If you've been reading my blog for, like, ever, then you know that several years ago I shared 35 Things I wanted to do that year (still my favorite way to "set goals," by the way).
One of those things, for some reason, was "Don't drink soda for one month." I guess because I enjoy being cruel to myself?
So February was chosen to be the designated month (because hello, it's the shortest). I called it Fizz-Free February because things are always easier to stomach when they have a cute name. I achieved my goal and felt good about it. In fact, I did it the next year too, and I felt good about that.
And then I didn't do it any more. I had friends and family members carry on FFF without me, but I was perfectly happy being fizzy for the foreseeable future.
And then, thanks to a fateful text from my sister, a little curiosity, and a little stupidity, I found myself committing to be Fizz-Free in February, once again.
Understand, I did not make this decision lightly. One of the reasons I started FFF in the first place was just to prove to myself that I could do it. Well, since I'd already done it, that reason didn't apply. But there were a few other things that pushed me over the edge.
(1) I wanted to see how it would affect my energy. People talk about energy ups and downs like they are just the worst thing in the world, so I wanted to see how being off caffeine would affect that.
(2) One of my goals for the year was to lose my "last 10 pounds," and I was curious about the impact soda had on that. It's full of sugar and makes you bloated, right? Not a great recipe for weight loss.
And so the experiment began. And now, at 9:08 PM on February 28th, it's coming to a close.
And I can sum it up in one word: HARD.
I don't want this post to drag on forever, though I could spend a while lamenting on how long this month has seemed and how my days have felt so empty and blah blah blah blah blah. But I'm just going to jump into my big takeaways.
Energy: Shawty got low low low low low low low low
Look guys, I've got four kids. They go to school, they go to activities, and they hate going to bed. I've got a husband that I really like dating and spending time with every once in a while. I work part-time. I do some fun writing. I've got a house to keep clean. I have church responsibilities. I've got Ikea furniture to put together way more often than you would think possible. And I have an anxious mess of a brain that just won't turn off the way it's supposed to in order for me to sleep.
What I'm saying is, the energy puzzle is a pretty important one for me to figure out. And I knew caffeine was playing a big role in it. Maybe it was hurting me, even though it felt like it was helping. Maybe it was making my anxiety worse. Maybe I was having a "crash" every day that made me cranky every evening. There was no way of knowing, because I didn't have a soda-free state to compare my soda-full state to. (Does that make sense? Pretend it does.)
So I was really curious about what going "fizz-free" would do. The short answer is that it made me tired. Really tired. I found myself in actual need of a nap in the early/late afternoons. One time I was actually late picking up the girls from school, for the first time EVER, because I was ASLEEP.
So really, there weren't many ups and downs...but it sure felt like there were a lot of downs. That said, I fell asleep much more easily every night, with very few "my mind is racing" nights. So that's something, for sure.
Weight: The numbers don't lie.
First of all, let me just say that I don't think I'm overweight. I don't. That said, I had about 10 extra pounds hanging around that I was kind of annoyed by and wanted to lose.
And? Well...I'm down 6 pounds since being off soda.
Considering I changed almost nothing about my diet (more about that next) or exercise, this is pretty fascinating. I'll also say that I actually feel thinner. My belly doesn't bloat out by the end of every day, and it just feels flatter in general. That's probably where the most noticeable difference is.
Hard to ignore that, I'm afraid.
Diet: Sugar. Yes, please.
I noticed how much I wanted/craved sugar. Before going off soda, I had actually noticed that I wasn't enjoying sweets as much as I had before, for whatever reason. But without soda, sugar became a need. And, to be frank, I ate a lot of it. Mostly dark chocolate, because I love dark chocolate. But also sour candy, because what is more sugary than sour candy?
So somehow I ate more sugar and still lost weight. Pretty interesting, if you ask me.
Mood: Depths of despair.
Oh, this is hard to admit. Maybe I won't admit it. Maybe I won't tell you guys that there were times when I cried—actual tears—over not being able to have soda. Maybe I won't tell you that it actually depressed me to eat out because...water. Or...lemonade. (shudder) I definitely won't tell you that going to Disneyland—DISNEYLAND—was made somewhat less enjoyable by the fact that I couldn't have soda while I was there.
But really, it made me sad. Not having soda made me sad. Which is sad in and of itself. Sad, sad, sad.
Which brings me to...
Addiction: Oh snap.
I did not want to go here. And yet go here I must. Because as much as I want to say "I'm not addicted," the truth is that there were times when I felt like a full-blown drug addict.
Okay, so I wasn't laid up in bed all day or crouching in a corner with uncontrollable shakes...but wanting a soda was very, extremely, scarily, automatic for me. It's just what I do. I drink Dr. Pepper. And when I can't drink Dr. Pepper, I apparently get grumpy and occasionally cry. That's not normal...right? When something about my day felt "off," it was usually that I didn't have a soda with me. This all sounds really weird when it's laid out so plainly like that, but it really is the truth.
So I'm just left wondering...is that okay? Is soda just a really strong, really bad habit I have? Or am I...you know...addicted? And if I am addicted, why would that be okay? Just because it's not going to kill me (today)? Or because it's inexpensive? Or because everyone does it? Or because it gives me energy? None of those is a good reason to be addicted to something. And yet somehow when people say "I'm addicted to soda," they say it in a lighthearted way, and we laugh, because it's funny, and it's harmless, and isn't that so cute that they have their little "addiction." You know what I'm sayin'? I'm not saying that's right, or that it's wrong. I'm just saying that that's what we do, and I...wonder...about it.
So where does that leave me now? Honestly, I don't know. I do know that I'm going to drink soda again. Tomorrow. I miss it, and while the physical changes were noticeable, they just weren't enough to keep me away.
But maybe, just maybe, I'll be a little more aware of how much I'm drinking, or when I'm drinking it, or why. Maybe I won't deprive myself, but I won't go overboard, either. Maybe it'll become less of a "need," and more of a "want." Maybe I can set a reasonable limit for myself, at the very least.
You know. Maybe. I'm not making any promises. Because really guys, it's been a whole month. We have some catching up to do, the good Dr. and I.
So, cheers to March. Here's hoping your days are, fizzy, bubbly, and sweet.
(Also, I'd love to hear what you think about addiction, soda, energy, sugar, lemonade, alliterative names, whatever, in the comments. This is all something I still want to figure out. Except maybe the alliterative names. I'm actually already pretty good at that.)