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Cinema Under the Stars
By Carol LeBeau
7/9/2015 4:18:36 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Got any plans this weekend? How about a movie? Better yet, how about a movie under the stars?   

Surprise someone you care about and head to Mission Hills and the Cinema Under the Stars, San Diego’s unique open-air movie theater. Tom and I have been enjoying this unique cinema experience for years. We want you to know about one of San Diego’s best-kept entertainment secrets. 

The summer heat is on…but even if it’s cool, you won’t care. The intimate outdoor venue…tucked away in Mission Hills…has a fantastic heating system and cozy throws to keep you warm.  But watch out! You may just drift off during the opening cartoon in your super-comfy zero-gravity recliner. 

The theater specializes in movie classics from “Casablanca” and “Sabrina” to “Rear Window” and “From Here to Eternity.” But owner, Doug Yeagley also features contemporary classics and new releases such as “Avatar” and “Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” 

At the Cinema Under the Stars, movies are projected digitally onto a 20-foot screen in the charming and intimate patio theater just behind “TOPS” Hair Salon on Goldfinch in Mission Hills.”

It’s so fun!  Surrounded by tiny “twinkle” lights and no more than 60 fellow moviegoers…the venue is perfect for viewing your favorite movie classics.  Show time is 8:30, but you may want to start earlier with dinner nearby at any of a number of popular eateries. (Some offer deals with movie tickets!)  I highly recommend The Patio, just a few doors down from the theater on Goldfinch.

I’m marking my calendar for “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe. Always fun to see the Hotel Del on the big screen. That’s the weekend of August 15. My other August picks?  For sure “The Wizard of Oz.” I’m sure I’ve seen it 20 times!  I guess that’s why they call it a classic! 

“Pretty Woman,” with Julia Roberts, one of my all time faves is playing the weekend of August 22.  “Casablanca” and “The Princess Bride” heads up the September schedule…appointment viewing for me!

Why not pick a favorite film of your own?  The schedule is available online at topspresents.com. Take a break from crowded (freezing!!) indoor theaters. San Diego’s “endless summer” is just getting started and the stars are out! Recline and relax at the Cinema Under The Stars. 

By the way, the popcorn’s great!

The Nasal Spray That Could Help You Lose Weight!
By Carol LeBeau
4/10/2015 3:09:24 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Two women near and dear to me face a daily battle with their weight. It breaks my heart to watch as they valiantly fight their lifelong enemy…food.

Medically speaking, Sara and Michelle (not their real names) are obese. And while many label those who overeat as lazy and undisciplined, I’m convinced my friends are neither. I don’t think it’s their fault. 

You see, for some of us, it’s no problem. When I’m full, I stop eating. Beyond that, it’s uncomfortable. But for some people, that feeling of satiety never comes. My friends have confided they never feel full, constantly think about food and are hungry all the time.

So I’m encouraged by news of a ray of hope for folks like Michelle and Sara.  According to a new study, a single dose of nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin may help people eat less.

These findings, reported by the Endocrine Society, confirm those in animal studies showing oxytocin reduced food intake. It sounds too good to be true!  That’s why further studies are needed, but study investigators believe the hormone is a promising treatment for obesity and its health implications.

Oxytocin is widely referred to as the “love hormone,” because it’s associated with parts of the brain that control emotional, cognitive and social behaviors. The nasal spray form is available in Europe, but for now, can only be used in clinical trials in the U.S.

I found the study…involving twenty-five men...fascinating. Thirteen of the men had a healthy weight. Twelve were either overweight or obese. After fasting, they were randomly assigned either the spray with oxytocin or a placebo.

One hour after inhaling the nasal spray, the men had breakfast, which they chose from the menu. Each meal came with double portions. The researchers then counted how many calories each man ate.

Then men returned at a later date and the experiment was repeated…with each man receiving the opposite treatment. On average, the men who took the nasal spray ate 122 fewer calories and nine grams less fat.  Even more encouraging, the oxytocin spray appeared to increase the use of body fat as a fuel for energy.

For decades, medical scientists have tried diets, pills and shots… in search of the “magic bullet” that will end obesity for good.  Is there “magic” in oxytocin Probably not. But if it could develop into an effective weapon in the battle against weight, perhaps my friends and millions like them could eventually win the war against weight.

Stay tuned...

