Water is essential when it comes to losing weight. According to the medical website Everyday Health, water is an important part of all body functions and processes, including digestion and elimination. When you’re on a diet, water also acts as a weight-loss aid because it can help you eat less. How much of the water do you actually need and what role does it play in the body?
How does water reduce metabolism? People who drink water instead of sugary drinks are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off, according to the website Healthline, whose editorial team is comprised of medical clinicians. This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces your calorie intake. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water increases resting metabolism by 10–30% for about an hour. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.
Water can also help fill you up. Studies show that drinking water a half an hour before you eat can help you eat less, according to the National Library of Medicine. One study of overweight adults found that those who drank half a liter of water before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t.
How much water do you need? Everyone says eight glasses (8 ounces) of water a day. But that’s changed. It actually depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live according to WebMD. Overall, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.
What are the digestive health benefits of water? Water also helps you digest your food properly, states WebMD. Water allows your kidneys to function properly and filter everything they need to and allows us to eliminate effectively and not be constipated. People who don’t get enough fluids in their diet tend to be constipated.
Additionally, the single biggest cause of painful kidney stones is chronic dehydration. When you don’t get enough water, calcium and other minerals build up in your urine and are harder for your body to filter out. They can form the crystals that make up kidney and urinary stones.
For someone who once referred to herself as an “exercise junkie”, Ruby Agu does a whole lot more than exercise. She is one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing fitness professionals. Ruby got into the fitness profession after losing 35kg of excess body weight within her first 12 months of a devoted exercise and healthy nutrition lifestyle. In June 2015, she began helping people to begin their weight loss journey – even before she became a NESTA-certified weight management specialist and fitness nutrition coach, an IREP-certified fitness trainer and a Licensed STRONG by Zumba® Instructor.
When Ruby experienced the journey of weight-loss, she began to appreciate all the challenges facing modern women on the same quest and was pushed to solve as many of these problems as she could… by starting her own gym. The founder of the RA-Fit Club and self-described “serial entrepreneur” has had her fair share of trials, with stories of business success and failure alike. A loving wife, doting mother of three girls and a deeply thankful survivor of a few life threatening health scares. Ruby shares her inspiring journey with me in this interview
My childhood didn’t prepare me for what I’m doing now, but you can say that I was somewhat exposed to exercise and fitness at some point during my childhood, because we had neighbors that were actually in professions that made it necessary for them to be at the National Stadium in Surulere every Saturday. It used to be fun listening to them narrate their stadium experiences, and sometimes they would demonstrate some exercises to me. I remember doing my first sit-up crunch. I had just finished my SS3 exams, sitting and waiting for results – while adding weight (LOL). One of my neighbour’s sons (who had just become a referee like his dad) decided to take it upon himself to teach me some exercise moves. So, yes, you could say I had a little taste of it, and it was fun… I found out that I was good at it! But it ended there… or so I thought.
Inspiration behind your fitness club
It’s hard for me to pinpoint any single thing, because I have had a string of life experiences that kept pointing me in this direction. I first got into fitness as a profession after I had successfully shed 30kg of excess body weight within one-year of an intense exercise and healthy nutrition lifestyle. After I had been practicing as a fitness professional for a couple of years, I began to feel an aching need to make real contact with people out there who had expressed a need to be trained and motivated directly by me. It became harder to go beyond a certain level of contact with my people by keeping it purely online. At first all I wanted to do was have somewhat a meeting place where my clients could take part in group training sessions… just something small. But the more I searched for a location, the bigger the idea kept getting. And here we are.
Being a coach, nutrition and weight management specialist, Mom and wife
It’s been a rollercoaster ride, and it got a whole lot crazier after we started the fitness club, but love has kept me moving. The funny thing is that I have been in this crazy routine – as in, we’ve not had any sort of domestic staff in my household – for about 7 years! The fact that I worked from home for the most part of it was clearly an advantage – especially after my husband returned to a rigorous 9-5 routine 6 years ago (leaving home before 6am and sometimes returning after 10pm). There have been different phases in the coping story.
It’s tough promoting fitness to Nigerians, but I’m thankful for the increase in awareness of wellness, fitness and healthy living in today’s Nigeria. At first the club was very scanty (naturally), but in a year, we had over 200 registered members, and about 2-thirds of them are active and regular.
