Hello my name is Paige and I drink Diet Coke.
There. I said it.
And just to clarify, I don’t have gallons of the stuff sitting in my fridge—I don’t even keep it in the house. Whenever I get a hankering for those sweet, crisp bubbles I have to want it badly enough to go find it and buy it. Which I do two or three times per week.
But still. Diet Coke is crap. There isn’t a single ingredient in there that can be traced back to the earth—the source from which I try to get most of my nutrition. Really, it has no redeeming qualities besides its sweet taste and little jolt of caffeine, which happen to be enough to keep me coming back for more.
The thing is, about six months ago, I stopped beating myself up over my affinity for Diet Coke. The reason I cut myself some slack comes from several articles that I have written on the subject of willpower. The current research points to the fact that willpower is a limited resource. Like a bank account that’s full at the beginning of the day, the resource dwindles as you use it over and over again. And really, the only way to replenish your account is through sleep.
What’s more, you may not realize it, but you exercise willpower countless times throughout the day. One source I spoke to for an article even said that resisting the urge to check Facebook every five minutes requires an enormous amount of willpower. (You totally want to check it now don’t you? Me too.)
So it occurred to me that when it comes to willpower, I’ve got to choose my battles wisely. Do I want to avoid temptation at every turn or do I want to give myself permission to enjoy certain things guilt-free so that I have the strength to order the veggie wrap instead of the burger at dinner?
And it’s not just about food (for once). Allowing yourself a temptation or two means that you may have the willpower to keep yourself from cutting someone off while driving, for instance, or give you the resolve to not shop online today.
The funny thing is that since making this decision I don’t drink Diet Coke any more or any less than before. Except now, when I want it, I get it, I fill a glass with ice, pour it over the ice, and sip. And I enjoy the drink much more now than I did before because there aren’t any negative feelings associated with the behavior. Just pleasure.
I truly believe that if you’re going to indulge in something—whatever it is—you should let yourself enjoy it fully. Otherwise, what's the point?