As of this Saturday, I had gone one whole month without soda or carbonation of any kind. Now, to many in our readership, this may seem like no big deal. Many may do this on a regular basis without even knowing or thinking about it. But I have a problem. No, I am not going to admit that “I am Dunce Two, and I am a caffeine addict.” But I am employed, and my place of employment has free soda, all you can drink, within about 10 feet of my desk. And who can resist that?My latest no-soda stint was spurred by my desire to get in soccer shape. My track coach told me years ago that you will be able to run faster and farther if you cut out soda entirely. I did it then, because I was part of a team, and I wanted to perform to the height of my ability (it was also easier because I was a lot younger, and (1) I had access to a lot more natural energy, and (2) my parents would not allow caffeine in the house or tolerate its consumption (again, I am not admitting to addiction, but I don’t really see the point in non-caffeinated soda)).
Now, part of a team again, I wanted to see what I could do. The first game, I had not yet begun my no-soda quest, and my butt was dragging (again, possibly also having something to do with the fact that I have not played competitive soccer in over 15 years). But I decided to give it a try.
30-days, no soda, these were my results:
(1) Physically- I did feel better. My energy levels felt more natural, and I felt less bloated. I was, even in that short period of time, able to notice a difference in my endurance and breathing. I fell asleep more easily. There were some headaches, but nothing crazy. Overall, this part was good.
(2) Intellectually- Felt a little fuzzy and concentration was more of a challenge, especially at work.
(3) Emotionally- I was, internally, in a horrible mood almost the entire time. Part of this could be that soccer is only one night a week, and other than soccer, I wasn’t getting much physical stimulation to offset the artificial chemical lift. Part of it could be that we were moving during this time and work was busy and our kids were unsettled and not sleeping and driving me insane. Part of it could be that I am emotionally dependent on Red Bull. I don’t know.
The take home message for me: whenever I take part in super scientific self-experiments like this, I always find that, even after a little while, it is easy to lessen or stop the behavior because you get perspective. A lot of the times I go to grab a soda, it’s not because I need one, it’s because I am bored and want something to do. Water, in a lot of ways, can fill this same need. I drank a lot more water during this time, and I think that was good for me. If I’m feeling tired, soda is a quick and easy, but not necessarily effective or healthy fix. The real answer is that I should sleep and exercise more. A lot of this has to do with kids and other distractions/obligations, but understanding the situation/problem is the first step in getting it fixed.
Sometimes I just want the taste of something sweet. There are flavored drinks that are much better for you than soda.
Sometimes I cheated and got those 5-hour energy things. I don’t know what those do. Mostly it just gave me a warm, almost burning sensation in my scalp and neck, and made me sweat profusely. Are they supposed to do that?
If you’re interested at all, you should try it out. It was interesting. I think the real goal is moderation, which is tough for me as I am prone to excess. If I like something, I LIKE it, and want to like it all the time, as much as I can. Maybe that should be the subject of a different post.