What Happened When I Drank Twice As Much Water As I Usually Do for a Week
I'll never look at early mornings the same way again.
There are a few healthy routines in my life that I truly look forward to. Making fresh pour-over coffee in the morning after shaking up some Athletic Greens. Writing in my gratitude journal, which has done amazing things for my mental health. Regularly going to hot yoga. And long runs on the weekends with girlfriends. But for some reason, there's one critical better-for-your-body routine that I can't stick with: drinking water.
I know. I know. The importance of water has been drilled into your head since you were young. That stand-by rule: Drink eight glasses a day if you want all your parts to work the right way. More specifically, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests a minimum intake of about 60 ounces daily. Water helps keep everything working, they say. It keeps you regular, they say. And while all of that's true (research shows that water can help with weight loss, prevent headaches, and help you think more clearly-among other perks), I've always felt fine without it. So sue me.
Still, I feel guilty admitting that. I feel even more guilty when I confess that I work out at least twice on most days. Talk about a recipe for dehydration! (Here's a trick to tell if you're dehydrated.) While H2O intake on long runs isn't something I mess around with (I plan most of my morning miles around water fountain locations), I'm still not doing what I should be to make regular hydration a priority. (Here are the hydration basics all fit women need to know.)
So when I was challenged to drink twice as much water as I usually do-the recommended 60 ounces, or in my eyes, four full 17-ounce S'well bottles-I knew it was one worth accepting. The goal: Drink at least that much for a full week, and see if I noticed a difference. Oh boy, did I. Here are the six biggest lessons I learned on my weeklong water quest:
1. I hate having to pee constantly.
Within about 24 hours I wanted to throw my S'well against the wall. Not that it did anything wrong. If I had to estimate, I was probably in the bathroom at least once an hour soon after the project began. Before this experiment, I'd say that I would pee maybe once every three hours (give or take). I constantly had to pee. So much so that it was disrupting my workflow. At certain points, I made a challenge out of it. Just get through the rest of this article, and THEN you can pee. Good for productivity? Sure. But I got tired of feeling like a 4-year-old whose mom told her she needed to hold it for just a little bit longer. (AFAF: Is it bad if I have to pee all the time?)
2. It helped reduce my constant snacking.
I am definitely a snacker. If more than two hours goes by and I haven't munched on something like an apple, CLIF Bar, or almonds, I start looking around for my next snack. Keeping water by my side made me less inclined to get up and hunt for things to chow down on. I realized that by the fourth day, I actually hadn't even given a second thought to the fact that I hadn't eaten lunch by 2 p.m. I can't tell you the last time I almost forgot about lunch. I love lunch. But I loved myself for not consuming unnecessary snacking calories, too. (Here are some other things that might happen if you drink a gallon of water a day.)
3. Flavors help.
Midway through the project, I flew to Los Angeles for work. On the plane, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted lemon or lime with my seltzer, and handed me a small packet. I was intrigued. Yes, it's great to put fresh fruit into your beverages, but I don't always have a knife and organic produce at my disposal. The lime packet totally changed the game for me, and I snagged some on my first day of work travel to bring around the city with me. As someone who's always used the excuse "I'd rather drink an iced tea," this taste tweak made the plain water taste refreshing and something to look forward to. (However, it's worth noting that flavored seltzer beverages like LaCroix aren't as healthy as they're cracked up to be.)
4. Packing strategically is key.
When my bag's filled with everything from workout clothes, sneakers, and a laptop to a portable microphone (for my podcast work) and every charger ever created, sometimes the water bottle needs to stay at home. The fix? Find yourself a bag that has a specific water bottle spot. (My go-to: The Dagne Dover Dakota backpack.) Using a bag with a water bottle holder that's outside of the main compartment meant no matter how many things I stuffed in the bag, there was no excuse to leave my bottle at home.
5. Different waters actually do taste different.
Throughout the experiment, I definitely had to buy a few water bottles on the go. Lesson learned: I tend to purchase water at a convenience store like I purchase my wine-by the label. (Sometimes by cost... but pretty labels are distracting.) While I can't say that I necessarily value sipping on an alkaline water loaded with electrolytes like Essentia over something basic like Dasani or Fiji, I personally think Essentia tastes better.
6. I woke up with more energy.
Despite failing miserably up until this point, drinking more water has been a goal of mine for 2018. For the last few months, I've filled a water bottle before bed only to wake up with it next to me still full. For the purposes of this experiment, I adopted the habit of filling the water bottle about an hour earlier, drinking the entire thing, filling it again, and then hitting the hay. Despite waking up at least once during the night to pee, I found that I felt more alert and less groggy when I opened my eyes the next day. As an early riser, I'll take any extra edge I can get. And if that extra edge is free? Well, maybe I can stick with this increased water plan and accomplish that 2018 resolution, after all.