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Come 3 p.m. every day, I usually realize the only liquid I’ve consumed that day has been a coffee and a few sips of water at lunch. I rarely truly feel thirsty, and, frankly, I don’t love drinking water.

The problem is that by the time that 3 p.m. thirst hits, it means I’m already in the early stages of dehydration. Even a drop in just two percent of our body’s water content can lead to short-term headaches, dry skin, lethargy, and digestive problems. Dehydration can take an even bigger toll on your body with long-term effects such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, joint pain, and weight gain. So it’s important to drink the recommended daily amount of water, even when you aren’t thirsty.

Because I’m trying to be as healthy as possible, I’ve had to find a few tricks to help me drink the Institute of Medicine’s recommended 91 ounces of water every day without really having to think about it . . . much.

01. Drink First Thing in the Day

Like brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of water is now one of my top priorities for a productive morning. After a long night’s sleep, we wake up dehydrated. Drinking water before I check my phone ensures that I’m starting my day hydrated, as water gives our bodies a metabolism boost. Keep a full carafe at your bedside and soon enough, drinking a glass of water will become another mindless, sleepy morning task.

02. Create a Water Schedule

Being aware of how much water I drink and when I drink it has helped me keep track of my fluid intake every day. To help reach 91 ounces a day, I grab a bottle with ounce markers on it and develop hourly goals. I decide that I’ll drink, say, 20 ounces by 10 a.m., 40 ounces by noon, 65 ounces by 3 p.m., etc. These hourly goals will push you to finish that bottle.

03. Find a Bottle Your Lips Will Love

I hate drinking water from a plastic cup because of the ways it makes the water taste and feel in my mouth. I realized that I drink more when it’s out of something I like. I’ll also drink more if it’s a bigger bottle (aka less trips to the faucet). So I always drink from glass bottles or cups, such as a classic mason jar. If you hate drinking water, try investing in a bottle or glass you really like. Try bkr if you like glass but are afraid of breaking it; its silicone sleeves come in a plethora of pretty colors, and they’ll replace the glass bottle for free if it breaks. If you prefer your water cold, a Hydroflask steel bottle keeps liquids chilled for up to twenty-four hours.

04. Dilute Your Other Fluids

At the gym, I love to drink sports drinks, so I like to cut them in half (half water, half Gatorade) to trick myself into drinking more water. You don’t have to work out to apply this same trick to your life. If you like to drink sports drinks, juice, or tea throughout the day, double your hydration by diluting other beverages with water. It may take some time getting used to the change in taste, but I’ve found that now when I don’t dilute my sports drinks, they taste way too sweet.

05. Add Some All-Natural Flavor

I often add some natural flavoring to water because I don’t love it plain. When I say natural, I don’t mean store-bought “natural” flavoring. I’m talking about real fruit. I love to add a mix of blackberries, sliced lemons, and raspberries to a big pitcher of water that I keep in the fridge for when I’m craving a bit of flavor, but you can add any fruit you like. Try lemon, orange, and lime for a citrus flavor. If you don’t feel like cutting up fruit, add a few drops of lemon essential oil. You’ll get the same effect without all the work. Or make infused water on the go with an infuser water bottle.

06. Drink Your Meals

Replacing some meals in smoothie or juice form has helped me drink my water along with eating a healthy meal. Two birds, one stone! Try some of our favorite healthy smoothies for breakfast or lunch, or read our dietitian’s guide to healthy and delicious smoothies to come up with your own tasty recipes.

07. Have a Glass at Every Meal

You may be a fanatic coffee or soda drinker, and that’s OK. You don’t have to change that to drink more water. Instead, always have a water along with your other drink of choice. When I go out to eat, I always ask for a water. Then I finish at least one glass by the time I leave. Plus, it’s free!

08. Snack on Water

Forgive me for going on an “eat your fruits and veggies” spiel, but my motives are different than your usual. Yes, these foods give you many nutrients and vitamins, but they also contain lots of water. Eating water-rich foods such as cucumbers (96.7 percent water), watermelon (91.5 percent water), and strawberries (91 percent water) has helped me get some of my daily intake while having an afternoon snack.

09. Take It with You

It always happened: I’d be walking along and see a water fountain but didn’t have a bottle to fill. I’d be stranded without a way to refuel except for a few measly sips from the fountain—hardly enough to hydrate properly. Have a water bottle with you at all times, even if it’s just a small one. Keep it at your desk, in your car, or in your purse, so you can fill up no matter where you are.

10. The New Nightcap

While getting a full seven to nine hours of sleep is great for your body, it’s a long stretch to go without any H2O. Hello, dehydration. One of the last things I do before plugging in my phone to charge and getting in bed is to sip water, which helps my body prepare for the next day.

Sneaking just a few of these tips into your daily regimen will increase your metabolism, help you feel energized, and provide you with the important nutrients your body needs. So hydrate your way to better health, and sip to it!

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock