For as long as I can remember, I've always had a love-hate relationship with drinking water. I've always had to make the conscious effort to drink water – it wasn't something I was ever programmed to do, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. Growing up, not many adults around me pushed the "drinking water" agenda. I don't want to dive into the learned unhealthy eating (and drinking) habits that plagues the black community but I kind of picked up this lack of water drinking from home and have always been on the mission to change it.
However, years later, I am finding myself in a bit of a conundrum as I address my water drinking habits: should I buy whatever water is on sale or should I buy the "superior" water because I look forward to drinking it? In my broke college days, the obvious answer was get whatever is on sale. Now that I have a little bit less of a strong hold on my money, the question is, should I spend more on water that I prefer (and promises to benefit me more)?
Through some pre-grocery shopping research, I found this now eye-opening chart of the pH levels of various waters on the market:
I wasn't 100% sure what these pH levels meant, but it dawned on me that those "expensive" waters that I've always favored all had pH levels of 7 or higher, which is considered alkaline. That fact that all the waters that I prefered were alkaline intrigued me to dig a little deeper into this whole alkaline water thing.
By definition, alkaline means "having the properties of an alkali, or containing alkali; having a pH greater than 7." pH level pertains to how acidic or alkaline a substance is. When water is alkaline, although it can naturally occur in nature, for most bottled water, the end result is replicated through a chemical process called electrolysis.
Here are the pH levels of my 3 favorite bottled water brands:
- Core - 7
- Fiji - 7.5
- Essentia - 9.5
There are a few claimed health benefits of alkaline water but there is little to no scientific research to show they are actually real. Some of the alleged benefits of alkaline water include:
- Superior and quicker hydration compared to regular water
- Immune system boosting properties (neutralizing the body's acidity due to poor diet, stress and toxins)
- Slowing down the process of aging with antioxidants (alkaline water is rich in antioxidants)
- Improved skin health
I decided the only way for me to really know if these claims were true was to drink alkaline water for two weeks and see for myself.
Through my research, I found that Essentia was the most alkaline water on the market. For this experiment, I drank primarily Essentia water, so it may be possible that's a major factor in my results. In my local convenience store, one 33 ounce bottle of Essentia water would typically cost me $3. In the past, I've also bought 6 bottles from Target for about $10.99. As I mentioned, I preferred the taste of high pH level water like Essentia, so I was open to spending the extra cash.
By day 3, I was drinking two-three 33.8oz bottles of Essentia water a day. Here's what I experienced during the two weeks that I drank alkaline water:
I did not lose weight.
Let's just get that out the way. I didn't magically get snatched or shed water weight drinking bottles of alkaline water everyday. It would probably take much more time and some cleaning up of my diet in order to experience these kind of results from drinking alkaline water.
However, I did feel and look less bloated.
To some, this may be just as good as actually losing weight. After week one, I did feel like I looked slimmer. Even during my period, when I usually feel as big as a house, my stomach wasn't bulging. I was very happy about that.
My skin did not magically clear up.
Many people think that drinking alkaline water (and a ton of water period) is the magical answer to clear skin but it's not. At least from my experience, my skin still was having minor breakouts and congestion on the right side of my face as it usually tends to. My skin was less problematic during my period but drinking alkaline water did not save me from hormonal breakouts. It wasn't as bad as it had been in the past but I've also been putting more effort into my skincare as of late with the major changes in weather.
Also, drinking a ton of alkaline water did not magically hydrate my skin. Though my skin this time of year has the tendency to be much worse than it is now, I still had to load up on moisturizer to keep my skin hydrated in freezing NYC weather. However, my lips, which usually show the first signs of dehydration, were very hydrated this time of the year. This was a shocker to me and might be because of the alkaline water.
Surprising to me, my menstrual cramps were significantly reduced.
This wasn't something that I was expecting. Usually when my period is coming, I can tell a few days to a week before because I usually have cramps and backaches. It's been that way for as long as I can remember, and for the first time, I couldn't clock my cycle. The Essentia water is loaded with electrolytes, which have been known to ease period cramps. Alkaline water is made through electrolysis or adding electrolytes to water, so I'm confident that drinking so much alkaline water around my period helped ease my pains.
My energy levels have increased without feeling the need for caffeine.
Usually in order to get through the madness of the day, I have to have coffee, tea, or even a Red Bull first thing in the morning and throughout the day to survive. Once I started getting in the habit of drinking alkaline water, I didn't feel the "need" for caffeine and drastically decreased my intake without struggling to be productive.
My urge for sugary drinks decreased.
This probably was my favorite result for this experiment. Over the summer time, I became a chronic soda and juice drinker (thanks to the plethora of brunches and happy hours). It's been hard to curb my craving for sugary drinks but upping my water intake has helped tremendously. In fact, by week two, I found myself thinking about reaching for water before sugary drinks. I was only planning on doing this for two weeks but considering it usually takes 21 days or more to break a bad habit, I'm going to continue drinking alkaline water until drinking water is second nature and not a forced act.
My final thoughts on drinking alkaline water:
Though I didn't experience all the benefits that people attribute to drinking alkaline water, I'm very happy with the things it did do. My lips haven't been chronically dry as they usually are when temperatures go below 40 in New York. It was also nice finding that it "cured" my menstrual cramps without me having to result to medication. Alkaline water will definitely be heavy in my diet around my period for this reason. Lastly, I haven't reached for my morning coffee as much, which may have been the most surprising result yet.
If you can afford to drink alkaline water regularly and enjoy it, go for it. Buying it bottled of course is the easiest way to drink it but you can also add baking soda to regular water to alkalize it or purchase alkaline drops to alkalize water at home, I would recommend having bottled alkaline water strictly for on the go so you won't be emptying your pockets on bottle water.
