The One-Month Water Project

I’ve recently become a big fan of Strong Lifts since I read an article by founder, Mehdi. I need to drop a few pounds — OK, more than a few — and I’ve found the Strong Lifts program to be right up my alley because it focuses on simple nutrition, weightlifting, and the occasional cardio session. The weightlifting sessions are not overly complex and involve only a few core exercises. We are talking old-school free weight movements like squats, dead lifts, etc. I don’t think I’ve squatted for anything since high school other than snacks on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator! To aid in my efforts to get back to “fighting weight” I’ve decided to combine my frugal efforts and swear off all forms of liquids other than good old H2O for the next thirty days.

No Sodas

I wouldn’t call myself a Coca Cola addict, but over the years I’ve enjoyed them more than I should have. This has probably contributed to my need to drop a few pounds. Aside from the empty calories and sugar content, sodas have a negative psychological effect on me — they make me want to eat more. If I am sitting down to watch a game and grab a cold soft drink I automatically reach for a bag of chips, some left over pizza, or pretzels. I don’t know what it is about sodas that makes me want to snack, but I know it isn’t a healthy habit.  Diet sodas are loaded with sodium, and don’t make for a great alternative.  It seems those who are truly successful losing a lot of weight just quit the sodas altogether.

No Juice

My son drinks apple juice like it is going out of style, and my wife and I have recently started watering it down because we are a bit concerned with his own sugar intake. I occasionally pour myself a glass of apple or orange juice over some crushed ice. Just because it is a fruit juice doesn’t mean it is particularly good for me. After all, even 100% juice brands have up to 30 grams of sugar per serving!

No Alcohol

This is an easy one for me. I couldn’t tell you the last time I drank a beer. And my efforts to drink a glass of wine daily (for the cardiovascular benefits, of course) dropped off when I realized I was spending way too much per bottle, even on the cheap stuff. Down the road I may try a homemade recipe or two, but for now I’ll just pass. Beer and wine are loaded with calories and the alcohol content works against my training efforts.

Got Milk? Not Me

Of all the items listed this may be the toughest for me to give up. I could probably go through a gallon of milk every other day if not kept in check. I just love the stuff! While milk is loaded with nutrients it also has sugar, something I’m trying to avoid in liquid form for the next month. Similar to the habitual effects soft drinks have on me, milk makes me want to eat something sweet. There is nothing better to me than chasing a fudge brownie with an ice cold glass of milk.

H2O All the Way

So for the next 30 days I’ll give up all other liquid vices and stick to water. After all, water is probably the best thing we can drink for improved digestion, metabolism, and for proper hydration. There are no calories, no caffeine and no additives (except for the ones added by our water treatment facility to keep it clean). I may cheat a bit here and there by adding some sugar-free drink powder to the water I have with my evening meal, or maybe a squeeze of lemon, just for a little variety. I’ll keep tabs on how much I would have spent on soft drinks over this same period and will report back at the end of the experiment. Along the way I hope to lose some weight, save some money, and cure a few of these bad habits I’ve developed.


  1. I’m a milk junkie too and have been trying bring myself down to only a glass or two a day. Just don’t forget to get your calcium from other sources!

    I find it’s easier to drink water if there’s a nice, cold pitcher of it ready to go in the fridge.

  2. I actually just gave up alcohol myself. I don’t drink regular soda or juice that often, so my only remaining vice is Diet Soda. I definitely want to phase it out!

  3. This sounds interesting. I’m a father of three myself, and I weighed about 160 lbs when I graduated high school. Over the course of about 4-5 years I put on enough weight to where I clocked in at 225 lbs. I cut out regular soda (I kept an occasional diet soda), junk food, and basically eliminated anything with trans-fat for about 6 months. I ate nothing but meals that took a bit of preparation. I started walking/running which I went from wheezing at a half-mile to knocking out 4 miles per day at the 6 month mark. I dropped to 175 lbs.

    It always seems harder when you first start. I’m considering dropping the diet soda/coffee stuff altogether and going water only, and this post is a pretty good observation as to why.

  4. One thing to keep in mind for children is that too much juice can lead to constipation…it can be quite painful for the little ones.

  5. I stopped drinking soda a few years ago and it’s great. I don’t miss it one bit.

    I only drink iced tea or water. Mr. Coffee makes a great iced tea maker and it’s cheap. I use it every day.

