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An Unexpected Health (and Financial) Perk

Posted By LocalShops1, Sunday, November 6, 2011
It has been a month since I got laid off from the St. Petersburg Times, and I haven't had a diet Coke this entire time.

Now, for all you health-conscious people out there, a month without a diet Coke might not seem like a big deal. But for me, pre-layoff, going even one day without my carbonated fix would have been a huge feat.
Diet Coca Cola 20-Ounce Containers Pack of 24

My diet Coke habit had gotten out of control. Two or three (bottles, not cans) was typical, and that was just during work hours: one around 4 p.m., on my way in (newspaper people often work crazy hours): one around 9, halfway through my shift, just before the nightly conference call; and one about midnight, to keep me going for a few more hours, since I'd have to be up several hours after I got home, to work on projects for my own business.

• • •

Often there were more diet Cokes, too, before work. On especially bad days I even started the day with one because it was faster to grab a diet Coke than to wait around for the coffee to brew.

My habit had gotten so bad that my boyfriend staged a one-man intervention. I agreed to cut back to one bottle a day. That lasted about a week.

The last time I had a diet Coke was around 1 p.m. on Oct. 6. Later that afternoon, I walked into the St. Petersburg Times and found out I no longer had a job there.

• • •

I didn't make a conscious decision to give up soda; it just happened. I didn't even realize it until about two weeks into it. And the strange thing is I don't miss it at all.

Scary realization, No. 1: Drinking
more than one soda a day — regular or diet — increases risk of obesity and related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.  A recent study (reported in Times magazine) found that among frequent drinkers — those who consumed two or more diet sodas a day — waistline growth was 500 percent greater than among non-drinkers. Excess weight, especially around the belly, is a risk factor for a variety of ills, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the article says.

Scary realization, No. 2: My diet Coke habit was costing me more than $1,000/year — or close to $10,000 during my years at the Times.

What was I thinking?!?!

Are you starting over after a layoff? We want to hear your story! Please email us at, and include your story and contact info. We will try to include as many stories as possible in future blogs.

Ester Venouziou, founder of and co-founder of Gulfport! Magazine, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at or 727.637.5586.

Tags:  diet coke  florida  mayo clinic study  st. petersburg times layoffs  stop drinking soda  tampa bay  times magazine  too much soda 

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