This is the story of how drinking more water for just three weeks has changed my life because it’s changed my PERSPECTIVE on life.
Like many people, I suspected for a long time (and I mean probably 20 years or more) that I was chronically dehydrated. I’d seen the seemingly ludicrous recommendations on how much water a person should drink every day. I’d also been dealing, for most of my life, with symptoms such as chronic headaches, acne and other skin issues that are known to be associated with dehydration. And then there was the chronic tiredness, foggy headedness and difficulty concentrating…
Over the years, I turned to just about everything (other than drinking the recommended amounts of water, that is) in search of a quick-fix to help me manage these various issues, including:
- Endless skin-care and cosmetic products
- Headache medications
- Diet changes
- Digestive supplements
Many of these helped, some. At least temporarily. But I now know I was treating symptoms without addressing the underlying cause. So none of it was ever really going to achieve the results I desired.
The truth is, I did actually try (multiple times) to increase my water intake. But, time and again, I was lucky (on a good day) if I could manage to down even 16 ounces of pure water. You see, I’ve never really enjoyed the taste (or lack thereof) of water. But most of all, I simply hated the way that drinking water made me need to pee. All. The. Time.
Fast forward to about four weeks ago when I was perusing the shelves in the alternative health section of a used bookstore. I found myself drawn to a red spine with bold white letters that read: Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.
I pulled the thin paperback book out and saw that it was written by a doctor named Batmanghelidj. At the very top of the colorful cover was this warning:
“YOU ARE NOT SICK, YOU ARE THIRSTY! Don’t treat thirst with medications”.
I admit, I was intrigued, primarily because at that very moment I could feel a headache coming on and I realized that I hadn’t had even one glass of water that day. I looked down at the sticker price on the book and thought, “What the hell, it’s only $4.00”.
I bought the book.
As it turns out, although it’s not exactly riveting reading, there is a lot of compelling information in this book. One case study, in particular, really got my attention. It was the story of a man who was suffering from acute, severe, debilitating pain due to a stomach ulcer. This man had taken three tablets of cimetidine (300 milligrams each) and one full bottle of antacid, none of which had relieved his pain. After confirming that this man’s ulcer had not perforated, Dr. Batmangeheldidj decided to try treating him with water intake.
He explains how he initially handed the man two full glasses of water, which the man did not want to drink. But Dr. B told the man that since all of the other medications he’d tried on his own hadn’t worked, it was time to try “his medication” for this disease. Within fifteen minutes, Dr. B claims the man’s pain had become less severe and that his groaning had stopped. Dr. B then gave the man another full glass of water. In a few more minutes, the man’s pain supposedly disappeared completely and he started taking notice of the people and environment around him again. He sat up and began talking. He even got up and walked around the room. Dr. B said that for 10 hours, this man had suffered terribly from severe pain and had taken the most potent and advanced medicines (at that time) for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease, without any significant relief. And yet, just three glasses of water had produced very obvious and absolute relief in about 20 minutes.
As someone who has a long history of acute digestive pain myself (although not ulcers), this story really struck me. So the next time I started having gut pain, I promptly sat myself down in a comfortable chair in my living room and FORCED myself to drink 32 ounces of water. It seemed like an excessive amount. I feared my stomach might explode or that drinking that much water in a short period of time would make me sick. Neither of these things happened. But two other things DID happen:
- After about 20 minutes I really had to pee. (duh).
- My gut pain disappeared. Completely.
In fact, I noticed with utter fascination (and delight!) that the pain actually reduced in direct accordance with my water intake. I immediately thought, “If drinking just 32 ounces of water (notice how suddenly it became ‘just 32 ounces‘) can provide significant relief for my stomach pain and discomfort (something that I’ve been living with chronically for most of my life), I’m in!”.
Hook, line and sinker.
Fast forward three weeks to today. I’ve now successfully consumed between 60 and 140 ounces of water per day for three weeks. I’m not going to lie, it was hard at first. It felt like a potentially dangerous amount of water (I even Googled it to make sure it wasn’t!). And I’ve never peed so much in my life (although my body now seems to have adjusted to the increased water intake and it’s not quite so frequent).