  6. I’ve been doing this ever since I started working at places that have water coolers and I drink so much of it I’m going to the bathroom 6-7 times a day. I see that as a good thing. But I still have coffee in the mornings and the occasional alcoholic beverage. But I’m curious to hear how this affects you since I read somewhere that simply taking soda out of a diet can help some people shed weight pretty fast. Add exercise and no other types of drinks and you’re onto something.

    Good luck!

  7. I cut the soda and fruit juice out of my diet last year and what a difference it made. I still drink skim milk but very little. In the mornings I have one or two glasses of green tea because of it’s health benefits. Good luck with your endeavor!

  8. Wow, that is hard core! I am sure it will be worth it for your weight loss, but I will admit that I love my drinks.

    Not that kind of drinks…don’t want people to think I am an alcoholic. More like my coffee drinks 🙂

    Good luck with your goal!

  9. @Luke: Yes, I am worried that I will become bored, but I’m trying to change my entire outlook on both food and drink. Neither should be consumed for pleasure, more for fuel.

    It’s a purely utilitarian approach to dieting that basically involves finding a few meals you enjoy and eating them over and over again. When you get tired of those, move on to another small set of meals and eat those over and over again, focusing on the fact that you are eating for fuel – that’s it. Many diets fail because too much variety is added. The 100% water idea seems to go along with this line of thinking.

  10. Good for you! Adding fresh water to lemon gives it a nice zing.
    We added more and more water to my daughter’s apple juice that she now at 4 only asks for water or chocolate milk. (which she only gets when “out)

    To make giving milk up easier try the website: NOT MILK
    there is so much bad stuff in milk that it is a wonder anyone drinks it.

    Good luck, and thanks for the great info you always give.

  11. I’m starting to get into water, too. I hated it as a kid (except after track practice). But in adult life, I’ve found that if I simply imagine how cool and refreshing water will be, I start craving it instead of other liquids.

  12. I can understand giving up all of the drinks except for milk. I mean come on! Milk? you are worried about the sugar in milk? Milk is one of the slowest digesting foods due due to casein content. The protein in it is incredible. you are going to need the extra protein if you are going to be doing the training program that Mehdi has put together. There is no way I could give up dairy. I can understand fruit juice, soda, and the stuff that could be labeled “empty calories” but not milk, no sirreee!!!

    anyhow, I wish you the best in your endeavor for health and frugality!


  13. @JC: Milk is one of the things I plan to add back in at the end of my 30-day experiment – it isn’t permanently banned. I am supplementing with whey and high-protein foods (tuna, chicken, etc.) to get an adequate amount of protein in the interim, but I will definitely add dairy back into my diet in July (if I don’t crack before!).

    @Daniel: Thanks for sharing your story. You know how in college they talk about the “Freshman Fifteen” for the weight you put on your first year away. We should come up with a catchy phrase for the weight us guys gain the first ten years of marriage! For me it might be something like the “Father Fifty!” It actually is a little more, but nothing went with sixty!

  14. Good luck, FD . . . I gave up BUYING soft drinks about three years ago and haven’t regrettted it. I will still ocassionally drink them when out with friends (I don’t drink alcohol, so a Coke is a good thing to order at the bar ;-)) but otherwise, I don’t miss it that much.

    I don’t think I could cut out milk though . . . wow. Milk is a good ‘treat’ for me when I am snacky, it saves me from eating junk and is quite filling. plus, I love my morning latte that I make before headingout the door. 😉

  15. I’ve recently took this up as well. Well, the water only approach. I love it. I seem to drink a lot of water though. I think its for the lack of all the other junk I use to drink. I can believe I fell for those Sugar water drinks… sheesh.

    Tony Tovar

  16. Definitely try adding some green tea to the mix. I don’t drink milk anymore, but what’s especially hard for me is not drinking it with sugary stuff–ya know, Oreos or cake or something. Green tea is a great substitute in these situations, and for me, it’s become a treat in its own right. Salada is a good, widely available, inexpensive brand.

  17. As with all things the first few days will be the hardest but then sooner than you think your taste buds start working again. You begin to enjoy drinking the water.

    I was a heavy diet soda user (yes user I was totally addicted) for many years. I started having problems with kidney stones and found some small studies that have suggested that the kidney stones could be caused by diet soda, something about the magnesium. Anyway, I finally quit and haven’t had a kidney stone since. I finally inspired my dad who has passed many a kidney stone to try it and wonderfully he hasn’t had a stone in 2 years. He was getting 1-2 stones a year, that were large and extremely difficult to pass, most required hospitalization and special procedures to bust up the stone so it would pass.

