By Coach Ora
The day started with a cup of coffee. I hit the gym at 4:30 am and taught the morning classes and kids classes. I played games with the kids that day so that I could keep them moving. It was already hot and muggy at 8:30, and I had one more class to go. I drank another mug of coffee and taught the last class of the morning. I closed the gym and went to the office. Lots of fires to put out, and I went straight to work on those issues. About noon, I felt tired and sluggish. I was ready for a nap. I got up, got myself my first glass of water of the day, and on my way back, I took a phone call and got busy with bookkeeping and management tasks. Before I knew it, the alarm was going off again. It was time to coach the 4:30 pm class. I saw the glass of water I got earlier, chugged it, and went off to the gym. I was not a quick-minded coach at 4:30. I struggled to get the correct names to the right people. My thoughts were sticky, and I felt like I was moving through mud the whole class. I wanted to work out at the 5:30 class, so I got my second cup of water of the day and started stretching. My workout was awful. All I could think about was quitting. I wanted to go home. I was irritated by my performance, the noise, and the heat of the gym. I could not think! I drove home. On the way home, I felt irritable and uncomfortable. Like I wanted to claw my way out of my skin. I honked at the guy in front of me when he did not jump off the line at the light. When I got home, I could barely get out of my pickup. My achilles heel was tight, and I could hardly walk into the house. I yelled at the dog who was blocking my path into the house even though she happily greeted me at the door with her ball. I went straight to my bed and died. My head was pounding, and I wanted to go to sleep. But there was laundry to fold, programming, and family that needed my attention. I got a small glass of water and downed 2 Advils. I started cooking and found that I was argumentative with everyone. I was so aggravated I did not even finish cooking. My head was screaming.
I was dehydrated.
I can drink five cups of coffee or two glasses of wine with no issues but one cup of water, and the struggle is on. I will nurse a cup of water all day. Why is hydration so hard?
Drinking water doesn’t come naturally. One problem is that we only drink water when we eat or feel thirsty. Many associate thirst as the only reminder that they need to hydrate. This associating hydration with thirst is the worst way to determine if we are properly hydrated. When we feel thirsty, we’re dehydrated. Some solutions are setting reminders on your phone, getting a tumbler for easier water access, or setting water goals. The idea is to change your hydration pattern.
Our body is made up of almost 60% water; we might not “feel” the need to drink it because we have so much of it. However, our system needs constant replenishment since we use it in every process and activity inside our bodies. Let’s face it; water is bland and tasteless. Unlike coffee and wine, there is no instant gratification from drinking water. Drinking eight glasses at the minimum feels like a chore and is quickly forgotten amidst our busy lives.
How does hydration work? A person exercises and loses fluids via the skin from sweat or lungs from breathing. When we don’t replenish it, dehydration occurs.
Signs of dehydration:
- Feeling tired, thirsty, dizzying, and/or light-headed
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
- Dark yellow color and/or strong-smelling urine
We all understand why hydration is essential. It doesn’t take rocket science to know why. Water flushes out waste from your body, regulates body temperature, and helps with brain function, to name a few crucial reasons to stay hydrated.
Hydration also affects our strength, power, and endurance. Adverse effects of exercising in the heat without enough water can include severe medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure. Extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death. As CrossFit athletes, we must remember that dehydration negatively affects our performance.
Athletic performance suffers when we are dehydrated because blood circulation decreases, the muscles don’t receive enough oxygen, and exhaustion hinders performance. The most significant side effect of dehydration in athletes is sore muscles. Sore muscles occur because the body can not flush the by-products of exercises from the body. Water is the major contributor to chemical reactions in athletic performance. Athletes must be hydrated to achieve maximum physical performance before, during, and after activity.
Advice from your coach: Start small, and increase your current water consumption by 16-24 ounces daily, which is about two glasses per day. Do this over 12 days, and slowly increase it to your daily requirements.
What are your daily requirements?
- Bodyweight divided by 2= Minimum number of ounces per day
- Add 12 oz water for every 8 oz cup of coffee, juice, or tea
- Add 15 oz water for every 1 hour of exercise
We also need to add electrolytes and sodium to replenish all the fluids lost through exercise. This is a totally different topic but look for electrolyte replacements that don’t neglect calcium, magnesium, and chloride.
A great read on electrolyte drinks is Best and Worst Electrolyte Drinks for 2022 | TheHealthBeat