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I Stayed Hydrated for Two Weeks and It Changed My Life

We tried three different methods to help us drink more water throughout the day. The results surprised us.

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This is What Happened When We Drank More Water

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Is the secret to glowing skin, more energy and better health ... water?

We all know the old recommendation to drink eight glasses a day. But since the science on that is mixed, we wondered if we could actually feel and see a difference if we were properly hydrated.

To find out if water was the magical answer to all of our skin, sleep and mid-day slump dilemmas, two of my co-workers and I tried out three different methods to help us drink more water throughout the day for two weeks straight.

We spoke to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, who gave us the standard eight glasses as a benchmark. Depending on lifestyle, weight, age, activity, medical conditions and other factors, the amount of water that each person needs will vary, but eight glasses a day should be the absolute minimum.

So we decided to set our goals at 3 liters per day for men (12 cups) and 2 liters (8 cups) for women.

Image::Nick's method: Drink every time he does a new activity.|||[object Object]
Nick's method: Drink every time he does a new activity. NBC News

Nick’s challenge was to drink water every time he went to a new place. Go to the gym? Drink. Get to a meeting? Drink.

Gereldine’s method was to set an alarm on her phone every two hours, reminding her to drink water.

I tried out the smart wattle bottle method, H20 pal, which tracked how much water I was drinking throughout the day and reminded me to drink more.

The Challenges:

Our different methods had their pros and cons. Nick's activity trigger didn't always work for him. He had a hard time remembering to drink at certain times, so would force himself to drink extra water later.

Geraldine found the alarms inconvenient and annoying. She had a hard time keeping up her water intake at work — she had unexpected projects come up and found herself without a water bottle. And oddly enough on some days as she drank more water, she sometimes felt thirsty, so it made her drink even more water. She's not sure why.

Related

Six ways to get more water without drinking it

For me, having my water bottle with me at all times was one of the most difficult parts of this challenge. I found it easiest to drink water when the bottle was quite literally in front of me, on my desk. When I was out and about, it was a bit harder for me to carry my water bottle everywhere.

Image::Geraldine found the alarms irritating, but still drank her water.|||[object Object]
Geraldine found the alarms irritating, but still drank her water. NBC News

Across the board, all of us felt that drinking more water improved our skin after two weeks.

Geraldine said her morning glass of water woke her up and made her feel so refreshed "it was amazing." She and Nick both felt more full from all the water, helping them cut down on snacks between meals.

Personally, I found that two liters of water didn’t make a huge difference for me. Toward the end of the challenge, I tried to drink four liters of water a day, which is when I really started to see a difference.

Pre-water challenge, whenever the clock would strike 2 pm, I’d have a headache. The afternoon slump and caffeine withdrawals were certainly real for me. Drinking more water throughout my day helped make my afternoons much more pleasant and headache-free, which made me more productive.

Related: Drinking water is associated with healthier body weight

I didn't realize that I wasn't drinking enough water until this challenge. Being able to track how much water I'm drinking and assess how I'm feeling based on that has helped me realize that my body needs more water than I expected and that my afternoon headaches aren't from stress or a coffee (or three) too many, but were actually from being dehydrated.

After two weeks of this challenge, I’m still using H2O Pal. Despite how much I liked this water bottle, it is pricey at $99 and doesn’t keep my water cold for the entire day, like my beloved S'well bottle. The bottom of the bottle, where the tracker is, wasn’t the most secure, either — it fell off numerous times.

Still, Geraldine liked the effects of water so much — and disliked the alarms so intensely — that she's thinking of getting one, too.

Being an avid Apple Watch fan, I do love the connectivity of health trackers and found that using a smart water bottle was easy. Having a goal to reach, whether it be steps or glasses of water, has become part of my day and I like monitoring my progress.

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