I am a great fan of SparkPeople (you only have to look at my sidebar and see the link to their website to know that) and I am the team leader of a couple of teams on there. As team leader, I try to set up challenges each month to help my team mates either get back on track or stay on track so that they can reach their healthy living goals. As I signed up for SparkPeople’s January Jumpstart Challenge, I decided not to set my usual baby steps challenge this year. Instead, I’m going to build healthy habits with a “Habit of the Month” each month. Habit for January is water.
I have set out the challenge below for anyone who would like to follow it too. My team started this challenge on 1 January 2012 but you can start it on any day you like and adapt it to suit you and your lifestyle.
Habit of the Month – Drinking Water
Starting on 1 January 2012, I’m going to break the month down in to weeks so we can build up to drinking 8 cups of water per day, plus extra if you drink caffeine laden drinks as the caffeine takes away from the water. I usually include squash as drinking water but any form of carbonated drink and juices do not count towards the water total, see SparkPeople’s article on Danger Drinks and Healthy Alternatives as well as their Healthy Beverage Guidelines for more information. Before you say anything, yes, I know that both of these articles say that you can drink tea, coffee and diet soda but they also say that you should be drinking 8-12 cups of water per day and limiting the amount of other drinks you are consuming.
Week 1 (1/1 – 7/1)
Log every drink you have, be it water, coffee, tea, coke, hot chocolate, squash etc. This is so that you can get a picture of what you normally drink. If you can, make a note of the time you have your drinks if they aren’t water/squash.
You don’t have to try to get your 8 cups of water this week, unless, like me, you already do.
Week 2 (8/1 – 14/1)
Now that you know how many cups of water and other drinks you have every day it is time to start increasing the water and decreasing the others. I know this will be hard so we’ll take it one day/week at a time.
Have a look at the times that you are drinking something other than water/squash and ask yourself if you could have a cup of water instead. I’m not asking you to replace your first cup of tea/coffee of the day that would be cruel. I don’t drink tea or coffee but I do drink a lot of diet coke so I’ll use myself as an example. I don’t let myself drink diet coke until after lunch and then only if I have drunk at least 4 cups of water. I then alternate between coke and water for the rest of the day. So, even though I do get my 8 cups of water I have also cancelled all but 4 of them out by drinking diet coke.
So, to this week’s challenge – try to increase your water intake by 1 cup and decrease your other drink intake by 1 every day. Make a note of both and work out how many cups of water you really had.
Week 3 (15/1 – 21/1)
Carrying on from last week, try to increase your water by 1 and decrease your other drinks by 1 so that you should now be increasing the actual cups of water benefiting your body.
Week 4 (22/1 – 28/1)
Try to get 8 cups of water on top of your other drinks. So, if you have 3 cups of tea/coffee then you need to drink 11 cups of water.