Thursday, 25 February 2016

My coffee and my vodka, my food replacement and my right arm

Hello hello :)

Off the bat of sharing one of my 57 (I’ve modified it from 58) goals for 2016, I wanted to
share another that is very much health related.

In 6 sleeps, I will no longer be a Diet Coke drinker.


That’s right.  One of my goals for this year is titled “Stop drinking Diet Coke.”

I am a total addict.  I'll explain just how much, in a moment.

You’re not experiencing déjà vu by the way; I have absolutely declared this before.

In 2012, around this time in fact, I reduced my intake and was very close to stopping.

That attempt was so successful that I forgot that I even tried until I searched my blog for my Diet Coke posts.  (ie. I don't recall it, because I failed.  That reduction didn't last).

Then, close to this time in 2013, I did it again: I stopped.  This time, Attempt #2, I went completely cold turkey.  The aim wasn't to quit, but to stop drinking it for a decent amount of
time, and then once I'd rid myself of the overbearing addiction, allow myself to have the occasional can.  (I was trying to stop the addiction yet not feel deprived.)

I was successful: for a while.  I 100% quit for about 6 weeks.  I thought I'd rid myself of the addiction, and I bravely allowed myself to have a can after the 6 week mark.  I didn't really have markers set, but I guess I didn't want to have any more than a couple a week.

Well I made my own rules that day, and had a second can that very day.  That wasn't exactly the idea...

Within a few days, I was already craving it as soon as I woke up.  I could literally feel the
physical cravings moreso than the mental ones.  It didn't take me long to steadily increase my consumption back up to where I was before stopping, and since then, for 3 years, I've continued to be one of Coca-Cola's most highest spending individual customers. :/

Before I go on, please no hate mail about how bad Diet Coke is.  I know.  I've read the studies, the emails, the warnings, the Facebook posts, the labels: you name it.  And anyway, I have every second person telling me about how bad it is.  You'd have to be living under a rock with zero access to the internet, to not have stumbled across articles and stories listing the dangerous effects of diet soft drink.  Poison, weight gain link, chemicals, teeth, bones, Aspartame, the sugar effect, disease, addiction, Diabetes, all that jazz: it's everywhere.  I genuinely appreciate people who say stuff out of care - please don't get me wrong.  But some people aren't exactly thoughtful in their lectures.  Telling someone that they should really give up diet soft drinks is in the same bucket as telling them that they should lose weight, or quit smoking.  WE KNOW.

So :)  I won't bore you and tell you every detail about just how bad my addiction is.  If you're interested, you can read about it in this post: My name is Kate, and I'm a Diet Coke addict.

In a nutshell though, I drink a lot.  As part of my preparation in quitting it, I recorded how
many I had a day, for 1 week, late last year.  (I used a cool app called "ADDicts" by the way - that's where I got this graph).  It's so simple to use and very handy.

So this is my Diet Coke intake for one week.  You can see there how many I drink.  I sometimes have bottles and glasses, but I 95% of the time, I drink 375mL cans.   

This little activity was handy, as I thought my consumption was somewhere around 6-7 cans.  But it turns out it was more 6-9, and moreso 8 or 9....

Measuring my intake
Gosh I had a problem.  This was no surprise to me, if you read the posts above you'll hear stories about how bad my addiction has been.  I crack one open as soon as I hop in the car, every morning.  It doesn't matter if it's 7am driving to work or 5am driving to boot camp: there's a Diet Coke in my drink holder.  And that's just the start of my day.

Obviously I know that I have a problem.  And like all things in life, I had to be ready to make a change.  And that time is now.  When I wrote out my (57) goals for this year, I included this one.  I feel strong enough to break the habit now.

And aside from the physical addiction, that's what it is: it's a habit.  I found a line that I wrote in one of my previous blog posts that sums it up so well for me personally - hence the title of this post:

Diet Coke, for me, is my coffee and my vodka, my food replacement and my right arm.
I keep photographing these moments as they're so absurd for me!

I hate coffee with a passion (and am not a huge fan of tea - I only drink it a few times a year).  So Diet Coke is my "coffee".  I go out for "coffee" with friends and colleagues several times a week.  They order a flat white, I get a Diet Coke.  It's not really the social thing though; it's the caffeine.  I was trying to explain it to my Dad the other day, and he mentioned how my Mum gets cranky if she doesn't have her regular coffee.  I said to my Dad, that is what it's like for me!  Think of how other people drink coffee, and just replace it with Diet Coke.  It's just my drink of choice.  A pick me up, a wake me up, a break, a caffeine hit, a social thing - Diet Coke does for me what (I assume) coffee does for others.