    Good luck! It was a great change in my life both financially (I was spending 30-40 bucks a month on soda alone) and physically.

  18. In the vein of trying to spice up the taste of water on occasion – I went to a party once where the water had thinly sliced cucumber in it. It was DELICIOUS and very refreshing, especially with the summertime heat. No reason you couldn’t eat the cucumber later too!

  19. I can’t handle aspartame and large amounts of sugar don’t work for me, so here’s what I do for a tasty FREE drink.

    I walk out to my mint patch, which I started a couple years ago with two starts from a garden center. It’s taken over an area about 15 square feet. I nip off a 6″ to 8″ sprig, or two tips. Then I boil water, pour it over the mint to steep it, and make a gallon of iced tea. An 8″ sprig with plenty of leaves makes a gallon of tea. Two to three leaves are enough for a cup. Those mint starts cost me about $3 each and have paid for themselves several times over. I have a number of friends whom I supply with tea this way.

    Mint is perennial. It will grow in any shady, well watered location and prefers sandy, clay-like soil. Those of you who do a square-foot garden should consider perennial herb patches for seasoning and tea. Lemon balm and bergamot/bee-balm are related to mint but less aggressive; they also make excellent tea. If you’ve got a sunny, hot space, plant thyme and sage. Shady, damp areas will do nicely for oregano, marjoram, and chives. Catnip likes part shade and so does chamomile (which is hard to get as a perennial). Rosemary will live anywhere a rosebush or juniper shrub will.

    If you keep a perennial start alive, it will generally pay for itself within a year. Then they just come back year after year and you eat free.

  20. A few years ago, I cut out all drinks but water and would allow myself about 8 ounces of milk a day (total cow addict). Once or twice a week I would also have a glass of sugar free koolaid. I also started walking 2 miles a day 3-5 days a week. In less than 3 months I lost 45 pounds. I didn’t set out to make other changes, but found when reaching for a candy bar I’d think I’d sure rather those empty calories be a soda. Then since soda was off the list, I wouldn’t have either. Since then I’ve had a baby and too many of those pounds have crept back on. I know I would fail miserably if I tried to implement changes before the end of the school year next week, so I will enjoy my last few cokes then join you.

  21. Good luck, FD. You should contact NCN…he’s doing the same thing. You guys could have a challenge or something.

  22. Hey, i just started eating healthier and working out this week again. I lost 40 lbs. last year, but put 15 of them back on in the past few months due to stress/overeating/etc.

    I think a finance blogger weight loss challenge is in order! Let’s do the weigh-in!

  23. I pretty much already do this too. I never drink milk, the only other thing I have is gatorade. I like soda, but it feels good to get off of it b/c caffeine withdrawal gives me headaches.

  24. I did this in college and it was totally worthwhile. I still drink milk, but I was able to completely give up soda. I’ll have it at most twice a month. Most of the time the opportunity doesn’t even arise.

    Good luck! 🙂

  25. Great tips for cutting down on calories and carbs. I took beer and soda out of my lifestyle several months ago, settling on an occasional light beer or diet coke, the latter if I am out, want the caffeine and green tea is not an option.

    I tell you what I’ve been hooked on lately: a brand of iced tea called Teas Tea. The only ingredients are tea extract and water. They bottle green tea, green white tea, and green jasmine tea. Every few months, I buy a dozen 2-liter bottles from Whole Foods or Target, the closest retailers who stock it.

  26. After several attempts I finally gave up drinking Soft Drinks (Australian for Soda), and over the past 430 days not frittered away over $1500.00. I still drink some fruit juice but I always dilute it – 1/4 juice to 3/4 water. I don’t drink tea or coffee and have alcohol once or twice a year.

    As far as the health benefits of wine go, I read a few years that eating a handful of red grapes daily has the same benefits as drinking red wine. I drink plenty of water and use sliced citrus fruit when I want some flavour.

    I’ve been working hard to give up eating junk food at work and have found that reaching for a piece of fruit is more satisfying than a chocolate bar or chips. Being winter in Australia citrus fruits, apples and pears are in season. I always look forward to Summer because I love stone fruits when they are in season.

    As someone who is glad that they finally gave up Soft Drinks, I’d try and stick to completely eliminating them. I don’t do any exercise and since giving the soft drinks up my weight has stabilised. I might surprise myself one day and get into some exercise (it will probably help me downsize my middle age spread – LOL).

