Yes, you read that correctly.
I had an entire year without soda.
I went the entire calendar year of 2015 without reaching for a Coke or anything along those lines. I mostly drank water, occasionally some Gatorade or some juice. I had exactly one cheat day allotted to me, and I used it to drink some Sprite at the All-You-Can-Eat Pirates’ game my dad and I went to in September.
So how did I manage to pull it off?
I actually had a bit of a head-start, as I went about three months in 2014 without drinking any pop/soda. My tastebuds had already begun to forget what pop tasted like, until I hit last year’s winter break. At that point, I started drinking Coke every day again and would sometimes drink more than one a day. It was getting really unhealthy in my mind, so I decided that it was time to cut the cord.
I wound up having my last soda on December 28th, 2014. After that, I wound up starting my most intense New Year’s Resolution a little early – I’m pretty sure that I started my year without soda early because the following day was a Monday. Either way, I had a Coke on December 28th and decided to give myself one cheat day for the entire year.
I didn’t wind up using my cheat day until September, when the draw of an All-You-Can-Eat Pirates game hit, where I could get endless amounts of Coke products. I went into that day thinking that I was going to wind up guzzling gallons of Coke, but I wound up only sipping on two Sprites throughout all 11 innings – in the meantime, I ate around 6 ice cream sandwiches. Oops.
Even after tasting the Sprite, I didn’t really have any cravings for pop. I went the rest of the year without drinking any, and I finally had a Coke on New Year’s Day for lunch with my family. I’m not going to lie: after a year of not being able to drink it, that Coke tasted pretty damn good. But I really enjoyed a year of not drinking all my calories, suffering from caffeine issues, or feeling the gross film of soda on my teeth. Other than the espresso shot my friend made me take during Finals Week, the most caffeine I had all year was from chocolate bars.
So now that you’ve heard me ramble and tell the tale of how I went a year without soda, I bet you’re ready for my tips. It’s really a practice of discipline and learning to say ‘no’, but I think it was ultimately an excellent choice for me.
- Remove the temptation. Before you do anything else, please, for the love of all that is holy, take the soda out of your house if you have any. It will make your choices so much easier if you have to go elsewhere to get it. Just setting up that little in-between step is usually enough to discourage people from seeking out a bad habit. It was always so much better for me when I wasn’t around soda.
- Keep water nearby. Or Gatorade, or juice, but my recommendation is always water. I’ve faithfully kept a water bottle by my side for almost two-and-a-half years now, and it’s probably one of my favorite things that I own. I always try to keep water in it, especially on days when it gets hot. It makes me life so much easier when I don’t have to go anywhere to get water – I usually have to extend my arm and that’s it. It also always makes me feel better to know how much water I’m hydrating my body with.
- Think about the savings. If you’re a person who goes out to eat more than once a week or so, think about how much money you’re saving. If you ask for a cup of water at a restaurant, they have to give you one for free. Instead of spending a dollar or two on pop, you get to keep that money in your pocket. You could save over $100 a year just by switching to water when you go out to eat. Trust me, since I’ve broken my soda fast, I’ve only had pop in the confines of my own home.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. My friends were always great about having non-soda options when I would go anywhere to hang out. I would fill up my water bottle from their kitchen sink (or Brita filter or whatever), drink some milk, or have a nice tall glass of juice. Instead of being surrounded by people who tried to get me to drink soda by only having it laying around, I instead got treated properly by my friends. It was pretty great to know that so many people were interested in what I was doing.
- Think about how you’ll feel. I’m not going to lie – the first few days are pretty terrible. I wound up getting headaches and cravings like you wouldn’t believe. I was miserable. But my body eventually got used to functioning without soda in my life, and I think it was better for me. I didn’t pack on extra pounds from all the calories I would have drank, I stayed hydrated for all the racing and training I did last year, and I didn’t have to deal with any caffeine headaches or crashes from lack of soda. Knowing how my body would feel after soda really encouraged me to keep going with what I was doing.
So after all of this, are you going to be cutting out soda? A week? A month? An entire year? You don’t have to make big commitments all at once; remember, it’s better to ease your way into it with smaller goals first!