Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What the Water Challenge Did for Me

This is a quick sketch of a water drop I made.
On a whim, I participated in a 21-day water challenge that was organized by Cindy Rainne. The reason why I decided to do it: I knew I wasn’t drinking enough water, and my friend, Eric, was strongly encouraging me to try to increase my water intake. Scanning through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed my friend, Rachel, started a water challenge in which she would try to drink a certain amount of water that she set as her daily goal and take a selfie with her water bottle when she reached the goal. I thought it was a good idea: use social media as a way to keep yourself accountable to ensure you reached your daily goals. The usual rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily, which totals 64 oz. or 1.89 L. I also heard another rule of thumb that says one should take half one’s body weight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would drink 75 oz. of water daily. So I set my goal to be between 3 – 3.5 L daily. (My water bottles speak metric and measuring in liters would be so much easier for me than having to deal with ounces.)

So I started drinking water and posting the results on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #WaterChallenge. (I later added the hashtag #RainneWaterChallenge since there were many other water challenges going on at the time.) When I first started posting pictures, I received messages and phone calls from some of my friends, who expressed concern about my water intake. They warned me that it was possible to suffer consequences from excessive water intake. This is true, but considering that my goal doesn’t come close to half my body weight in ounces, I figured if I spaced out my water intake, it would not be a problem for me. I would not try to take 3 L of water in one sitting. I don’t think that’s even physically possible… at least, not for me. (There was the well-publicized case of the woman who passed away thanks to a radio promotion where one would drink a heap of water in order to win a Nintendo Wii, but that seems to be an extreme case.)

It was difficult for me to drink all that water. At first, I found myself going to the bathroom more often than was comfortable. (All that water has to go somewhere, right?) Also, we had a few uncomfortably hot days in Durham, NC, so I was sweating a heap the hotter the temperatures got. I eventually became used to drinking that much water. Having a nice countertop water cooler in the office helped remind me that I needed to take water. I also tried the strategy of drinking 0.5 L of water before I ate my meals.

The effects that I noticed straight away: I was eating much less than I would have done. During the month of May, the Filipino community in central North Carolina gets together for Fatima prayers and food and feasting afterward. The water-starved me would eat a heap until I could eat no more; it’s not often I get the chance to have the Filipino fiesta foods, and the desserts… oh, the desserts! But drinking 0.5 L or more of water before eating helped cut down on the amount of food I took. I didn’t feel the need to go back for seconds, and even though there were nice temptations like Brazo de Mercedes, sapin-sapin, leche flan, kutsinta, pitsi-pitsi, palitao, ube cake, and mocha cake, etc., I managed to control the amount of sweets I took. I never had much of a sweet tooth to begin with, and the increased water intake helped contribute to less sweet intake.

I used to take a lot of flavoured sparkling water. Since starting this water challenge, I started drinking more still water, and now I drink more still water than I do sparkling water.

Another couple of positive effects: I used to cough a lot, and it’s not because I caught a cold or have allergies. I noticed that whenever I was very thirsty, I would cough. The thirstier I was, the more I’d cough. It also affected my singing as well: it didn’t come as easily as it did to me in the past, and my voice felt more "rough." Increasing my water intake eliminated the coughing, and singing is coming more easily to me with my voice sounding more smooth, less cracking, now that I’m keeping myself better hydrated.

Now that the weather has become unbearably hot, I’m finding that I need to keep up the water intake; otherwise, I would feel hot and uncomfortable. Taking in the water helps me feel a little cooler. Sure, I might be sweating a lot because of the hot weather, but at least the water loss isn’t so bad since I’m replacing whatever I’ve lost by taking more water.

Even though the 21-day water challenge is over, I’m still managing to take at least 3 L of water a day. It has become a habit for me that if I’m behind on my water intake, I’m feeling it a bit more keenly, and that reminds me that I need to drink more. I have my two water bottles with me at all times, and they’re always filled with water. Even when I was travelling, I was still able to keep up the water intake. Take empty water bottles through security and then find some water filling stations once you reach the gates. It’s a great way to ensure you’re keeping up your water intake, and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of water in the airport shops.

With awesome filling stations like this, it pays to take your empty water bottles through security! Picture taken at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I’d like to thank Cindy for organizing the challenge and to Eric and Rachel for the inspiration and the encouragement. Oh, and I won a contest for being the most consistent poster. Increasing water intake does, indeed, yield great rewards. :)

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