Quitting Diet Soda Cold Turkey

I Did It, And It Wasn't So Bad

Quitting Diet Soda Cold Turkey

A little over a month ago I gave up something near and dear to my heart. Something that I woke up to, something that I carried with me for the better part of the day.  It was highly addictive, and a staple for IT workers all over North America.  I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t my BlackBerry. Nope, my addiction was Diet Coke.

Fueled partially by this scary research about diet pop and partially by the fact that my gut has been a mess for a couple of years, I decided to quit cold turkey. And by quitting Diet Coke, I quit the only thing other than red wine that I LOVED drinking.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. My friends warned me that within 3 days I’d be a raging bitch due to the aspartame withdrawal.  Lucky for everyone around me I was already PMSing. By ‘lucky’ I obviously mean ‘unlucky.’  And by PMSing I mean ‘summoning demons from the underworld with my every breath.’

Yup, taking away my favourite drink, aspartame withdrawal and PMS.  The trifecta of bitchiness inducing activities.

The first day wasn’t so bad. (Ok, that’s a lie.)

I don’t drink coffee, so by the end of the first day I was dragging my butt everywhere.  This is when I realized just how much of the stuff I drank.  It wasn’t abnormal for me to drink one on the way to work, then have another around 10am. By 1pm I had downed another, then when 3 pm hit it was time for a third or fourth. Substituting it with water made me sad, very sad. Water doesn’t bubble. It doesn’t fizz. It doesn’t taste like, well anything.

The second day started off ok, but by 3pm I had a headache that left me searching for an anvil. I mean an Advil. You know what, either of them would have worked, I just wanted something to stop the throbbing. I was starting to get used to drinking more water—but can’t say I was a fan of the constant trips to the bathroom.

Then, the third day hit. Oh the third day. Not only was I jonesing for a fix of Diet Coke for the taste, but I was actually feeling edgy.  Imagine my surprise when I found out this is what withdrawal feels like. I was actually having withdrawal symptoms from a soda!  

That’s when I started writing my Haikus.

Thirsty. Want a drink.
It better not be water,
or I'll kick some ass.

My dear Diet Coke
I’m thirsty and you’re not here
I freaking hate you.

Oh mother nature
You created this great drink
I freaking hate you.

You can probably guess what the last set of Haikus were about.

By the fourth day I was angrily giving anyone with a Diet Coke in their hands the stare down, wondering if I could somehow sneak a sip from one of their drinks without them noticing. I reminded myself that the purpose of this was to quit the damn stuff. And I made it through the day.

Day five was better, the headaches had subsided and I had resigned myself to drinking water and the occasional iced tea for flavour. The following twenty five days haven’t been so bad either!

So, I did it. I kicked my habit. And between us, it wasn’t as hard as I expected.  My face is clearer, I lost five pounds and I’ve lost the dark circles under my eyes.  I still crave a glass every once and a while, but it’s not nearly as bad as I expected.

I’m thrilled I did it and now I’m trying to figure out what to give up next. Maybe just not while I’m PMSing.


Time to Change Your Password

Take a moment, change your passwords

Time to Change Your Password

There's an old saying in the IT world: Passwords are like underwear. You should change them often, and never share them with strangers.

When my friend got her first internet banking account setup, she told me the password was password.  2 months ago, she asked me to pay a bill for her while she was out and her password was—you guessed it—still password.

I know I know, I say it all the time—but you MUST change your passwords on occasion.  At a minimum, I use the time that the clocks change as a reminder to change all of my passwords, and I do mean all of them.

Internet banking, email, YMC, or any other website, if it’s got a password, now is the time to change it.

But what makes a good password?
•    Ideally its made up of a combination of upper and lower case letters, as well as some special characters.
•    It should be should be more than 8 characters.
•    It should never be a word that can be found in a dictionary. The bad guys know to try those first (and remember there are dictionaries in every language so using the word fromage instead of cheese isn’t going to trick anyone.)

A Bad password
•    Is your name, or the name of your family members.
•    It’s the word ‘password’ or a variation ‘passw0rd’
•    It’s your address
•    It’s the name of your pet.
•    It’s comprised of birthdates
•    It’s your phone number
•    It’s any segment of your Social Insurance number
•    It’s something someone could figure out using a software program.

Microsoft has a cool way to generate a great password

Start with a sentence like: YMC is a great place
Remove the spaces between the words: YMCisagreatplace
Turn the words into shorthand, or intentionally misspell a word: YMCisagrtplc
Add length with numbers: YMC1sagr8plc2012

Use the Microsoft Password checker to check the strength of your password.

And a reminder? Don’t use the same password for all of your sites. Chances are you’re using the same user ID right? So if the appointment booking portal for your massage therapist is hacked and they have your password, they can easily try other websites with the same combination to see what they can come up with.
So, what are you waiting for! Change your passwords now. We’ll be waiting right here when you’re done!

Ps. While we’re talking about springing ahead, another thing I want you to do this weekend is backup your files. Now, I’ve preached the reasons for backing up your files MANY times before  but take the time to do it this weekend.  There are cheap (and free) ways to make this process easy, so save yourself tears and headaches and do it!