Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Truth About Dehydration

Triathlete in the cycling portion of the event.
Triathlete in the cycling portion of the event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we, as athletes, feel the need to obsess about what to drink or how much to drink for racing and training? When did we switch from making that decision for ourselves to letting others dictate how much we need to drink while exercising? Can you think of any animal in the world that is told by another animal/person/book when it should drink? As the saying goes “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Perhaps that is because the horse knows he isn’t thirsty.

Who is telling us when and how much to drink? Why do we listen to them? Is it out of fear that our performance will suffer? Perhaps we fear that there are potential health risks? What health risk are we fearful of; dehydration, heat stroke, cramping? Do other animals have these fears or suffer from these health issues while playing in the sun?

It is important that people are asking questions about dehydration. However, what people don’t realize is the danger is not dehydration but rather over hydration and hyponatrimia (and the result of hyponatremia can be death!). I don’t know about you but death is certainly not on my to do list. There has never been a reported death during an endurance event due to dehydration but there have been multiple deaths due to exercise-induced hyponatrima. I know you are itching to know what hyponatrima is and how to avoid death and I will get to that! However, first we need to understand why we should not fear dehydration and I promise it will help you avoid hyponatrima.

Why is dehydration not a danger? Everyone from your mother to your doctor tells you to drink a lot so you don’t become dehydrated. I too have been told this from day one of football practice as a 4th grader. So my question to them is: what will happen if I do become dehydrated? The answer to that (as defined in medical terms) is: you will become thirsty! Thats it?!? Yup, dehydration is just the reduction of total-body water content and once that causes the sodium concentration to rise (osmolality) the brain detects the change and develops the symptom of thirst. Yup, that basic. There are no other symptoms associated with dehydration; thirst is the only symptom.

When fluid is lost from the body through things like sweat and urine the concentration of sodium in the blood actually rises which causes the brain to send the message for secretion of AVP/ADH (hormones) which tells the kidney to reabsorb some water. The brain also triggers the cingulate gyrus which increases your thirst. So by reabsorbing some water from the kidney and sending the thirst signal (telling you to drink) the blood regains its normal blood osmolality (sodium levels). So if you are actually thirsty you are drinking because the water level of your blood is low which increases sodium concentration. You have to add water back to the blood to lower the sodium concentration.

Do people die from dehydration? If the thirst cannot be quenched because fluid is unavailable (i.e. stranded in a desert) then the body activates a bunch of emergency plans but ultimately major body organs will fail which will most likely lead to cardiovascular collapse. So YES, you can die from dehydration if you are stranded for days without any access to water. Personally, I have never been in a race/event situation where the race director restricted water availability.

Based on the information above I personally don’t see dehydration as something to fear while exercising or racing in any situation. If you get thirsty, drink.

Sport Drink companies have led us to believe that dehydration is both dangerous and will negatively affect our performance.We have now addressed the issue of danger and in a later blog post I will discuss performance. A little spoiler – they are misleading you on that point as well.

The next part of this series will talk about what we should actually fear, which is Exercise-Associated Hyponatremic Encephalopathy (EAHE), or water intoxication, which can lead to death.

Bottom Line:

The sport drink industry has created this fear of dehydration so that people feel compelled to buy their product. It is consumer marketing at its best. That fear is unwarranted when we have free access to water because of our bodies natural ability to control blood sodium levels with the simple symptom of thirst. It is also important to note that you must NOT ignore the symptom of thirst or you risk triggering the emergency plans to conserve water and begin damaging organs. So don’t drink on a schedule, just listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty.

Work, Live, Tri

Coach Hammond

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How Banks Can Overcome the Simple Challenge

By Ido Ophir, head of products at Personetics

FI’s are facing increasing competition from non-traditional banks like SimpleMovenBankand SmartyPig. Simple alone is opening thousands of new accounts every month, and has processed around $400 million in transactions to date. Most industry experts expect this new banking movement to continue to flourish, with new products from Wal-Mart, Paypal and others.

Banking blogger and SVP at New Control Jim Marous says that banking executives need to take notice because companies like Simple are competing for their customers and the “business model is built purely around banking’s major pain point: it sucks.”

The National Bank, Oamaru, built 1871: a prost...

How are they doing it? 
Consumers are tired of fees, bad service and convoluted processes. People like products that put their needs first, and are simple to use and understand. The new players are taking advantage of this and luring customers away in droves.

These new entrants are focusing on a limited set of products, eliminating fees and providing a great customer experience. For example, “Simple provides features that allow customers to quickly and conveniently review their transactions. A customer can simply type ‘ Show me all my transactions in Orlando from last week’ or pull up a vendor card to get additional information about a purchase. Financial start-ups don’t have baggage – they are modern, cool, transparent companies rethinking the way financial customers can be served. They have the luxury of building their product and the customer experience from the ground up using the latest technology, making every feature user-friendly, easy to understand and even easier to use.

What can FIs do?
If established banks are to meet the demands of banking consumers in the future, they should learn from the fresh approaches these, and many other, financial start-ups are taking. Customers are telling us what they want by their preference to these new banking alternatives. They want simple-to-understand products and services (no hidden fees or restrictions). They want consistent answers to their questions. And they want a great customer experience.

So what is a great customer experience?
great customer experience simplifies the customer’s journey, removing friction points to get them to where they want to go. Most importantly, it focuses on the needs of the individual customer and offers solutions to their questions or problems at the moment of truth – when they are most likely to take action. When a customer is required to make a payment, they expect the bank to remind them, and without the need to sign up for additional notification services. Customer experience is omni-channel: no matter which channel the customer prefers to use, the experience should be the same. If the customer reports a lost card, they expect the process to continue and not be redirected to another channel. Great customer experiences harness data from all interactions and all the information you have on your customers to help them succeed at their goals. Great customer experience is about putting the customer in control. Customers want to know about their spending before they make a buying decision and without the burden of navigating between different tools.

Existing FI challenges
We understand that established financial institutions have a large portfolio of products and services, and with that comes a broad array of policies and regulations. However, a large portfolio of products and services does not necessarily make it impossible to provide a great customer experience, but it can be difficult to prioritize the customer experience and agree to a standard across business lines. Building custom features for specific channels are not viable options and in today’s environment banks don’t have an appetite for mega projects. Banks also have significant investments in technology and infrastructure. So changing or replacing those systems will take too long to implement.

This is where Personetics can help. Our Digital Banker solution is a virtual personal assistant that works across all existing banking channels. It anticipates customer needs and delivers personalized solutions and recommendations.

Digital Banker makes banking simple for your customers: It is easy to use and gives them what they want. The result is a superior customer experience that builds trust and empowers your customers; and this translates into a positive ROI shortly after deployment.

The threat and the opportunity 
Retail banks are at a serious cross road right now. If they don’t recognize this new customer movement as a serious threat, it may be too late for them to react as they continue to lose customers. We’ve seen this happen time and again across other industries. Amazon wasn’t perceived to be a threat to Borders. By the time Borders tried to change, nothing they did could keep them out of Chapter 11.

Delivering personalized experiences that focusses on the customer is the only real choice to retain and attract customers over the long run.