What Happened When I Took On the Water Challenge

I would first like to say that I’m an admitted caffeine addict—soda is my bread and butter. I have a cup of coffee every morning and another in the afternoon and that’s on a slow day. With this in mind, I knew that the water challenge would be…challenging. However, hydration is of the utmost importance and with this heat wave smacking the East Coast, I figured there was no better time to drink the recommended daily dose of water for a full week.  

The recommended amount of water varies depending on who you ask. The CDC says 91 ounces for women. According to Jillian Michaels, who I’d trust as a reliable source because she scares me, women should drink approximately 88 ounces of water a day. It didn’t sound too bad. I knew that I drank at least five different glasses of liquid a day. In my mind, that seemed close enough to 88 ounces. 88 ounces for seven full days = 616 ounces of liquid over the course of a week.

I decided to challenge myself. One full week of drinking the recommended water intake. Let’s be clear up front—I did not agree to give up caffeine in any way. Just incorporate more water into my diet/daily routine.

First, I did my research to get motivated. I found out that water can help boost brain power and maintain a balance of bodily fluids, which is thrown off in the summertime when you sweat more. Drinking more water can help you lose weight—primarily because you are assumably substituting high calorie drinks, like soda, for healthier options: i.e. water. A hydrated body will keep your intestinal track flowing in tip-top shape (think: avoiding constipation) and keep your skin from getting dry and wrinkled. Hydration can even “lubricate and cushion joints,” something I appreciate as a recreational runner, who doesn’t drink enough water.

I then took two important steps:

  1. I found a water bottle that I like because I’m going to be carrying it around/refilling it all day long.
  2. I downloaded Plant Nanny, an app that allows you to keep track of your water intake by prompting you to hydrate and create a little virtual plant to tend to. You don’t want to kill a baby plant with eyes, do you? Every time you drink water, you input the amount into the app. The more water, the happier and perkier the plant.

Day 1: I started out inspired. I decided to eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and lunch included vegetables. However, by noon, I’d only made it through half of one water bottle. I chugged water the rest of the day like my life depended on it. By the end of the day, I’d happily never look at a water bottle again.

Day 2: I was determined to think smarter. I ditched my usual cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee for water and made it through a bottle and a half by lunchtime (I rewarded myself with pizza for lunch, potentially defeating the whole healthy angle).  End of day: 88 ounces crushed.

Day 3: The plant on the app got even cuter and it was growing. I couldn’t let the plant look sad. It renewed my determination to drink my 88 ounces. This time, I switched up the water bottles, again ignored the Dunkin Donuts calling my name. I noticed that eating an apple for breakfast with water was filling enough to get me through lunch and I was snacking less often. A definite plus.

Day 4: I did some research. While the water challenge was getting less challenging due to my motivation to not kill this plant and the decrease in snacking, I needed to make water tastier. I found some raspberry flavoring that is also supposed to be good for joint health. I have joints. I need health. Win-win. It made getting through the day of water easier — side note: do not add raspberry to every water bottle, it is an overload.

Day 5: Money. When I began this challenge, I wasn’t thinking about money. Actually, I preferred not to think about how much I spent on coffee/caffeine daily. By day 5, I noticed that there was more money in my bank account than I typically saw at the end of the week. Specifically, I’d saved at least $15 on my morning coffee alone. That’s not including the fact that I’d stopped going to the vending machine in the afternoon or ordering a soda with my lunch. I also stopped buying snacks throughout the day. Water is free, people. Saving money has never tasted so good.

Day 6: By day 6, I was feeling good. I’d given up 99% of my caffeine (alright, I slipped one time). I’d downgraded my snacking. I didn’t even think about the water I was drinking per day anymore, just making it through those three bottles. My plant looked lovely and happy.

Day 7: The final day! The end in sight compelled me to knock out my 88 ounces by mid-afternoon.

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The results at the end of the week were surprising. On day one, I quickly learned that 88 ounces of water a day is no small feat. I ditched my usual caffeine habit in an attempt to more easily knock back the 88 ounces — I didn’t miss the caffeine after day one as it became just another liquid to drink and deter me from the 88 ounce track.

My diet also improved slightly. The water challenge inspired me to eat healthier while I was at it. I quickly realized that drinking that much water a day made me less hungry and less likely to snack while I sat at my desk, an added bonus.

In terms of activity, my exercise routine remained relatively the same. The only difference noted? Less recovery time post-exercise. After a stretch and shower, I bounced back to the remainder of my day with more energy and enthusiasm than before.

Lesson learned: there’s nothing wrong with spicing up your water. After 5 massive water bottles, I was ready to drink anything other than plain water. Thankfully, there is a ton of flavorings out there! If you take the time to look around, you can find lemon-lime water with added vitamins, like B12. If you’d rather a simple fruit flavor, add raspberry/mango/strawberry flavoring or even the actual fruit.

The water challenge made for a difficult week. I made frequent trips to the restroom and kitchen to refill. I realized that I had no previous sense of how much 88 ounces actually entailed. With the water bottle I chose, it needed to be refilled three (and a half) times a day. At the end of the week, I noticed positive changes. I reduced my snacking. I slept better at night. During the challenge, I said goodbye to my caffeine habit without really noticing it was gone. My energy levels were up. My skin felt more hydrated and even my constant dark circles began to fade.

Would I do the challenge again? Definitely! I can’t kill that little baby plant now. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to incorporate more water into my daily routine—even if I don’t always hit the magic 88 ounces.

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