Challenge Yourself: Drink More Water

Measuring cup

The Lehmans and Avaglianos were both so successful in upping their water intakes–and decreasing their soda and alcohol consumption–that we declared both families the winners of Challenge #2.

Here’s how you can follow their lead and do the same:

Q. Does everyone need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day?

A. No, adults need more. Eight 8-ounce glasses is a guideline, not a one-size-fits-all recommendation. “The amount of water you require depends on many factors,” says Stephanie, the Lehman’s nutritionist, who suggests you start with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations of thirteen 8-ounce glasses for men and nine 8-ounce glasses for women.

The IOM recommends 7 glasses for girls 9 to 13, 8 glasses for boys 9 to 13 and girls 14 to 18, and 11 glasses for boys 14 to 18. Bump this up if you are physically active or live in a hot or humid climate or at a high altitude.

And remember: You don’t have to meet your water needs through H20 alone. Caffeine-free liquids count, as do fruits and vegetables like watermelon, grapefruit, lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes, some of which are 90% water.


Smart Drink Swaps

When the heat rises, it’s nice to cool off with a drink. But some summer tonics can do in your diet. Water and unsweetened beverages are ideal, but if you treat yourself, here’s how to avoid going overboard.

If You Want a: Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino 16 oz.
Know It’s: 400 calories
You’d Have to: Run 3.4 miles in 40 minutes to work that off.
Instead Try a: Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Light 16 oz. 130 calories

If You Want a: 7-Eleven Cherry Orange Blitz Slurpee 16 oz.
Know It’s: 110 calories
You’d Have to: Lift weights for 30 minutes to nix those calories.
Instead Try a: 7-Eleven Slurpee Lite Fanta Sugar-Free Cherry Limeade 12 oz. 30 calories

If You Want a: Red Lobster Traditional Lobsterita 24 oz.
Know It’s: 890 calories
You’d Have to: Bike 16 miles in one hour after an indulgence like this.
Instead Try a: Red Lobster Classic Margarita On The Rocks 4.75 oz. 250 calories


A Two-Step Motivational Plan

To keep them going strong, each family had a coaching session with motivational expert Tony Ricci, senior health and fitness specialist at Pfizer. “The secret to remaining focused on a goal is being able to define it and visualize it,” says Ricci. Here’s how to do just that.

Be specific. Don’t simply write down your goals; write down the true, intimate reasons why you want to do something and what your life will be like once you accomplish those goals. For example, “When I lose 20 pounds, I’ll stop making excuses about not wanting to go to the pool and have more energy to bond with my kids on weekend bike rides.”

Create a picture. Gather images that represent your goal (and its rewards) as a constant reminder to yourself of what you’re after. Use a bulletin board, poster board or Pinterest board to post photos of the little black dress you want to fit into or the beach you want to (fearlessly) wear a bathing suit on.

What have you done to drink more water? Share in the comments below!

Think Before You Drink: Are You Drinking Lots of Calories Out of Habit?

not enough calcium

The Lehman family doesn’t drink many sugary beverages, but when they go out to eat, Tiffany said that the kids usually order soda. Several weeks ago, I recommended that she order the kids water instead of soda, but her journal continues to show that the kids have soda when eating out.

This isn’t unusual. In fact, when I tell people to order water at restaurants, they act like I’m crazy. It’s as if there’s an unspoken rule that says you must order a soda, sweet tea, wine or some other beverage with your meal. But doing so can add hundreds of excess calories to an already calorie-rich meal. And do you really need that soda, beer or other sweetened beverage? Or are you just ordering it out of habit?

Now think about your daily latte or mid-morning soda break. Are you drinking those beverages out of habit or are you truly enjoying them? There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional caramel latte or can of Coke, but consider them treats—something to sip and savor, not something to simply quench your thirst while eating a meal or racing to work.

You often hear the term “mindless eating” which refers to eating without really thinking about it rather than focusing on the food and the overall eating experience. But a lot of us are guilty of “mindless drinking” as well. We gulp down coffee drinks, smoothies, sodas and other calorie-rich drinks while doing a million other things and don’t take the time to sit down and enjoy them.

