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Drinking Fast and Slow

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

One feature of maintenance mode is regular drinking.

I didn't consider it to be so important, but it has a tremendous effect on how much I eat, and my hunger in general. So here are my experiences from the past 2 years on drinking. A longer read, but hopefully with many tips for you for inspiration.

I remember when I started to drink regularly about 8 cups (2L) of water a day, it was so strange.
First, it felt it to be a lot, I was feeling like forcing water inside me. I could not imagine how someone can drink 8 cups of water in a comfortable way.
Then, the other issue was how to remember drinking? And in fact, this was an even bigger challenge. There were days when around 5pm it took me by surprise - OMG I didn't drink at all during the whole day!

I started by counting, first on the exercise tracker, and keep track in my mind. It worked, but was way too much effort. There are so many things to remember during the day, and I cannot focus on just to remember drinking on every single day of my life.

So I spend some time to change my environment in a way that drinking happens automatically. After a few weeks of experimenting and tweaking, I have a setup I am happy with. In fact, I don't even think about it. It just happens, and I often drink more the 8 cups, depending how much exercise I do.


I observed a lot of improvement after starting to drink regularly. Paradoxically, I considered it a simple thing, I didn't even consider it contributing to weight loss, but had such a big impact on me.

1. Hunger is partly related to the pressure in the stomach. If there are more things in, there is less hunger. The best way to fill it up is with water - no calories.

2. After reading an article on this topic, I started to experiment by judging if I'm really hungry or thirsty. It explained that thirstiness usually goes away after 1.5-2 hours, and is replaced by hunger. It turned out that most of the time I was lacking water, when I felt hunger.

3. Somehow my metabolism get into a new path, maybe faster, maybe more intensive, I can't really tell this, but by drinking regularly, the whole digesting-calorie burning system felt more in place.

4. My weight stabilized from day-to-day. As I started to drink similarly every day, the ups and downs in my weight from one day to another disappeared, as I had a constant high hydration level. I was also playing a bit with this, and the maximum I reached was 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) from one day to another, just by drinking and not drinking.

5. My weight in general went a bit up, due to the water present in my body, as my hydration level was back.

6. Coke, coffee, beer, soda, fruit juices, and many other drinks somehow just started to disappear from my diet, and I started to enjoy drinking water. I drink now wine, and bear, and fruit juices in a way much lower quantity (not that I was a drinker before), and value the taste more. Before, I needed to drink a lot, to feel better.

7. Lot of un-explainable headache disappeared. This I only noticed later on, and the main difference I could identify was drinking regularly.

8. My skin looked better...

Equipment - they are all filled, of course! :-)


Let me share you some experiences that worked for me to make drinking regularly part of my life:

1. Instead of counting 8 cups during the day, I developed habits for drinking. These are "anchor rituals" that happen anyway during my day, and I linked drinking to them.
a) when I get up, and automatically measure my weight, right after it I drink 2 glasses of water
b) at the start of the big meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner, I drink a glass of water. If the morning 2 glasses are close to breakfast then I don't drink an extra glass. I know, I also read those articles that say digestion is way much better when food is not diluted with liquids, but I accept to have a less then optimal digestion in exchange of better hydration.
c) before doing exercise, and getting out of the door, I drink 1 glass of water
d) after exercise, I drink a glass of water

2. I made water "easily accessible" around me. I almost bump into water to drink.
a) there is a glass always in my kitchen close to the tap (we have drinkable water), ready to take it for a drink. I always keep it there.
b) I have 2-3 0.5L water bottles filled in the morning hanging around that I can grab, and have it at hand
c) in the office, I place a glass and a water bottle on my desk. If I go on meetings, I just bring it with me

3. I made a contract with myself to detect false hunger. When I feel like snacking, first I drink a glass of water. Then I still have my snack, but I drink first a glass of water. This results in much lower snacking.

4. After snacking, I drink a glass of water, to clean my mouth and prevent the "sweet" taste making lingering on my receptors to crave for more sweet.

5. When I go out with friends and order drinks, I made a similar contract like with snacks. I order some water with every single drink I order. So I always order a bottle of water PLUS a beer, a some water AND a glass of wine, a glass of water AND a Tequila.

6. When having breakfast, I go for tea, instead of milk, chocolate drink, fruit juice and similar. Or if I do, I still go for tea, and milk.

