Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cellphone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise pants trend.
Name: Courtney Higgs
What did you try?
Drinking a gallon of water every day for 30 days.
Why did you try it?
People with ridiculously good skin almost always call out the importance of great nutrition and drinking hella water. Seriously, I can't even count the number of times I've asked celebrities for their best-kept skincare secrets only to be hit with the old "I drink a gallon of water a day" line. Gwyneth Paltrow does it. Gabrielle Union does it. My queen Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter does it. And if there's one thing I can always get behind, it's trying to be more like Beyoncé in any way, shape, or form.
Also, this past year has just been really tough (I'm sure many can relate), and with all the changes—sheltering in place, the insane news cycle, transitioning to full-time WFH life, and just generally trying desperately not to have daily mental breakdowns—self-care had practically vanished from my life. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it happened. And I'm not just talking at-home facials. I mean some of the basic practices I've long held to keep myself looking and feeling my best, like eating healthy foods and staying adequately hydrated, had fallen by the wayside. I just didn't want to feel like a thirsty, exhausted, and doomscrolling ball of nerves anymore, and dramatically upping my water intake felt like a good first step to getting myself back on track.
How did you prepare?
Most of the preparation for this endeavor was mental. I've definitely tried—and promptly given up on—this exact challenge once or twice in the past, so overcoming the negative self-talk swirling in my mind that I would fail again was paramount. Do you think Beyoncé moves through life not trying things because she's afraid to fail? Probably not! The last time I tried committing to drinking a full gallon of water daily, I was purchasing jugs of alkaline water from the grocery store every week, and the single-use plastic waste that came along with that method really didn't sit well with me. To bypass that snag this time, I decided to purchase a refillable gallon-size water bottle to eliminate any plastic guilt. I found one on Amazon with markings on it that basically laid out an hourly drinking schedule to help keep me accountable.
I learned early on that relying on my brain to automatically remember to drink water wasn't going to work. Even with the markings on my water bottle telling me exactly how much water to drink and at what time, I still found myself forgetting to reach for the jug to take the necessary swigs. To get into the swing of things, I set a two-hour timer on my phone to remind me to finish off or straight up chug the allotted ounces for that time period. I'd simply start the timer over every time it rang until drinking consistently became more of a habit.
The main challenge of drinking copious amounts of water is having to take a trip to the restroom every half hour (yet another reason I'd given up on doing it in the past). Under normal circumstances, like being in the office or generally out and about more, this would be more of a deterrent, but since I'm home all the dang time these days, it's not so bad. My bathroom is about four steps from my workspace, so I don't feel as put out by the multiple trips.
I was surprised that on day 30 I did not wake up looking like a carbon copy of Beyoncé. Thankfully, I'm getting pretty good at being Courtney, though.
How did you feel afterward? What kind of changes did you notice?
While I haven't noticed any significant differences in my skin, hair, or nails just yet, I can say, without hesitation, that my energy levels have changed for the better. My first liquid of the day was usually coffee before this experience, but now I find myself brewing a cup of hot water with lemon to start my day and drinking even more water as I get ready to log in for work. I don't even think about coffee until at least 10 a.m. now, which is wild to me. Ten a.m. used to be the time I'd be going in for my second cup of coffee. I have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé, and it feels wonderful not being such a hollow shell of a person for the ones leading up to my first hit of caffeine.
What did you like about it?
This practice added so many small rituals to my life that I've really enjoyed. For example, the last thing I do in the evening is fill up my bottle for the next day so my water is ready to drink first thing in the morning. Refilling my bottle at night has become a signal to my brain that the day is officially a wrap and it's time to rest up for the next one. I'll also have a cup of ginger tea before bed, which always feels like extra credit if I've already finished my full gallon.
What did you hate?
I can't say there's anything I really dislike about drinking a gallon of water in a day. It feels like a conscious action to promote health, well-being, and overall beauty. But for the sake of calling out something, I'll say that lugging around a gallon of water is a little cumbersome. It's not nearly as easy as toting around a smaller 24-ounce bottle.
Would you try it again?
I plan to stick to a gallon a day. Even if I fall off or stumble every now and again, I really like the idea of keeping this a constant self-care practice. We'll see how well I can maintain it once I'm allowed to spend extended periods outside of my home and away from my tidy personal commode, though.
Any advice for anyone who's thinking about trying it?
My gallon jug has been a lifesaver and such a worthwhile purchase. If you're looking for a tool to kick-start your water intake habits, this is a solid and affordable option.
Shop all of Courtney's favorite hydration essentials: