Take it or leave it.

Monday, March 20, 2017


They say nothing worthwhile is without its price. But the pros of drinking enough water far outweigh the cons, which is to say the price of adequate hydration is a pittance, which is to say a rather small price indeed. But not that small, if like me you seem to wake up every hour to pee.

I clearly was not drinking enough water. The fact that I may have suffered a kidney stone revealed as much to me. The discomfort of said stone was not as excruciating as I've heard tell. Of course my tolerance for pain may be exceptionally high. I like being exceptional, and I never resist an opportunity to congratulate myself. Prior to said stone I had been in the habit of consuming about six cups of water a day, more if you include the water in coffee and the soda in a Scotch and soda, which I know you're not supposed to include, so let's not. 

Now, six cups may not sound like much, but my diet is so high in fruits and vegetables, which are 75% or more water by weight, that I considered my hydration on par with a meat eater who prides himself on drinking a gallon of H20. And there are a lot of these meat eaters. Most of them call themselves Paleos and do Crossfit. So all the fluid in my fruit and vegetable intake provided me with yet another opportunity to congratulate myself. But six cups was not enough, as flank pain, burning with urination and microscopic hematuria announced in no uncertain terms. And so I upped it to ten. Now I have about 3 cups in the morning on waking, 3 cups after working out, and 2 cups each before lunch and dinner. And I feel a lot better. I have more energy and feel leaner, and I don't think I'll suffer another bout of nephrolithiasis, which is the fancy term for those stones. But I always need to be within urine-shot of the toilet.

In fact, I'm so well hydrated that each night while sleeping I get up every 2 or 3 hours to pee. Which disrupts my sleep, and causes heath problems of its own. Note that growth hormone secretion is highest during deep sleep. And growth hormone is the fountain of youth. Just ask former Major Leaguer Barry Bonds, who used it well into his 40s, an age at which most ballplayers long since retire, to break the home run record. Less growth hormone means less virility, less libido, less zest for life. Which translates into fewer home runs, in more than one sense of the term, and the ladies know what I'm talking about.

But getting up to pee is a chore and now I remember why I curtailed water consumption in the first place. Prior to said stone I would stop drinking fluids several hours before bedtime, preemptively dehydrating myself so I could pass the night without stirring. But not going to the bathroom for eight hours at a stretch is not good for you. It's arguably worse than getting up several times throughout the night. 

And so I pee. And I'm better off for it. See, nothing without its price.

There is one thing, however, that doesn't seem to come at any cost, and it's fitting since we're on the subject of hydration. Water is free, if you're not some idiot who pays a few dollars a bottle so your friends see you drinking Evian. Nobody cares. If they do, they're not said friends. Drink from the tap, or invest in a purifier.

I'm talking about cold showers. Recently my friend, who is nearing 50, asked me if there is anything he could do to keep his skin tight. Gravity and what not. Said friend likes to take a nightly Jacuzzi, often while enjoying a six pack of his favorite oat soda (read: beer). Said friend also has a pool, which unlike said Jacuzzi is unheated. I advised him to make like the Swedes - or is it the Swiss? - and after his sauna jump into the cold pool. Thirty or so seconds should be enough to make his testicles shrink into his sternum. The jowls would follow. 

But would thirty seconds really make a difference? said friend wished to know. Does doing 50 push-ups a day make a difference in the size and density of your chest? I replied. Said friend said yes. His body responds rather quickly to resistance training. The same principle applies, I advised. 

As is my wont, I'm speaking from experience. This year I began swimming laps in my unheated pool around the first of March. This is much earlier than in prior years, when I'd take my first dip in May. Maybe it's global warming. Each 10-minute session involving 10 or maybe 25 laps is as invigorating as or possibly more than a cold shower, and certainly more so than sex, excuse the non sequitur. Plus I get out with tight skin and invisible testicles, which never happens after sex but which from my research on the subject seems to be the only price to pay from exposing oneself to frigid liquid temperatures. And since it feels so invigorating, and is temporary, testicular shrinkage is well worth it. Much better than blue balls, if you ask me.

If you believe the Internet, cold showers or cold pools or dips into the cold ocean or dousing yourself beneath a waterfall near you (that's me in the photo, thank you Kerstin!) provide a host of benefits which I invite you to peruse for yourself here. Or you can trust me. Which I recommend. Call it the lazy man's option. Sexism aside, the lazy man's option is an alternative I always wholeheartedly endorse. 

By the way, this same friend is himself a lazy man. He once asked me if I'd recommend he take testosterone to slow the effects of aging. I said he should just eliminate junk food and start an exercise program. But then he wouldn't be lazy, he replied. Or aging, was what I came back with. See, nothing without its price. Except cold showers. It turns out that taking them will increase your testosterone naturally. But if you believe that, I have some smart water to sell you.

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