Diet Coke and I broke it off for good
“All bad habits start slowly and gradually and before you know you have the habit,
the habit has you.” – Zig Ziglar
I don’t remember which came first. Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke. But what I do remember is that I loathed the taste or thought of either of them when I was a young girl. Not to mention the poison that fills each can.
Growing up in the Midwest, I watched as my older sisters chugged their bottles of diet pop. I thought to myself as a young kid—”yuck! how can they drink that stuff.”
For me, I was all about the tall glass of lemonade. When I was a young girl I couldn’t get enough yellow or pink in my glass. I can’t even remember how many lemonade stands I had—but there were a lot. And I mean a lot. In fact, one stands out from the rest. My brother Mark with his street wits, which to this day never ceases to amaze me, somehow found a downed stop sign. He lifted it up and dragged it in front of our lemonade stand. Cars driving down our street obeyed the stop sign. Now mind you our house was in the middle of the street. So no sooner did we have a line of cars stopped right in front of our poorly made lemonade stand.
It wasn’t until a police man finally came and grabbed the stop sign and threw it in the back of his squad car. Let’s just say that we didn’t make much money that day, but it filled us with so many memories. To this day it still produces a belly laugh in me that makes even the worst day seem happier.
So where and when did this bad habit form? It was in high school and it was my own doing—as our most bad habits. The whole high school anxiety of being a pretty, thin, girl seemed to take over. I blocked out the thought of how unhealthy it was and turned to Diet Coke and said: “you had me at hello.” Lemonade was old news.
Setting the example to not drink the toxic stuff came from my dad. Dad could literally count on his fingers how many cans of pop he had per year. He never drank “the stuff” as he liked to call it—unless of course we were at Pizza Hut. That was the only time. I was always impressed but never followed that logical path.
My Diet Coke and I were steady in college. It kept me up during those late nights with its caffeine and fizz tingling the back of my tongue. But I do recall I started to feel jealous of my roommate who toted around a huge water bottle—long before the trend that it is now.
The Break Up
Fast forward twenty-five years later. I no longer have the bad habit. Diet Coke, which had me at hello the first time I drank it is no longer around me. We broke up.
And I have my brother to thank. Earlier this year, we were having a healthy lunch—I of course with a big ole’ Diet Coke. He glanced at it and I just knew. He proceeded to say: “Can I ask you a question?” I already knew the answer. “I don’t know why I drink it!” I was caught and being held accountable. It felt extremely scary but also the timing was right.
Within a few minutes my tongue had professed that I was going to quit. Cold turkey. I said it out loud. The habit was no longer going to own me. Now rest assured I was not thinking all of this in that fleeting moment. I was also thinking, “crap. I don’t want to give it up. I hate iced tea.”
But I forged ahead and allowed him to take my super size and dump it out and eat the salad by itself. That was step one. And I’ve never looked back. Sure, I get tempted, but don’t we all? But at that moment the bad habit tripped over a moment of weakness and allowed confidence to supersede weakness.
To many this may sound frivolous or petty—but don’t we all have bad habits? I think we all know the answer to that question as well. It further begs the question: why do we have that or this bad habit? I have come to realize that it’s the determination of the answer that has all of us struggling.
Looking back at that day I unfriended Diet Coke, I realize now how much it controlled me. I thank my calm inquisitive brother, who metaphorically pinned me to the ground and reminded me: it’s time to end the relationship.
This chapter is new for me, as Diet Coke no longer has me at hello. And as Melody Carlson states: “It takes a good habit to replace a bad habit.”
With a slice of lemon or a hint of peach is how I enjoy my iced tea nowadays.
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