Firefighter Goes 'Cold Turkey' on Sodas and Energy Drinks

By Jason M Carlton

It's not easy to make lifestyle changes in an effort to become more heart healthy. One of the 15 firefighters competing in the 2014 My Heart Challenge has gone 'Cold Turkey' on sodas and energy drinks, and nearly three weeks into the challenge is doing great. Though he admits to still craving that liquid sugar. Check out how David Larsen from South Salt Lake Fire Department is changing for the better. 

what_would_you_choose_water_energydrink

As I write this post I am now 15 days into the 100 day challenge. I thought I would give everybody a little progress report and some struggles I have had starting up.

So I have lost over 11 pounds since starting, and I am still really excited and motivated about the Heart Healthy Challenge. I have had great support from my friends, family and co-workers. Thanks everyone for your encouragement and interest in learning about the program. My hope is to be able to get others thinking about their health and fitness, and try to be a resource for those that need some help (just like I do).

First things first. When I started the challenge I made a commitment to myself to cut out all soda and energy drinks. Going cold turkey on Mt. Dew and Monster/Rockstar's has probably been the hardest thing to do so far. Fifteen days and counting of being "Liquid Sugar" free! But I'm not going to lie, I still crave them.

Eating a Heart Healthy diet in a lot of aspects hasn't been as hard as I thought it would. I still struggle with those darn green veggie things. Anyone who has known me for any length of time understands my great dislike of most vegetables. I am learning that it is easier to eat them if I can hide them in other foods such as adding spinach into a fruit smoothie. I also have noticed that the way I shop at the grocery store has changed. Looking at labels and seeing what actual ingredients are in the foods that I eat has been insightful. And also seeing the horrible things I used to eat in the past is very scary.

Another change I realized very fast was the need to preplan daily meals and give myself extra preparation time. Being a busy person it has always been a lot faster and more convenient to eat out or go through a drive thru than to actually cook healthy meals. Learning what my healthy daily calorie intake should be and sticking to that number has been fine. Even cutting my calories has not made me feel hungry or be out of energy at all.

One issue I am having is problems with my feet while doing exercise. Having chronic problems with pain in both feet, as well as shin splints, makes walking or jogging very hard as well as being very discouraging. Looking at alternatives like biking or cardio exercises without putting extra strain on my feet will now have to suffice for now.

I think one of the reasons I am so optimistic about this program is that it isn't a "gimmick" diet. I have tried several fad diets over the years and have had really good, although temporary results.  Being able to lose vast amounts of weight in a short period of time is great, until you get off the diet and gain back all of the weight you have lost and gain a few more extra pounds than when you began. This program is really about a lifestyle change, no glitz, no glamour and no gimmicks. Simply put, it is just about going back to the basics and being smarter about choices I make in my life.

I hope all of my fellow competitors are doing great with the program and are having similar results and progress! Keep going strong everyone!