How I've been

It feels like all my habits are different now. Some of this is deliberate. I stopped drinking Diet Coke last month. I expected this to be drastic, like getting my forehead tattooed, and somehow it is not. I did it for lots of reasons, though I think one of the most significant ones is that, well, Diet Coke is heavy. I’m tired of carrying those twelve-packs and cases, which, with those little cardboard handles, feels an awful lot like tying a set of encyclopedias to your fingers and letting them dangle.

And I was sick of the cans, especially all the empty ones in my car. When I drove on bumpy roads my car would sound like a junkie pushing his shopping cart. And just after I started cutting down on Diet Coke I found these videos, which helped my resolve considerably. If Diet Coke does that to Mentos, I wondered, what is it doing to my minty fresh soul?

And then when I stopped drinking so much Diet Coke. I started drinking black coffee. I mean I just stopped putting sweetener in the one cup I have at work in the morning. I haven’t felt this adult since the moment I realized I really actually sort of enjoy hearing Nina Totenberg read aloud Supreme Court transcripts on NPR. (No shit, I like it better than the recorded courtroom audio they’ve had recently. That Nina, she does Scalia’s quotes so snippily!) Anyway, it’s nice to know I can fully function on only a few dozen milligrams of caffeine and that my heart is no longer being pickled in aspartame.

I’m cooking more. I spend at least three or four hours on the weekend in a chopping/peeling/blender-ing trance. I finally understand why great big heavy knives are so great, though I might throw one at you if you call me a “foodie” because, dear God, that word makes me angry.

And I haven’t been to Target since early November. I wouldn’t call it a boycott, exactly, but I just decided I’d try to see how long I could avoid going there. I don’t imagine this would make any difference with them (and Illinois law overrrules their policies anyway), but I just began to resent how essential that big damn red store had become to my life, and somehow it felt better to just cut it out. I don’t mind if anyone else shops there. I just don’t feel like going there these days, and wandering around trying to find where the hell I left my cart, because I always fucking did that.

Does all this sound like I am living in a cabin in the woods? I hope that’s not the impression I’m giving here. My life isn’t suddenly more meaningful than usual. Though did I mention I’m doing yoga? I’ll tell you more about the yoga sometime. When I do more of it, that is.


  1. Christine says

    I am doing the same thing with Target. Not to mention they just moved my Target and made it one of those crazy Super Targets and it scares me a little now.

  2. says

    I just found this site through weightwatchers…I’m not sure what the deal is….it’s weird.I just stopped drinking diet coke too.
    My daughter has done alot of work in Youth Peace spreading the word that Coke is a killer in foreign countries. It pollutes water, it cripples cities…it’s terrible.
    I switched to pepsi and then decided to stop. I drink water and coffee.

  3. says

    I decided to stop going to Target too, for political reasons, and to see how long I could go. That was in October/November or so. I might go there in the future, I suppose, but it’s interesting to see that I still can get everything I need without it.

  4. says

    Wow, I’m impressed. By contrast, I watched those Diet Coke videos, slugged down the rest of my can, and wondered what would happen if I then consumed some Mentos. Scary.

  5. says

    I’m back on the diet coke now, but I got stuck in Italy for three months for work (and before you say, “wow! Italy”, I was working all the time), and since they don’t have diet coke there (only the sub-par coke lite), I made the switch to espresso and pellegrino.

    Like I said, I’m back to drinking diet coke now that I’m back in the states, but I’m down to like, one or two a day, rather than five or six. I don’t think the starbucks cappucino is saving me any money though.

  6. ronnie says

    I am trying not to go to CostCo. It kills me everytime I go there. Consumer central but yet I feel compelled.

    I used to drink a shitload of Diet Pepsi, until I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and someone told me about asperatme (sp?) not helping one’s immune system….

  7. says

    Hmm… I’ve been doing the opposite. My boyfriend has been away on business for the past couple of weeks, and when he left I went all ape-shit, staying up until 2 am just because I could, eating and drinking whatever I like and leaving the cans around (like I’m some kind of 16 year old whose parents went away for the weekend). So, maybe you could send some of that maturity my way, since he’ll be back soon?? I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

  8. says

    Awesome, Wendy, good for you! All of the changes sound very healthy and grown-up (hee). I bet before too long you’ll be wearing something sparkly…on your left hand…it only makes sense!

  9. says

    I hardly drink soda at all of any kind – it just doesn’t do much for me. It’s one of the two unhealthy habits I can easily resist (the other being donuts). But I have a wicked bad La Croix habit (mineral water in a can), so my fingers still get throttled.

  10. Maven says

    I hope that you can keep that sense of life being more meaningful with you. The small things get so big sometimes, don’t they? Like Tina said…

  11. Amanda says

    congrats wendy, on giving up the elusively evil diet coke. it’s so damn hard to live an aspartame-free existence, especially when you’re trying to not *really* drink too much sugar either. i think i’ve actually become hooked on Splenda. i only drink tea once or twice a day but i actually prefer the taste of Splenda to sugar. dear god, please don’t let it kill me.

    with regards to coffee, let’s all make sure that it’s fairtrade people. and i’m not boycotting starbucks too, not only b/c their coffee is shit, but b/c only 1.6% of their coffee sold here in the UK is fairtrade. totally unacceptable.

    i had no idea about target. so now no target when i go home to visit?? sigh.

  12. Lauren says

    recently I began drinking iced tea sans sucre. Totally the opposite of that deep South nectar of the gods known as “sweet tea” I was raised with. Never thought it would happen in my lifetime but once I realized I could really do it, I felt pretty grown up my damn self.

  13. says

    About a year ago I decided to stop drinking diet soda because I maybe believe that artificial sweeteners can contribute to weight gain, and because they just taste nasty. So after a year of drinking small portions of non-diet soda i am actually a little thinner. I try to drink natural sodas that don’t have the high fructose corn syrup, becuase that is bad for you.

    As for Target, in th course of a job interview i was told that Target partners with their competitor WalMArt in sourcing products and negotiating prices, i wonder why Target is not criticized ( or not nearly as much) as WaMart is.

  14. says

    Enjoy your new changes. Changes like these are fun and help you realize that you really don’t have to sweat the small stuff. As for the food changes I recommend New Leaf Natural grocers in Rogers Park. Not for the hippy food, but for the weekly box of fruits and vegetables for $15 that are awesome. It really encourages you to try new vegetables and actually get your fruits in the winter time that aren’t the same old bananas and apples. The pineapples and mangoes rock! It’s a ton of fruits and veggies for the money. And they deliver to the Square.

  15. Tamara says

    I had given up Target but then caved at the holidays and I’m right back to where I was with my habit. Ugh. I should really do that again, because aside from the political concerns, which I share, I saved a lot of $ when I didn’t go there!

    DC — I also need to kick this to the curb. I don’t buy it at home (opting for Diet Rite and Diet Vernors, which have the sweeteners – although Diet Rite uses Splenda), but it’s a quarter for a can at my work and it’s so tempting. Ugh. I still use about 1/2 packet of Splenda in each of my 2-3 cups of tea a day. Otherwise I’m mostly fake sweetener free, I think. Maybe I need to try honey in my tea.

    Yoga — I’m trying to do more, too. This morning it actually relieved my migraine, albeit temporarily. I love the quiet calm I have for a few minutes afterward (until I have to drive).

    Great post, Wendy. Glad to see you here, and especially such wonderful stuff.

  16. says

    Hey! Kudos on quitting the DC and on doing yoga! I love yoga – gotta get back into it again. My fave do-at-home dvd yoga stuff is by Rodney Yee. He really knows how to describe not only how to do each position, but how you are supposed to direct your energy as you do it. Very physical, and yet spiritual at the same time.

    Keep it up! 8-)

    – M

  17. says

    Diet coke is very bad for your tongue. Watch the CSA action, it can be decievingly bad. Best fruit market- if you have a car is at Touhy & Lincoln. They have this bulgarian’s sheep feta that is beyond belief too. Feta, in the land of cheeses, is less bad and more tasty than most. I drink one cup of coffee with sugar & cream in the am, then drink water all day, then drink 3 glasses of wine every night. Health stats good, although I am on the higher side of healthy BMI (24).

  18. Louise says

    Caffiene is like that ex-boyfriend who keeps rearing his attractive head just when you think you’re over him. That is to say, 1 cup of coffee probably has far more caffiene than a few Diet Cokes.

    But…down with aspartame/Nutrasweet! That’s evil stuff and is likely brewing a gastro-intestinal 3 Mile Island in my colon. But if caffiene is the beguiling ex-botfriend, Target is the herion he wants you to shoot with him in the afterglow. God grant you the serenity.

  19. Wendy says

    I wasn’t really quitting Diet Coke because of the caffeine. I used to have morning coffee AND at least two or three Diet Cokes, so I’ve probably cut the caffeine consumption in half.

    Sheb: I know Lincolnwood Produce! It’s on my way to work, so I go there a lot. But for most of my produce shopping, I go to Stanley’s. Though that New Leaf (or some other produce co-op) sounds great…

  20. Dena says

    You know, I have been debating quitting not only Diet Coke but anything containing an artificial sweetener. Did you know that those chemicals are made from Coal??????

    If that isn’t some kind of incentive… coal?!?!? sheesh!

  21. Varsenik says

    My friend is exactly the same way about DC. The floor of her car is covered with empty cans. You can tell where she’s been because there’s always a trail of half-crushed cans.

    And good luck on the cooking. I got a bunch of cookbooks for my birthday but still don’t have time to make anything. Stress.

  22. says

    My heart just stopped when you said you gave up diet coke. It’s the one addiction I just don’t think I can give up. I could stop eating before I stopped drinking diet coke.

  23. ginsu says

    My friend Charlie is in love with Nina Tottenburg. He always wishes for big happenings in the Supreme Court just to hear her voice. I like it when things happen in Italy because Sylvia Pagioli is so dang cool.
    I went off caffeine completely last year and it was wayyyyy more difficult than quitting smoking. Sadly,I have backslid totally.

  24. Sara says

    I am the same way with Diet Mountain Dew. I literally CRAVE that stuff. I go crazy without it!! I used to drink liters of the stuff a day but now try to keep it down to 1 bottle a day. But for Lent this year…..I gave it up Cold Turkey….
    It sure is hard…Craving one right now…