  27. This should work out great for you! I got my DH to cut out soda about 10 months ago and he lost 15 pounds 2 months later. We started to combine brewed tea with our juice and he lost another 10. Now we are only drinking 2% milk and thats only when we have it in the house. I also bought a Pur filter so DH can drink as much water as he wants, without worrying if its the last gallon in the house. 50 pounds lighter, he’s still thanking me for convincing him to give up on these vices.

  28. I stopped drinking soda, juice, and milk (more on that later) for several reasons. Those items are full of calories and sugar. And most the time that sugar is high-fructose corn syrup (which has been proven to actually stimulate your hunger mechanism).

    Along with cutting out high fructose corn syrup (which is in SO many things), I have cut out bleached white flour, bleached white sugar, and red meat. And I ADDED water, whole grains, soy, turkey meat, organic products, etc.

    BTW – Kashi & Clif products are fanatasic ( &!

    This was mostly in an effort to get my overall health and fitness level higher. But, I have found that I no longer have to suffer from and take medications for my allergies, asthma, and depression. I also run and lift weights at least 3 times a week. I have increased my self-confidence, have more energy than I did 10 years ago, and just feel much better all-around. It’s awesome and well worth all the effort!

    Milk is not inherantly bad for you, although I drink soy milk. I was allergic to cow milk, but I have gotten so used to soy milk and actually prefer the taste now that I won’t go back to cow milk. Soy milke also has a ton of protein, very low fat, and NO cholesterol.

    Last point on milk – do a google seach on “Monsanto milk hormone”. You’ll be surprised at the nasty stuff you may be putting in your body!

  29. When I was little, if I drank juice with meals, I wouldn’t eat much since I’d get full too quickly. I was already skinny and this just made things worse. So our family didn’t drink with meals in order to get more food into me! Out of habit, I still don’t drink with meals and mostly just drink water throughout the day. It is a good way to cut out sugar & calories.

  30. I went cold turkey on soda pops a little over 4 years ago. I’ve stolen a sip or two in a desperate pinch, but once you’re off of ’em for a little while, they no longer taste good if you try them again. So, if you can muscle your way thru the initial withdrawal, it becomes much easier.

    The other thing I did at that same time was to go mostly decaf. I still enjoy a cup (sometimes two) of coffee in the mornings, but it’s always decaf. And I’ve switched my wife over to decaf as well. This was easy enough to do because I simply started mixing Folgers regular & decaf and adjusted the ratios over the course of about a month. You’ll never notice the difference in taste. Honestly, my wife didn’t even know I had weaned her off of caffeinated coffee until she was already off for several weeks!

    The one source of caffeine that I haven’t cut loose of yet is iced tea. I drink a glass or two a day – sometimes a little more when I’m outside a lot during these triple-digit Summer days. I’ve tried substituting green tea, but it just has no flavor at all. Yuck!

    As for milk, I disagree with cutting it. Now, I don’t drink it anymore, but I do use about 3/4 a cup or so in oatmeal most mornings. The protein kick it provides far outweighs the carbs. Soy milk isn’t bad tasting, but does a number on my stomach and it’s not any higher in protein, so it’s not worth it to switch off of whole milk.

    I love juice but the high sugar content slams the heck outta my stomach, so I only drink very small quantities every once & awhile. I’ve been sipping on a blueberry/pomegranate blend lately that has no corn syrup or added sugars. Very high in antioxidents!

  31. Ah, I forgot to mention one other thing I’ve done that I think makes a huge difference.

    Don’t drink anything for at least 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after your meals. That’s right, no drinking during the meal either. You’d be amazed at how much more you taste your food when you’re not immediately washing it all down. As a result, you’re likely to enjoy what you eat more yet consume smaller quantities.

    This was not an easy habit to develop, but I truly do think you digest food better and more more efficient use of what you eat by not flushing out your stomach with fluids during mealtimes.

  32. Thanks for mentioning my article. I’ve thought for a long time that there is NO need for any liquid intake other than water, other than simply a need for variety.

    And that’s the kicker – variety. Personally I only drink black coffee, green tea, rooibos or other herbal teas, seltzer and wine. Of those, only wine has calories. I was a HEAVY diet Coke drinker for 20 years and quit cold turkey about 4 years ago. Now it tastes like acid, and seltzer takes care of my soda needs.

    It’s a tough thing to do, but usually if you can stick with extreme shifts like this long enough to feel a benefit, it can be life-changing. Good luck!