Even though I'm a yoga teacher and all that, drinking enough water throughout the day is not something I'm proficient in. I have a glass when I first wake up, but the only reason I reach for another one later in the day is because I feel like I'm nearly dying of thirst. I know I should be drinking more water. Staying hydrated is said to clear your complexion, relieve anxiety, keep you focused, and assist your kidneys in getting rid of waste. It's also known to improve physical performance and relieve constipation.
In 2013, though, CBS reported that 75 percent of Americans are living in a chronic state of dehydration. When we should be drinking water, we're instead sipping on sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks — and it's negatively affecting our health and performance. So if there's one resolution that might be worth making, it's to drink more water every day.
I decided to test out the resolution for myself for a week and see if it's all it's cracked up to be. Here's what happened.
There are a few differing opinions about how much water a person should drink every single day, but it seems that the general consensus is eight 8-oz glasses of water a day, plus more if you're sweating profusely (which I didn't really have any plans to do over the next week). My Fitbit, though, recommended that I shoot for 75 ounces, which is a little over by the 8x8 rule, and that's what I decided on, because a little extra water never hurt anybody.
Throughout the next week, I would keep a diary of how I was feeling, how my skin was looking, and whether there was any difference in my moods and anxiety levels.
Those bags under my eyes have been my most reliable companions these days. The tail end of 2016 was particularly cruel to me (I was in a gas explosion and suffered second-degree burns — and then had to move) and I was living out pretty much every day under a whole lot of stress. As I sipped on my morning water — two 8 oz glasses — I wondered if the hydration would gently encourage my under eye accessories to disappear.
In the late afternoon, I checked my Fitbit log and saw that I had only tossed back 40 ounces so far, so I had quite a bit to go. I chugged 18 more ounces and felt so full that I didn't feel like reaching for my afternoon snack. I lasted all the way to dinner without munching on anything, and was actually hungry for my meal — a rarity for me, since I'm usually a big snacker. It was a good start, but I was still skeptical this would do much more than make me run to the bathroom every hour.
Trying to drink 75 ounces of water in a day is like having a second job. It just takes up so much time. I had to keep getting up and filling my glass, pausing what I was doing to drink it, and then I had to keep getting up to pee. I seriously regretted putting on my high-waisted skinny jeans that morning, because it sure was a task to peel them on and off every time I had to empty my bladder.
That being said, it was satisfying to see how clear my urine was. I also felt like I had more pep in my step as I ran my afternoon errands, and once again I was snacking less — a pro or a con, depending how you look at it.
I woke up feeling pretty energetic, and I didn't know if it was my imagination, but it appeared that the bags under my eyes weren't as prominent as they'd been in days past. Drinking 16 ounces of water in the a.m. didn't feel like a chore anymore. After a session of yoga and meditation, I drank yet another glass of H2O. I was getting used to the water sitting in my belly, so it was no longer an uncomfortably full feeling.
From the late morning onwards, my day got extremely busy. It was one of those run-around-like-a-headless-chicken days, and I was so preoccupied that I forgot to keep up my regular drinking schedule. When 5 o'clock rolled around, I had about five glasses left to drink, so I gulped back 16 ounces in a hurry and, naturally, got stuck in traffic on the way home without a toilet in sight. Most miserable 15 minutes of my life.
Day 4 was stressful. There were a lot of things happening in my personal life that collided all at once, which allowed anxiety to creep into the back of my neck and whisper weird things into my ear. I had an urge to gnaw at my fingernails, but in the name of experimentation, I filled up my water bottle instead and chugged half of it.
Usually, when I find myself battling acute anxiety, water is the last place I turn. I'm more likely to curl up in the fetal position and make friends with something salty and crunchy. But I was surprised to see that bit of water made me feel a little bit clearer, even if only temporarily.
On Day 5, I dragged my mother to a hot ashtanga yoga class in the morning. I've done (and taught) my fair share of hot yoga, so I'm used to hydrating myself before the start of class and replacing the missing electrolytes afterwards. But I had spent the last few days hydrating on the regular — and it turned out to be a real game changer for my yoga practice. All the sweating didn't leave me feeling exhausted or depleted. I actually felt fired up, and I had plenty of energy and fluids to get me through the class. (Never mind the fact that I had leave twice to pee.)
Someone once told me that if your sweat tastes really salty, you're not drinking enough water. I don't know if it's an urban myth, but in final savasana, I tasted some of the sweat that was on my upper lip, and there was nothing salty about it.
I went on a long walk on Day 6 shortly after I woke up. I generally like to drag my feet during my a.m. stroll, but today was a different story. I was energetic and weirdly enthusiastic. It was a similar feeling to the one I had in yoga class, and I was slowly becoming convinced that all the H2O was doing wonders for physical activity in general.
When I arrived to dinner with my friend that night, I had already drank all of my required 75 ounces, mostly because I wanted to focus on drinking wine rather than counting glasses of water. We flew through two bottles of Malbec over the course of the night, and while I usually feel instantly dehydrated from red wine, tonight I didn't feel so dried up. When I got home, I drank an extra two glasses of water for good measure, and woke up the next morning feeling just dandy — another rarity for me when it comes to boozing.
There I am with no makeup, no eyebrow pencil, no blush — completely vulnerable. My skin felt a little smoother, but I can't really say my skin looked that much better. My complexion was pretty much the same as it was on Day 1. However, I will say that the bags under my eyes were slowly disappearing. I wondered what would have happened if I stuck with this water routine for an entire month.
If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that my anxiety levels the past couple days weren't as high as they normally are. Routinely drinking water helped me concentrate better, feel clearer about sticky situations I was stuck in, and stay away from the junk food I usually get my paws in when I'm feeling stressed.
More than anything else, this experiment taught me that I don't drink nearly as much water in a day as I thought I did. Keeping track of your H2O intake is something I would highly recommend to people, just to see how much you're actually hydrating yourself. Whether I would want to do it for a whole year is a different story entirely, though.
I found that my new relationship with water was a helpful tool for managing my anxiety. You'd be surprised at how much good a tall glass of water can do for the racing mind. Carting my water bottle everywhere with me also kept my mind off of junk f00d snacking and made it easier to make it to the next meal without throwing a tantrum. I guess it really is true what they say: sometimes we mistake our body's signals of thirst for hunger.
One area I never expected all that water to make such a big difference was in my level of physical activity. Doing yoga, exercising, and taking walks in my neighborhood were all so much easier to do when I was hydrated — and I mean really hydrated, not just sipping on some water before a workout.
As for my skin, I'm not convinced drinking all that water changed much of anything. Other than the bags under my eyes gradually getting smaller (very gradually), I wouldn't say more H2O is the secret golden ticket to a Beyoncé-like glow. Nonetheless, I will say that the experiment was well worth it, and although I don't plan to count every ounce of water I drink in 2017, putting more water into my body will certainly be a resolution I'll try my best to keep.