The neighborhood has welcomed us warmly, judging by the camaraderie we get from our members – who now see themselves as part of one fun-loving fitness family.
Harsh realities of weight loss and fitness.
For starters, you will have to give away all your big clothes (LOL), and don’t go shopping until you know you’ve hit your target weight… or gotten close. And this can be an insane experience, especially if it takes years of bouncing up and down the scale to get there (which it usually does). But seriously:
It takes time so one needs to be patient and requires taking a firm decision, being dedicated and disciplined – with both exercise and the things you eat or drink.
I know it sounds cliché, but I am inspired by love itself. I generally want things to work out for everybody – and sometimes that is perceived as a weakness – but that’s how I always remember myself to be. I’m also deeply inspired by well-told stories in movies and international TV series – especially sitcoms, medical, legal and investigative drama types (Grey’s Anatomy, Bull, NCIS, Hawaii 5-0, Criminal Minds). It’s amazing how much family, friendship and pure love are written into these stories. I feed off that too.
I have a lot of people who have inspired me for years, and still do from all over the world, and here in Nigeria as well. But the one person who stands out for me in this sense is Maje Ayida. He has steadily grown his fitness brand in Nigeria, and he practically hand-held me into the level of “fitpreneurship” that I am at right now.
Oh my gooodnesss! I mean, I love a huge pay cheque – trust me, I do – but I’m going to go cliché on you again by saying this: My greatest reward is and has always been the smiles on the faces of my clients, and the testimonials they share with me when they are seeing progress in their fitness and health. I can’t explain how awesome it feels when a client walks into my office (or calls me on the phone) to say “mehhn, Mrs Ruby, I’ve started dashing out clothes o! They’re now too big for me” or “Ah! I went to see my cardiologist today and he has reduced my BP meds!”. Or even the cutest one ever, “Mrs Ruby, my butt is taking shape o!” LOL!
I think that social enterprise leans heavily on education, which in our world today can be translated as content. Sometimes it is hard to keep up the pace of bringing this knowledge to your audience, and it has to be verified content, because you are putting your brand behind it. Ever since I started the RA-Fit club, both my blog and my social media content took a hit, because I used to be a lot more active in these spaces, sharing inspiration, tips and advice on exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle in general. I am working hard on getting my groove back, so that I can bring my wider audience into the excitement that we’re experiencing in the RA-Fit family.
Projects and Activities
I had a health scare in 2014. In summary, I had a surgery by which I survived a close shave with something called endometrial hyperplasia. This experience led me to do a lot of research into female reproductive cancers. In October 2015 I held GyFest, a small gathering of women to shed light on truths about gynaecologic cancers, and to encourage women to speak up… and to speak up fast – whenever they notice any changes in their body. Don’t ignore the signs. Speaking up early saved my life. Running the club has opened my eyes to the fact that so many women are going though a lot of health-related issues, and they keep it to themselves. This year I intend to make GyFest not just an event but a movement, because I’ve learned a lot within the past year about the need to inspire more courage in women.
It’s hard running a business (and a startup, for that matter), especially in Nigeria’s current economic environment, but because for me RA-Fit is – first – a labour of love, I can break up with the whole idea of it at night, we kiss and make up in the morning, and I just can’t wait to get to work and do what I do. I have always said that this is a calling for me, not just a career. One of the reasons I didn’t set out to start a gym in the early days of being a fitness professional is the capital-intensive nature of it. It takes a lot, and you sometimes need more support than you think… financial, emotional, spiritual and otherwise. I pray now more than I used to, and I thank God every day – even when the challenges seem most unbearable.
Being a Woman of Rubies
I asked myself the same question before this interview… then the easy answer came to me: my name is Ruby perhaps? (LOL). But seriously I sometimes ask myself where I get the courage to embark on some things. I guess it’s in me. I’ve been through a lot in my life, as a child, a student in university, and in my years as a married woman and mother. Somehow, I think my early-life battles with financial and social status put this thing in me that sees to it that I won’t sit back and do nothing… ever. I’ve had friends refer to me as a fighter – maybe that’s what I was created to be.
