Char Norman, 47, reckons she has spent over $10,000 on around 65,000 cans of Coca-Cola over the 30 years of her life between the ages of 16 and 46.
The Kansas mom-of-one would drink a can first thing in the morning from the mini fridge that she kept in her bedroom. This meant that by the end of the day, 5-foot Char would consume 834 calories from her liquid intake as well as 54 teaspoons of sugar — which is more than twice the recommended daily allowance for women.
She would also gorge on donuts, pretzels, cookies, and pizza while working a desk job and do no exercise whatsoever. After giving birth to her son Reed, 24, she gained weight dramatically and was borderline diabetic. Last year, she tipped the scales at 213 pounds.
But after her workplace launched a get-fit scheme last summer, she decided to stop drinking all fizzy drinks for good and began going for walks on her lunch breaks. Now, Char weighs 124 pounds and has started dating for the first time in 10 years.
She said: "I was definitely addicted to soda. I would drink it all day long and get through a 24-pack in a few days. I really loved the bubbles, but I needed the caffeine. In the morning I would drink it to stay awake, and after lunch, I would drink it to stay awake."
"I would roll out of bed and go straight to the refrigerator. I did that for so many years that I eventually put a fridge next to my bed, just for soda. If I couldn't have it, it would make me anxious. Because I drank so much of it, if I missed one or got tired I had a craving where I just couldn't wait to get the next one."
"I decided to give it up completely after I started to lose a few pounds, because I would come in after a walk and soda wasn't quenching my thirst. I realized I was going to have to cut it out completely or I would never break the habit."
"I feel and look so much better now. Giving up soda has totally changed my life."
But it wasn't easy to go cold turkey, as Char suffered from withdrawal symptoms: "There were two weeks when I remember not sleeping at night. My body was going through withdrawals but I told myself I couldn't touch it."
"There are still times I think that I could just have one, but it might be a slippery slope. I'm trying not to tempt myself. I'm not sure I would even like it anymore because it would be so sugary."
In a complete lifestyle overhaul, Char now drinks only water and eats yogurt and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and chicken and rice for dinner. She also goes to five group exercise classes a week and no longer takes heartburn medication.
She said: "People look at me differently now. For years no one looked at me as a woman, they saw me as the fat lady. I feel like I look completely different and I have tons more energy. I have my health back now.
"I spent 30 years doing something I didn't necessarily think was bad because it is so readily available. People don't understand what is in these drinks. Who knows what kind of damage they could be doing?"
"They ought to come with a warning label."
This post was written by Emma Dodds. For more, check out our sister site Closer.
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