Fighting the Flu with Food!
By Carol LeBeau
2/12/2015 11:51:27 AM


–FULL BIO
 

For the record, I have never been overly concerned about germs.   

Disgusting door knobs on public restrooms? No biggie. Sticky handrails on escalators? Couldn’t care less. And I almost never observe the “five-second” rule when an errant bite of food falls to the floor. 

As I child, my Dad assured me germs were good. Germs, he told me, help build a healthy immune system.

But there I was last week, onboard a plane bound for the east coast, meticulously wiping down my tray table, seat belt buckle and overhead lighting button with anti-bacterial wipes before taking off. 

You see, as much as I fear being labeled a crazy germ-phobe by my seat-mate, the prospect of picking up the flu bug in the 747’s crowded cabin really freaks me out!  

Dire warnings from health experts nationwide have gotten my undivided attention! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn this year’s flu spread could reach epidemic levels.  In January, flu-related hospitalizations were more than double that of January 2014.  

For young children and those sixty-five and older or immune-compromised, the flu can cause serious complications that can even turn fatal. But even if you’re not at risk of dying from the flu, who wants to put up with the misery and lost weeks recovering from the nasty virus?  

So, I got a flu shot and take reasonable precautions to avoid getting slammed with a case of the flu. I wash my hands often, try not to touch my eyes, nose and mouth and  avoid close contact with someone who’s sick.

But with another flight to the East Coast in my near future, I’m going to do more. Did you know you can bump up your immune system by eating more flu-fighting foods?

In addition to eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies and drinking 10 glasses of water a day…check out how these “power” foods can help keep your immune system on guard:

The live cultures in yogurt are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities.

Garlic, the potent onion relative, contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. I recently learned that shellfish - oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams - contain selenium.  It helps white blood cells produce cytokines - proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. (BTW - salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from respiratory infections.)

And don’t forget chicken soup! You know it makes you feel good, but your favorite soup also blocks the migration of inflammatory white cells that gather in the bronchial tubes when you’re sick.

An amino acid called L-theanine is an immune-booster found in both black and green tea. (Plus it feels so good going down!) And if you’re low in zinc, you could be at increased risk of infection. So now and then, have a bit of beef to shore up your zinc stores.

Keep your skin (first line of defense against bacteria!) strong with the Vitamin A found in sweet potatoes give your immune system another boost by increasing the activity of white blood cells with mushrooms. Add a handful pasta sauce, sauté with a little oil and add to eggs or just pile a bunch of ‘rooms atop a frozen pizza.

Oh, I’ll keep using Purell like crazy while sneezing into my elbow. But with these superfoods on my side, I’m not giving in to the flu without a fight!  

How ‘bout you?!

Some Like It Cold! Finding joy in a cold, dark winter!
By Carol LeBeau
1/6/2015 1:05:27 PM


–FULL BIO
 

The shorter the days, the happier I am. Call me crazy, but I actually look forward to rolling back the clock to end daylight-saving time.  And I’m not alone!

While many people get the blues as winter sets in, some of us prefer colder temperatures and shorter days…experiencing a sense of peace and well-being during the cold, dark winter.

It’s good to know my “condition” has a name. Recent research has discovered people with “summer seasonal affective disorder” suffer symptoms of depression or “blues” from May to September, but report happier feelings as the temperature drops.   

It appears I’m not crazy after all!

A small, quiet minority of people actually cheer up and draw energy from the long, dark days of winter.  For me, it’s the “cozy” feeling that comes from being home reading a good book with a fleece throw and my kitty, “Bing” warming my lap. It’s like going into hibernation for a few months! (Maybe the colder, darker days just give me “permission” to dial it back a bit?!)

One study found so-called “summer-haters” are miserable and restless from late spring to early fall, while everyone else is overjoyed to be getting outside. Fortunately, recent research is shedding light on the reasons some folks prefer winter.  Nine out of 10 people notice seasonal changes of mood and behavior to some degree. In a study of 416 Maryland residents, a tiny minority have seasonal disruptive swings that go beyond feeling uncomfortable on hot, summer days.

Psychiatrists and psychologists can diagnose seasonal mood syndrome based on whether someone becomes depressed, experiences changes in mood, energy, sleep patterns, appetite and socializing during the same months each year.

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues says about five percent of us suffer the winter version of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Summer SAD affects a mere 0.7 percent of the population.

