My employer wants me to drink more water.

Like many companies the one I work for has a vested interest in healthy employees. Too many people, myself included, are overweight and inactive and we contribute to the higher rates all of us pay for healthcare. As a result our HR department has been trying to motivate folks to be healthier.

This manifested back in the Fall of 2014 with the Fitbit Challenge where the company offered to give us a $99 Fitbit Flex for free if we managed to walk 8,000 steps a day for 20 days in a single month. I took on this challenge in the hopes that at the end of it I’d be well on my way to a habit of walking regularly. I successfully completed the challenge and even kept walking regularly and then winter set in and it all came crashing to a halt. The Fitbit got packed up when we moved last year and I have no idea which of the boxes it’s still stuffed in. Still, it was a valiant effort on the part of my company.

I don’t recall what they they tried last year to get people motivated to be more healthy, I’m not even sure they bothered, but this year they have a new challenge: The Water Challenge!

Are you ready for a new challenge?

Did you know that roughly 70 percent of the body is made of water? Brain 75%, Lungs 90%, Bones 24%, Blood 85%, Skin 80%, Muscle 75%.

Drinking enough H2O has numerous benefits to the body. Are you drinking enough water per day?

Challenge: Drink 64 ounces of water per day for 25 days during the month of July (1 – 31). Only water intake counts, any other beverages such as coffee, juice, sodas do not count!

This is their big idea for this year? Let’s all drink more water? It doesn’t help that the email is written in Comic Sans which makes it impossible to take seriously. I also don’t know what the little factoids at the start have to do with this challenge. Those organs are also made of protein so I guess we need to eat a shitload[1] more protein than we are too?

Don't leave home without it.

I never leave home without it.

My hatred of water is well document on SEB. As is the fact that it’s what I primarily drink these days. I have a mug or two of coffee in the morning and then it’s water from my trusty 32oz Contigo water bottle that I keep with me everywhere I go. I hate every fucking sip of it, but I drink it just the same. On average I go through 3 to 4 full bottles throughout the course of a day and some days it’s even more. So I’m already doubling this challenge on a regular basis. It turns out the recommendation for males is 16 8oz cups of water a day which works out to about 4 of my water bottles. Keep in mind that the average diet includes sources of water other than drinking it straight so you don’t necessarily have to drink 16 8oz cups a day to hit the recommendation.

Needless to say, I’m underwhelmed by this challenge. I fucking hate drinking water and I’m already exceeding the challenge by quite a bit. They want us to track our intake using our Fitbits, smartphones, or just an Excel spreadsheet, but there’s no real way to verify that anyone is actually drinking the amount they’re claiming. Up for grabs are four $100 Dicks Sporting Goods gift certificates which is something I have absolutely no use for being that I don’t exercise and have never set foot inside a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.

To be fair, I have no idea how many glasses of water the average American drinks in a day and it’s entirely possible that most of us are probably relying too much on extracting water from other foods over drinking it straight. I know I’m guilty of that in my youth where most of what I drank was Coca-Cola, which does get you some water along with a whole bunch of stuff that counteracts anything good about the water in it. A quick and dirty Google search provides this CDC article on the National Cancer Institute’s 2007 Food Attitudes and Behaviors Survey:

Overall, 7% of adults reported no daily consumption of drinking water, 36% reported drinking 1 to 3 cups, 35% reported drinking 4 to 7 cups, and 22% reported drinking 8 cups or more. The likelihood of drinking less than 4 cups of water daily was significantly higher among participants aged 55 years or older than among those aged 18 to 34 (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.3), among residents of the Northeast than among residents of the South (AOR, 1.4), among participants who consumed 1 cup or less of fruits or vegetables per day than among those who consumed 4.5 cups or more (AOR, 3.0), among participants who did not exercise than among those who exercised 150 minutes or more per week (AOR, 1.7), and among participants who were neither trying to gain nor lose weight than among those trying to lose weight (AOR, 1.3).

