Monday, June 4, 2012

My Battle with an Unspoken Addiction

On May 8, I gave up Diet Coke.

This may not seem like a terribly difficult thing to most people, but I wasn't a normal consumer of the elixir. I often affectionately called it "my lifeline", and I nicknamed it "DC". It was constantly by my side. People could meet me once and remember me as "the Diet Coke chick". It was NOTHING for me to crack open 12 or so cans {usually more} A DAY, and I'd been this way since middle school! I'd even go days without drinking anything else-including water.

Of course, my mom didn't let me drink THAT much when I was younger, but the habit grew during late night study sessions and was a result of working three jobs through college.

Sadly, none of this is an exaggeration.

This isn't the first time I've given it up though. At age 23, I had a serious medical scare. During a routine check-up at my gynecologist, they took my blood pressure, and the results were horrific! The nurse told me my blood pressure was that of an unhealthy 70 year old, and my doctor considered not allowing me to drive home! I was stunned and immediately scheduled for a round of heart tests at the hospital. My grandfather was in his last stages of life. I was in my last semester of college and student teaching, and it was all a little too much to handle.

When I got home that night {I was living with my parents}, I found my mom and dad at the sink dumping out my Diet Coke stash. I'm a little ashamed to admit that this sight evoked a serious round of tears and a slight tantrum. My parents were convinced Diet Coke was killing me and that I should immediately give it up!

I ended up listening to their concerns and didn't touch another drop, but it was HARD.

The following week, I went back to the doctor, and I had lost 12 pounds?! My blood pressure was still high, but it was better. The heart palpitations and dizzy spells I had been having were more infrequent too, and I knew giving up Diet Coke had to be the reason for the sudden turnaround.

A few days later, I went to the hospital for testing, and I was instructed to wear a heart monitor 24/7 for a month. Any time I felt a heart palpitation, got light headed or dizzy or began to sweat, I was to push the button so it could record my heart activity at the time. Then, I had to log everything on a piece of paper.

Let me add that I was actively dating, and this new contraption was anything but sexy...

A month later, I went back to the doctor to hear my monitor results. The monitor I had worn was defective and hadn't recorded a thing! Again, I cried. Like a baby.

They gave me a new one, and I had to start the process all over again. By the end of that month, I was a new person. I was agitated and scarred from the sticky pads I had to constantly bejewel my chest with, but I felt great physically.

My blood pressure had gone back to normal. I continued to lose weight, and my doctor was stunned. She asked me what I had done, and I explained my love for DC and how I had cut it out of my life. She was ecstatic and warned me to always watch out for high blood pressure symptoms, but she was confident that I didn't need to yet rely on medication to control my blood pressure!

Stupidly, as I began to feel better and better, I turned back to Diet Coke. Slowly, my consumption reached where it had been before.

Fast forward three years. I'm married and expecting my first child. Again, my blood pressure creeps up. This time, it not only affected me but it affected my child, and I was scared.

My ob sent me to a specialist. He threatened to put me on bed rest, at three months along, if I didn't stop working. Two weeks later, I was laid off. It was a blessing in disguise, and my blood pressure went back to normal! I was monitored for the duration of my pregnancy, but I didn't mind seeing two doctors. Every time I saw the specialist, I got an ultra sound! This was the first time I realized that Diet Coke may have caused some permanent damage though, because I wasn't drinking hardly any, and if I did it was caffeine free only...

After Preston was born, I went right back to regular Diet Coke full swing. It'd be easy to blame it on the stresses of being a new parent or a million other things, but the truth is, I just like the taste of it, and it's an addiction!

This brings me to current day.

I'm almost 29, and my ten year class reunion is June 9th. While I've lost a lot of weight since Ryan left, I'm still not exactly where I want to be. I've felt sluggish and unhealthy for awhile, and my sleep pattern is horribly unhealthy. By this point, I KNOW Diet Coke is terrible for me and the main source of my medical "problems". I also know the massive amounts of caffeine consumption isn't allowing for normal sleep, but I remembered how quickly I lost weight the first time I gave it up.

I've known for awhile that I'm not getting any younger and the time was coming to let it go. The pending reunion was just the push I needed, so I made a vow to cut it out of my life one month before the big reunion. This time, I don't plan on going back. I want to be here for my son, and I want to be a healthier person overall, and I know I can't be any of those things as long as I keep drinking it! I'm calling it a lifestyle change. This just sounds more permanent to me.

Amazingly, I haven't caved once. This is not to say I haven't been tempted, because I have every. single. day.  BUT I'm doing okay! I do struggle with beverage choices. Nothing seems to replace that taste, and I'm bored with my options {water, juice, tea}, but I discovered new Wild Berry Lemonade from Wendy's today, and it's the first thing that seemed to satisfy my thirst!

On the bright side, I am a pant size down from where I was at the beginning of May! My mom told me, "you have your neck back!" Kind of a weird observation, but I'll interpret that as a compliment. People at work have told me my legs look smaller too. I just find it amazing that giving up a "diet" drink can actually make you lose weight, but Diet Coke has a lot of sodium in it and sodium makes you retain water...

I wish I would have taken before and after pictures, but I live alone, so those full body shots would be hard to get! However, I will share a few reunion pictures after that happens. Preston and I are driving to northern Michigan alone for it, and we're leaving this Thursday. Wish me luck...

Crystal xoxo


  1. Yaaaay for you! Congratulations on how far you've come! Wishing you luck! and have fun at your Reunion!!!!

  2. I just wanted to say I totally understand!!! I'm 39 and have recently given up an addiction to pepsi and with a great friend's help, have begun having a regular exercise routine for hte first time in my life. So, what I wanted to say is, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!! You won't regret a single second of it!!!!