If you’re among those who rejoice in winter, (I think Christmas has a lot to do with it!) enjoy—this is your time!   

But there’s really no need to let any season get you down. Whether shorter days and colder temps or long, hot summer days…if they cause anxiety, insomnia, weight loss and depression, there is help. A mental health professional can recommend a variety of treatments, including talk therapy, light therapy or antidepressants.

There is a way to turn that seasonal frown upside down! 

Shop ‘Till You Drop? How to Stop!
By Carol LeBeau
12/10/2014 3:24:47 PM


–FULL BIO
 

I really need to update my wardrobe. Nothing much…just a pair of updated jeans, boots and a couple of shirts and sweaters. I’ve been putting it off for months because I hate to shop.   

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having nice things. It’s just that shopping is such a hassle and takes so much time. I get overwhelmed by the choices and often walk away with nothing because I can’t make a decision. I admire women who can scan a rack of clothes…zero in on exactly what they want…and make their purchase without second-guessing.

That said, I realize some women love to shop so much, it becomes an addiction. (Don’t worry, I have other problems!)  And it’s no wonder…especially during the holidays. Temptation is all around us--daily door-buster deals, friends and family discounts and free shipping if you spend over $150!   

Sadly, for an estimated 6% of Americans with compulsive buying tendencies, this is a tough time of year.

“The whole culture conspires against us during the holiday season,” says April Lane Benson, a New York psychologist who has treated compulsive shoppers for 15 years. Besides tempting sales, pressure to top last year’s gifts and the urge to shop for oneself, she says, “the holidays bring up a lot of unfulfilled longing for some people…and that’s one reason why they shop…as a salve for disappointment.”

While the stereotypical compulsive shopper is a woman in her 30’s, experts say the ease and speed of Internet shopping is luring more men and young people.

According to the director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University School of Medicine, the Internet is dangerous for compulsive buyers in two ways. 

“Transactions move so quickly, it’s hard to pause to reassess the buying urge,” says psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude.  He says The Internet also lets people disassociate from reality and assume a grandiose alter ego fueled by virtual cash.

“Online, money is no longer anchored to reality, so what do we do?  We spend more,” Dr. Aboujaoude says.

While buying a book on amazon.com recently, another title caught my eye. With one click, I impulsively bought the second book. Makes me wonder whether we’re all at risk. When does “retail therapy” cross the line into compulsive shopping? 

Experts says purchasing turns pathological when people continue to do it, even though it causes financial problems, disrupts work, family or social life.  If shopping involves deceit, such as hiding bills and packages…that’s another red flag.

Some facts about compulsive spending from the Wall Street Health Journal: 
 
*Most compulsive shoppers earn less than $50,000 a year.
*Compulsive shopping typically starts in the late teens or early 20’s.
*People typically overspend for several decades before seeking help.
*Many compulsive shopper also suffer from depression, anxiety, substance-abuse or eating disorders
*About half of compulsive shoppers also hoard.

While there is no specific treatment for compulsive shopping, experts agree changes in behavior can have a huge impact on breaking shopping addiction:

1. Admit you are a compulsive spender.  That’s half the battle.
2. Get rid of checkbooks and credit cards. They just fuel the problem.
3. Don’t shop by yourself.  If you are with someone else, you are much less likely to spend.
4. Find other meaningful ways to spend time.  

And keep in mind that while behavior change is crucial to recovery, so is reaching out for help. I recommend the Department of Behavioral Health at Palomar Health. Highly-trained professionals there can help you or a loved one shop ‘till you stop!

Speed up the healing process with a healthy diet. Don’t restrict calories when you can’t exercise
By Carol LeBeau
10/31/2014 4:18:37 PM


–FULL BIO
 

While swimming laps one morning, I noticed a young lady in the lane next to me was struggling a bit.  She would swim a few strokes, then stop and tread water awhile before trying again.  She looked very fit, but clearly was not comfortable in the water.

At one point, we struck up a conversation across the lane line and I learned Abby was a marathon runner recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Swimming was not her sport, but she told me she had to do something…first because she wanted to maintain her fitness level.  But even more importantly, she did not want to gain weight.  

I can relate with the young distance runner.  30 years ago, following a running injury, I recall severely cutting my calorie intake for fear of “blowing up like a balloon!”

I now know that’s crazy thinking.  

