When I tell people I want to take a coffee break; they are usually supportive until I explain that I don't mean to take a break with coffee, but to take a break from coffee. Then they think I'm crazy.
I filled up my 30oz Yeti tumbler with black coffee like I do every morning. I drank it on my morning walk with my dog, on my drive to work and as I sat at my desk. As I licked the last drops from the bottom of the cup, I craved more. More. More. More. I considered stopping by Starbucks for *just a tall.
That's when I realized it is time for a caffeine reset. More is not better when it comes to caffeine.
I reset my caffeine tolerance every once in a while when I feel my coffee consumption getting out of control. One large tumbler is 3.75 cups. That's a lot. Coffee in moderation can have health benefits, but like most things in life, too much is still too much. Four cups of coffee, seven days a week is not an example of moderation.
So I gave it up. I get my body fat percentage analyzed once a month on a Saturday morning before I eat or drink anything. Once I got home it was past my usual coffee time, so I decided it was the perfect day to start my caffeine fast. I didn't have a client again until Tuesday, so I had a few days to get it out of my system before I had to interact with humans.
Some people who are smarter than me may choose to reduce their coffee consumption slowly over time instead of going cold-turkey to help diminish the withdraw symptoms. I wanted to get it over with, I went cold-turkey, from all to nothing.
On day three of my caffeine reset, I felt like I was dying. Symptoms included a headache, foggy brain, low energy, tired-feeling, and crankiness. I didn't realize my dependence on it until I took it away. I posted about it on Facebook in an attempt to entice internet sympathy.
Comments included: "Why do such an awful thing?" "You're brave" "You have willpower." and "But, why?"
WHY GIVE UP CAFFEINE? 5 REASONS I GAVE UP COFFEE
1. FOR MORE NATURAL ENERGY
When I cut out caffeine, I feel more energized and clear-headed in the mornings (I mean, of course, after the crippling withdraw symptoms subside).
When my body adapts to my regular super-sized coffee consumption my caffeine tolerance goes up, then instead of drinking coffee for an energy boost or a pick-me-up, I need it to feel normal. I wake up in mornings feeling like a zombie until I can pour coffee into my mouth hole. Once I am off it, I wake up feeling clear-headed and ready to tackle my day.
2. TO DEVELOP HEALTHIER HABITS
I write a lot about healthy habits, and it's a good practice to challenge the status quo of your daily routine. What are your daily habits? I drink coffee every morning because that's part of my morning routine. Do I need it? What would my morning look like without it? Is there a healthier alternative? Examine your daily habits. You don't need to change everything or anything at all. Bring awareness to your habit patterns and evaluate if there are ways to make small improvements.
3. TO CHALLENGE MY COMFORT ZONE
It was uncomfortable to give up caffeine. What else is uncomfortable? Can you improve your health or wellbeing in a small way by trying something new and uncomfortable? Look at it as an experiment to discover something new about yourself. I learned I had a full-blown dependency on caffeine.
4. FOR BETTER SLEEP
I learned in my DNA analysis with My Fitness Genes that I am a slow metabolizer of caffeine. I didn't think this was true until it took nearly seven days to feel normal again after going off caffeine. It was a rough week, my deepest apologies to the people who had to put up with me.
I noticed right away that I was sleeping more soundly at night. I am a deep sleeper anyway (sorry to my poor husband and other insomniac-types), but when I am off caffeine, my sleep quality improves, which is probably part of the reason I feel more energized in the mornings without coffee.
5. FOR RUNNING PERFORMANCE
I joke that caffeine is my performance-enhancing drug. I like to go off caffeine two weeks before a race, then have a cup before I hit the start line to enjoy the benefits of a caffeine boost on race day. (Make sure you leave plenty of time to take care of bathroom issues that morning. #protip)
Now I feel great. I've replaced my coffee with naturally caffeine-free hot tea in the mornings, and while I miss the coffee aroma, I've found hot tea is a suitable replacement for now. It takes so long to recover from the withdrawal symptoms that I am not in a hurry to go back. Usually, I start with a small cup of coffee after two weeks, but this time I am staying away. I feel so energized; I don't want coffee. Weird, right?
I'm sure I'll have caffeine again, as needed, but my reset is a valuable reminder of not getting too dependent on any substances to feel normal.
I'm certainly not suggesting everyone give up caffeine (I wouldn't do that, I don't want you to hate me). There is nothing inherently wrong with regular moderate consumption of caffeine, but if you find that you're pushing the limits of normal, it may be time to take a temporary break to rest your tolerance. It's a good practice to examine any of your automatic behaviors, aka habits, and look for ways to improve them, if possible.
Do you think I'm crazy? It's ok, most people do.
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