Thursday, April 4, 2013

Operation Hydration : A mini-case study

If you've been following along with me this year, you may have noticed that I've been working toward getting/being healthier all around. One big thing I knew I wanted to work on that was probably pretty attainable was to stay hydrated/drink more water.

As a designer, I often find myself approaching seemingly small things as full-blown problems to solve. I found that as much as I knew I should be drinking water throughout the day, sometimes the only thing I'd have before dinner was my morning coffee. No good.

So, I took a closer look at what small things may have been impeding my thirst quenching, or what alterations might increase my hydration.

During the workweek, I find myself sitting at a desk, mindlessly reaching for whatever is easily accessible—candy, gum, coffee, whatever I've left on my desk. If I could put a glass of water there, I'd probably drink it. The second part of access has to do with where I'd be getting water. I tried in the fall to bring in a pack of bottled waters, so I could easily grab one whenever I felt like it. This somewhat worked, but then there was dealing with the empties that I of course wanted to collect the deposit on, and the weird feeling of bothering to open a new bottle, or just hold out if I was a little thirsty but it was nearing the end of the day. Plus, the small action of unscrewing the cap made a tiny barrier to drinking, versus just grabbing the coffee mug. 

So, the bottled water was kind of out. My previous job had one of those water cooler things that I could fill up with crisp, cold, filtered water whenever I'd like. It was in the break room, so a small walk from my desk, but totally doable. We've got an assortment of various mugs and cups in our breakroom, so I've given the rather large teal ones a go. They're plasticky, sort of like what you'd expect to be marketed for summer entertaining on your deck. Maybe I'll bring in a pint glass of my own at some point. I also got a water bottle that has a space on the bottom for *infusing* a piece of fruit or whatever in to it. This is good, if I remember it, and if I feel like washing out all the different pieces...

The water itself.
My current job has no such water cooler, at least in my building, so I'm stuck with our break room sink. Which, the water is ... okay. It's not the best I've had but certainly not the worst (sorry Florida, not a fan of your tap water). How could I be more enticed to fill up on a large glass of this stuff? Ice cubes? Maybe, we have some in the freezer in the break room. Citrus? Ooh! I do quite like a lemon or lime in my water, but man, leaving a partial piece of fruit in the fridge for more than a couple days can leave the fruit not so great, and I hate wasting something. 

So ok, even if I do keep a lemon in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap or a baggie, and then just hack off a piece whenever I'm filling up? Do I feel like washing a knife & plate/cutting board every time I get a glass of water? No, not really. Maybe I can just cut the whole thing up at once... but, would that get kind of gross still if I'm only using one piece or so per day?

Waste prevention.
I don't want to be throwing out half a piece of fruit, nor having to replace my stock of limes/lemons constantly. What is a way to prevent this?

When life gives you lemons...

Making my way through all of that, I figured I needed a way to have portion-sized pieces of lemon ready to go whenever, easily accessible, and that wouldn't spoil or have to be thrown away. Pair that with a good-sized cup or glass to hold it all. Enter my friend, the freezer... With the help of a quart-size freezer bag, and a tiny bit of forethought, I realized I could slice up an entire lemon or two in to the size pieces I'd like, throw those all in that freezer bag, and into the freezer to give myself what I've been looking for. I'd have pre-cut slices of lemon, and they'd double as ice cubes. Win! 

After cutting up a few lemons and freezing the pieces this way, I started exploring methods of cutting the lemon to get the most out of it. I tried quartering it, but that was too big of a piece at a time, and half-ing those didn't seem to leave much of a citrus-y impression. I tried rings, which seemed to work better but were harder to cut because the lemon would roll around a bit. Then I got to the half-rings! These have the advantages of the full ring, but easier to cut, and you can get more separate pieces out of one lemon. 

The illustrations bordering this post chronicle how I am, and recommend, cutting a lemon for these freezing purposes.  Start by halving your lemon through its bellybutton, or in technical terms *hot dog* way. Then, place your lemon halves flat-side down, and proceed to make slices going the opposite direction, technical term *hamburger* way.  This leaves you with a bunch of small half-circle lemon pieces that are perfect to throw in to a freezer bag to freeze. When you do freeze them, try to lay the bag flat if possible and avoid having the pieces stack up on each other, so you won't have to work on prying them apart at a later time. 

So, there you have it—a fairly lengthy blog post about putting a lemon in your water. I hope you enjoyed it, and perhaps have gained some insight in to the inner workings of my mind. 

All illustrations in this post are my own and may not be reproduced without written consent.

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