Swift: Kicking the daily Diet Coke habit proves hard to break
A friend once gave me the perfect analogy for what it's like for her to adopt new habits. She likened herself to a quarter-horse. She could be the fastest and most driven creature in the world for one-fourth of a mile, but after that, her interes...
A friend once gave me the perfect analogy for what it’s like for her to adopt new habits.
She likened herself to a quarter-horse. She could be the fastest and most driven creature in the world for one-fourth of a mile, but after that, her interest and stamina dropped off to an Eeyore-variety pace.
In that precise moment, I felt like I’d met my soul-mate.
I, too, have always struggled with attempts at behavioral change. This might be why I have started a new diet on every Monday morning since Sept. 18, 1979 – and proceeded to fall off the butter wagon every Tuesday afternoon since Sept. 19, 1979.
This isn’t to say I have never successfully changed behavior. In the past, I have altered my habits enough to watch less TV, do less nighttime grazing and drink less caffeine.
But it is always a struggle. Always. They say it takes 21 days to adopt any new behavior, yet it seems to take me twice as long. I hang onto my old habits like a scared kitten clamps onto a tree – even if that habit has long since lost its purpose, convenience, usefulness or ability to soothe.
Case in point: Diet Coke.
I was off the stuff for several years. Then I started working at a place where it flowed like – well – Diet Coke. We put away cases of it within a couple of weeks. As is usually my M.O., I justified and rationalized my way back into a raging case of faux pop addiction.
“I’ll just have one a day,” I told myself.
Or: “I’ll wait until noon.”
Or: “I’ll sip it slowly, and alternate it with something healthy – like organically grown, humanely harvested, gently filtered coconut water.”
But before long, I was chugging down more Diet Coke than anyone else. I would open a new can before the old one was empty, worry obsessively that I was running low on it and crave it first thing in the morning. I was tired of the lectures about how artificial sweeteners would kill me, or would mummify my body to the point that it would never decompose. I envisioned a post-Apocalyptic world in which no one would survive except for cockroaches, Cher and my perfectly Diet Coke-preserved carcass.
So last Monday – the Day Where All Great Intentions Come to Die – I showed up at work in all my super-charged, “Together, we can fight this thing!” glory. I even brought chai tea and purified water as healthy substitutes.
And this is exactly how it went down:
9 a.m.: “It’s a new week. I am absolutely not having any aspartame today. It’s essentially poison. I will drink tea or water or something that’s good for me.”
10:30 a.m: “I am so not going to drink diet soda anymore. I think it’s causing my ADHD. They say it actually puts holes in your brain. I wonder if that’s why I can never find my keys.”
11:37 a.m.: “You know I read something the other day about how you need to baby-step your way to new habits. Maybe quitting cold turkey is sort of a bad idea. It might create some sort of dangerous shock to the system.”
11:52 a.m.: “I honestly do not know how one Diet Coke a day could hurt anyone. That’s nothing. Just one. That’s it.”
11:54 a.m.: “I would pretty much pay someone $4,000 for a Diet Coke at this exact minute.”
12:15 p.m.: (Cradling ice-cold Diet Coke during walk of shame from pop machine.) “Don’t look at me. I’m hideous!”
That’s OK. There’s always next Monday.