Although regular water is considered best for most people, due to my personal taste preferences, drinking alkaline water is ideal for me. It has significantly helped me increase my water intake because I genuinely prefer the taste. I only intended on doing this for a couple of weeks for this experiment, but I'm so happy with my results, I'm making drinking alkaline water an official lifestyle change.
Disclosure: In order to conduct this experiment to the best of my ability, I reached out to Essentia Water to provide a two-week supply of alkaline water. The experiment was initiated by myself and these are my honest results.
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Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on January 2, 2019
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you've ever considered role-playing in the bedroom but are trying to figure out how to bring it up to your partner, you're in the right place. It's an exciting way to ignite passion, deepen intimacy, and explore hidden desires. But for couples who are new to the kink, the thought of role-play might be intimidating.
Role-playing is an intimate, consensual activity where couples assume fictional personas in the bedroom. These characters can range from the playful and innocent to the bold and naughty. They engage in different scenarios and act out various fantasies, which are discussed beforehand.
"Role play encourages couples to discuss their desires, boundaries, and fantasies. It fosters open and honest communication about their sexual preferences, leading to a deeper understanding of each other's needs," MoAndra Johnson, MFT, said. "It keeps the spark alive in the relationship by introducing new and exciting elements to the intimate moments."
Johnson is a Sex and Relationship Therapist and founder of Sex On The Table (SOTT), LLC. She passionately advocates for healthy sexuality, positive relationships, and social justice. She spoke with xoNecole to explore the realm of role-playing: how to bring it up to your partner, misconceptions, and how to incorporate role-playing into your sex life successfully.
How to Bring Up the Idea of Role-Play
When introducing role-play in the bedroom to your partner, it's essential to set the stage for an open and honest conversation. Find a relaxed, private setting where you both feel comfortable and free from distractions. Feel free to share your interest in role-playing, highlighting the excitement and sense of adventure it can bring to your relationship. Encourage your partner to express their thoughts and feelings, assuring them that their desires and boundaries are equally important.
"Many couples worry that their partner might judge them for their fantasies or desires. A non-judgmental and open environment is crucial for role-play. Couples need to create a safe space to share their fantasies and understand that vulnerability is a part of healthy intimacy," Johnson explained.
"Role-playing can serve as a form of escapism from the stresses of daily life. It provides an opportunity to temporarily step away from real-world responsibilities and enjoy a playful, stress-free experience," she continued.
Johnson mentioned that this initial conversation is "a foundation for trust and understanding."
The Misconceptions of Role-Play
Misconceptions about bedroom role-play often revolve around the idea that it must be overly complicated or extravagant, like something from a Hollywood movie. People might think they need elaborate costumes, props, and intricate dialogue, which can feel intimidating.
In reality, role-play can be as simple or intricate as you and your partner want it to be. You can start with basic scenarios that require little to no preparation, such as a playful encounter with a sexy twist. It can be tailored to your preferences and comfort levels, making it an accessible and enjoyable tool for spicing up your intimate life.
"Couples often have common concerns and misconceptions about role-play when considering it part of their intimate lives. Addressing these concerns and misconceptions in therapy involves open and honest discussions, education about healthy role-play, and creating a safe and supportive space for couples to explore their desires and fantasies," said Johson. "It's important to emphasize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the most crucial element is mutual consent, comfort, and enjoyment."
Johnson shared that some of the more common misconceptions she addresses with couples are performance pressure, negative impact on the relationship, and fear of crossing boundaries.
"For instance, couples may worry about performing well in their roles. I remind them that there is no need for perfection in role-play. It's about creating an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, not putting on a flawless performance," Johnson explained.
How to Successfully Pull Off Role-Playing in the Bedroom
The fun begins once both parties mutually agree on trying the act of role-play and boundaries are set.
"I strongly recommend setting specific boundaries and guidelines before engaging in role-play to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience for both partners. Open and honest communication is essential; candidly discuss your comfort levels, desires, and limits. Establishing safe words that can immediately halt the role-play if anyone feels uncomfortable is crucial. Consent should be enthusiastic and can be withdrawn at any point without judgment," Johnson stated.
Furthermore, maintaining emotional safety is paramount in any intimate exploration. Role-play often involves vulnerability, and you should both feel secure in expressing your desires and boundaries without judgment. It fosters trust and strengthens the bond between you and your partner.
"Emotional boundaries should be respected, especially if the role-play scenario involves sensitive topics. Be clear about the limits of the role-play, including what actions or behaviors are acceptable and what is off-limits." Johnson added.
Next, choose scenarios that excite both of you and align with your preferences and fantasies. The selection of costumes and props enhances the overall experience by adding an extra layer of excitement and authenticity to your role-play scenarios.
Johnson mentioned that if physical restraints or props are involved, prioritize physical safety to prevent accidents.
As you engage in role-play, fully immerse yourselves in the chosen roles. Let go of inhibitions and self-consciousness, allowing the experience to be playful and enjoyable. Once again, the goal is not to perform flawlessly but to create a shared adventure that brings you closer.
When the moment is over, remember to practice aftercare.
"After the role-play, debrief and discuss the experience to strengthen your connection and understanding. Regular check-ins during the role-play can confirm ongoing consent and comfort. Keep the contents of your role-play private and emphasize trust and support. Most importantly, practice aftercare to provide emotional support, reaffirm affection, and address emotional needs," said Johnson.
She revealed that aftercare includes cuddling, holding, pillow talk, sensual talk, and more.
"Overall, it just means you aren't taking each other for granted. You're showing your partner you care and are now at least slightly more deeply connected with them than before you had sex," Johnson added.
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