To keep myself on track, I decided to keep a log and to turn this effort into a meditative, reflective practice. I focused on actively NOTICING how my whole body was feeling (not just my bladder). I paid attention to all the ways my body was responding to the water intake. And here’s what I discovered:
Whenever I drink at least 16 – 24 ounces of water in a very short period of time (gone are the days when I used to convince myself that sipping equaled “hydrating”), I can actually FEEL my body absorbing the water like liquid gold. Literally, within minutes of consumption, I start to feel different. Better. Lighter. Less stressed. More Awake.
When I’m appropriately hydrated my bodily outputs (urine and feces) both flow much more freely. My urine is always clear and free of odor, never yellow or pungent. The sensation of “needing to pee” feels different for me now than it used to. My bladder gets full more often but the “urgency to go” feels less critical and uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure this is because the lining of my bladder and urethra are no longer inflamed from urine that contains a high concentration of toxins. In other words, my system is now flushing the bad stuff in a much healthier way. I also never feel constipated. I poo more frequently (but hey, no worries, I’m already in the bathroom anyway!), and I literally never have to strain.
My gut pain has reduced to almost zero, and usually when I notice it starting to return it’s on days when I’ve been drinking less water, not more.
I no longer wake up with headaches. Or, on the rare mornings when I do have a wee trace of one, after I down my first-thing-in-the-morning 30 ounces to rehydrate from 6-8 hours of sleeping (and thus not drinking!)… POOF! Headache gone.
I have noticed a SIGNIFICANT increase in my energy levels and a SIGNIFICANT reduction in joint pain, back pain and general body aches.
I’m hungry a lot less often than I used to be. And I’m drinking a lot less of other types of drinks (including those with sugar, alcohol and caffein) because I’m not thirsty, I’m not tired and I’m not crashing energetically. I don’t have a scale in my house but I’m pretty sure I’ve dropped at least a few pounds. Or maybe I’m just less bloated.
My disposition and outlook on life are better. I simply FEEL GOOD in my physical body much more of the time!
I actually think my skin is starting to look and feel better too.
All of this after JUST three weeks of hydrating properly. All of this from changing just one thing. One thing that is, relatively speaking, simple. And it’s free.
So why was I never able to succeed in staying committed to drinking more water before now? Because I was trying to do it for the wrong reasons.
I was looking for a quick fix. The elusive Silver Bullet. Or I was doing it because I thought I should. Because other people said it was important. I was trying to force myself to do it. And usually, I was trying to rehydrate an entire body that was ravaged by long-term drought using sporadic, light sprinkles instead of regular, organ-saturating rains.
In the past, I had resented even trying to drink more water because I saw it as an inconvenience and because it meant letting go of the unhealthy, addictive “comfort strategies” I had grown dependent on to soothe myself through the pain and discomfort that I didn’t even realize was being caused by dehydration.
But here’s the most mind-blowing thing of all:
Making the decision to start drinking more water for the RIGHT reason (because I finally acknowledged it’s what this precious vessel of a body that my soul gets to inhabit in this lifetime NEEDS in order to function as it is designed to) has caused me to become drastically more socially and environmentally conscious.
I’m suddenly deeply (and urgently) concerned about our world’s supply of clean water. I’m overwhelmed at the thought of how many plastic water bottles I alone would need to use (and dispose of) in order to keep myself properly hydrated. I am acutely aware of how different the fresh water that comes straight from the well-pump on my farm tastes than the processed, flourine-filled and/or chlorinated water that pours out of city spigots everywhere. I shudder at the thought of how many people work in jobs where they don’t have the freedom to visit the bathroom (or eliminate outside as nature intended) regularly throughout the day. I now consider these workplaces to be nothing short of hostile and abusive.
This experience also has me thinking about all the other areas of my life where I do (or try to do) things for the wrong reasons. And it’s given me a new litmus test to determine whether or not I’m doing something for the right reason:
Does my doing this cause me to want to do lots of other things right too? If not, I’m probably just doing it because I think I’m supposed to, or for some other superficial reason. And not because I know it actually MATTERS.
Kim Hallin is the owner of Unbridled, LLC in Ravenel, SC. For more information visit www.unbridled.guru