I’ve never been especially adept at hydration. If you’re confused by that statement because “being adept at hydration” literally just means “drinking water,” please know that I am equally as perplexed and frustrated by my own inadequacies. My entire life, I’ve struggled with drinking enough water. There’s likely a lot of reasons for this, ranging anywhere from laziness to total lack of self-preservation instincts, but I like to think it’s because there are so many better tasting beverages out there that make water feel like a waste of time. In this moment I can hear health professionals across country the sighing heavily, and I would like each of you to know that I, too, am disappointed in myself.
I’m sure people will read this and have suggestions for me. “But diffused water!!” someone will inevitably posting in the comments section, thinking that they are, in fact, being helpful. To you, sweet soul, I will say this: I have had your diffused water. I’ve owned countless water bottles with difficult-to-clean diffusers and filled them with ungodly combinations of fruit, herbs, and vegetables in an attempt to trick my body into drinking the one thing it needs to keep me alive. And it always works, for three days.
Three days is what it takes for me to get sick of slicing lemons and rinsing mint and studiously replacing said ingredients before they get soggy and gross. Three days is what it takes for me to forget my fruit-laden bottle in my car overnight and return to a hot, mildew, pulpy mess in the morning. Three days is what it takes for me to abandon the notion of being a better, healthier person and revert back to my former dehydrated troll state. Thank you for your attempts at saving me, but I am too far gone.
So, when I was tasked with attempting to drink double the amount of recommended water a day for an entire week, I jumped on the opportunity. Hydration for my own benefit? Boring. Ordinary. Passé. Hydration for the sake of an article where I get to talk about what a sh*tty person I am? A great time. Sign me up. Break out that soap box.
According to the Mayo Clinic Website, the amount of water we should be drinking per day is a simple question with no easy answer. This is literally my least favorite kind of question. Countless anonymous, omnipotent health gurus and doctors and highly opinionated women with no qualifications around the internet will quote anywhere from 1.5 to 3 liters a day. That’s how much they think it’ll take to offset the questionable substances I insist on pouring in my body week after week. Fools.
Across the board, it seemed like everyone could agree that about 2 liters a day was optimal, which means that for this experiment I would be consuming 4 liters a day. This is wild for many reasons, first and foremost being that I get maybe a single liter of water on a good day. I don’t even want to tell you what a bad day looks like in the event that my mom reads this and then calls and yells at me.
When you research drinking water (something no functional human should have to research, and yet here I am) there are any number of articles that will tell you that doing so isn’t just a necessary by-product of being alive, but a beauty and weight loss hack. As if water is this secret elixir that was recently discovered in an untouched cave in Peru and we suddenly have access to its magical properties.
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Water clears your skin! Water helps you lose weight! Water, when mixed with soap, makes an excellent cleaning solution! All of these things are turned into bold headlines, heralded as newsworthy facts and not just obvious statements, probably because people like me are still Googling things like “benefits of water.” The first bullet on any of those lists should be “it keeps you alive,” but that’s just not enough for us anymore, is it?
If water is going to force me to be alive, it better also give me the skin of a 16-year-old super model and the flat, bloat-free stomach of that same 16-year-old super model. Basically, if this recommended 68 oz of water a day doesn’t turn me into Kaia Gerber, what is the point?? Why am I wasting my time??
Well, after seven days of forcing four liters of water into my body, I can tell you the point: you feel good.
After one week of sufficient hydration I can finally recognize what it feels like to be truly dehydrated and let me tell you, in case you weren’t aware, it doesn’t feel great. I can now say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have been frequently treating dehydration with almost anything but water. Food. Iced coffee. Sleeping. Iced coffee. Unnecessary snacks. Iced coffee. All consumed under the guise of “I probably need this” when all I needed to do was drink some damn water.
So while the main item in the pro column here is, “my body is finally functioning in the manner for which it was designed,” I would be remiss to not mention the cons. Do they offset a healthy lifestyle and fully operational organs? No, but they were still annoying.
First of all, it’s really hard to drink four liters of water a day. What you’ll find if you attempt to do so is that, once you’re no longer thirsty, you have a difficult time remembering to continue to drink water. There are ways around this, but I can’t really put into the words the shame you feel when your “DRINK WATER RIGHT NOW!!” reminder pops up on your laptop while it’s plugged into a monitor during a meeting and you’re forced to explain to your coworkers that you actually require the assistance of technology to do something vital for your own existence.
Also, being fully hydrated means that you pee. A lot. Constantly, even. Enough times that people will start to get worried about you. I don’t want to project my own insecurities onto my coworkers, but if I watched someone get up and go to the bathroom twice an hour, every hour for eight hours a day, I’d assume there was a UTI involved. Or they were hungover and taking power naps on the bathroom floor. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
Did my skin miraculously clear up? No. Did my increased metabolism result in magnificent weight loss? No. Did I become a Neutrogena model over the course of seven days? Obviously not. However, if they’re interested after seeing my expert selfies below, my DM’s are open.
As demonstrated by these (makeup free) before and after pictures, you’ll see that I look about the same except that my stress zits have accomplished an entire lifecycle during the length of this experiment. Seeing as how those tend to pop up any time I’m PMS-ing, I didn’t expect any amount of water to make a difference. But I also refuse to judge the success of this venture on the aesthetic effects that I may or may not have experienced.
Despite what any number of Instagram pages or low quality videos that your moms friends share incessantly may tell you, not everything in the year 2018 has to be a “hack.” I’m not here telling you to drink water because it will magically clear up your skin or make you drop two dress sizes in time for that big event without actually dieting or exercising or suddenly make that cursed amulet in your attic stop whispering turn you into a health and wellness guru. I’m telling you to drink water because it’s good for you. And while that may seem like a boring reason in a world of Goop and Beauty Hacks and Instant Fixes, it should be enough.
Images: Betch Ivy Carter; Giphy (2)