Eva Santiago

Guest Blogger

I Love You Electrolytes, Will You Marry Me?

Let me start by telling you something you already know… wedding planning can be stressful.  You have a million ideas racing around in your head and a million more people to meet with – a wedding cake to pick out, a wedding dress to buy, and the list goes on.  You may feel like you have zero time to do it all in, and in addition you still have the demands of your every day life.   This is such an exciting time (you’re getting married!) so don’t fear the stress.  The pressures you feel are inevitable and that’s OK.  Stress isn’t bad, it’s all about how you handle it.  That’s why it is so important for you, the bride, to take care of yourself,  so that you  are on  not only on you’re ‘A’ Game  on your big day, but all the crazy days of prep leading up to it.  The best way to handle stress?  Stay healthy, stay hydrated.

I know a thing or two about hydration and re-hydrating.  My “office” is a sweat box.  I teach and practice Bikram Yoga – the original hot yoga.  Classes are 90 minutes and the room is 105 degrees with 40% humidity.  I lose 1-2 pounds of sweat when I teach a yoga class and lose anywhere from 3-6 pounds when I take a yoga class.  Keeping my electrolyte balance sometimes feels like a part-time job. I’m a professional rehydrator,  if you will.

How do we end up dehydrated? Over-exposure to the sun, your period, intense exercise, excessive sweating, sickness, high altitudes, air travel, vomiting, diarrhea, emotional stress and alcohol can all do the trick. I remember some points in my life when I’ve had almost all of these at once.  Brutal.  Have you?

What’s an electrolyte?  I’m not going to throw out a bunch of scientific terms, I’m just going to tell you what you need to know.  Electrolytes maintain water balance in the body and water balance keeps all those other complicated systems in your body running smoothly. Organs can’t work alone, they need the help of other organs to do their job.  Planning a wedding requires all systems working together, coordinating and communicating.  Systems running efficiently is what we want in our bodies and isn’t that we really want on our big day?  Everything running smoothly.

There are seven major electrolytes. We’re just going to touch on the top four real quick: Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium.  They are all secreted through your pores to some extent, so every day you lose some minerals through your skin.

Sodium: If you lick the back of your hand after a run or a good, sweaty workout,  it will taste salty (but  please refrain from doing that at the dress rehearsal).  That’s because sweat is composed of sodium.  The more you sweat the more sodium you lose.  Don’t worry too much about how to get sodium into your diet.  The modern diet has plenty. The next three… not so much.

Potassium: You lose potassium, as well, when you sweat, but you won’t taste it on the back of your hand.  Sweat has no scent, it’s the bacteria on the skin that gives it that special… je ne sais quoi.

Magnesium:  Probably one of most underrated minerals. Why doesn’t magnesium get the love and attention it deserves?   No one has figured out a way to popularize it  the way bananas and potassium have this automatic association and the marriage between calcium and bone health.  It’s important to remember, especially in these festive times, you know what I’m talking about, Ms. I’m-Only-Going-to-Have-One-Glass-of-Wine, that the kidneys will excrete up to 25% more Magnesium after a night of heavy drinking.

Calcium: Have you ever associated calcium with hydration? Most people don’t.  Probably because over 90% of the calcium in your body is in your teeth and bones.  We associate calcium with the skeletal system and dairy foods like yogurt, not fluids.  Maybe because the media is saturated with yogurt commercials. Greek, whipped, low calorie. Do you see how happy those girls are on yogurt commercials? What’s really in that little cup, euphoria? It’s like they just won the lottery and landed a date with Channing Tatum. But I digress…

Let’s look at hydration from another perspective.  Think food.  Whole foods, not fluids.

Sodium: sea salt, beets, carrots, celery and coconut water

Potassium: sweet potatoes, calcium-fortified OJ, beans, avocado, dried apricots and coconut water

Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, spinach, kale, brown rice and coconut water

Calcium: almonds, low-fat dairy, broccoli, sardines and coconut water

Eat-to-Hydrate Dinner for 2 (prep time 15-20 minutes)

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp butter / olive oil / coconut oil
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • Semi sweet low-fat healthy salad dressing.

Poke the potatoes with a fork a few times, then wrap them in a damp paper towel.  Microwave them together for a total of about 8-to-10 minutes, depending on their size.

While the potatoes are cooking, pull that rotisserie chicken apart and ditch the skin.  Slice up the avocado.  Mix the baby spinach and pumpkins seeds together with the low fat dressing of your choice.

Your potatoes should be close to done.  Take them out carefully (use tongs) because they are going to be crazy hot and steamy.  Let them sit for a minute.  Cut them in half and scoop out that orange goodness with a big spoon and mix with either butter, olive oil or coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix lightly until it’s a smooth consistency of mashed potatoes.

Plate your food: A few scoops of sweet potato mash, spinach salad, a healthy serving of lean chicken and a few slices of avocado on the side.  Wash it down with a cold glass of coconut water.

Electrolyte Heaven.

Maintaining a relatively balanced diet with foods that are high in the same minerals that make up electrolytes is a win–win.

You have a lot on your plate right now (pun intended). So take baby steps in the direction you want to go.  Slow, steady progression is what it’s all about. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is hard work. What bridal fitness prep isn’t? But it has to be a little hard for it be a lot great.  It takes some commitment; trust in the systems that make your organs work efficiently and faith in your body. Just like a relationship, engagements and marriage. It’s not always easy. It takes commitment, trust, and faith and if you have that? Well you know… beautiful things happen.