Lose 100 pounds. Check. Break the 200-pound mark. Check. Run five miles. Check. Revamp my diet and lifestyle. Check. The victories have been plentiful and rewarding. More importantly, they’ve completely changed my quality of life and added countless years to it.
But there’s been one vice. One thing I haven’t conquered. Pop. You are evil, soda. I know it. We all do. And you have absolutely owned me for more than 20 years now.
It’s time to change that; time to break off a bad relationship. I’ve got to quit you. Not because I hate you (honestly, I love you, really). But because I love myself (and not in a Divinyls kind of way).
GOOD OLD DAYS
Amazing how things have changed in a relatively short period of time. For many of us, pop was not a staple of our diets as kids. Mom didn’t put pop on the grocery list, even when we were in high school.
Coke, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi … all luxuries back in those days. You might get one every couple of weeks or on special occasions. But we didn’t treat it like water, which many of us do now.
It’s not a coincidence the weight gain came as I drank more soda. There’s a photo of me while I was running the newspaper at college. In the background you can see a graveyard of empty 32-ounce Pepsi cups, all of which likely contained the remnants of Dr. Peppers with cherry flavoring (this was way back in the late 1990s, when you could only get Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper at Sonic).
Before long, I stopped drinking water. I’d have a soda in the morning, at lunch and dinner. As a journalist, I was attached to an IV of Dr. Pepper. During 10 years as a journalist, my weight climbed from the 190s to more than 300 pounds.
Soda wasn’t the only vice, but it might have been the worst one.
Why is soda bad for you? There are dozens of reasons, beginning with the amount of sugar they contain and extending to the carcinogens they’re laced with. That’s right, soda can cause cancer.
Studies also show that soda can lead to memory loss, accelerated aging and obesity (duh).
Think of it this way: If you drink three cans (36 ounces) of soda, you’re consuming 450 empty calories. That’s a three-mile run, 90 minutes of lifting weights and about one-fifth of your daily caloric allowance.
Diet soda isn’t much better. You might cut out the calories, but you get the same carcinogens and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. According to the FDA, side effects of aspartame include death, headaches, seizures, vision loss, hearing loss, joint pain and breathing difficulties.
I’ve known all of this for a long time, of course. What you eat and drink is an addiction. Soda is my addiction. But I’m going to beat it.
I started Monday, and it wasn’t easy. I had a headache all day. I was sluggish and tired. That alone should tell you how powerful liquid poison is. But Tuesday was better, and I didn’t think about it much today.
My weight has leveled out at 200 pounds. I’m convinced cutting out pop will change that.