Un-Caffeinated

OK, so.  On the outside, I’m Miss IHaveAllTheAnswersAboutHealth.  On the inside, I deal with my own nutritional demons  That’s pretty typical, right?  Don’t “they” say the most disturbed people become therapists?  So this is kind of the same thing.

 
But in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been dealing with a an issue over the past several months.  It’s an issue with a substance that’s flat out been an addiction for the past 10 years.  I could not imagine my life without it.  For some people, it’s not a big issue.  But for me, it was becoming the most detrimental issue to my health.  And based on the dramatic nature of my explanation, it might not be what you think.  Are you ready?
 
 
Caffeine.  Specifically, coffee.  Even more specifically, a Grande Pike’s Place with a shot of espresso and some cinnamon powder.  Every.  Flippin.  Day.  Sometimes more than once.  Plus about another 8 cups of black coffee.  And I’m not even close to kidding.
 
 
To be clear, I didn’t think I had a problem.  But looking back, I should have known there was an issue when I started telling people that “I could quit if I wanted to, I just don’t want to.”
 
 
I’ve been one big ball of stress over the past year.  With what feels like 8 million things going on, I was wound tight every minute of every day.  Then one day I heard one of my favorite bloggers/podcasters, Jason Seib, mention that caffeine is for healthy people.  Whaaaaaaat??  Doesn’t caffeine make people healthier?
 
 
Well, here’s the issue.  Caffeine creates stress in your body.  While some stress can be good, in the wrong situation it can be bad.  Really really bad.  
 
 
Long story short- caffeine artificially increases cortisol and reduces the functionality of the adrenal glands.  This can cause issues with sleep, weight gain, chronic inflammation, and overall feelings of crappiness (<- that’s a word now).
 
 
In a person who is very healthy and dealing with low levels of stress, caffeine can be no big deal.  But for someone who is stressed, has a compromised immune system, or struggling to meet aesthetic or fitness goals, it can be very detrimental.
 

So, I cut it out.  Cold turkey.  

I replaced it with decaf herbal teas and drank water- a TON of water.  And I spent the first three days in a foggy haze.  Like, it took me 30 minutes to read and comprehend one email and I could barely hold a conversation before noon.

Siiiiiigh

 

And then after about 3 days…. the weirdest thing happened.  The fog lifted:  
  • I could think clearly.  
  • I had more energy.  
  • I slept better.  
  • I felt rested and ready to go when I woke up.  
  • I became a morning person again.  
  • I stopped feeling like the world was crashing down every minute of every day. 

Pretty much the opposite of everything I thought would happen.  

 
And the BEST thing about cutting out caffeine is that I am no longer bound by the chains of needing a substance to function.  Believe it or not…

There is freedom in restriction.    
 

Soooo… what now?  This doesn’t mean I won’t ever have an ounce of caffeine again.  But what it does mean is that I will be VERY intentional to never again allow my mood, productivity, or happiness be dependent on an external stimulant.

 

So you’re probably reading this and you’re thinking “good for you, but I could NEVER do that.”  Trust me- If I can, you can.

How do you know if you should consider giving up caffeine?

  1. You need caffeine before you can function in the morning.
  2. You don’t sleep well.
  3. You get headaches if you don’t drink it.
  4. You’re constantly stressed, angry, or anxious.
  5. You’ve hit a fat loss or performance plateau.
  6. You couldn’t imagine your life without it.
  7. You’ve ever used the phrase “I could give it up if I wanted to. I just don’t want to.”

And so let’s say that you decide this is the right move for you. 

How do you even start?

  1. Create a plan and set a date.  And then warn all your friends and family to avoid you for the first three days.
  2. Clear your house of any caffeine and change your route to work/school/the gym to avoid a Starbucks.  Seriously.
  3. Enlist a cheering section to support you, but apologize in advance for how you may behave (see suggestion one).
  4. Plan on drinking LOTS of decaf herbal teas and water.  This will help alleviate headaches and sluggishness.
  5. Batten down the hatches.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.  You are worth it.  Your health is worth it.  If you need help, I can help.  
 
So tell me….  Have you ever given up caffeine?  Or beat another food addiction?  Or even just thought about it?  Tell me about it in the comments!

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