November 17 2017
Five years after admitting defeat during a high school race, this runner reflects on her eating disorder recovery.
I have a confession: My name is Alison, and I don’t drink enough water.
I wasn’t always this way. When I worked in an office, I was a hardcore water drinker; if I wasn’t getting up to refill my bottle at the water cooler, I was making a beeline for the bathroom. But when I became a stay-at-home mom, all of a sudden my bottle wasn’t in front of me all day long, reminding me to imbibe. I would spend hours taking care of my son or running errands without a single sip, and lately I’ve realized I’ve been paying the unhealthy price. I’m constantly seeing articles touting all the incredible benefits of drinking more water, so I decided to pledge to up my agua ante for a month and see if it really lived up to the hype. Would all that liquid be life-changing or would it leave me drenched in disappointment? (Sorry for the bad puns, I’ve had water on the brain for too long).
After treating myself to a new water bottle, it was time to figure out exactly how much water I should be drinking. The rule used to be eight 8-ounce glasses a day for everyone, but now there are a handful of new recommendations; some say women should have about nine cups a day, while others suggest drinking half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. I decided to aim high and settled on filling my one-liter bottle four times a day, or just over 130 ounces (my days are long and I spend a fair amount of time out in the heat).
The results? There were days I definitely fell short and other days I had no problem gulping down more than I aimed to, I discovered drinking with a straw makes all the difference, and I became intimately acquainted with the bathrooms in all the stores I visit on a regular basis. More importantly, after a month of my experiment I’m here to share which of the H20 health claims held true for me and which came up short—water bottle in hand, of course.
The claim: Drinking plenty of water regularly throughout the day will keep you from getting dehydrated, and in turn, fatigued.
The verdict: Maybe it’s just having a toddler, but I find myself constantly yawning, zoning out, and generally dragging. I didn’t have high hopes for water helping me here—it seemed more of a coffee-and-a-nap kind of problem. But I was surprised at how much better I felt after just a week of all that water. I had a little extra pep in my step throughout the day, and I found that when I was extra sleepy, gulping a glass of really cold H2O (the ice was key) gave me an immediate boost. I also noticed that a few gulps of water cleared up a grumpy mood on occasion; I’m attributing that to that fact that I was probably a little dehydrated, and dehydrated=tired=major crankiness. I still needed my morning cup of joe every day but overall, all that extra water definitely delivered.
The claim: Water helps to flush out toxins that can cause acne. It can also plump skin and give it an overall brighter appearance.
The verdict: I’m lucky to not have too many skin issues, aside from the occasional pimple and beginnings of wrinkles I refuse to acknowledge. I was still hoping the additional agua would act as an internal moisturizer and give me that dewy, I-woke-up-like-this kind of glow that celebrities are always swearing comes just from drinking lots of water, but I have to say that this beauty tip was a dud. Even though my eyes might have been slightly less puffy (but probably just wishful thinking), H20’s effects weren’t strong enough to combat dark circles or brighten my skin dramatically. I’ll keep drinking water…but I won’t be retiring my concealer anytime soon.
The claim: Drinking enough water before, during and after exercise will boost the quality of your workouts.
The verdict: This one seemed like a no-brainer, and I thought that I was pretty good about taking in enough liquids around workout time. But when I began really paying attention to the timing and religiously drinking a glass about a half hour before going for a run, I noticed that I had a little extra energy and felt just better in a way I couldn’t really put my finger on. I also made it a point to sip on another glass while I stretched afterwards, and I didn’t feel as drained post-workout as I did when I just took a couple gulps and went about my day. Water for the win on this one.
The claim: Drinking water can be very beneficial in weight loss or maintenance; choosing water over sugary beverages cuts calories, and consuming water and water-rich foods will keep you fuller longer.
The verdict: I’m not trying to lose weight, but I’ve always meant to try the advice I’m always reading about, that drinking a glass of water before a meal can curb overeating. Now I know why that tip pops up in every other health article—it really does work. Drinking a big glass before dinner made that second bowl of pasta a lot less appetizing, and picking up my water bottle instead of a snack in the afternoon sometimes made me realize I was more thirsty than hungry after all. I didn’t lose any weight over the month but I did love how it taught me to be more in tune with my appetite. At the very least I think water deserves props for helping to distinguish between hunger and thirst cues, which is an important weight loss tool in itself.