Morris: I used to drink 10 cans of soda a day
Rick Morris bikes with Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a recent training trip to Kona, Hawaii
June 1st, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Morris: I used to drink 10 cans of soda a day

Rick Morris is one of seven CNN viewers participating in the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. Morris quit smoking after starting the Challenge and is now hoping to kick another bad habit.

Hey ya'll! It's me again. Name of Rick. You know... the Army vet and firefighter who in February declared to quit smoking on the picture tube during an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

No? How about the Appalachian who recently discovered the wonderful chickpea/sesame concoction better known as hummus.

Still can't place me? I'm one of CNN's Lucky 7, training for my first triathlon this September in Malibu. If that leaves you scratching your head, well... I understand. I realize I'm not nearly as famous as the brilliant Dr. Sanjay Gupta. But, whenever I'm in his company, I listen carefully. So, that's gotta count for something! And, he's part of the reason for this blog.

Anyway, it was a 50km bike ride along the Queen K Highway with my teammates, trainer and Sanjay on the Big Island last week that left my noodle working overtime on another potential challenge. I was discussing my other addiction with Sanjay as the Pacific sun beat down on us like a beagle on a rabbit.

I told him how I've gone from drinking 10 to 12 cans of soda drinks a day to drinking three or four. Yeah, 10 to 12! He asked if I was planing to eliminate sodas altogether from my diet. I declared that it was doubtful at the moment. I gave up nicotine this year and figured I needed another year before I could forgo the caffeine.

After returning from our week-long training event in Hawayer (well, that's how I say it), I began to think more about my conversation with Sanjay. Is it the caffeine I was addicted to or is it the sugar? Do I drink soft drinks socially, like an alcoholic? Or do I drink them because they are always there?

More thoughts from my "try-to-keep-it-simple" mind followed. Ten sodas a day, at 150 calories each? Wow! That's a whopping 1,500 useless calories I was pouring into my body each day for the past 30 years! No wonder I couldn't rid myself of this belly fat. But a small bulge at my age (44) was to be expected, right? I mean, most Americans have a spare tire. So, it's perfectly fine to drink all the sodas I want. Hey, been doing it since my mammie filled my baby bottle with that good ole Mountain Dew!

That was my rationale, anyways. But from this point forward that way of thinking stops. Too much of anything can be unhealthy for a feller, ya know?

As Sanjay and I pedaled uphill (the entire day, it seemed) Sanjay mentioned something about all the sugar many of us consume each day and we were soon discussing the health effects. Who needs Wikipedia or WebMD when you got a Dr. Gupta at your side, right?

Diabetes and heart disease are among the illnesses brought on in part by too much sugar in our diets. And, at least for this country boy, most of that sugar comes from drinking soda after soda. So, in the spirit of becoming even more healthy, I decided to investigate. Here's what I've discovered...

  • There is a link between soft drink consumption and obesity.  And it starts with children. Read more here.
  • Soft drink marketers have focused on the adolescent population for years.
  • Artificial sweeteners in "diet" soft drinks may be dangerous to my health. Read more here.
  • Soda is linked to developing metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes. Read more here and here.
  • I feel that if I cut soft drinks from my diet completely, and replace them with water, I would become more healthy, feel better, and live longer.
  • In the 1960s, one soft drink company had 6 ½ ounce bottles. Today, most bottled sodas come in 20 ounce bottles.
  • Many fast-food restaurants offer free soft drink refills.
  • Diet soft drinks may not be a good replacements for regular soft drinks. Read more here.

As a result of finally taking a few hours to uncover the health issues stemming from soft drinks, I'm declaring that I'm working towards the goal of eliminating them from my diet.

In some respects, this may be more difficult than quitting smoking. But, I thoroughly enjoy a decent challenge.

Around these parts, we generally quip "a country boy can survive."  Guess my concern for what I choose to drink echoes that statement. Wish me best!

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Richard sears

    The fact is u can eat a senseable diet and still correct be obese if u want to lose weight the best way is was and will lways be exercise is it any shock that obeseidy got worse as schools cut physical education
    Lack of exercise is the biggest contributing factor to weight gain answer exercise more

    June 1, 2012 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Glicker

      Both exercise and a smart diet are needed to obtain good health.

      June 3, 2012 at 03:35 | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Your comment is so rambling, non-sensical and grammatically incorrect that it makes it near impossible to know what you are saying. Take the time to make complete (and not run-on) sentences and proof read for spelling, it'll do wonders for you! And like the other person stated, exercise AND diet are needed for weight loss...anyone trying to sell you on one or the other only is likely scamming you, or intentionally misleading you.

      June 4, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
    • ME

      I wouldn't discount a decent diet, as there are ways to make your food intake better. But considering that even our recent ancestors did have near constant activity over their life, there is something to be said for exercise.

      Of course, our ancestors didn't live very long :p

      June 7, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
  2. Fladabosco

    I've lost 25 lbs since Thanksgiving and I don't exercise any more than I did before. I changed my diet. I became a vegetarian and I just eat a lot less than I used to. I was never a big soda drinker and I always thought corn syrup was poisonous. Now it's the main source of calories in America. How incredibly sad.

