A fizzy drink addict who guzzled 65,000 cans of Coca Cola over 30 years has finally kicked the habit – and dropped 89lbs.
Project manager Char Norman, 47, slurped at least six sodas a day between the ages of 16 and 46 and splashed out a staggering $10,000 on her addiction.
The obese mom-of-one kept a mini fridge in her room and would crack open a can first thing in the morning before sipping on the soft drink until bedtime.
It meant she consumed 834 calories from her liquid intake alone as well as 54 teaspoons of sugar – more than twice the recommended daily allowance for women.
The rest of the day the 5ft divorcee would gorge on donuts, pretzels, cookies and pizza while working a desk job and doing no exercise.
She piled on the pounds in the years after giving birth to her son Reed, 24, was borderline diabetic and by last year, tipped the scales at 213lbs.
But last summer Char decided to ditch fizzy drinks for good after a get fit scheme was launched at her workplace and she started going for walks on her lunch break.
The exercise meant she was desperate for water so she completely cut out the syrupy soda and switched it for 14 cups of H20 a day.
Now she’s dropped from an XXL to a slim size four, weighs a healthy 124lbs, has started dating again for the first time in 10 years and says giving up Coca Cola changed her life.
Char, of Overland Park, Kansas, said: “I was definitely addicted to soda. I would drink it all day long and get through a 24 pack in a few days.
“I really loved the bubbles but I needed the caffeine. In the morning I would drink it to stay awake and after lunch I would drink it to stay awake.
“I would roll out of bed and go straight to the refrigerator. I did that for so many years that I eventually put a fridge next to my bed, just for soda.
“If I couldn’t have it it would make me anxious. Because I drank so much of it, if I missed one or got tired I had a craving where I just couldn’t wait to get the next one.
“I decided to give it up completely after I started to lose a few pounds because I would come in after a walk and soda wasn’t quenching my thirst.
“I realized I was going to have to cut it out completely or I would never break the habit.
“I feel and look so much better now. Giving up soda has totally changed my life.”
Char – who has fillings and crowns in almost every tooth thanks to Coke – hasn’t touched a single soda since August, when she finished off her stash.
But she suffered awful cravings at first and said she still fantasizes about cracking open an ice cold can.
Char, who also emptied her cupboards of unhealthy food and totally overhauled her diet, said: “There were two weeks when I remember not sleeping at night.
“My body was going through withdrawals but I told myself I couldn’t touch it.
“There are still times I think that I could just have one but it might be a slippery slope. I’m trying not to tempt myself.
“I’m not sure I would even like it any more because it would be so sugary.”
Char now drinks nothing but water and eats yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner.
She goes to five group exercise classes a week, including dance, weights, spin, pilates and yoga, and walks around the office campus every lunch break.
Her new healthy lifestyle means she no longer takes heartburn medication, gets sick less and has tons more energy.
Now she wants to warn other fizzy drink fans of the dangers of getting hooked.
Char said: “People look at me differently now. For years no one looked at me as a woman, they saw me as the fat lady.
“I feel like I look completely different and I have tons more energy. I have my health back now.”
She added: “I spent 30 years doing something I didn’t necessarily think was bad because it is so readily available.
“People don’t understand what is in these drinks. Who knows what kind of damage they could be doing?
“They ought to come with a warning label.”