and Fitness Books
Make Water Count
By Martina Navratilova -
Author of Shape Your Self: My 6-Step Diet and Fitness Plan to Achieve the
Best Shape of Your Life
Millions of us don't feel as good
as we should because we don't drink the eight or more glasses of water we need
daily. Water is an often overlooked nutrient, one that's involved in
practically every bodily process.
I know that if I'm dehydrated, I
feel really tired. But when I drink water regularly, I have more energy. That's
because water assists in the loading and storage of energy-giving glycogen in
the muscles. It's also a solvent and carrier for nutrients. It helps in
digestion, circulation, and joint lubrication and even helps decrease the risk
of some cancers. It also flushes toxins and metabolic wastes from your system.
The more toxins and wastes in your body, the less capable it is of burning fat
and losing weight.
There's a guy I've known for a
long time who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, big-boned, and age 50-plus. He's also
the most overweight person I've ever met. He once weighed around 210, but now
he tips the scale at 500 pounds. He also has hyperinsulinemia -- meaning he has
high levels of insulin in his blood -- which makes him prone to heart disease
and diabetes and keeps him heavy, since insulin is a fat-storage hormone. His
diet basically consists of meat and potatoes and diet soda by the gallon, and
he gets no exercise. But in all the years I've known him, he has refused to
drink water. Once I asked him why. It turns out that he hates the taste of
plain water, and he says he'd have to be "desperate" to drink it.
Since metabolism is a chemical
process requiring adequate water, and he doesn't drink it, every system in his
body has become sluggish. He has no energy. His thinking is muddled. His body
can't burn fat effectively. While it's true that many factors figure into these
problems, his refusal to drink water is certainly a bad influence on his
Keeping your body well hydrated is
important for preventing dizziness, cramps, and exhaustion during exercise,
too. It's generally a good idea to drink 1 to 2 cups of water 2 hours before
you exercise, then drink more during your workout. When I work out, I drink a
few ounces of water for every 10 minutes that I exercise. After your workout,
you should replace the water you've lost through perspiration -- about 2 cups
of water for each pound of lost body weight. If you can make the commitment to
start drinking more water, you'll definitely notice a change in the way you
feel and in your energy, and you'll feel the mental kick that sufficient water
Try this with me: In the morning,
instead of your usual cup of coffee or tea or can of cola, drink a glass of
cold water. Supposedly, drinking cold water gives a little boost to your
metabolism since your body burns calories to warm up the water. Then take a
minute to notice how rejuvenated you feel.
I prefer to drink bottled water,
mainly because it's easy to take with me, and I really don't like the taste of
tap water. Bottled water fits my needs and my lifestyle. I am very picky when
it comes to water; let's just say I'm spoiled.
There are different types of
bottled water, so it helps to read labels. Spring water, for instance, comes
from an underground formation from which water naturally flows to the Earth's
surface. Purified water has been processed to remove minerals and contaminants;
distilled water is one example. Some purified water is actually purified tap
water, and the label must state that it comes from a municipal water supply.
Mineral water contains naturally
occurring minerals and trace elements. In other words, these are in the water
at its source and can't be added later. Sparkling bottled water, which I often
enjoy with a meal, has a bit of a fizz caused by the carbon dioxide it
contains. Artesian water is taken from an aboveground well that taps an
aquifer, a water-bearing layer of rock or sand. Well water comes from a hole
bored, drilled, or otherwise constructed in the ground to tap the water
aquifer. All bottled water is strictly regulated at the federal level by the
FDA and at the state level by state agencies.
Tap water can be contaminated with
lead found in household plumbing materials, nitrate from fertilizers,
disease-causing microbes that pass undetected through filtering systems, and
other pollutants. In fact, I've read that there are 85 possible contaminants
that can get into drinking water, according to the EPA. Fortunately, though,
because of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, municipal water systems serving
25 people or more are constantly tested for harmful substances. If there is a
problem with your water supply, you'll be warned through the media or other
On the whole, Americans have good,
clean drinking water. You can get information about your community's water
supply by logging on to www.epa.gov and following the proper links. Filtering
out contaminants from tap water with a home water filter is another good option
for making sure your drinking water is safe.
- Drink a glass of water upon rising in the morning,
one to two more before lunch, and more before dinner and during exercise. We
need at least eight 1-cup servings, or 64 ounces, of water a day.
- Sip water in your car on the way home from work.
- The next time you pick up lunch at the local deli,
reach for bottled water rather than a soda.
- Buy or use 16- or 24-ounce bottles rather than
8-ounce ones. Then you can track how many bottles you need each day.
- If you don't like the taste of plain water, try
adding some fresh lemon or lime, cucumber slices, or fresh mint for a
refreshing new taste.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water when traveling by
air, since airplane cabins are notoriously dry, and you can become dehydrated.
Reprinted from: Shape Your Self: My 6-Step Diet and Fitness Plan to
Achieve the Best Shape of Your Life by Martina Navratilova
March 2006; 1-59486-282-6) © 2006 Martina
Navratilova. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus,
Martina Navratilova, with her record 9
titles and 58 Grand Slam titles, is the best female tennis player of the modern
era, and possibly the greatest in the history of the sport. In January 2003,
she won the Australian Open mixed doubles title with Leander Paes, making her,
at age 46, the oldest winner, male or female, of a Grand Slam title. She also
won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2003,
tying a record 20 Wimbledon
titles held by Billie Jean King. Martina is still competing in doubles on the
WTA Tour and at the Grand Slams. Visit her at