Advice for women who are finding it hard to lose weight and are yet to embrace fitness goals.
Our tag-line at RA-Fit is “Find Your Fit”. The truth is, sometimes we spend more energy benchmarking ourselves against what other people are able to accomplish in this space. We don’t all look the same. Every woman’s body is framed in one of so many diverse beautiful ways, and if we would just focus on bringing forth the particular beauty that is ours, then the fitness goals we set for ourselves become more realistic and less scary, because – truth be told – this is not meant to be a one-time thing, it’s a life-long journey. So I would say in short: set realistic goals, take baby steps, be patient and enjoy every stage of you because the next stage will be glad you did.
You have been working out and trying to eat healthy, but the pounds still are not coming off. Its frustrating, we know. Thankfully, there are lots of little changes you can make to get on the right track. These are a few of the most surprising things that might be holding you back.
You are following a diet and exercise plan that isn’t tailored for you.
Everybody is different: thats the message Bruce Lee, the executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University, wants to send when it comes to weight loss. Theres been a lot of fad dieting and fad exercise programs, Lee says. The reason that a single diet plan and the same exercise routine dont work for everybody is that we all live different lives in unique bodies that have their own needs.
You have to tailor what you do to yourself, he says. Instead of following a specific diet or exercise plan, dont be afraid to try lots of different things to find what works for you.
Eating healthy foods and healthy portions needs to take a front seat.
Weight loss isnt just about working out: Its also about what you eat. But many people still dont pay enough attention to food and portion size, Lee says.
You wont have much success sustainably losing weight without getting your diet under control, for two reasons. First, without the proper fuel, even getting into the gym or out on the road is hard. Youll drag. Second, diet and exercise are both factors shaping weight loss, Lee says, and trying to figure out which one is more important is sort of like asking which is more important, your arm or your leg? That means you should pay as much attention to what youre eating as you do to how youre working out, which may mean investing more time in meal planning.
Intimidated? To start with, he suggests keeping a food diary and writing down everything you eat for a couple of weeks. Then figure out where you can trim unnecessary calories from your regular diet, as well as unnecessary dollars from credit card bill. Eating healthy has gotten expensive, Lee says. This method will help you figure out how to make your money count.
Youre only exercising at the gym.
Sure, your time at the gym is helpful in losing weight, and we’ve got tips to help you make the most of it. But the exercise outside the gym-and the mindset that goes with it-that will help you make long term changes to lose weight and keep it off. When it comes to exercise, Lee says, if you cant keep doing it, its not going to work.
That doesnt mean stop going to the gym-it just means you may need to change your mindset a bit. Your day-to-day life has plenty of opportunities for meaningful exercise, like taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, or adding half an hour of vigorous playtime with your kids to your daily schedule. Taken all together, these activities help ensure that even if you dont make it to the gym quite as often as you mean to, you can still do things that make a long-term difference in your fitness and weight.
The number on the scale is moving-but slowly.
Many people who lose weight dont keep it off: Take the oft-cited example of Biggest Loser contestants. When you lose weight, your bodys resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn just by living) slows down. When contestants on the show lost large amounts of weight-an average of 100 pounds-over seven months, their RMRs decreased significantly.
That means they had to work harder than they previously would have had to just to keep the weight off. Researchers who followed up with 14 of those contestants six years after they left the show found that their resting metabolic weights had remained low, which contributed to them gaining back some of the weight they had lost. The key to sustainable weight loss is time, not giant scales and reality television. What you have to do is retrain your body slowly, Lee says.
Unfortunately, theres no single thing that will make you lose weight. The good thing is that your weight loss goal might help you make your whole life better. Its more about lifestyle and long term changes, says Aaron Roseberry, a biologist at Georgia State University who studies obesity and eating.
Youve hit a weight loss plateau.
Plateaus happen: its all in how you handle them. Be patient, and dont give up on your goals, because slow and steady is the key to sustainable weight loss. What you have to do is retrain your body slowly, Lee says. If you see your weight on the scale not going down for a while, that may mean its time to reassess how youre approaching diet and exercise and see if theres something you need to tweak. Check out our list of the most common reasons people plateau for some ideas.
