When I was in high school I drank Coca Cola like a fiend. When I was in college I was thrilled when three-liter bottles came out. After college I hit my largest weight ever, 225 pounds. Not good.
Around the time I met Niki, I was drinking up to two two-liter bottles a day. I knew all the caffeine and sugar were bad for me, but I was hooked. I knew I couldn’t quit the caffeine, but I decided to ditch the sugar by switching to Diet Coke. The only trouble was that I didn’t like the taste.
I was consulting at Business Week and they had Diet Cherry Coke in the soda machines, so I drank those and over time alternated in some Diet Cokes until I was used to the diet taste. Sipping a regular Coke was no longer an option. It was too sweet. My plan worked, sort of. Over two or three years I lost 63 pounds, down to 162. Just from switching to diet soda and hitting a rowing machine twice a week.
My new problem was that I was drinking up to two two-liter bottles of Diet Coke a day.
I tried limiting my Diet Cokes to one can in the morning and one in the afternoon, but that wasn’t easy. If I was stressed in the afternoon, one can would get immediately followed by a second. I tried little games like having a tall cup of water in between sodas, but I would just chug the water so I could start that next soda.
I knew it was all or nothing. I couldn’t moderate it.
Last March 16, I had my last Diet Coke, my last soda ever. Surprisingly, there were still more cans in the garage. I just stopped. I did the same thing I did with chocolate when I was a pudgy kid. I convinced myself that Diet Coke was toxic, that I didn’t like the taste, that it was taking years off of my life, that it causes cancer.
And it worked.
I still drink iced tea. I still get some caffeine almost every day, but nowhere near as much as I used to get wired on — and it’s the weakest iced tea you’ll ever see someone drink, mostly water.
I had a sip of Diet Coke at a birthday party last September where there was no water or tea available and it was the nastiest thing. I poured the rest of the cup out.
I didn’t even properly commemorate the one year anniversary when it happened.
Screw soda. I won.