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I had competitive cyclist recently write to me to tell me that she wanted to quit drinking Diet Coke. She wanted to know how to quit. Here is my response below:

I am so glad that you asked this question. Diet Coke is an addiction that all too many people understand. Most likely, you love the taste. It is easy to find, and the carbonation of Diet Coke is satisfying on a whole other level. All this with no calories, and a caffeine kick! So, what's the issue?

Think about recent headlines from the scientific community, "All-Powerful Diet Coke Nabs Science Award for Contraceptive Study." Yes, you got it right. Diet Coke is being touted as an effective "sperm killer". If that is not enough, the article summarizes some alternative uses for Diet Coke. To name a few … use Diet Coke as a household cleaner, and pour Diet Coke on a car battery to eat away at erosion. Ok, if Diet Coke is that effective to truly clean our toiletries, then it's a good thing that you are having second thoughts about drinking it.

The best news is that from a cognitive behavioral psychology stand-point, you have told me that you are ready to make the change. Readiness to make a change will help facilitate your success in this process. Since you are a competitive athlete, let's break-down the process similar to how your approach your cycling season. First of all, you have a goal. A goal, a plan, denotes desire. You have defined your goal. I can help you with this process, but just as in racing, your goals are your own.

Let's complete a goal-setting exercise that will provide you with motivation and focus to quit drinking Diet Coke. Set the following types of goals: Realistic, challenging, measurable, within your control, and written down. Here is an example below.

Keep your goals realistic. If you have been drinking six Diet Cokes a day, for the last five years, do not set a goal to quit drinking Diet Coke today. You will likely lose motivation by setting lofty goals. A better strategy is to reduce your habit by drinking one less Diet Coke per week. And, find ways to substitute your Diet Coke habit. For instance, find a healthy beverage that: a. has caffeine, or b. is carbonated. Some substitutes may be: Green Tea, or sparkling water with a delicious juice. A friends favorite sparkling beverage is 8 oz. of sparkling water mixed with 3 oz. of grape juice. I've tried it. It is quite satisfying.

You want your goals to be challenging. Goals that are too easy can lead to boredom, and failure to achieve your goal. No doubt, changing a habit is a challenging goal. Do not give yourself a year to think about quitting Diet Coke. That is too easy. It will never happen.

Goals that are measurable are effective. A goal that can be measured provides a greater sense of achievement. Set a goal such as: six weeks, be down to drinking one Diet Coke a day. In the seventh week, be down to no longer drinking Diet Coke.

Ideally, goals are within your control You can control your perception, and how much you THINK that you need to drink a Diet Coke. What you can not control is whether people will drink Diet Coke in front of you, or whether it will be at the next party you attend. Set goals that are within your control.

Write down your goals. Work one-on-one with a nutritionist, sports psychologist, or keep a journal on your own, and record self-inspired goals. Such as, "I will quit drinking Diet Coke by Christmas."

Do not let something stand in your way in your desire to quit drinking Diet Coke. But, if obstacles do arise, then do not become discouraged. Instead, draw additional energy and intensity from your goal in order to overcome obstacles.

You have a choice. Make the conscious choice to quit drinking Diet Coke to reach you cycling goals. In the end, it's up to you to use your own free-will, and take responsibility to make the change.

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Source by Kathryn C. Wilder, Ph.D.