All through college I had a rainbow-colored CamelBak water bottle that served as a near-daily accessory to my school ensembles. The sound of sloshing water followed me from class to class, alerting friends and professors alike that I was coming.
Water is a central part of my life. I have an almost Pavlovian response to water being poured into my glass at restaurants. I will drink it no matter how much water I have previously consumed. I once read somewhere that because coffee is dehydrating, for every cup you drink, you should have a glass of water — and I drink a lot of coffee, so I drink a lot of water. I also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables with high water content like cucumber, watermelon, and pineapple.
I totally buy into the whole “drink water” culture that has taken over beauty blogs, Instagrams, and Twitters. It’s been touted as a cure-all for skin issues, headaches, bloating, and difficulty sleeping, and I have noticed that when I drink what I consider to be a lot of water, my skin looks better, I get fewer headaches, and I sleep more deeply.
So when my editor proposed that I take on a hydrating challenge — to drink lemon water every day for a week — I thought: Cool, I can do that! After all, Cameron Diaz adds lemon to everything, and she’s my second favorite Charlie’s Angel! Why not follow suit?
I had my lovely colleague purchase lemons through Instacart on my behalf for this project. He got me, like, six huge lemons.
Still, I was worried those might not be enough. But luckily, I live in Los Angeles and have lemon trees in my backyard. I could definitely pick some juicy ones if it I ran out.
I messily cut one in half at my desk and squeezed it into the water already in my hot pink S’well bottle. I get lemon all over my desk and floor, but I love the way citrus smells, so oh well. My only issue — not that it is a super-huge issue — is that now there are lemon seeds floating around in my water, and I really don’t want to swallow them.
I take a sip from my bottle and it is delicious. Using half a lemon has flavored the water with my desired level of tartness. What is my desired level you ask? Somewhere between biting into a lemon and very tart lemonade. My mouth feels refreshed, my thirst-quenched.
I refill my water bottle one more time during the afternoon and squeeze in the other half. This lemon water is still refreshing even with water from the semi-nasty water fountain. If anything, it dulls the water fountain taste. I consider this a personal success.
I bring the lemons home and store them on a cake tower in my kitchen. Not only are they delicious, but they are aesthetically pleasing! Now everyone who visits me will think I am a cool woman who cooks with lemon (which I kind of am, if lemon water counts). I squeeze another half of a lemon into my water with dinner.
I drink half of my lemon water on the car ride to work, so I have to fill up my water bottle with the water fountain water again. It dilutes the taste of the lemon, which I don’t love. I cut my lemon in the kitchen this time and squeeze the juice in over the sink. Four lemon seeds sink to the bottom of my bottle.
I fill up my water bottle three times today with the water fountain and use up all the lemon that I brought to work, dumping out the pesky seeds when I finish. I should invest in a strainer, or a tiny spoon to fish them out.
At home, I panic again that I will run out of lemons before this assignment is over. I go outside and grab some juicy looking ones from the lemon tree in my backyard. I have a glass of lemon water while I watch an old episode of Real Housewives of New York and feel incredibly chic and healthy. When Ramona and Sonja toast with glasses of pinot grigio, I raise my cup of lemon water in solidarity. To us!
When I wake up I am immediately thirsty and want a glass of lemon water. I’m usually not this thirsty when I wake up, am I? I make myself a glass of water and get ready for work. I think it’s sort of humorous that I have to make myself a glass of water instead of just pouring it out of my Brita, but overall, exclusively consuming lemon water does seem to agree with my performed high-maintenance aesthetic.
I have brought two lemons to work today anticipating needing them. I am right. I drink a lot of lemon water at my desk. I try to convince myself that drinking all this water is worth standing up to use the restroom every 20 minutes.
I have a glass of lemon water with dinner and one later that evening.
Once again at work, with lemon water in my S’well. I realize that I should probably look up the health benefits of lemon water so I know what to look for when I assess my status. According to my fashion bible and go-to magazine, Glamour, drinking lemon water when you first wake up helps your body’s enzymes function and stimulates your liver and helps it to detox. It also delivers hydration and increases energy. They report that my peers Miranda Kerr, Lauren Conrad, and Jennifer Aniston reportedly also drink lemon water, so I am in excellent company.
Even though a Jen Aniston approval is usually enough for me, I also want a scientific, medical, or at least wellness-based site’s opinion. After a little internet browsing, I find myself on the website HealthLine.com, which lists the benefits of lemon water as: promoting hydration, providing vitamin C, improving skin quality, supporting weight loss, aiding digestion, freshening breath, and preventing kidney stones.
I am a stickler for fresh breath, so this is exciting news! I am also terrified of one day getting kidney stones, so this also pleases me immensely. I am not shocked about lemon water improving my skin’s quality. I am having a good skin week anyway (probably because I am drinking all of this water), but I did notice this morning that I am looking especially clear under the influence of lemon juice.
I have noticed that because my water has a flavor, I find myself desiring the taste. I forget to bring lemons to work today and have only my water bottle with lemon water in it to cure my craving. I think that maybe I can ration it out?
I end up drinking the entire bottle of water before noon.
I am now drinking nasty water fountain water. It is icky.
It is so icky that I go downstairs in my office building and purchase a bottle of Aquafina from a vending machine. It is deliciously cold but the lack of lemon is so depressing!
At home I make a glass of lemon water and enjoy it with dinner. I also have a glass of white wine and remember what Glamour said about lemon water detoxing your liver, so I chase it with another cup of lemon water. My mouth tastes like lemon-flavored white wine — which I now wish was a thing.
I decide to start my day with hot lemon water. I know that actors and musicians do this a lot when they have a sore throat, and even though I don’t, I want a warm beverage that isn’t coffee — shocking, I know. But it’s the weekend. I don’t need caffeine!
First of all, warm lemon water is not great. This feels unfortunate. I decide not to let it go to waste and put a bag of Earl Grey tea in it. Now I am drinking tea with lemon, which is good. I’m not sure what was wrong with the lemon water other than for the first time it tasted incredibly bland. I find that I only desire cold lemon water, because it refreshes, as opposed to warm lemon water, which tastes like….dish water.
I go out to lunch with my grandmother and order water with “a lot of lemons.” They give me water with two lemon wedges that I squeeze into my glass.
I proceed to drink cold lemon water only through the remainder of the day. I decide not to wear foundation because my skin is pretty happy. Perhaps it was worth stepping away from my desk those 800 times to pee!
My last day! Or is it? I have yet to run out of lemons in my backyard. Although I have not noticed an increase in energy, any weight loss, or improved digestion, I have noticed that my skin looks pretty great, and if I could see my insides, I would bet that my liver is positively sparkling.
I am mildly worried about the acid in the lemons eroding the enamel on my teeth, but I use a protective mouthwash so hopefully I’m fine.
I drink lemon water with breakfast and have another glass before I run Sunday errands. As a person who has always been pretty diligent about drinking water, I think my main take away from this experiment is that I want to drink water even more when it has a tasty flavor.
It makes me think of my aunt, a woman who abhors drinking water unless it has a squirt of flavorful Mio in it. I used to think the fact that she only drank flavored water was insane, but now I think she may be on to something.
Are clear skin and proper hydration not enough of a reason for you to drink lemon water? Here’s another reason why putting a lemon in water will change your life.