Pre-emptive strike #1: Giving up the gas

Last DC

A few days ago I decided I needed to take back my health and begin making some healthy lifestyle changes — sort of a preemptive strike before the holidays hit in full force. I have this idea every so often — usually coinciding with the tightening waistband of my jeans (from too long in the dryer), the extra breakouts on my face (from the make-up, of course) and darkening circles under my eyes (from, uh, the same bad make-up that makes my face breakout?)

Then, after I achieve some level of success in whittling my middle, eating right and feeling good, WHAM! something unexpected happens and my motivation and healthy habits get derailed until the next time. It reminds me a bit of the stock market cycles, but as they say, if you make even small investments over time, they can add up to a big pot of gold in the long run. (Actually, promising big or small pots of gold is kind of a no-no, but you get the idea.) So, I’ve decided now is as good a time as any to start my arbitrary lifestyle changes. The first:


Note: Diet Coke will not be replaced by excessive use of alcohol, recreational drugs or drug equivalents like Diet Mountain Dew. Water is Susan’s new beverage of choice!

(See my NJ influence in using”soda” instead of “pop”?)

It doesn’t matter what the hell you call it — soda, pop, caramel carcinogens in a can — but I’ve given it up… maybe not for “good,” like I’ll never let it touch my lips again good, or I’d rather die an agonizing, parched death in the desert if only a Diet Coke oasis is available good, but “for the most part” good. In this Freakonomics blog post, Steven Levitt reviews how the ingredient consumers once chastised in Diet Coke is now part of the company’s ad campaign. Regardless of which side you’re on — soda kills / soda’s a food group! — I don’t like the way it makes me feel all bloated and such after the can is empty.

So long, suckaLast night I had my last drink — well, probably not my “last-last,” but my “for the most part” last. I’ve been drinking lots of water in the past 2 days, and even ordered water when I went out to lunch today — remarkable! But right now if you were standing next to me with an open can of Diet Coke, I might beat you with my keyboard, grab the can, run into the powder room and lock the door to guzzle it down. But I don’t know how I’d get blood and hair out from between the plastic keys.

I’m planning more changes, and your suggestions are welcome if they worked for you. Remember, small changes = big payoff. Maybe I should start my own healthy habits countdown, like a type of advent calendar? Frankly, praying may be my best strategy.


13 thoughts on “Pre-emptive strike #1: Giving up the gas

  1. curt says:

    too funny — I, too, cut out all soft drinks about 5 months ago after my surgery and went to water. (I still enjoy decaf coffee and the occasional alcohol — can’t do without those.)

    I must admit that I don’t feel as bloated and probably burp half as much. I mostly drink the flavored water (not the carbonated stuff) — about a bottle a day, maybe a little more — and I have grown to like it.

    I miss pop not a bit.

    but, I’m still having some digestive issues, so I am going to see a specialist in a couple weeks. I guess I’ll see if any more dietary changes will be necessary. I just can’t wait.

  2. cynthiacloskey says:

    Hooray for you, ditching the soda! (I call it soda too, due to Philadelphia-born parents.) You don’t need no steenkeeng soda.

    Instead of ice tea or water at restaurants, I’ve taken to ordering tomato juice. Drink your vegetables and all that. One time this resulted in someone asking if I had a hangover. (I didn’t, as it happens. What are the odds?) Despite the risk of being taken for a big-time partier, I recommend the tomato juice option when available.

  3. Steve says:

    let’s clear one thing up, East of State College it’s soda (for those of us from Central PA) and West it’s well, umm.. the other word (I’m working to make sure my daughter knows it as soda)…

    I’ve been up and down w/ drinking soda… I don’t drink coffee and soda is my only caffeine in the AM so… and ‘occasional’ Coke here and there won’t hurt 😛

  4. Down here in the South it’s all coke, even if it’s sprite. If it’s carbonated, it’s coke.

    I gave up carbonated drinks for Lent one year. It’s hard at first but it gets easier. I only drink one a day, so I don’t kick myself for it.

    You asked for other suggestions (not saying that I abide by this one myself): When eating at a restaurant, cut whatever you’ve ordered in half and take it home with you. Go ahead and put it in the box before you start eating. The portions at restaurants are so large and I think many of us feel compelled to clean our plates, especially when we’re dining out.

  5. Mike says:

    Good job, Susan. I am also in the soda kills camp, but I can’t have pizza without a coke. Otherwise, I stay away as well.

    In totally ignoring your “small steps” recommendation, my feeling is that the biggest first step you can make in eating healthier is trying to cut out all hydrogenated oils (partially hydrogenated included). These are the trans fats that are, thankfully, on the way out. Most likely the number one cause in the exponential rise in heart attacks and strokes, you will be hard pressed to cut it out of your diet. For now, start looking at the labels of the things you buy, you might be surprised at how many things include it. To be cheap enough to put in *everything* it can’t be good, can it?

  6. Sophie says:

    (Ok, I typed this once and it disappeared… grrr…)

    I second what Madame Queen says: if it is fizzy and in a can, it’s coke. But good for you for kicking… the… uh.. can, so to speak.

    Despite the fact that I’m typing (and retyping) this at almost midnight, I’ll share my weight loss secret with you: get more sleep. I find that when I don’t sleep enough, I compensate the next day with high fat, high sugar, high caff stuff to keep me going. I’m actually less hungry when I sleep more.

    So why am I here? Good night! 🙂

  7. lanipai says:

    Just to let you all know, mainly you east coast people, if you are from Hawaii, which I am originally (hence the name) its soda. Either way, soda/coke/pop (yes, I said it, west coast) I love it. However, I do keep it to a minimum, once in awhile.

    Eating better is always a good thing. Yet, as an athlete, (Susan you know what I’m talkin about) ya gotta move people. Just changing your eating habits isn’t enough. If you don’t get some exercise, whatever you eat, no matter how good it is for you, is just going to sit there. Not to mention, the older we get (almost 40) the harder it is to work it off if you haven’t been exercising regularly.

    My suggestion is to exercise regularly and that “once in a while” can of soda won’t phase ya a bit.

  8. MinivanBohemian says:

    But what about the medicinal qualities of diet Coke? My Kroger has 2 litre bottles for 59 cents…so, um, I am pretty committed to feeding (quenching?) my habit. At least 5.90 worth.
    My sister SWEARS that diet drinks make you fatter. She’s a size two. I don’t know if that gives her credibility or makes her a know-it-all, smart-ass.
    You know, Diet Coke now comes in a healthy version: Diet Coke Plus
    It even comes in a skinny can. Surely that’s a sign from God. Right?

  9. Great post, Susan! I gave up diet soda about a year ago.

    My mother died of a brain tumor. An acquaintance survived a brain tumor. She says her doctor is adamant that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners cause brain tumors and has forbidden her from ingesting them.

  10. Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for your tips. I’m working on more pre/post/current/whatever health habits, which I’ll write more about in the coming days. I know, I know, you’re on the edge of your seats…

    Terry, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother, but it is interesting to hear some actual doctor advice about the additives, rather than just uninformed speculation about the possible effects of them.

  11. Jennifer: thanks for stopping by and, yes, I would say you probably should cut back! Good luck — you’ll feel healthier if you can get past the initial cravings. I’ve been doing well without Diet Coke, although I have had maybe 3 or 4 since I wrote this post. But I don’t feel like I HAVE to have it, which is what I was striving for.

    Hope you’ll stop back again and Happy New Year!

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