So it sounds like there’s more than a few folks who could benefit from drinking more water, but 2007 was a long time ago so it’s possible things are better (or worse) today. Still, maybe this water challenge is just what my coworkers need to be better hydrated. As for me, I’m already running to the bathroom more times in a day than I’d prefer. It’s that use of the Comic Sans font, however, that makes me want to start drinking pop again just out of spite.

[1.] I wasn’t sure if it’s spelled “shitload” or “shit-load” or “shit load” so I looked it up and was pleasantly surprised to see that Merriam-Webster actually has a definition for it. It’s spelled “shitload.”

I miss drinking cola.

I gave up drinking regular sodas in my early thirties and diet colas in 2011 which means it’s been 5 years since I’ve last tasted a cola of any kind.

I really miss it.

Most days I’m fine and it doesn’t cross my mind, but then something happens and I’m reminded how much I loved Coca Cola in particular and colas in general. Today it’s my cubemate sitting across from me with a Diet Coke. He’s not flaunting it or anything, it’s just sitting there on his desk and he’s taking occasional sips from it.

And it looks so good.

These days 98% of what I drink in a day is plain old tap water. I start the day with a cup or two of coffee and then it’s my 32 ounce water bottle for the rest of the day. Anne’s been including small cans of tomato juice in my lunch the last week or so and that’s made for a nice change. Occasionally I’ll have some milk with dinner. Otherwise it’s lots and lots of water.

I hate water. It’s so fucking boring. Putting lemon in it or one of the various flavoring mixes doesn’t help so I just drink it plain, but I hates it. I know I’m better off having given up sodas and drinking more water, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

I don’t really have a point with all of this, I’m just feeling a bit whiney so I thought I’d get it out of my system.

cocacola

SEB Update: You still don’t need 8 glasses of water a day.

I first wrote about the you-need-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day myth back in August of 2002 and I was just reminded of it yesterday. The cause of my memory jog was an article on NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast that covered Five Myths About Drinking Water:

Myth No. 1: Drink Eight Glasses Each Day

Scientists say there’s no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day. So where does the standard advice of drinking eight glasses each day come from? “Nobody really knows,” says Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

Myth No. 2: Drinking Lots of Water Helps Clear Out Toxins

The kidneys filter toxins from our bloodstreams. Then the toxins clear through the urine. The question is, does drinking extra water each day improve the function of the kidneys?

“No,” says Goldfarb. “In fact, drinking large amounts of water surprisingly tends to reduce the kidney’s ability to function as a filter. It’s a subtle decline, but definite.”

It’s only taken six years for the experts to go from saying “I think it’s a myth” in the original article to it’s definitely a myth in the current one. I only mention this because I still get people who feel the need to tell me that I should be drinking more water whenever I mention that I’ve given up drinking diet pop. “You should really be drinking 8 glasses of water a day, ya know.” they say while sucking on the end of a plastic teat attached to the biggest damn water bottle I’ve ever laid eyes on. The only health benefit they’re getting from all that water consumption is from burning calories from having to sprint to the bathroom every ten minutes lest they piss their pants.

See the full article for the three other water drinking myths. My favorite quote is on how to know if you’re getting enough water: If you’re not thirsty, you’re fluid intake is likely “just right.”

I’ve decided to quit drinking so much pop.

I’ve been a heavy pop (or soda if you prefer) drinker for most of my adult life. It’s not unusual for me to go through between four and six cans of pop in a day and as I’m getting older it occurs to me that that can’t be too good for my health even though I switched to drinking diet pop some six years ago. So I decided to tell Anne that once my current supply of Diet Coke runs out that I didn’t want her buying any more. There’s still a few cans left, but I’ve already started drinking other things during the day. I’m not completely cutting out pop drinking as that’s what I’ll probably drink when we eat out, but I am cutting way back and expect to have several days in a week where I don’t drink any at all.