It's also my vodka (or alcohol).  I'm no longer a big drinker.  I rarely drink.  I have a big night maybe once or twice a year, and that does me.  When I'm at family dinners, my Dad cracks open a special bottle of red wine for everyone to share, and he offers me a Diet Coke.  Open bar tab?  I'll just have a Diet Coke please.  I just don't drink (often).  So Diet Coke is my replacement when others are drinking their vodka, lime and sodas.  That's just what I prefer.

I know this isn't anatomically correct, but in my mind, it also fills me up.  So being on this
humungous weight loss journey, to me, Diet Coke has always been a pretty good substitute to make me "feel full" in between my meals and snacks.  Please don't misunderstand this by thinking that I skip meals or drink Diet Coke instead of eating.  I NEVER replace food.  I love it too much.  And I'm absolutely not a shakes or replacement of any kind type of person.  But sometimes, I'll think I'm hungry, and I'll be at my max calories for the day, or in between meals and snacks and want something more, so I crack open a "DC".  I then feel satisfied for the cost of zero calories.  Again, I know it apparently does the opposite on the inside long term; but for me, it fills me up in the moment.

And, like many crutches and addictions, Diet Coke is, sadly, also my right arm.  I must have a very addictive
personality.  I used to use cigarettes as my comfort, my reward, my habit, my whatever.  And I'm still on the battle of trying not to use food the same way.  But throughout, Diet Coke has been my friend, my crutch.

And of course, apart from the emotional habits, there's just the plain and simple physical
I don't usually ever shop in this section!
chemical addiction.  I know that.

So, back to my decision to quit.

I had a strong think about whether this would be a "quitting altogether" thing, or a "quit for a while and then have the occasional one" thing, or a "cutting down" thing.

I've learned from my past attempts that I'm not very good at the "occasional one" or "cutting down" things.  Inevitably, the addiction creeps up again so easily, and my reasons for quitting (health) pretty much give me the answer.  Obviously 1 a day is healthier than 9 a day (!), but if I can manage myself to a point where
it's just as easy to have none, isn't that even better again?

So that decision was set.  I was stopping completely, not cutting down.

Work = cut out! :o

I decided to try reducing my intake instead of doing it cold turkey this time.  I chose the 1st March as my quitting date.  For a few reasons, but mainly because it was far enough away that I had a bit of time to gradually reduce my intake, but it wasn't so late in the year that I was being silly about it.  Also, the 1st March is the date I quit smoking, and the date that I started taking control of my health, both in 2012.  I ended up starting to lose weight in June 2012, but I still refer to the 1st March as my "Health Anniversary", because that's when I started to make changes.

So it's kind of perfect for my partial OCD, numbers obsessed self!

After measuring how many I had each day on average, I went about making a plan to reduce my daily intake.  I'm proud to say that I'm currently down to 3. :)

This is what my plan was- starting at a maximum of 8, every 10 days I had to reduce it by 1.  Obviously, if I drank less, then even better!  But I wasn't allowing myself to have any more.  So:

1-10 Jan: no more than 8 a day
11-20 Jan: no more than 7 a day
21-30 Jan: no more than 6 a day
31 Jan - 9 Feb: no more than 5 a day
10-19 Feb: no more than 4 a day
20-29 Feb: no more than 3 a day *** I'm here***
1 Mar onwards: zero a day!

That second last line is where I am currently at, as I type this on the 24th Feb!

I've recorded it each day to keep myself on track.  Across the almost 8 weeks, there's probably been about 3 days where I have naughtily had one more than I was meant to, but likewise about the same amount of days where I've had less than my maximum allowance.  Yesterday I only had 2!!!!!!!  I can't recall the last time that happened.

My other plan was also to introduce mineral water into my daily life.  I drink so much plain water as it is, and I really felt like I needed to have another 'go-to' drink.  When I don't drink coffee, tea or alcohol, and steer away from other calorie laden drinks in my weight loss quest, what else can I have when I'm socialising?  I wanted a DC replacement.  I quite like flavoured diet mineral water....but I immediately realised that that would be almost just as bad, if I was to essentially switch from one diet drink to another.

So in early January, I bought myself plain mineral water, and started to try to have it in between my Diet Cokes.

And it's been working.

