I am at a family gathering over the vacation. My brother-in-law has an app. This naturally intrigues me. “What’s that app, ya got there?”
“Oh, it’s for tracking how much water I drink.”
Now whenever I see someone using an app to improve his life or his health, I must have it (provided it’s free…and time-consuming). I already track my steps, my heart rate, my blood pressure, my sleep (including a breakdown of light, REM, deep sleep, and sleep adversely affected by sleep tracking), but clearly I have overlooked an important aspect of my health. My brother-in-law’s app features a cartoon water drop, which becomes more plump and happy when you drink more water. Awesome graphics! “This is cheerful and uplifting. I must have it,” I think. Sadly (skinny, downcast water droplet), apparently it is an Android-only app, and I will have to settle for something less engaging but undoubtedly more sophisticated. I learn from my brother-in-law, that he is trying to drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. This sounds like a lot to me. I do the high-level math. That’s ten glasses of water. I think about my usual day. Orange juice and coffee in the morning. Maybe a stop at the water fountain during the day. A glass of water with dinner. Gulp. Apparently I am woefully dehydrated.
I confess this later at the family gathering, hoping to get some “me toos” or “yeah, right there with yas.” I get none. Instead, I get advice. From everyone.
“I carry a water bottle with me wherever I go.”
“I keep a large bottle at my desk and just drink from it all morning.”
“I carry a gallon jug with me all day. It’s good exercise in the morning, and I’ve got incentive to lighten it by drinking.”
“It’s easier if you just get to 32 ounces before you leave the house.” This from my brother-in-law, who I had thought would surely give me an “I was like that, too.”
I don’t smoke. I don’t drink much alcohol. My salt intake is way down. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, for cryin’ out loud! But apparently I have been engaging in very self-destructive behavior. I make some excuses. “I’m rarely at my desk.” “I can never get to a bathroom.” “I can’t have a bottle in my hands all the time.” No one in the room is in the mood to enable me. They have answers for everything, though my wife’s sarcastic suggestion of “stadium pal” at least shows some understanding of my situation. I briefly entertain that thought. Briefly.
So, after returning home, I spend the rest of my vacation week faithfully filling my water bottle, taking healthy swigs every time my engaging new app reminds me, tapping the water bottle icon on my phone, racking up all sorts of hydration points with the parched cells in my body, and making frequent trips to the bathroom. Aside from an all-day bloating sensation, I don’t notice dramatic changes. My energy, mood and cognition seem about at their usual pre-hydration levels. I tell myself that my kidneys must be feeling so much more valued. I realize, though, that I was working from a serious deficit.
The real challenge, I know, will arise when I return to school.
I have now survived two school days since operation hydration. My routines have changed somewhat. I now drink a glass of water in addition to my glass of orange juice at breakfast. That’s 16 ounces, folks. Coffee counts, too, so I’m up to 24. Then, after I walk McGee, I have another glass of water before heading off to work. That’s right, 32 ounces before 7:00 a.m.! I bring my water bottle with me and take a few swigs in the car. No, I don’t tap the app while I’m driving. I’m health-conscious, remember?
At school, I keep the bottle at my desk and make frequent side-trips to get in a few gulps. I’ve found that if I stand reasonably still without bending, my bladder won’t actually burst before my first break in the morning. The down side is that I rarely interact with colleagues anymore. Some try in vain to engage me in hallway conversations, but those will have to wait. I brush past them impatiently, as I dash to the men’s room. I make my first trip as soon as I arrive at school (32 ounces, remember?) and then at every break opportunity. I have new respect and admiration for my pregnant colleagues who often remarked about how long our morning was.
I have considered purchasing a life-size cardboard cut-out of my image to place at the front of the classroom while I dash out. It might work. The kids don’t always pay that much attention to me, anyway. Alternatively, I may contact Royal Flush or John’s Johns to see if they have a classroom model. I think that would be fun.
It’s also possible that when the excitement of this new app wears off, I might actually discover moderation.