Friday, August 24, 2012

Giving up soda

Pick me up during spring finals. (AMSmith)
Back in May of this year I quit soda, specifically coke, for several reasons.  First, I somehow managed to gradually increase my soda consumption up to two (sometimes three) cans a day.  Even when you drink the "short" cokes -- the 8 oz cans -- the calories really add up.  Second, the extra caffeine consumption was bothering me.  I wasn't sleeping well and could feel my body reacting to the extra stimulants.  Finally, drinking soda seemed to go against my minimalist philosophy.  

Soda and I have a pretty long history.  When I was a kid, my mom would "pay" me in six-packs of coke for doing my chores or watching my younger brothers.  It was a special treat because the only other soda in the house was yucky diet or, even worse, disgusting kool-aid.  I couldn't stomach the taste of either and preferred to drink ice tea, water, milk (the lactose intolerance came later), or coke.  I know that it sounds silly, but I liked knowing that I was the only one who got to drink the "real" stuff at home.

Fast forward a few years, and you can see why coke holds a special place in my heart.  But, like I said, things started to change.  I'm not going to blame grad school, but it was definitely a contributing factor to the weight that I started gaining.  I've always been a pretty slender person, so any fluctuation in my weight is readily noticed.  The stress of grad school and the desire to fit as much as possible into every day lead me to abuse caffeine -- A LOT.  During that first year, it was common for me to have a cup of coffee in the morning, two sodas, several glasses of ice tea, and another cup of coffee in the evening.  I rarely drank just water and started to feel rather yucky.  Noticing these feelings, I cut back to one cup of coffee a day, but the rest stayed largely unchanged throughout the rest of my masters program.

After moving to Michigan, I started embracing the minimalist lifestyle to a greater extent.  For me, minimalism isn't just about reducing the amount of stuff that I own or depriving myself.  Rather, minimalism is --oddly enough-- about maximizing the joy in my life.  Since I don't derive much joy from owning lots of things or being a consumer, I have consciously decided to own less.  The same logic applies to my caffeine consumption.  I don't derive joy from feeling like a strung out caffeine junkie.  So, I have gradually cut caffeine out.  First, I made a conscious effort to increase the amount of water that I drink.  Realizing that I enjoy water that is room temperature and tastes good means that I buy bottled water.  Think what you want, but it's a small price to pay to make me happy.  I do make sure to recycle the bottles.

Drinking lots of water gradually started to change the way that I viewed soda.  The carbonation didn't taste as good and my insides felt sticky.  I found myself drinking water after soda to get the taste out of my mouth.  When I realized what I was doing, it was time for soda to go.  I certainly wasn't deriving any joy from consuming it since I was washing my mouth out after drinking it.  So, I stopped buying soda.  I am blessed in that my husband supports me and the changes I make in my life.  He still drinks soda, but the temptation to drink his soda doesn't exist because he drinks diet.

The funny thing is that I now drink less iced tea as well.  I've become more mindful of what I'm drinking.  Most often, I drink water.  In the morning, I still have a cup of coffee and I don't see that going away any time soon since it is part of my morning routine and the process of drinking coffee starts my day of right.  If I feel like I need a "pick-me-up," sometimes I'll go for a walk to clear my head or make a cup of hot tea.  This has been a gradual change over the last year, so I know that the change in habits is likely to stay.  Like I said, living the minimalist lifestyle isn't about deprivation.  It's about maximizing joy.

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