I will admit: I don’t have a long list of horrible habits. I don’t bite my nails, I don’t swear all that much, I eat my fair share of junk food with a random mix of fruits and veggies, and I’ve never smoked or done any illegal substances. (This is not my attempt to be self-righteous, I promise. Keep reading!) But I do have one particularly horrible, addictive habit that I’ve had for most of my life: I am addicted to soda. Yep, that is my one true vice, and it’s been that way ever since I was a child.
My parents didn’t limit my diet much, and I was drinking soda at a very young age. I can remember coming home from volleyball practice in high school and slamming one or two cans of Mountain Dew in a few seconds flat (which totally blows my mind and grosses me out now that I know it’s pure sugar and has no hydration value). As an adult, I would crave not only the carbonation but the sweet taste of any variety of soda. I wasn’t super picky on which variety I would drink, but my absolute, all-time favorite was: A large Coke Zero from McDonald’s (for only $1!) I would drink multiple sodas a day, usually with meals. I would grab one on my Target run and ask my husband to stop on his way home to pick me up another soda in the evening. I even drank soda throughout both my pregnancies, even though I knew that water should have been my best and only option. I was clearly and utterly addicted to the sugary, bubbly deliciousness. I had friends suggest bubbly water or flavored water as an alternative, but they just didn’t do it for me.
Until one day, my husband and I were talking, and he made a comment that I should try to quit. I laughed and questioned him but then just let it go and forgot about it altogether. A few weeks later, I was at school teaching my sixth graders and introduced them to TED Talks. Together, we watched this video, which really spoke to both my students and me. https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days?language=en
After the video, we confessed and discussed all of our bad habits. My students mentioned things like “I play too much Fortnite” or “I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.” Several others stated that they wanted to exercise more or read for 30 minutes each night. It was an eye-opening discussion for me, so I created a challenge based on the video: Choose something you want to change and do it for 30 days. This would be a perfect opportunity for me to not only work on my own personal bad habit but also be an example for my students because I would be going through the experience just as they were. So I committed to it by telling my students: I plan to stop drinking soda for 30 days.
I’ve heard from various places that it takes 21 days to create a habit and I would say that’s probably pretty accurate. Here’s my own personal adventure of quitting soda for 30 days:
Day 1-Didn’t really think much about it
Day 3-Still going strong, no major urges
Day 7-Started to have some slight cravings but nothing unbearable
Day 14-I made it two weeks and was so proud of myself. Thought about stopping a few times but decided I was almost halfway done, so I was motivated to continue.
Day 20-Several students asked how I was doing with my challenge, in which I proudly told them “I’m still going…no soda!”
Day 27-Almost to the end and had a terrible craving, almost to the point of giving in but was able to ward it off with some trail mix and flavored water at home.
Day 30-I made it! Now…do I keep going since I made it this far?
Currently, I am at day 32 and still haven’t caved into my cravings. I thought I would feel better but honestly, I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I don’t think the caffeine had much of an effect on me; otherwise, I would have been dragging and had major headaches, which I did not experience either.
So what’s the point? My message is that you can do anything for 30 days. I didn’t set an unreasonable goal for myself like some New Years’ resolution to cut out soda forever. The key was making it attainable, measurable and realistic for my own personal needs. Having my students complete the challenge with me helped to hold all of us accountable and gave us a starting point for daily discussions. I am still working on my journey to get healthier, and now I am at a crossroads because do I ruin my 30 days + streak and have one? Or do I keep going, knowing that eventually, I may not even want one?
What do YOU want to do/change/add/eliminate/improve in 30 days?