So next time you’re getting ready to indulge in a calorie-rich beverage, think before you drink. Are you just drinking because you’re thirsty? Then choose water instead. If you’re grabbing that soda or latte out of habit, try breaking that habit by gradually cutting back and replacing that drink with water. And if you truly want and crave a certain drink, sit down and savor it, sip by sip.

How many glasses of water do you drink in a day? Post a comment and let me know.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week 8: How to Fall In Love With Drinking Water

the lehmans

The Lehmans love water. This may sounds silly but water soothes me. When I feel stressed at work I love taking a drink of ice water. I don’t know what it is but the feeling just helps chill me out physically and emotionally.

Andy feels the same way about water as I do. He just needs it and neither one of us really understand why people are so fixed on all the sodas, energy drinks and coffees that are out there. (Don’t get me wrong, though. We love coffee. We just limit it to a cup or two). Cost is a big deterrent. Those babies are expensive and water virtually is free.

Our kids love water because they were never given a choice. I remember taking Anna to her well child visits when she was around a year old. Her doctor told us that juice is nothing but liquid candy–even 100% fruit juice–and that it will do more harm than good.

When Anna and Jack were both babies, if we ever served them juice I think it was 1 part juice to 3 parts water. Needless to say they never really desired the sweet drink. They always get milk and water. Juice and soda are a real treat and something that is not given often and they really don’t ask for it either. Jack is allergic to dairy and soy, so he drinks rice milk. Rice milk is expensive but you do what you have to for your child when he/she has severe food allergies.

Remember when you drink water, you’re nourishing your body. The majority of your body is made up of water. Do something good for yourself and drink up!

How have you gotten your kids to drink more water (and less soda and juice)? Post a comment and share!

4 Easy Ways To Drink More Water


To pump up your intake, you first need to recognize all the places you can (and can’t) turn to for hydration. Yes, beverages like milk and juice give you a dose of H20. But so do popular summertime foods like watermelon, tomatoes and leafy greens. A glass you don’t want to reach for if your goal is hydration: a tall iced coffee or a margarita. Anything that contains caffeine or alcohol will act as a diuretic, causing you to lose water through frequent urination.

Committed to the “clear” choice? Here are some simple ways to get more water into your day:

  • Drink up first thing. Instead of a hot cup of coffee, start your morning with a cool glass of water.
  • Dilute your fruit juice. Try mixing it with seltzer or water. Consider filling your glass ¾ or almost full of water and just topping it off with a little cranberry juice or orange juice.
  • Keep a large water bottle on your desk and make sure to finish it every day.
  • Drink a full glass with each snack and meal of the day.

Reminder: It’s important not to wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By then you’re probably already dehydrated!

How do you get more water into your day? Post a comment and share here!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week 6: How We Got Hooked on Sparkling Water

As part of the Healthy Family Challenge, SodaStream sent us one of their soda makers and a supply of flavorings (with no sugar or sugar substitute added) to mix into the water. What a cool machine this is! Its biggest fan is our daughter, Anna. She loves making healthy “sodas” for her friends and for us after school and on the weekends.

The neighborhood favorite is the lemon/lime. It reminds them of Sprite or 7-up. I really like the mint mix in. It’s refreshing and reminds me of a Mojito with out the added calories of alcohol.

Once you learn how to use the SodaStream, it’s easy to get hooked! We drink a lot of water anyway so this makes the water even better. All the different flavors are fun to experiment with mixing and just trying flavors we’ve never had before.

The SodaStream isn’t the only freebie we got this month. Family Circle also had the kids pick out super cute water bottles from Sigg to help them consume as much water as possible. They also sent Andy and I wine glasses from WineTrax with discrete markings of 4 ounces, 6 ounces and 8 ounces. All of them will help us towards our goal of winning the challenge!

What’s your favorite flavor of sparkling water? Post a comment and tell me!