    June 2, 2012 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. starminder

    I stopped drinking Coke about 9 months ago. I've changed my diet slightly since the beginning of the year, and have lost over 25 pounds since March. Each change I've made was deliberate and very incremental, mostly because I want to stick to it. I still eat whatever I want (except fast food), just less of it. I don't miss anything I've given up – mostly because I haven't really given anything up except Coke. I cheated a couple of times and honestly Coke now tastes awful so I don't even want one. A huge kicker for me was Starbucks. I was on a daily habit of a Venti Mocha with whipped cream. Rather than try to change that overnight, every few weeks I made another change – eliminating the whip...then sticking with that version until i adjusted the size down to a tall skinny mocha with no whip just a few times per month.

    In any case, I know if I can do it anyone can do it – I'm as lazy and resistant to change as it gets!

    June 3, 2012 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • davisneilp

      yep. My dad taught me that. It's called the "put the fork down" diet. It's the only one that works. The trick is to stop eating as soon as you are no longer hungry, then put the fork down. If you aren't hungry in the first place, why are you eating? Don't eat it because it's good, or you don't want to offend someone. Don't eat because you are watching CSI and have the munchies. Only eat when you are hungry. It's _really_ easy. Give up all sugary drinks. Don't drink diet sodas either. Artificial sweeteners are horrendous for your health. Those chemicals are bad news...

      People spend millions of dollars on weight watchers etc. All those products are is processed frozen food which is measured for you. You don't need it if you stop eating and put the fork down when you are no longer hungry. You can do that yourself. Put the fork down, stop being a pig, and stop making excuses.

      You don't need to exercise to lose weight. You exercise to improve your health. Weight loss is attained by simply eating less calories than you burn. Your body is REALLY good at letting you know when you've eaten enough. Once your weight is down to the point where you aren't wrecking your knees when you jog, you can safely exercise.

      June 4, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  4. dt

    Next Hurdle: Convincing America fruit juice isn't good for you.

    To the above post: Diet is the most important factor in weight control. And not going-on-a-diet. Just your diet.

    June 4, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoundFuture

      Agreed. It's the lifestyle that gets you. Yes you can have things every once in a while and have few ill effects. But when it's a steady part of what your doing day to day (even week to week) there will be noticable and lasting effects. I'm actually currently working to phase out sodas for this reason myself (even though I usually had 1-20oz or less a day). I still allow myself the morning black cup-oh-joe, and I may get rid of that in the future as well. I'm technically obese, but I am in the rare percentage that just eats too large of portions, as I almost never have fast food or similarly destructive foods. For that reason, I am considering basic vegetarianism to reduce caloric density in what I do eat, as portion sizes are something that I've fought for years to reduce and have had little success.

      June 7, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
  5. T


    June 5, 2012 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ehhh

    1500 calories/day of soda alone??? If I eat more than 1500 calories total (food + drink) I gain weight. If I added 1500 calories to my diet, I would be gaining weight at the rate of 3 pounds per week and would more than double my weight in a year.....

    June 6, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. bob

    I weighed 175 and lost 175 pounds in few hours heres how

    get some Hemlock and just keep eating it

    June 7, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. James

    Giving up on soda, sugar and diet, is not as hard as most would think. I have not had a soda or alcohol in over a year and with a proper diet and regular exercise each week I have managed to shed over 80 lbs. I not only look and feel better but I have achieved mental clarity I have not felt in a long time. The quality of my life as I soon approach 50 years old will be one of joy not of an overweight and sick old man. I applaud all who can surrender the ways of their youth and choose a healthy lifestyle. Good luck.

    June 7, 2012 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tammy

      OMG finally snmoeoe who sees the big picture.It's an uphill battle with some of my clients because they want to try everything on the market for their weight loss, all I tell them is keep your money and change the way you live your life and what you eat. Food is meant to be enjoyed!It's all about balance because how you live your life is a direct reflection on what you will eat.Amen for brining it up!

      September 13, 2012 at 23:25 | Report abuse |
  9. Butch Patton

    how to eat, how to drink, how much, how little. One can't turn on the tube on ANY given day without someone telling "how to" well, basically live. this is my biggest pet peeve. For every study that comes out saying don't do this, weeks later, another will you to ya go ahead, you'll live longer. There are 5 Billion to many folks on our planet now. Have your soda, enjoy it. I've seen to many people so dang worried about what to do, they will have a heart attack with all that worry. Have a soda, light up a smoke if you like. Big thing is, enjoy life, your not gonna be here forever anyway.

    June 7, 2012 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Barbie

    Fact check: sugar-sweetened drinks make up only 7 % of energy intake of your diet. I'll agree that 10-12 cans of soda in a day is way too much. But so is anything else in that amount. Furthermore, soda does not contribute to obesity any more than any other calorie one consumes – even if the exteme activists would like to brainwash you to think so. Do you think Brownell's own obesity problem is rooted in soda consumption?
    So start working on cutting down on the other 93%!!! of your calorie intake. Just taking out soda won't be your saving grace, even though Lustig, Brownell, and Dr. Oz would like to make you think so.
    And start reading the science, not just headlines.

    June 10, 2012 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jens

      how about listen to your body, it knows best

      August 21, 2013 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
  11. Janet Wallace

    I have found that green tea (with caffine) has helped me give up soda-why because what I was really craving was the caffine.

    June 15, 2012 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.