When I started on this personal journey one month ago, I doubted my ability to be successful. To many people, it may seem easy to drink water.  But for me, it’s always been a challenge.

Since making the transition to a work-from-home employee for my company, it has become slightly easier.  Since I don’t go to a physical office, I am finding it MUCH easier to control what comes in and out of our kitchen, allowing me to eat (and usually drink) healthier. But I have still been known to hop in the car, drive a mile down the street to McDonald’s and get the LARGEST iced coffee money can buy when the stress of projects gets the best of me.  It’s not so much the caffeine I crave as it is something that gives me the extra sugar boost to get through the day.

It’s no surprise that soft drink manufacturers spend TONS of money to convince America that their beverages are healthier, tastier and more easily accessible than something that’s literally a permanent fixture in every kitchen in every house in this country: simple, tasteless tap water.

What’s more disturbing is that I fell for the advertising!  I am one of those consumers who has always sought out the tastier alternative to water.  Even when drinking water, I would purchase Crystal Light or those new Mio flavor additives to make my water more appealing.  Plus, when Kool-Aid packets are less that 15 cents each, it makes it VERY easy to drop water like a bad habit. And don’t get me started on the non-waters like Starbucks coffee or my all-time favorite, McDonald’s caramel iced coffee!  They can quickly go from a very rare “treat” to a daily “must have”, if you’re not careful.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look up the nutritional stats for my favorite daytime treat.  Bad idea.  The large caramel iced coffee has 270 calories and 41 grams of sugar!  To put this into perspective, the DAILY recommended sugar intake (for the ENTIRE day) is 40 grams.  That alone will make me think again when I want any sort of sugary coffee drink.

For the last 30 days, I have literally made water my ONLY option.  No juices or liquids of any kind, with the exception of milk in my cereal.  Let’s face it, Raisin Bran with water makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. So, what did I learn while challenging myself to drop everything except water for an entire month?  A lot more than I ever thought I would, that’s for damn sure!
  1. If I can do it, so can you!  For the most part, switching to water was easy.  Drinking soft drinks has become a part of the subconscious, so I did almost cheat several times at the beginning – without even realizing it.  For example, while going through the checkout line at Safeway, I grabbed a single serve “Simply Lemonade” since it was on sale for 99 cents.  I purchased it, walked out to the parking lot and then realized what I had just done.  Another time, I almost broke the program when 7-Eleven announced they were giving away FREE slurpees one day.  Those tricky bastards!  Luckily, I had no money, so I didn’t have to worry about cheating 😉
  2. Have water, will travel. I learned very quickly that I could stay on track by bringing my reusable water bottle with me everywhere I went.  By doing this, I remembered to drink more often to stay hydrated and I was able to curb any cravings I had.  It really brought me a major sense of accomplishment knowing that I was not as tempted to pull into McDonald’s and swallow down my daily allowance of sugar.
  3. Ice, ice baby!  I found that I don’t do as well when the water is room temperature. By always adding lots of ice and keeping the water ice cold, I found I drank way more each day. In fact, sometimes I would start drinking and it would be hard to stop! It’s a simple thing to do, but the impact is significant.
  4. Filter, filter, filter!  About a year ago, I purchased a Pur water filter system that attaches to the tap. It was the best investment I ever made!  After hearing stories on the news about pollutants that can easily make their way into the water supply, I decided that filtering the water would ensure I didn’t become sterile or grow (bigger) boobs.  Not to mention the metallic taste of Portland water – seriously, it’s like swallowing a cup full of paper clips.  Water filters are awesome! And we use ours to refill a large bottle of water we keep in the refrigerator so it’s always ice cold. Another option is to buy a pitcher that includes a built-in filter – simply refill it and refrigerate, for the same great filtered taste. 
  5. Niagara Falls. By drinking lots of water, you will spend a lot more time peeing. I know it may sound taboo to talk about, but it definitely helps you stay cleaned out.  In fact, Mayo Clinic says drinking water actually helps with your digestion by breaking down food so your body can absorb the nutrients. It can also help curb cravings for snacks, since water is heavy enough to trick your body into thinking it’s full. 
  6. Cheers to good health! Last – but certainly not least – I feel better.  I am losing weight and haven’t felt this good in a long time.  I am also trying to get out and walk regularly again and eat healthier, homemade food options instead of fast food.  I have a feeling that caffeine actually makes my joints and back hurt.  Back problems have always been an enemy of mine, but I haven’t noticed any back pain since I cut out caffeine. While I have no medical studies to back these claims, I know how I feel. This journey has most definitely changed my outlook on how I live my life.

Long story short, I have made the switch to water!  The benefits far outweigh my stupid requirement for sugar and added crap.  I may still treat myself to other types of drinks once in a while, but they will be healthier – more “thought out” – options. 

I challenge YOU to try this and let me know what you think – even if only for a week!  You won’t believe how it helps you understand how much bad stuff you put in your body each and every day.

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