I don’t drink enough water.

I know that. If you’re like me, you likely start your day off with a cup (or three) of coffee, maybe down a liter of water around noon, and then finish off the day with a couple of cold Devils Backbone brews.

That’s not good.

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Granted, I don’t pump my body full of Gatorade or soda or any of that garbage. But at the end of the day, I’m dehydrating my body more than I’m hydrating it.

So what gives? I’m pretty active too, so I know I’m only doing more harm than good. I think part of the reason stems from the longstanding “8×8” rule that everyone has preached for years. Eight 8-oz glasses per day? First off, when do I ever have an 8-oz glass around me? If I’m not drinking out of my CamelBak Chute then I’m drinking straight from the source à la LifeStraw. That’s hard to keep track of. Secondly, I’m not one to casually sip all day. I’m a chugger. I wait until I am SO UNGODLY THIRSTY that I could probably drink an entire kiddie pool full of water, and then usually, I do.

Recently though, I’ve been feeling downright tired. Maybe it’s the “change in weather,” maybe I haven’t been eating enough veggies (though I’m a pretty responsible vegetarian). I know it’s not lack of sleep, because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s sleeping and sleeping enough. After a little research, I found that a lack of hydration could be contributing to my sleepy syndrome along with a horde of other side effects that, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had.

Irritability. Fatigue. Joint pain. Lack of concentration. Headaches.

In a nutshell, not drinking enough water is, for me, a recipe for disaster. Especially for active people who like to go outside and play, drinking enough water is essential. So how much do you actually need? Does the 8×8 rule still hold true?

While eight 8-oz glasses of water is a great start, it’s not enough.

Some sources say to start out drinking half of your body weight in ounces (so, for the 120lb girl who doesn’t exercise, 60-some ounces may be enough). But according to the Institute of Medicine, women should be consuming 91 ounces per day and men 125. On average, over 40% of Americans do not consume even close to that. As age increases in a person, so too does the likelihood that they are not properly hydrating (95% of men aged 50-70 did not drink enough water in 2013).

This is bad, people!

Considering we live in a country where finding free, clean water is (relatively) easy to come by, we have no excuse.

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Aside from creating a really cool product, LifeStraw’s mission is not just to help outdoor enthusiasts find safe drinking water; their goal is to also provide educational institutions around the world with safe drinking water. For every LifeStraw purchase you make, one child in Africa receives clean drinking water for an entire school year. Next month, the company will provide purifiers to over 300 schools in Kenya, reaching over 125,000 children in the area.

When you consider that 50% of schools around the world don’t have fresh water or adequate sanitation, it makes you feel pretty damn lucky to be in a country where that basic necessity is (generally) met. Why not take advantage of that freedom and get your daily dose of H20?

Starting today, I will be drinking the recommended minimum (91 ounces) every day for seven days. Join me in the #weekofwater, and while you’re at it, get yourself a few LifeStraw products. Their signature straw is a must-have on any trip, from kayaking to biking and trail running. Lightweight, simple, and effective, this straw is small enough to fit anywhere and doesn’t require the use of harsh chemicals to kill bacteria. Buy one here and you’ll help a child in Africa get clean drinking water for one entire school year. What’s not to love about that?

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