Injury is an unfortunate, but inevitable fate for most athletes or active people. However, if you’re not able to exercise due to a broken bone, torn tendon or unexpected surgery, the right foods can actually help you heal quickly and avoid gaining weight!  

A nutrient-rich diet is key in helping your body heal and get strong again.  Eating too few calories during the recovery process can affect complete and adequate healing.  Not only that, but an extreme reduction in physical activity during recovery can lead to a natural reduction in appetite and food intake.  

So, while you’re healing, choose a variety of quality foods…foods that give you the most nutritional “bang for your buck.”  Don’t eliminate food groups, because they all work together.  

Eat every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar constant and don’t overeat at the end of the day.  Small snacks and meals keep your metabolism active.  And be sure to include these nutrients:

Carbohydrates
Don’t cut out the carbs! When you have bread, fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your body for fuel, the protein you eat can be used to heal and repair muscles.  Too few carbs and your body may burn protein for healing, which hinders healing.  Combine a smaller portion of carbs with other nutrient-dense foods.

Protein
Choose foods such as lean meats, legumes (beans, lentils, soybeans) nuts and low-fat dairy.  You need extra protein post-injury to fuel recovery.  Make sure each snack or meal contains proteins.  Try adding nut butter, egg whites, spinach or lean meats/soy wherever you can.


Plant and fish oils
Fats in these oils (olive, canola, nuts and avocado) have anti-inflammatory properties.  Immediately following an injury, the first response is inflammation. These foods can assist in inflammatory control.

Herbs, spices and botanicals
Again, these nutrients can help manage inflammation.  Curry powder, turmeric, garlic, cocoa, tea…along with fruits and veggies…are great sources.  Consuming these on a daily basis in various recipes provides a strong foundation for recovery.


Vitamins and minerals
An adequate intake of fruits and veggies such as oranges, broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and cantaloupe provides the powerful antioxidants that decrease inflammation. Vitamin C helps your body form collagen…a protein need for strength and flexibility.  It also repairs tendons and ligaments and strengthens bones.  Vitamin A helps your body heal by promoting cell growth and development and immune function.

So Abby…you’ll be back in the swim of things (hopefully out of the pool and back on the road!) before you know it!  Fuel yourself well while you’re waiting and you’re sure to have a personal best at your next marathon!

Until then, see you at the pool!

Overcoming A Diabetes Diagnosis
By Carol LeBeau
10/24/2014 2:25:53 PM


–FULL BIO
 

When faced with the reality of having a life-threatening disease, most of us run the emotional gamut from shock and denial to despair and gut-wrenching fear. When Patricia Ogundare’ received her diabetes diagnosis two years ago, the otherwise measured, soft-spoken woman was overcome with only one emotion … anger.

“I was very, very angry,” recalls Patricia. “I thought my body had betrayed me.”

Proud of her health and vitality and far from overweight, the petite Patricia found she was also embarrassed. “If I had diabetes, it must be my fault,” explains Patricia.

Well, the Patricia I met recently was all smiles as she came bounding through the park on her morning power walk toward our meeting spot at Lake Hodges.

Through diet, exercise and a positive attitude, Patricia is successfully controlling
her diabetes without medications.

“I go to the gym first thing in the morning, use the elliptical, do strength training and sit-ups,” says Patricia. From there, she heads out for a five-mile trek through Rancho Bernardo. “Instead of waking up and taking a pill, I wake up, eat well and take a walk – that’s my medication!”

Before her diagnosis, Patricia was blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb inside her. She’d come to the doctor for treatment of a bloody nose. A routine work-up revealed her blood glucose was a dangerously high 300. Today, that number has dropped to a healthy 119. “I still have diabetes,” she acknowledges. “But it’s under control.”

A strong family history and her African-American heritage put Patricia at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to Vivek Nazareth, M.D., a family practice physician with Arch Health Partners, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians are at double the risk of developing diabetes.

“Patricia was smart to get control before serious, irreversible complications could take hold,” says Dr. Nazareth.

“From the very beginning, Patricia was receptive, motivated and took advantage
of our team-based care at Arch Health,” says Certified Diabetes Educator Fritz Steen who helped Patricia get on the right track to reclaim her good health.