The problem for me becomes one of what to drink. I’ve said previously that I can’t stand drinking more than a glass or two of plain water and I’m very picky about what container it’s put into because I can pick up on taste from plastics and I’m not a fan of adding lemon to it. I’ve been drinking more milk, but when you have a cold that’s just asking for added congestion. I’m also drinking more coffee and that’ll probably become my primary drink during the winter months at least. Orange juice has been feeling the wrath of my thirst lately as well. I like some flavored waters out there, like the Fruit2O drinks, but damn if they’re not expensive. I’m not much for tea, but I may try a few to see if I can find one that I can tolerate.

So what about you guys? What inexpensive alternatives to pop do you rely on to get you through the day? Any suggestions for dressing up water to make it more tolerable to someone who’s picky about taste?

Life in a drop of water.

We’ve all heard the old cliche that water is life, but we don’t often stop to think of how literally true that is…

We don’t know how many angels can dance on a pinhead, but thanks to this fantastic photomicrograph by Peter Parks, we know that a drop of water the size of a pinhead can contain about a dozen of zooplankton!

Click to embiggen. Found over at Neatorama.

 

8 glasses of water to avoid dehydration doesn’t hold water.

Remember all the people you know telling you how we’re a nation of dehydrated people who should all be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day for good health? Well, turns out whoever started that whole frenzy (I suspect a bottled water company) was all wet.

Newspaper articles, health and beauty magazines all advise drinking at least 8 full glasses of water a day totaling 64 ounces for optimal health—an approach called “8×8” by proponents.

But Dr. Heinz Valtin of Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire said there is no scientific evidence to back up this advice, which has helped create a huge market for bottled water.

“After 10 months of careful searching I have found no scientific evidence that supports ‘8×8’,” Valtin, who has written textbooks on the subject of human water balance, said in a telephone interview.

“I did 43 years of research on that system—the osmoregulatory system. That system is so precise and so fast that I find it impossible to believe that evolution left us with a chronic water deficit,” Valtin said.—ABC News.com

Yeah, somehow I figured as much. I’m not a big water drinker, I probably drink less than a glass of water a day, mainly because I don’t like the fact that it’s tasteless. Or when it does have a taste, it’s nasty. I’ve tried the whole put a freakin’ lemon in it, but that just makes it taste like lemonade made by a complete moron with only 2 functional brain cells. Regardless I’ve never had my doctor turn to me and tell me that I was anything close to being dehydrated unless I was sick with the martian death flu and had a fever of 104.

The thing that cracks me up is I see these folks at work every day with those huge-ass MEGA-SUPER-ULTRA-FANTASTIC-GULP mugs filling them up with ice and water and making just the most awful faces while drinking it because they hate the taste too, but think it’s the healthy thing to do. Our good doctor goes on to say:

He said he and colleagues became concerned after seeing dozens of newspaper and magazine articles urging people to sip water all day. “I started talking to my colleagues and asking them ‘Do you know of any evidence for this?’. Invariably, they said, ‘No I think it’s a myth’,” Valtin said.

The journal asked him to review all the scientific studies he could find and he concluded that someone misinformed has been telling people to drink large amounts of water when most do not need to.

“I am referring to healthy adults in a temperate climate leading a largely sedentary existence,” Valtin said. “Persons with certain diseases must have large volumes of water—kidney stones are probably the most common example.”

The rest can just drink enough to slake thirst—and this includes coffee, tea, and even beer—despite their diuretic effects, Valtin said.

He hopes people will be relieved of the guilt of not getting enough water, and of the expense of buying bottled water to drink throughout the day.

“There is also the possibility that if you drink a lot of water that happens to be polluted then of course you get more pollutants,” Valtin said.

So the next time you catch me sucking down a Diet Dr. Pepper and you feel the need to point out that water would be soooo much healthier for me, well, now you know otherwise. Besides, too much water can lead to water intoxication, which can be deadly, something that’s becoming more common with the rise in popularity of the drug ecstasy.