52 Healthy Habits: Take a Coffee Break

Welcome to the latest edition of 52 Healthy Habits when I tackle a new healthy habit each week because habits are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there is always room for small incremental improvements. This column is part inspiration for you, to give you ideas of some things you can try, and part accountability for me as I try new things in my own journey. 

I have no expectations that I will be perfect or successful in all of these habits. I am sure I will find successes, failures and everything inbetween. It's about what we learn along the way about our priorities, our preferences and ourselves.

TAKE A BREAK FROM COFFEE

I'm sorry for the headline. I said 52 Healthy Habits: Take a Coffee Break, but what I meant to say is Take a Break from Coffee...but I didn't want to scare you away. 

Take a break from coffee...Say, what?

People hate this idea. When you tell people you want to quit sugar or fried foods or alcohol, they are mostly supportive and agree that they should probably do the same. But when you tell you people you want to take a break from coffee, they usually say, Why the hell would you want to do that? 

Before you start throwing things at me, hear me out. I love my coffee. I love it so much my husband and I share an entire pot every morning and on some days I buy another large coffee once I get to work. While there is nothing inherently wrong with coffee (I drink it black) or caffeine in itself, there can be negatives. 

One negative is that I noticed when I am heavy into caffeine, it can make it harder to get going in the morning before I have my coffee. When I am off caffeine, I don't have that terrible groggy feeling. It makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning. That groggy feeling is at least partly caffeine withdrawal. If you don't have the dependency on caffeine, you don't have the withdrawal symptoms, so you feel better when you wake up in the morning. 

Another is the issue of tolerance. Caffeine is a drug and just like any drug or alcohol, you build up a tolerance over time. So when you used to get a energy boost from one cup of coffee, now it takes three or four cups just to feel normal. I like to drink a whole pot now. Not good. 

I am not suggesting that anyone should give up caffeine forever, I wouldn't do that because I want you to still like me after reading this. 

A COFFEE RESET TO IMPROVE RUNNING PERFORMANCE?

The key to enjoying the benefits of caffeine while minimizing the negatives is a periodic coffee reset. Every few months take an entire week off of coffee. Admittedly, I feel like $hit the first couple of days, but when the fog clears I am better for it. 

I joke that caffeine is my performance enhancing drug. I like getting off caffeine the week before a race, then having a cup before I hit the start line. You really feel the energy and reap the benefits of a caffeine boost on race day.

It's just a reset. After a week off of caffeine, you'll go back to your coffee and feeling the benefits again after just one cup. 

SUCCESS STRATEGY

Replace your regular coffee with decaf or hot tea just for one week. Decaf still has a small amount of caffeine to help you get over the hump. If you're like me, having a cup (or pot) of coffee in the morning is a habit. I'll just temporarily replace my coffee with another hot drink so it doesn't feel like such a stretch from my normal behavior. But I know what you're thinking...

There's a time and place for decaf coffee: never and in the trash. Hah. 

There's a time and place for decaf coffee: never and in the trash. Hah. 

By the time you read this, I will be on my first day of no caffeine. Wish my husband and co-workers luck these first couple of days. 

What do you think? Don't knock it until you try it. Am I crazy? Wait. Don't answer that until after your caffeine withdrawal symptoms have subsided. We're still friends, right? 

Playing catch up? Follow along with the 52 Healthy Habits series:

52 HEALTHY HABITS SERIES

week 1: Early to Rise
week 2: Track calories
week 3: Macro cycling
week 4: Morning pages (journaling)
week 5: Stop the scrolling (reading instead of social media)
week 6: Be a good student (take time for learning) 
week 7: Strength Training 15 minutes per day   
week 8: Eat more protein

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Coach Lea

I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

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While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.