Still bummed? There are other indicators that youre getting healthier you can look to for motivation, like waist size. Abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, surrounds your internal organs and is the most unhealthy kind of weight to carry, Roseberry says. Keep track of your waist measurement and how your belly looks: even if youre not losing overall weight quickly, youll be able to measure a loss in belly fat as you get healthier.
You need more sleep.
Sleep is essential, both for mental acuity and to help your body recover from working out, but it can be hard to get enough good sleep. Besides making time for that 7-8 hours of shut eye, ensure you’re getting quality sleep by evaluating your sleep environment and looking at your habits for things that could be decreasing sleep quality. If you need a little extra, try folding in a nap. Oh, and don’t hit snooze. It wont help.
You need to think about mental health.
Mental health can affect [weight] in a multitude of ways, Lee says. From stress which can change your hormones, to depression, which can cause someone to withdraw from others and not take care of themselves, these unseen factors can have huge impact. If you’re having trouble losing weight, maybe its time to look at the things in your life that may be impacting your mental health and evaluate how you can address them. For some people, that might mean seeing your doctor or seeking out a therapist, something that our editor wrote last year can still be very stigmatized for men. Know that you’re not alone, and that you are doing whats best for you by considering your mental health.
You need to see your doctor.
In some cases, underlying conditions that your doctor can treat or help you manage may be the reason why youre not losing weight. Head to your doctor (with that food diary in hand, preferably) and see if they can help you figure it out.
Medications youre on may also be affecting your weight loss, such as antibiotics, says Lee. You can stop in at your local pharmacy and ask if they can help you evaluate what youre taking and if it might be holding you back.
Where you live and work is making it hard.
If the only place near your work to grab lunch is the Wendys, chances are youll lunch a the Wendys-at least more than you would if you had other choices. If the nearest grocery store to your house doesnt have a lot of healthy options, youll probably buy and eat fewer health foods.
A common mistake people make in thinking about weight is to believe its all on you, Lee says. He suggests taking a systems approach to weight loss: In order to figure out why you’re not losing weight, look at the systems around you that make you keep it on. Once you’ve assessed your environment, you can figure out how to optimize the things in it that you can control. Whether that means folding in a lunchtime walk at work because your neighborhood isn’t easy to walk in during the evening, packing your lunch rather than eating out, or starting to eat breakfast, small changes can make a huge difference.
Unsure what to look at? Three factors affect weight, Lee says: diet, physical activity, and metabolism . Chances are you can make some changes in your life to affect all three. But don’t be too hard on yourself: Were so outcomes-focused, Lee says. And there’s only so much you can control.
You need a little help from your friends.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone: when it comes to habit changes, Lee says the people who participate in those habits with you can also help you change them. If you and the guys meet regularly for wing night, try mixing it up with a healthier option, or better yet, hit the courts for a game of pick-up basketball. Enlisting your friends to help you lose weight might also help them get started on a healthier path.
The beautiful things about morning is that they largely determine the rest part of the day. To keep that get-fit momentum going all day long, start your day off right with these morning habits that will motivate you even more.
GET SOME SUN
Basking in the sun’s rays can help you drop pounds. Why? Morning light helps regulate your internal clock, which aids your sleep schedule (crucial for weight loss). Morning sunshine also contains higher levels of blue light, which has the strongest effect on your circadian rhythm. You only need 20-30 minutes of morning sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon to get in on these benefits!
GET IN A MINDFUL MOOD
Mindfulness is a key strategy when it comes to weight loss. It’s all about taking a focused, intentional approach to your life by really tuning in to your body and mind. Even better, it can stabilize your emotions, potentially making you less likely to give into stress-based eating. Take a few minutes at the start of each day to sit quietly and focus on the rhythm of your breath.
CHANGE UP YOUR COMMUTE
Driving to work is easy, but it may not be best for your waistline. A study published in the journal BMJ shows that people who walk, bike, and take public transportation have lower BMIs and body-fat percentages than those who depended on their cars to get to work. Even walking to the closest bus stop or train station can be beneficial.
While the jury’s still out on whether breakfast is essential for weight loss, a healthy dose of protein in the morning looks like it can help you drop pounds. Protein takes a long time to digest and pushes your body to secrete the gut hormone Peptide YY, which helps increase feelings of fullness.