It’s not a new concept to remember to stay hydrated during the day, and as the temperatures climb each summer, the reminders grow more frequent. And how have they changed this summer?

This month, there were excessive heat warnings for about one-third of the population. Europe is experiencing so extreme heat that they are calling the most recent heat wave after a figure from Dante’s Inferno.

I’ve made the decision to return to marathon running for the first time since 2018, the year before I became pregnant with my first of two sons, during this scorching-hot (literally? summer).

After jogging, I’ve had both typical and abnormal feelings of satiety. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I probably consume one 24-ounce water bottle per day.

My second child, despite having many other actual toys, treats my water bottle like a toy, which contributes to some of this. As a result, I typically keep it out of his line of sight and mind, which puts it out of my reach. He still nurses at 17 months, which is another excuse for me to drink enough of water.

I was aware that this needed to change for my health due to the weather and my training schedule. I decided to commit to consuming more water.

The usual advice is to have eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. The advice was probably inspired by a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation to consume eight glasses of water daily. In the years that followed, a few items slipped between the cracks.

“Prepared foods contain the majority of this quantity,” came after the first. Fruits and vegetables contribute to your daily need for water because they contain water. The second was that the Nutrition Board recommended 2.5 liters (84.5 ounces) per day rather than eight 8-ounce glasses (64 ounces).

Since then, academics have disproved this advice as a myth. Although it isn’t much more than the 1945 standard, The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that men drink 125 ounces (3.7 liters) and women drink 91 ounces (2.7 liters).

Since I began my journalism profession about ten years ago, I have also conducted countless interviews with nutritionists and physicians. Numerous medical specialists have consistently advised me to start with the baseline aim of drinking 64 ounces of water per day when it comes to water intake.

It’s unquestionably preferable to 24 ounces. I had to get going somehow.

What I Used
Theoretically, increasing your water intake is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your health. You really don’t need much other than access to clean, safe water—a luxury for some, regrettably—and a container for drinking it. I made the decision to employ a few tools to keep myself on course:

My dependable 24-ounce bottle of water. I’m not a numbers person; I’m a words guy. However, 64 divided by 24 is 2.66, indicating that I would need just under three full water bottles to reach 64 ounces.

the Waterllama app. This app lets you track your water usage and delivers notifications to remind you to drink more. I used an app to track my water intake throughout my first pregnancy and discovered that it helped me stay on track with my diet. The reminders, I reasoned, would also aid me in remembering to drink, even when juggling parenthood and work.

I became aware of how little water I was drinking on the first day. I drank 12 ounces of water by lunchtime. Although some could describe that as a half-full water bottle, it felt empty to me. I still had 12 hours to consume the massive 52 ounces of water I needed to reach my target. I swallowed. and swallowed. and swallowed. I had to urinate every five seconds for the remainder of the day, which made me feel as though I had a stomach full of water and that I was once again pregnant.

There had to be a more effective strategy that didn’t feel like a stressful fire drill. I made the decision to begin setting minor goals on day two. By midday, dinner, and between dinner and night, I’d aim for 24 ounces, 24 ounces, and 16 ounces respectively. I concentrated on using phrases like “one water bottle by lunch,” “one water bottle by dinner,” and “two-thirds of a water bottle by bed” to help it seem less daunting.

The process was immediate. Every two hours, I got a reminder to drink water, and I could quickly check my water bottle to make sure I was getting the recommended amount. As I watched the statistics for my water consumption increase in my app, I was as successful as I always was.

My three-mile morning run on day two was the toughest task. At 7:30 a.m., the temperature was already approaching 80 degrees, and by the conclusion, I was dehydrated. I drank 12 ounces on the third day, an hour before working out. It allowed me to use the restrooms before working out while still having the energy to finish a lengthier run of five miles.

By day five, it was much easier to consume 64 ounces of water. I felt better during my workout and drank more water during the day, but by dinner, I was still experiencing dizziness and felt very worn out.

It sounds like a super-simple approach to improving your health because drinking more water is inexpensive. But it can be difficult, especially if you’re totally committed to your profession and prone to putting everyone else before yourself (hello, parenthood). That was definitely the main thing I learned, so if you have trouble staying hydrated, please be kind to yourself.

Other things I’ve learned are:

A starting point is eight 8-ounce glasses per day. This suggestion—which was never the actual suggestion—is a terrific place to start. It might not be your ultimate goal, though.

Consuming water is fluid. Pun not intended. On the other hand, it’s very normal to require more water on days that are particularly hot or when you exercised harder than on days when you rested and spent the majority of your time in the comforting air conditioning.

When you are not thirsty, drink. Waiting until you are thirsty or dehydrated is a bad idea because those are late-stage indicators that you need to drink water.

Pre-workout fuel is water. Drinking water an hour before exercising will make you feel more hydrated and prevent the urge to pee after one mile of a six-mile run.

Before going to bed, stop. To avoid waking up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, try to limit water consumption an hour before bed (although rest is also crucial for health). You might need to cut back on your consumption at some point, but I found that 60 minutes worked for me.

Apps are useful. Considering that I’m in a flow with my water intake, I’ll probably quit tracking. Tracking was a great tool to get me going, but I discovered that it can help with accountability and can also become a bit obsessive for me. Try it out and see whether it can assist you in achieving your short- and long-term hydration goals.

Water is necessary. The advantages of being hydrated cannot be overstated, even though eight glasses a day may be a misnomer. Being more hydrated made me feel a lot better when I woke up in the morning, during workouts, and throughout the rest of the day.

I had more energy, so I was able to finish my to-do list and chase after my kids.

On the last point, I hesitate to call drinking water “self-care” because it’s something necessary (in the same way showering with the door closed or grocery shopping alone aren’t really “self-care” but get pinned in that way for busy moms).

But it’s also not something you should give up in order to take care of your kids or finish your career. Fill your glasses (or water bottles) up so you won’t be pouring all day from an empty one.