercise. Lecture presented at TED Talks Daily.
Rothfeld, L. (2015, May 15). 7 companies with amazingly unique wellness programs. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://mashable.com/2015/05/15/unique-corporate-wellness-programs/#Un5v9n4v6EqR
DeNoon, D. J. (2018). The 10 Most Prescribed Drugs: Most-prescribed drug list differs from list of drugs with biggest market share. Retrieved March 2, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/news/20110420/the-10-most-prescribed-drugs#2
This recipe is simple, and so tasty. I advise many of my clients, and not just the ones on a weight loss journey mind you, to substitute at least half of their starch or grain (i.e. rice, potatoes, breads, etc.) for a vegetable.
The main reason being that vegetables have a higher nutrient density than their grainy counterparts, and the vast majority of Americans aren't getting enough.
This is a great recipe to try for the grain for vegetable substitution!
Now, I am in no way condoning cutting whole grains and potatoes out of your diet as many fad diets have made us believe is healthy, but the processed versions on the other hand, we can definitely live without.
Back to the point, by using spices to add amazing flavor to your food (in this case carrots, red peppers, chickpeas, and/or acorn squash), you will not miss the starch or grain you limited.
There are several cultures around the world who have mastered this, one being the Moroccan culture, and Mediterranean region in general. Furthermore, if you are on a vegan diet, omit the coconut yogurt topping and chicken and you are all set!
When it comes to successful people, there is usually a noticeable "it" factor radiating off of them. A swagger, a presence that makes them stand out in a group of people. Something that draws your eye to them.
They're usually the ones out-hustling their competition, making aggressive plays - think business or athletics - encouraging others around them to elevate their game, or relentlessly attacking a problem or task.
There is an intensity behind their eyes that many don't understand. But, what is it about these individuals that makes them great? Can the average individual harness this same fiery spirit to elevate their own life?
My first question: how do you define greatness, or success?
Talk About It Or Be About It
We all want certain things, so the definition of success is more individual than many of us realize. One of the most common, arguably opposite extremes I can think of, is the stay at home mom versus the career-driven woman.
The mom sees her success in raising outstanding kids in a "perfect" home, with no notion of wanting to work in our social system, as it would take away time from nurturing her family.
On the other hand, the career-driven woman sees her success as climbing the corporate ladder, advancing her career, making money, saving for life after retirement, and has relatively little interest in starting a family as it could hinder her climb.
Different definitions of success, but the values needed to cultivate greatness in both situations, and many others, are the same.
So what are these values? How can we obtain them? And who has them?
Surround Yourself with the Right People
Perhaps you have heard of Erik Weihenmayer, perhaps you have not. If you find yourself in the later category, I would like to introduce you to Weihemayer, a man who is one of my personal heroes. He is the first blind man to climb all 7 Summits (the tallest peak on each continent) and is co-author of the book Adversity Advantage.
He embodies Dr. Carol S. Dweck's principle of a growth mindset, which she explains as having a mindset that does not bind us to the traits and qualities we are born with. That in fact, with the right mindset, we can learn, improve, and thrive in whatever capacity we are willing to put our effort into, including difficult circumstances and emotions.
Who better to represent that than a blind man who has summited the 7 tallest peaks in the world!?
His accomplishments alone are enough to inspire, but the way he talks about overcoming things that seem at first impossible, is unparalleled.
One thing Weihenmayer and many other successful people talk about, is surrounding yourself with people who will elevate your growth. You need people who are going to push and challenge you in positive directions. People who won't let you slack off or settle for an average, comfortable life. People who see the greatness inside of you, and will work with you to bring it out.
Weihenmayer could not have done the 7 Summits without a support system. Finding your support system is just one of many ways we can learn to suffer well, because without constant and relentless pursuit of difficult things, we cannot become great.
"Regardless of how many strengths you possess, it's almost impossible to achieve greatness alone. Linking with the right people can elevate the breadth and scope of your impact. Others will have strengths you do not, and skills that compliment yours." - Weihenmayer
Finding circles of people who are driven, intelligent, and welcoming can be challenging, but not impossible. A few good places to start may be:
If you have people in specific circles that you would like to learn from, be courageous and write a cold email asking them questions or if they'd like to meet for a coffee. If you live in an isolated area or are not in the same area as someone you'd like to learn from, set up a phone or Zoom call.
If you are like the vast majority of the population and all of these options are intimidating, find a book, Podcast, or Audiobook on the subject you strive to learn about or a biography on someone you admire. Suggestions below:
Suffer Well, Get Out of Your Own Way
Part of self-actualization is recognizing that even a "good life" is full of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, and obstacles. The secret to living a good life, is knowing how to navigate these adversities without allowing them to get the best of us.
Any and every successful person you know or will read about, has had to fight tooth and nail to get where they are (not including the anomalies of course). They have had to overcome countless moments of doubt, insecurity, heartbreak, pain, and ultimately... growth. You know what made them great?
They found a way.
They found a way through when countless others would have quit.
They got out of their own way, told their ego to hit the road, and humbly found a way to suffer well and embrace the challenges and obstacles in front of them and conquer them, no matter how big and impossible they felt at the time.
Reprogram Your Mindset
Overpowering your excuses is much easier said than done, it goes back to the picture at the top about taking action instead of simply talking about it. What are your excuses? When does the voice that tells you "you can't" pop up? How can you reprogram your mindset to silence that voice and instead take action?
Convey Confidence to Build Confidence
The final piece I will leave you with, is building confidence. The most successful people on this planet have incredible self-confidence, or at least pretend to! In Norman Vincent Peale's classic The Power of Positive Thinking, he says:
"Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise, you will be able to overcome them."
Personally, I have crippled my confidence in the past by comparing myself to others or trying to copy them. That's a horrible way to go about things, as comparison is truly the thief of joy.
In fact, most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are oftentimes insecure. That being said, if you don't feel confident, fake it till you make it!
You become what you repeatedly do, so if you decide to put on your confident pants everyday, despite how you're feeling, it may just change your world!
Make Yourself Great
In summary, in order to make ourselves great, we must actively work on things that cultivate our greatness, rather than just thinking, reading, and learning about them.
"Wow, this is tasty" were the first words out of my mouth after trying this recipe. I was skeptical at first, because it looks too healthy to be any good, but I walked away from the stove feeling like I had just won an episode of "Chopped".
This recipe was inspired by the flavors of fall, and for a warm hearty meal as temperatures are starting to drop. It's easy to shop for, I've broken your shopping list into two lists below to help you as you peruse the store. *Note: lentils are in the dry goods section!
Disclaimer about Calorie Tracking
Calorie tracking is not for everyone, and if you find it to be too obsessive for your tastes don't worry about it, your focus is better served on mindful eating.
Part of mindful eating is being in tune with what your little stomach desires. Eat this soup (or any other meal) until you are satisfied instead of Thanksgiving full.
The story of our lives will forever be that we need to cultivate a healthy relationship with food as much as we need quality, healthy foods. Why not start today?