7. When leaving home or the office, I carry a foldable water bottle in my bag. I used to have just a plastic bottle, but for fanciness and motivation, I bought this Vapour 0.5L bottle, that I can roll up when empty. Looks really cool. So when I leave home, I always fill up my water bottles and have water on me. So the water bottle is a fixed companion of any bag I carry with me.

8. At the airport, after passing the security gate, I fill up my water bottles. So when on the plane, I have water on me.

9. On the plane, when drinks are served, I always ask for 2 glasses of water. When they come again, I ask again for 2 glasses of water. If I want to drink something else, too, I still ask for the 2 glasses of water. I usually tell them that I am very thirsty, and hope it's not a problem, and it never was, so don't feel guilty for asking more water on the airplane.

10. For fruit juices, I made the deal - I love fruits, but instead of liquid form, I take them in a chewable form. And I drink water.

11, When on conferences, workshops, business meetings, etc. I ask for permission to take a bottle of water with me. So when I need, I can drink. It was never a problem, nor in Mexico, nor in Singapore, nor in Russia. Apparently people drink water all over the World.

12. I have some cash with me for the case I want, I can buy a bottle of water. I made the deal not to judge if it is over expensive, I just buy it, and drink it. I save money elsewhere (for example spending less on snacks).

13. When going by train or by car, I take more water with me then I think I would need. There's always someone around who also want to drink, and sometimes I cannot refill, or just there is no opportunity to get water. If it's too heavy, I can always pour it out.
I have a shelf full of different sized and shaped water bottles. So when I go on a trip, I have a choice for size, material, and so on. I have more then I would need, but I rather have more, then not having one when needed.

14. Even with this systems, there are days once in a while, when I'm reaching for the 3rd snack and I discover that I am on this conference and they have no water for the coffee breaks. So I am always taking in new ideas, tips, experimenting with them to improve continuously.

As you can see, if I add up all these occasions, it is much more then 8 glasses of water a day. And that's the whole point of it. I don't have to think about counting it, and paying attention to drink enough. It's just around me, and my life is now organized in a way that drinking happens without thinking. So my mind is free to focus on more valuable things than counting glasses of water.

From my run today - winter colours in Austria.

Do you drink enough?
How do you organize it for yourself? I'm always happy for tips.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I also use the strategies you mentioned at your first point. First thing in the morning, before and after exercise, before and after meals.
    Thank you for all this useful information. I particularly liked the false hunger detection and I think I'll put this strategy to use as well!
    emoticon emoticon
    1811 days ago
    I got rid of unexplained headaches years ago, when I went off caffeine cold turkey. I didn't stay totally off caffeine, but I'm more aware of it.

    Apparently, caffeine is mildly addictive, and the headaches were withdrawal symptoms. To avoid them, I needed to keep a constant level of caffeine in my system. Constant near zero is a lot easier to maintain than constant at a higher level.

    I suspect that, as a side effect of drinking more water and less of other things, you're putting less caffeine in your body and keeping what caffeine you do have at a more stable level. That would account for the random headaches going away.
    1811 days ago
    Awesome plan. I usually have 1.5 cups in the morning when I get up. At work I have two 2.5 cup water bottles I keep filled. One of them I keep with me at all times and refill regularly (it clips nicely to my backpack so I can keep my hands free). The other one is is for a back-up if I don't have a chance to refill the first one. This way I always have water handy. My flavored beverage during the day is usually tea although I will occasionally have a diet soft drink (which doesn't count for my water intake).

    They installed a new filtered water dispenser ("hydration station") in my building which is great. Every time I go anywhere during the day I make sure I walk by and refill my bottle. When I head to class I fill the bottle and drink at least half while I'm teaching (often more if I end up doing most of the talking :-) and then refill the bottle when I head back to my office. When I head to a meeting, the same thing. I also make it a routine to get up and walk around several times a day so I always take my bottle with me and refill it at the dispenser. Some people in the office next to the water dispenser have commented that I sure seem to drink a lot of water :-).

    1811 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/5/2012 8:52:28 PM
    Yea. I drink more than the recommended 8 glasses every day.
    1811 days ago
    I start my day with a glass of water

    I make sure I drink a glass of water with each meal

    I drink water during and after exercising and walking.

    I sip at 2 cups of water in the evening.

    I usually get my full 8 cups in each day and most times more .
    1811 days ago
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