What to drink:
Yes, I’m starting with what to drink, not what to eat. Feels backwards, huh? For most of us, when we think about weight loss, fitness and health, we think of two things: diet (food) and exercise. In the last 18 months, I’ve realized that proper hydration is every bit as important, if not more important, than food intake. Hence the reasoning for starting here.
I start each morning by juicing a full stalk of celery and drinking it. It’s literally the first thing I do when I get out of bed. Admittedly, it’s not the best tasting part of my day; but I suck down a glass in a few gulps and the health benefits are immense. It’s basically a daily cleanse for gut health. A year into juicing, I won’t say that I feel “better” every time that I drink, but I will say that I feel worse on the days that I don’t. It has a real impact in the short term; and according to Medical Medium by Anthony William, it has even larger positive effects long term. Count me a believer.
Unfortunately, celery juice isn’t the most practical thing to drink. It’s got to be fresh. And I’ve yet to find an outlet to purchase it in juice form. After making celery juice in a blender for a few weeks (which is cumbersome), Jessica and I invested in a juicer. In fact, we have two: a great, quiet model at the house, and a more economical model that we keep in the motorhome. Once you own a juicer, it’s super simple: just clean a stalk of celery, chop off the ends (leaves and butts make the juice much more bitter), and slide it piece by piece through the juicer. No additives, no ingredients, no water: just pure celery juice.
I’m up to a pretty consistent 12-16 oz cup each day, but I worked my up to that point (and everything I’ve read suggests that). If you’d like to start juicing, begin with 4 ounces. Do that for a week, then go up to 8. Eventually, you’ll be up to 12-16 (a typical stalk) in no time.
Full disclosure, I’ve been a water drinker for years. I basically gave up sodas and essentially all sugary drinks over a decade ago. And no, that wasn’t the magic elixir for me: I ditched Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew, and I was still fat. What I’ve come to realize is that proper hydration isn’t JUST drinking water – it’s drinking ENOUGH water. And that’s something that I’d never done in the past.
I think I’m lucky in that I’ve always liked water (I know not everyone does)… I remember enjoying water as a kid. When I gave up sodas, I didn’t immediately feel better. But it made me more aware of how I didn’t quite feel like myself when I would have the occasional soda. I felt my heart race from the caffeine – almost like a drug. And I didn’t like that; I felt like I wasn’t completely in control of myself. And I noticed that despite the “high” I was a little lethargic. Now, after some research and reading, I realize that’s what sugar does to our body: it’s inflammatory and although it provides a brief burst of energy in the micro, it actually sucks energy in a macro sense. If you’re interested in the science, I’ll direct you to an amazing book that my wife Jessica stumbled into that has played a huge role in our health journey: It starts with Food.
So what is “enough water?” There are a lot of variables that go into figuring that out. This article from the <Mayo Clinic> is a great starting point. For me, the proper amount of water is about 2 gallons a day. That’s what I shoot for. Does that mean a bunch of trips to the restroom? Yes, yes it does. But I’ve actually come to appreciate that: it’s like a cleansing of the body. And the old adage, as simplistic and disgusting as it may seem, does hold true: when your urine is clear, it means you’re getting enough water. When it’s yellow, your body is telling you that it’s not properly hydrated.
There are a lot of ways to measure water intake and keep yourself on track. I have a couple buddies that literally fill two gallon jugs and drink from them throughout the day. While I find the visual progress of that fulfilling, the sheer size of the containers is cumbersome. And personally, I like cold water. So for me, the answer is a 25 ounce cup. I actually have several, but I tend to use one each day, simply because it’s easier to keep up with and doesn’t require an obscene amount of dish-washing. I need to take in about 10 of those a day to reach my goal of 2 gallons, which does require constant awareness (keeping the bottle by my side and in my line of site throughout the day helps me).
Do I get burnt out on water? Occasionally. To combat that, I like to use some supplements: both to mix things up and also to ensure that I’m getting proper nutrition. I have two favorites:
I have been drinking <Athletic Greens> daily for over a year. It’s a powder supplement that I mix into my cup each morning. It’s the second thing I do every day, after the celery juice, before my workout and breakfast. It’s become a positive daily ritual for me: I start my morning with proper hydration, I get a daily dose of vegetables and vitamins, and I start the day feeling like I’ve done something for my body. Athletic Greens checks all the boxes: it’s chalk full of nutrients designed to support digestion and gut health; it helps build my immune system; it’s full of antioxidants and superfoods for healthy aging; and it’s got adaptogens for hormone and neural support. It’s designed and refined by scientists far smarter than you or I who are constantly reinventing the product and making it better. In short, I feel like Athletic Greens helps fill the daily gaps in my diet; it’s my security blanket to help ensure that I’m getting proper nutrition. You’ll have to try it for yourself, but I actually like the taste of Athletic Greens; it’s got just enough fruit additive to have a little sweetness.
Mid-morning (post workout), I typically mix in a sleeve of AMPED Hydrate by Isagenix into a cup of water. I like the flavor, and again, it adds in some nutrients that are good for me. AMPED has similar benefits to common sports drinks (hydration, performance, recovery), but without all the added sugar. My favorite flavor is Juicy Orange, but I like the other two flavors as well.
I’m not perfect with the water thing. I drink water (and/or these water based supplements) 95+% of the time. But occasionally I’ll indulge in an adult beverage. Particularly when I have a cold or a sore throat, I love the way a carbonated drink feels. My journey isn’t about perfection. Yours doesn’t have to be either. In fact, it’s not the perfection that’s important; it’s the day after perfect. We have this tendency (or at least I have this tendency) to be “all in” and completely committed to the process. But inevitably, something comes up: we get sick, or we get stressed, or life gets in the way, and one day – whether it’s day 4 or day 42 – we fall short. That isn’t the important day.
You read that correctly. That ISN’T the important day.
The important day is day 3 or day 43. Because we have two options. We can allow imperfection to derail us: How many times have you said to yourself (maybe even subconsciously), “Welp, I messed this week up with that Dr. Pepper yesterday. Can’t get that back; might as well go for the milkshake today!” And after a few days, we’re off the wagon and in need of a complete reboot (which most of us put off for far too long). The second option is to allow ourselves grace for the misstep, to realize that we’re flawed, and to begin again. It’s that process of constantly beginning again that is far more critical to long term success and fulfillment than constantly measuring our progress and/or beating ourselves up for missteps.