From anger to advocacy, the 55-year-old dynamo now shares her story so others
might be inspired to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent and control the potentially deadly disease. “Many say they don’t have time to exercise … it’s just easier to take medication,” says Patricia. “For me, it’s easier to exercise.”

Patricia’s experience is also having a domino effect. She’s completely changed her family’s eating habits. She’s working less to minimize stress. And all that walking has become a great social outlet. “I was so busy, I didn’t even know my neighbors,”

Patricia explains. “Now I know them all by name!”

As we wrapped up our visit, I asked Patricia whether she was still angry about having diabetes. With a huge smile she exclaimed, “I love my life! I’m not letting diabetes control me. I’m controlling my diabetes!”

Colon Cancer Screening… a Pleasant Experience? It Could Happen!
By Carol LeBeau
10/16/2014 4:50:41 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Just had my annual physical and the news is good! My blood pressure, pulse, temperature and blood work are all within normal levels. No change in weight or medications. I’m sleeping well and my energy is good. 

Yay!

But just when I thought it was safe to button my blouse and head for the car, my doctor sat down for a final chat. “Now that you’re sixty,” she pointed out, (what a buzz kill!) I’d like you to make a few more appointments. As she got out her prescription pad, she explained, “You’ll need to get the shingles shot, an updated bone density scan and a colonoscopy!” 

What!? I could swear I just had one of the miserable colon scans! But medical records don’t lie. There, in black and white, on my doctor’s computer screen, was the date of my last colonoscopy. 2004! Ten years ago! I was fifty. It was clean. And I didn’t want to have another one.  

My whining clearly falling on deaf ears, the doctor handed me the script and advised me to set up an appointment… soon. Well, don’t tell my doctor, but I may just “buy” a little time because there are some new technologies on the horizon that may be easier and even better than the conventional colonoscopy.

Look, I know colonoscopy is important. In fact, the procedure has long been considered one of the most effective cancer-prevention tools. Some studies credit colonoscopies with reducing colon-cancer deaths twenty-five percent over the last decade.  

It’s just that, like root canal, colonoscopies just aren’t much fun.

Doctors use long, rubber tubes with small video cameras to probe the colon. On high-definition monitors, they look for abnormal growths called polyps, which over ten to fifteen years can become cancerous.  

While many of us avoid the procedure for fear it will be painful or expensive, it’s actually the preparation that ranks highest on the misery scale. Swallowing quarts of nasty drink preparations keep you on the edge of your toilet seat for hours. Uncomfortable at best, the whole process can be exhausting and disgusting.

So forgive me if I’d like to hold off making that appointment. There’s been a recent and exciting surge in new methods and devices already on the market or in the pipeline that just may eliminate (sorry!) the need for invasive colonoscopies!

Imagine swallowing a tiny camera embedded in a pill capsule. How ‘bout a DNA test or an endoscope that provides almost panoramic views of the colon? Sure beats gagging down gobs of chalky goo and a procedure that takes up most of the day!

But alas, while these new technologies could play an important role in reducing colon cancer deaths (nearly 51,000 last year in the US) there are still FDA hurdles to clear preventing their approval… at least in the very near future.

Until then, I guess I’ll bite the bullet and make my colonoscopy appointment. It’s the smart thing to do. Besides, the drug they give you makes you forget all about the gag-a-licious drink from the night before!

But next time, you better believe I’m going for the camera in a pill!

The Dangers of Heat Stroke: Don’t let the late-summer sizzle into a health emergency!
By Carol LeBeau
9/24/2014 11:43:32 AM


–FULL BIO
 

A native Chicagoan, my grandmother lived her entire life on the city’s south side.  As Iowa kids, my sister, brother and I thought it was “cool” to visit the big city and stay with Gram in her cute apartment on the top floor of an old, three-story “walk-up.”  

But during a summer heat wave, Gram’s third story dwelling was anything but “cool.”  With no air conditioning and barely a whisper of cross ventilation, the sauna-like conditions in her home were not only miserable, they were downright dangerous.

Gram actually lost one of her elderly neighbors during a brutal summer heat wave nearly 50 years ago.  She died inside her stifling apartment…the victim of heatstroke.  Fortunately, my Gram survived the brutal Chicago summers.  She lived a full life and died peacefully at the age of 75.

Sad to say, that same scenario continues to play out in cities across the country today.  As the temperatures continue to rise is San Diego, the risk of developing heat stroke increases…especially for seniors…like my Gram’s friend.

