Diet coke is like cigarrettes for me … and how I quit

I heard a stop smoking ad yesterday and I thought they were talking about diet coke:

"I have one at 6:30 in the morning, after every meal and right before I go to bed."

I also think my diet coke addiction is somewhat like an alcohol-addiction because even though I've quit drinking diet coke, I think I'll always have a problem with it. At any moment, I could drink a diet coke (it sounds good!) and I'd be drinking 5-6 or more a day again.

While a diet coke habit is easier on those around you (no second hand smoke, no embarrassing behavior, no dangerous driving), it's still an annoying habit. You can't carry a six pack in your pocket and even if you could, it wouldn't be cold. I was always preparing. Did the hotel I was staying at have diet coke? Would I be able to get one before my afternoon meeting? Maybe I could take a smaller cooler and stock up … (Don't laugh, I know a guy that carried a 12 pack of diet coke with him on every trip to Asia because he didn't like Coca-cola Light. Another, rather high level, manager had every meeting room stocked with diet coke before he got there!)

I haven't had a diet coke since September 8, 2008. While I think I don't have any physical dependencies on diet coke (no head-aches, no mood swings, no shakes, etc when I give it up) the psychological dependency is huge. (And by the way, I read a *lot* about dependencies and addictions and I'm convinced we don't really know much about them.) I found no good advice for how to quit drinking diet coke. Or for that matter how to stop any addiction. The best advice seems to be to attend AA meetings which hardly seems like a practical suggestion for most of us.

So how'd I do it? Three key things:

  1. I made giving up diet coke my number one priority. I didn't care what I ate, how much I exercised, what else I drank, …. as long as I didn't drink diet coke. It was my number one goal. This is important because when I tried to combine it with eating healthy, I failed miserably.
  2. I substituted with carbonated water. I drank a lot of sparkling waters for a while. This made business trips to Europe and Asia pretty easy. Not so much in the US. But you can get soda water in any restaurant and 7-11s sell Perrier. I don't drink carbonated water as much now but there for a while I was drinking a lot of carbonated water. (By the way, business trips were the hardest times not to drink diet coke.)
  3. I told everyone. Especially when I was feeling particularly tempted, I'd tell everyone around me. I told complete strangers. They'd all smile and nod. Some would ask why. I'm sure they thought I was a bit strange. But I have to tell you, I never broke down and bought a diet coke after I'd just told everyone around me that I'd given them up!

Lots of people also advise keeping in mind why you want to quit. I wanted to quit because I hated feeling dependent on anything – it's really annoying to always be trying to figure out where you're going to find a diet coke – to feel like you have to have one. There were a lot of other good reasons to quit, but that was my main one. That said, knowing why didn't help me as much as the three points above: making it my #1 goal, having a substitute, and telling everyone!

Good luck with all your new year's resolutions!

Photo by cackhanded.

Mommy do it

I know Caleb thinks I'm omnipotent. I've been requested to produce food out of thin air, stop rain, and make time go backwards, … But today I realized exactly how all powerful he thinks I am.

Looking at a picture of a bunch of men pushing a boat onto the beach, I said "Wow, that boat must be really heavy, look how hard they're working."

Caleb turned and looked at me and said "Mommy do it."

Photo by *Susie*.

My top 11 blog posts of 2008

My top 11 blog posts of the year. (11 because I didn't want the first one to be about me.)

The top 10 is never what I would have predicted but all topics I think are important.

  1. Fundraising for a technical nonprofit
  2. I'm the new Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation!
  3. Cheap mini-laptop
  4. How I'm learning to create effective presentations
  5. Sneak preview of my talk next week: "GNOME as the computing platform for the future"
  6. What do you have: time, resources or features?
  7. Learning not to cry in today's workplace
  8. Alabama literacy test: would you pass?
  9. 20 things you can negotiate in a job offer
  10. KDE vs GNOME
  11. Why do netbook vendors make their own distribution?

What do you remember reading first?

Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember my mom reading Charlotte's Web to us. I remember discovering the Littles in the library in second grade. (After that, I checked out every new house we moved into to see if the electric plates would move.)

But my earliest detailed memories of picking and choosing books is of the local Cedar Falls library when I was 10 and 11. If they haven't reorganized, I could still take you back to all my favorite books on the shelves. After working my way through the Bobbsey twins, boxcar children, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series (and after confessing I liked the Hardy Boys better than Nancy Drew – they got into real scrapes while she never forgot her purse – I was told the same woman wrote them both), I then discovered Ruth Chew (I read one of these to Jacob recently), (someone who's name escapes me now), Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard? Plus all the hard cover red American autobiography books and the Guide to the Moon and Guide to the Sea. (They were written like tourist guides – they covered what you should pack to visit the moon or to visit this undersea colony. I can't find them now. I did find this Tourist Guide to the Moon by Asimov in the New York Times.)

After Dad successfully lobbied for me to have an adult library card, I read all the James Harriet books and even found and checked out a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin but I never read it. (I just noticed I could now get it for my Kindle if I still want to read it.)

At the neighboring town's library (which was just huge!), I found a whole section of books in braille. I puzzled my way through a couple of sentences and loved paging through them, but never read one cover to cover. (I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. Dad's always been great at helping explore any interest that I have, so we went and saw every place she lived, including the school for the blind and deaf where her sister Mary ended up. For a long time I was going to be a teacher for the blind and deaf – bet you didn't know that about me.)

Which books do you remember discovering?