By: Sarah Loheide
Whenever I'm faced with several tasks (homework assignments, swim events, life
decisions), I always try to complete the hardest ones first. Sure, those first few things are
usually pretty awful- a 1000 freestyle and an essay on The Tempest are not exactly day dreams
of mine- but getting those out of the way makes my life a lot more enjoyable. My healthy living
follows the same concept. Proper nutrition and exercise are two very difficult things to
accomplish, and while I'm not saying I have mastered either, they are definitely my focus. The
flaw within my plan arises not within these big tasks, but within the little ones. When you only
focus on the longest swimming events or the biggest English papers, you forget the little 50
freestyles and vocabulary worksheets that can still impact your success. For me and most likely
a significant amount of other people, the "little" part of healthy living is hydration because we
forget what a big role it has in our body's function.
Whenever people tell me to drink more water they say it as though it's the easiest thing
in the world. Hey, maybe it is for them. Unfortunately for me (and all of you in the same boat),
water often just does not seem appealing. It tastes like nothing! How am I supposed to
remember to consume nothing? All of us who recognize this obvious fact tend to turn towards
less nutritionally-beneficial drinks when we're thirsty: soda, sweet tea, fruit punch, Gatorade...
The list goes on and on. While these items do contain water, they also contain things like sugar,
sodium, aspartame, and caffeine, which tend to overshadow the positive effects of the water.
So- we don't like water, and now I'm telling you we can't have all those sweet things either. What
can we do? Turns out there are healthier tasty alternatives.
If you are determined to continue drinking carbonated drinks, you have a couple of options. The first is buying carbonated water and then adding a stevia-based flavoring such as Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops, which comes in various favors. The stevia leaf is a natural sweetener as opposed to the chemical sweeteners in Splenda and still does not have calories. The second option is a pre-flavored carbonated drink such as La Croix, which also has various favors and is naturally flavored. If you do choose to buy a pre-made carbonated drink, I advise
looking at the ingredients and being cautious of caffeine and avoiding aspartame or sugar.
If you're more interested in drinks without carbonation, there are still lots of healthy
options other than basic water. The first, most popular in the summer, is putting fruits, like
strawberries and lemons, cucumbers, or mint leaves into water to give it a more defined taste
than the original thing. For a stronger flavor, there is again the option of buying stevia-based
flavoring and adding it to water. I can occasionally find powders with stevia in the general
grocery store, but for the most variety it is best to go to a health store where you can find liquid
or powdered additives. If you're interested in a pre-packaged drink, my favorite is Vitamin Water
because it's naturally flavored (the Vitamin Water Zero has stevia in addition to natural favors)
and has a lot of favors to choose from.
No matter the flavor or type of water you drink, the important thing is that you are
actually drinking it. An increased water consumption has been repeatedly connected to
decreased blood pressure, better digestion, quicker muscle recovery, and an increase in
metabolism and mood. For years I avoided maintaining proper hydration because I didn't see its
importance and I didn't like doing it. Now there are lots of options available that are healthier
than the Coke and Kool-aid we have become so accustomed to. Listen to your body and find a
way to stay hydrated that works well for your tastes- you'll quickly realize what you have been