Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29, 2009

I’ve always thought that it was interesting to see a smoker choose to go outside in a raging snowstorm for a cigarette. It didn’t make much sense to me to electively go out into a cold, windy environment when you were already inside. Some people smoke, some people drink, some people do drugs, some people gamble…but generally everyone has at least one vice, an addiction. I’ve never smoked, never drank heavily (even in University), never been involved with any sort of drugs, and while I do play poker, I wouldn’t consider it a vice, although some may disagree. For 30+ years, my addiction has been Coke. (If you didn’t surmise from the picture above, that refers to Coca-Cola.)

For those of you who have been following along, I’ve been trying to quit drinking Coke. I’ve mentioned it a number of times on the blog, and anyone who I see personally has likely noticed (or heard me mention) that I’m trying to quit. Some people scoff at it as just another drink, and it’s no big deal to stop, but this is the closet thing I have to a smoker quitting smoking. It’s definitely not easy, but I’ve gone just over 9 weeks now without a Coke.

There were a number of reasons for me trying to quit, from trying to lose some weight, to trying to cut out sugar, to overall health…to the fact that if you leave a rusty nail submerged in a glass of Coke, within 3 days, all of the rust is eaten away. Get your head around that! I knew that trying to go gradual wouldn’t work, so I went cold turkey and just stopped on a Monday. One of the things that was foolish, though, was that I didn’t actually drink the Coke that was in my fridge when I quit.

The best way to drink Coke is in the small glass bottles with the metal bottle caps. No plastic bottle, aluminum can, or pouring it into a glass can compare with the awesome sensation of drinking an ice-cold Coke out of one of those trademark-shaped glass bottles. When they re-introduced them a few years ago, I pretty much always had some in my fridge at home. In a cruel twist of fate, and absolutely no foresight on my part, when I quit drinking Coke, there was still one small glass bottle left in my fridge. So now, every time I open the fridge, there it is in the door, taunting me…daring me…
I just can’t bring myself to throw it out. And since I don’t let Lucas drink Coke, he can’t have it either. It’s not like I don’t let him drink soda, but I don’t let him have it that often, and if I do, I try to give him something without caffeine. I wish my mom had never let me drink Coke when I was younger, and maybe I wouldn’t have become so dependent on it. That’s not to say it’s her responsibility in any way, I love her to death, and she did a great job raising me on her own, but if I can try to avoid Lucas drinking it and becoming dependent on it later in life, I’m going to do my best to try that.

I gave it up a few years ago for about 2 years, and switched to iced tea, but I was back eventually. This time, when I tried the experiment, a few friends had suggested that I try Coke Zero as a replacement, and for those of you that read the blog regularly, you will remember that the Coke Zero experiment did NOT go well at all. Once I realized that Coke Zero wasn’t going to be an adequate substitute, I worried that I would go right back to it, but I’ve lasted 7 more weeks.

There have been some close calls. When I went to the movie with Lucas last week, it was the first time I had been to the theatre since I quit. We were at the snack bar, and in the past, it was always popcorn and a Coke. I had to restrain myself from ordering one. It’s the same thing when I go to the casino, I’m just used to having a Coke beside me at the poker table. Now it’s orange juice or water, or sometimes a Sprite if I need some carbonation. The closest was a few weeks ago when my friend Colin and I went to Brantford for a baseball game. We were sitting in the stands sharing an extremely salty bag of Spitz sunflower seeds, and I said to him, “That’s it…I need a Coke. I’m done.”

I headed to the snack bar and got in line. I was seventh in line and I could already taste it…I knew I couldn’t last with this stupid experiment. Sixth, fifth…it was going to taste so good. Fourth…maybe I should get 2. Third…yeah, get 2, one won’t be enough. When I was second in line, this guy walked by me, and he was probably between 350-400 pounds…an incredibly round and uncomfortable-to-look-at sized individual. I was looking at him, and remembering my reasons for quitting, when I heard the girl behind the counter ask me what I wanted, and I weakly responded, “I’ll have a water, please.”

This past weekend, I was announcing a basketball game in Guelph, and Alex, one of the students who works at the scorer’s table and sits beside me, had a Coke. I could see the tell-tale red can and white swirl as it sat in the cup holder and I wanted one really badly. Alex and I started talking about it, and she told me that she’s a Coke (Coca-Cola) addict as well. I mentioned my abstinence, and she tried to hide her can behind a roll of athletic tape, which was very considerate of her, but I was fiending…craving it like you wouldn’t believe. But as much as I wanted to run over to the concession stand and grab one, I fought it off.

I’ve had a lot of suggestions as to what I should drink instead of Coke. I hate the aftertaste of sweeteners in soda, so let’s just rule out Diet sodas. I’ve been drinking water, and Gatorade on occasion, but it’s the carbonation that I crave sometimes. Someone suggested to me that if I needed carbonation, I should drink Perrier or some other sort of soda water. My response to that was that if I wanted to drink something carbonated that had no taste…I probably would have just stuck with Coke Zero.
I’m still drinking pop, but maybe 3-5/week instead of the 1-2 Cokes/day I used to have. While I haven’t had a Coke (or any other Cola), I did have a couple of Cherry Colas a few weeks back. And one time when Lucas and I went to Mac’s and got Frosters (not Slurpees…that’s 7-11), I did get a Coke-flavoured Froster, but in my mind, that doesn’t count because it’s not actually the drink. The good news is that it was excessively sweet, and I couldn’t finish it because it was so sweet. I’m hoping that my taste buds have changed, and that even if I were to have a Coke now, it would be too sweet for me, and not enjoyable. I’m hoping that’s the case, but I’m not optimistic. More likely, I’m going to break down eventually, and have that one Coke that negates everything in the past 9 weeks. And I know that if (when?) that moment comes, I’m probably going to polish off a case. In retrospect, and once again in the ‘no foresight’ category, writing this post wasn’t really the best idea either, because just talking about it has me craving one right now.

Most of my friends and family have been great, and supportive, and when I’m out somewhere with them and it looks like I’m about to break down and order one, they tell me not to. I’m appreciative for that, I hope they’ll keep doing it. I’ve lost 8 pounds since I cut it out of my diet, so there’s definite motivation to continue.

We’ll see how long I can last. Maybe this winter, you’ll see me sneaking outside in a blizzard for a Coke, hanging out with all the smokers.


Emilia said...

Don't give in, Sean! 9 weeks is VERY impressive, that's amazing! Think of how good you feel right now, without all that sugar. Plus the added benefit is the weight loss. The more weight you lose, the better you will feel.

I'm not a soda drinker at all, but I know what you mean about the carbonation, it's refreshing.
Why not try club soda with lemon? Also, they make sugar free Fresca or Gingerale (Sweppes) and both are sweetened with Splenda (if you're going to use sweetner, you should use Splenda and not the evil aspartame).

Just a suggestion...Good luck!

Emilia :)

mandi said...

well done sean. actually i much much prefer the taste of diet or coke zero. i really dont like the taste of regular pop anymore.

i used to drink about 6 litres of diet coke a week when i was early 20s. even diet rots your gut, so you are right to avoid both.

the weight loss is amazing! keep it up dude. proud of ya!