Many years ago, I was on vacation in Florida and one day I got up super early to take a walk on the beach. I generally walk every day and had been walking all during my holiday, so this was no big deal.
I had a point about 2.5 miles away in mind. There and back would be a nice walk and would get me back to the hotel early enough to get ready for the day. So, I took off.
Walking on the beach is just about my favorite thing ever. Especially in the early morning. I love the vistas and the energy, and I love seeing the sunrise over the water. I love walking through a world that is just waking up, and seeing the beach come alive with walkers and runners and people who fish. And people who surf, and people who collect shells and sea glass.
And people who are getting ready to go back to wherever they live, after having spent the last week or so at the beach. People who stand in the sand, looking wistfully out upon the ocean while getting their toes wet just one more time before they climb into the vehicle that will take them back to wherever they came from.
A HEART ATTACK?
I was heading back from my turn-around point and watching people and seabirds and the waves when I realized I did not feel so great. It was a hot and humid Florida morning and I had been walking at a fast pace. Now, I was feeling clammy, I had an uncomfortable tightness in my chest and my breathing was harsh. Was I having a heart attack? I am pretty fit, and heart trouble does not run in my family, so it would have surprised me if that was the case. Yet, that is exactly what it felt like.
Up ahead on the beach, there was a food vendor unpacking his cart, so I headed in his direction. With the $5 I had in my pocket, I bought 2 large bottles of cold water and drank one right away. I felt the liquid re-hydrate my chest muscles and I immediately started to feel better. Sipping the second bottle of water, I strolled back to my hotel. By the time I got there, I was feeling fine and sat on a chaise lounge by the pool and slowly finished my water.
So, not a heart attack after all, but I was very dehydrated. It was a frightening incident and one I was determined to not repeat.
WATER, WATER, MORE WATER
Ever since then, I have made sure to take water with me when I go for a walk in the high heat or humidity. Or if I am outside working in the yard, or riding my bike, or playing golf. I am a fanatic about drinking water on the golf course! I live in a hot and humid climate, and I have seen grown men and women simply drop from dehydration on the golf course. They forget to drink water (or drink too much beer), get overheated, and the next thing you know there is an ambulance and paramedics out on the course. It can be a pretty scary scene.
I have come to recognize the signs my body gives me when it needs hydration, and I make sure to heed the warnings. I find water, stat. And I drink a lot of it. But rather than wait for the signs of dehydration, I try to stay ahead of the game by making sure to drink at least 90 ounces or about 3 quarts of water a day. Every day.
Which is tough to do, actually. Unless you have a plan. So, I have a plan. Every day I fill my water infuser pitcher with fruit and water, and I try to empty it before I go to bed at night. Some days are easy, and other days I feel like I am sloshing around wherever I go. But I am pretty hard-core about finishing the pitcher every day. Not only am I hydrated, but it is great for my skin and for my body.
Plain water is great, but infused water is even better! No added calories, and just enough zing to keep it interesting. My favorite pitcher is the Prodyne Fruit Infusion Flavor Pitcher, which holds about 93 oz of water. It has a fruit-infuser unit that screws into the lid of the pitcher, and it is easy to set up.
I keep it on the kitchen counter, and whenever pass by, I stop and drink a glass of water. Yes, I pee a lot, but I am OK with that. I do not look my age because my skin is young – mostly because I drink a lot of water – for which I will gladly make a few extra trips to the bathroom. Plus, I like planning what fruits, herbs, and spices I am going to use and how pretty it looks!
You will have noticed I do not list lemon or lime water in my favorites. That is because I aim to make each infusion last for two days. I put it together in the AM of Day 1, refresh the water that night, store it in the fridge overnight, and put it back on the counter the next day. Lemons and limes, in my opinion, get way too acidic on Day 2, and I end up with a sour stomach. Other fruit will get pretty mushy by the end of Day 2, but apples seem to last the longest.
It will take a bit of time to determine how much fruit, herbs, and spices to put into the infuser portion of the pitcher. For berries, I use a small package and rinse them well. I use a small cucumber (sans seeds), and a medium apple. I buy watermelon chunks since a whole watermelon is a lot for just one person! Mint and basil can both be overpowering, so start with just a few leaves.
BASIL, MINT, and LAVENDER
If you do not have a pot of basil and a pot of mint growing somewhere in your outside space, you are missing out. These herbs are super-easy to grow and can be used for way more than infused water. Think pesto and Mojitos! But do not plant mint in your garden. It’s very invasive and will take over the space.
While you are at it, plant a pot or two of lavender as well. You can add lavender to almost any of these infused water combinations for water that tastes and smells lovely! Plus, you can make lavender water for spraying on your pillow at night to help you sleep. Dry lavender, and place buds in a small glass jar. Cover with boiling distilled water and let sit for a few days. Shake, strain, and funnel water into a small 2 oz glass spray bottle. Keep it by your bedside to spray your pillow at night. And it is a really nice touch for guests. Just leave a small, labeled bottle on the nightstand, and they will thank you the next morning!
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. DRINK WATER!
Having a pitcher of infused water on my countertop every day makes me mindful of what I am putting into my body the rest of the day. It is a visual reminder of how I want to take care of myself as I get older. It is clean-looking and pretty, and I have spent time putting it together, so I have an interest in making sure it does not go to waste. Plus, drinking so much water fills me up, so I do not snack much.
While it can be a challenge to drink that much water, the benefits – for me, at least – are significant. I feel better, I look better, and my body functions better. I can take my dog for as long a walk as she wants and know I will not get that awful feeling of being dehydrated. So, on these hot and humid days, we go out early and walk a long way. When we get home, she gets a doggie treat and I get a treat, too. A big glass of water!
Live life and love yourself!