A recent study at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that forty percent of heat-related fatalities in the United States are among people over the age of 65.  As we age, our bodies become less resilient to changes in temperature.  In addition, many seniors take prescription medications that can inhibit their ability to regulate temperature or perspiration.  Seasoned citizens are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat.

Heat stroke is the most dangerous heat-related illness, but recognizing the early warning signs can ward off a dangerous outcome.

The first signal is bright red, hot-to-touch, dry skin.  By not sweating, your body’s natural cooling mechanism is not working.   Body temperature can then rise to 106 degrees or higher within 15 minutes.  Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, increased fatigue and breathing problems are additional indications of heat exhaustion.

Fortunately, heat stroke is preventable.  To stay safe as the temperature rises this summer and early fall, follow these simple guidelines:

1.    Stay indoors during the heat of the day.  If possible, leave the house before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
2.    Drink plenty of water.  Even if you’re not thirsty, continue to drink liquids -avoiding caffeine or alcohol, which contribute to dehydration.  If you’re taking water pills, check with your doctor about how much you should drink when the weather is hot.  Also, avoid cold liquids.  They can cause cramps.
3.    Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothes…in cotton, if possible…it breathes better.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outside.
4.    If you don’t have air conditioning, find cooler places to spend the day.  Visit the library, mall, movie theater or senior center to escape the heat.
5.    Stay in contact with friends and family. During times of extreme heat, it’s a good idea to have a friend, neighbor or family member check in twice a day to look for signs of heat-related illnesses.
6.    Take it easy.  Avoid exercise during extreme heat.  Rest and take a cool shower or bath.
7.    If you notice signs of heat-related illness, be sure to call 911 immediately.

Although air conditioning is readily available, many in southern California choose not to have it.  After all, most of the year, our weather is quite temperate.  But when that occasional heat wave hits, be on the alert for signs of heat-related illness…in yourself…those you love and the sweet lady in the apartment down the hall.   

It could mean the difference between life and death.

The Wonders of Water (and the dangers of not getting enough!)
By Carol LeBeau
7/10/2014 11:04:19 AM


–FULL BIO
 

What began as a pleasant bike ride took a potentially dangerous turn recently.   

You see, I’m training for a bicycle tour in Iowa the end of July. Hoping to be prepared for the seven-day, 300-mile trek across the Hawkeye State, I’ve been slowly upping my mileage since early spring. 

So far, so good.  

That is, until something went terribly wrong on a typical training ride. It was hot and dry with Santa Ana winds. I though it would be good training since the July heat in Iowa can be oppressive and the headwinds a real challenge.  

At 18 miles, I started feeling “funny…” mildly nauseous, cool, and clammy. As I pedaled down the Strand in Coronado, I found myself mildly disoriented.

Then I got scared. I thought back to the 16 ounces of water I chugged before taking off two hours earlier… then checked the water bottle on my bike and saw it was still half full.

That’s when I realized I’d become severely dehydrated.

After downing the remainder of my water, I slowly rode home. Exhausted and a little shaky, I gratefully realized it could have been a lot worse.

It’s not like I don’t know the importance of getting enough water. How could any of us forget the timeless mantra reminding us to “drink eight glasses of water a day?”  But with added activity, excessive heat and low humidity, I should have been drinking eight ounces an hour!  

As we head into what’s expected to be an especially hot summer, don’t make my mistake. Get plenty of H2O. Need more motivation? Here are a few more reasons to keep your water bottle close by.  

Stay Slimmer With Water

Trying to lose weight? Water revs up your metabolism and helps you feel full. Replace calorie-filled beverages with water and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism – especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm up the water burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water Boosts Your Energy

If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired. The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively. Plus, water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.

Lower Stress With Water

Up to 80 percent of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated.  To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.

Build Muscle With Water

Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.  When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without “hitting the wall.”

Nourish Your Skin

Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream! Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.

Stay Regular With Water

Along with fiber, water is important for good digestion. Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.

Water Reduces Kidney Stones

The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people including children aren’t drinking enough water. Kidney stones can’t form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water.

So, are you getting enough water? According to Web MD, most healthy adults get enough to drink by letting thirst guide them. But the exact amount you need depends on your size, level of activity, the weather and your general health. As I learned the hard way, you may need more water, if you exercise or sweat heavily.