For all of the times that I spoke at length about my battle with my weight…
For all of the weeks, months and years that I spent, not only losing the 200+ pounds, but the countless hours since then that I’ve continued to stick with the lifelong lifestyle commitment to never go back…
For all of the perspective that I’ve gained and attempted to share right here on this site…
I’ve always stopped short of labeling it an addiction. Even with the gift of 20/20 hindsight, I don’t think I can say I was ever addicted to food. I don’t think I was ever addicted to sweet, salt or savory. And I can honestly say I wasn’t addicted to the act of eating. However, when I connect the dots on how a man does what we as human beings are not meant to do by tipping the scales well north of 400 pounds, it was easy for me to identify the one tangible addiction in my life. And I recognize it, because I’m still fighting the battle today.
By most statistics, 48% of Americans drink some type of soda everyday. (Editor’s Note: Despite my Midwestern roots… I say “soda” and not “pop”.) Not only do we drink it, of those who do, we average about 2.6 glasses per day. Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Recent studies from just this year showed that soda consumption in down about 1.2% nationally, however, they did not account for sugar-laden Energy Drinks or the deceptively nutritionally devastating concoctions that we get from our local barista. It’s the soda, however, that still gets top villain billing, and it has been my nemesis for years.
Mountain Dew was the sticky sweet fuel that powered my assent to four bills. From growing up with the old glass bottles (the BEST way to enjoy a Dew) to a multiple 44oz fountain soda per day habit, there was over a decade that I was rarely seen without a Mountain Dew somewhere within the reach of my sausage-like fingers. Like many stories similar to mine, kicking the Mountain Dew was the first step in my weight loss journey. In fact, just cutting that out of my life probably accounted for 75-80% of the “extra” daily calories I was consuming prior to my decision to change my life. But, unlike so many others, I didn’t just transition to diet soda. When I cut it out… I cut it out.
For over a year and the first 100+ pounds, I was water only. On a rare occasion, I’d treat myself to a Diet Coke, but I just wasn’t interested. Plus, I knew my personality, and the last thing I wanted to do was go back to mindlessly suckling from the teet of the soda monster. That was until, a new mistress entered my life. Her name was Coke Zero.
Though it never stopped me on my quest to hit all of my weight loss and fitness goals, my addiction to Coke Zero was probably more powerful than the Mountain Dew. You see, I was using the Coke Zero as a replacement for the mindless snacking that get so many of us in trouble. Instead of a fork, it was a straw. I was losing weight and eventually maintaining the weight that I wanted to, but I was drinking so much soda that I’d reached the point where I’d get physically ill when I didn’t have it. Two, sometimes even three, two-liter bottles per day had become a pretty standard day for me. If I didn’t have it first thing in the morning, I was miserable until I got it. If it wasn’t always within arm’s length, I’d get nervous and pre-occupied about when I was going to get my next sip. It sounds crazy, but I felt like an absolute junkie.
Today I sit here proud to say that I’m 10 days clean. I made the decision that when I started base training for my up-coming marathon, I would cut soda back out of my life. Hydration is so important when you’re training for something like this and I figured I needed to cut all of that unnecessary sodium out of my life and get re-acquainted with water. As recently as three weeks ago, when I’d finish a three-mile hard run, I’d refresh with a big icy Coke Zero instead of water. I was absolutely an addict.
For all of the crazy vices one can have in their lives, I know a diet soda seems like such a small thing. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the past few years of really trying to “remodel” my life, is the true meaning and impact of moderation. Some believe that literally ANYTHING is OK in moderation while others believe that ALL THINGS must be done in moderation. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The fact is, the impact of moderation on your life should have more to do with your role as the Moderator. The question isn’t whether it’s good or bad, simply rather or not you can control it. Can you be the Moderator of your own life or are you letting something else run it? That’s what I had to get back. That’s what we all have to get back.
What needs moderation in your life?