I can't believe how quickly my body started to enjoy it.  I'm sure it's all in the mind, but very soon after I introduced it into my fridge, I started to not only *try* to reach for it instead of the odd DC here and there, but I started *choosing* to have it, instead of Diet Coke, even when I had more in my day's quota!

It's been gradual, but it's been amazing.  I'm not topping up with mineral water, (as in this week I'm not having 3 Diet Cokes + 5 mineral waters a day).  I'm just having mineral water when I want to, and I'm finding myself more and more choosing it over Diet Coke.

So it's pretty awesome!  

I keep taking photos (which is why this post is so heavily illustrated!) of random bottles of mineral water on my desk at work, or in my car, or on my bedside table, because I'm so taken aback not to see Diet Coke everywhere, and I get incredulous that I've been choosing to drink it.  The change of mindset has given me growing confidence at the same time as the physical addiction decreases each day.

It hasn't been hard at all, either.  I don't know how - but I guess, like a lot of things, if it's your decision to make a change, then that's the biggest hurdle out of the way, and it softens the rest of the blow.

The mineral (and sparkling) water has been great because the bubbles are making me feel like I still have that 'special bubbly drink'.
Trying different types

It just isn't cola flavoured or full of poison!  

Headaches wise I have been pretty lucky, considering.  I had slight headaches for about 4 days last week (it took me ages to realise why - derr!) and another one today.  I expect I'll have more after Tuesday for a brief while, too.

Even though I'm completely quitting Diet Coke, I'm not going to be silly about it.  As in, I'm not going to treat it like smoking, in that I will never let myself touch a cigarette again, because that's all that my addiction would need to reignite.  I don't think soft drink is as quickly addictive or as dangerous as nicotine.  I plan on never choosing to drink DC or any soft drink after next week, and in my mind will not be a "soft drink drinker".  But if one comes with a meal combo once a year, or I
find myself on a hot summers day in the middle of the desert and my friend buys a round of frozen Cokes to refresh us, I'm going to have one. ;)  I would hope that the taste once in a blue moon would not cause me any trouble.  Nicotine, however, I think one is all it takes.

I guess I would just love to be one of those people who exclaim to me "gosh I have a can of soft drink maybe once every 2 years!".  I want to be one of those people.  I don't want to drink it anymore, but I also don't want to be scared of it, if that makes sense.

So I'll just see how I go.  I'm very much on track to crack open my last can on Monday night (29th Feb),
and I feel confident.  I think I've been getting rid of the habit well since the start of the year.  The hard bits I think will be going from 3 a day straight to 0.... I didn't plan that too well.  Also, I think it'll be hard to forgo the first can in the morning: that's the only one I'm really really enjoying still.

Who is this person?
I'll let you know how I go!

If you got this far reading this post, thank you (and congratulations - I know I've rambled on a bit!)  This stuff is embarrassing to write, just to put that out there.  But I've never shied away from embarrassing things on this blog, and I'm not about to start.  I know how bad my addiction is, and that's why it's hard to share with people who haven't been there.  I get nervous sharing just how bad my addiction is, because I can't tell you some of the rude comments I get from people, when they see me drinking one.  I laugh on the inside when people say "this early?!" when they see me drinking one at 9am.  Umm, yes honey, you think this is bad; this is my third for the day....  

I just get surprised as I would never comment on what someone eats or drinks, but that's just me.  Some people don't get it, and that's ok.  My addiction is mine, as is my health.  And therefore, it's mine to take control of.  And that's what I'm doing. :)

Wish me luck for Tuesday :) xo


  1. Good on you Kate, i quit soft drink about 3-4 years ago now and did the same thing as you, swapped to plain mineral water or soda water, i rarely drink anything carbonated now. I know you said you might have the occasional one from time to time, anytime i have tried a soft drink since quitting i cannot stand the taste of it, hopefully you will find the same thing and mineral water will be your new 'soft drink' :)
    Good luck, and hope it all goes well for you come Tuesday xx

  2. I drink soda water with a slice of lemon or lime if I'm out, sometimes I even ask them to put it in a wine glass for me, a little bit spesh! ;-) But soft drink to me is so sweet now. Let's hope you get to that stage. Good luck lovely lady.

  3. Go you!!! Best thing I did was crack that addiction!! Proud of you :)

  4. I think your move to sparkling mineral water is inspired. Sometimes it's hard to give up an addiction. It's much easier to replace it with something else. I think the mineral water will work for you! Wishing you all the best Kate.