The Coffee Buzz
What’s your addiction?
I have never been much of a coffee drinker myself, aside from the fun iced coffees I drink in the summer. I love hot tea, but I would switch it with its lighter cousin, hot water, any day. PhillyBoy and my cousin Raz, however, have serious addictions to coffee. When my cousin and I lived together, she stocked the house with fresh coffee beans. She did not leave the house any day without a coffee in hand, and often left our office to pick up one or two more throughout the day. And PB? Ever since I met him he has loved coffee. He has a big mugful in the morning and would often have 2,3,4 cups later in the day. When we would be out doing errands, he would often ask to stop for “just a bit of coffee.” Recently, that ended for both PB and Raz. They coincidentally both gave up coffee on the same day for different reasons. Here are their thoughts on their coffee addictions and how they feel being coffee-free.
I have had a long complicated love/hate relationship with coffee. I don’t remember coffee being much of a factor in my life during college – a cup here or there. But in law school, for some reason, the relationship intensified. I don’t recall if I actually dove right into drinking coffee or if it was something that gradually caught on. But I do know that the “need” evolved from a lack of sleep due to (let’s be honest) procrastination on work. Plus I had a full time job during my entire time in law school – so that didn’t help. Sure once in a while I would try and substitute Mountain Dew for coffee – but the caffeine jolt just was never quite the same (ugh, just thinking back to the crap I would shovel down between work and classes makes me angry at myself!)…ok so back to coffee….
It was bad during law school. I had a job where coffee was readily available for free from a machine in the office. So instead of moderation, I would just give in to the urge every time I wanted a jolt. Some days, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had as much as 10 cups in one day (including the nighttime). Of course, I needed some energy for my nighttime run…this was my mentality – and if I could rewind time I would do things so differently. In about 2005 I started working full time at the firm and I probably cut down to about 4-5 cups/day. Yes, cut down to 4-5 cups/day.
To make a long story short and to avoid going on and on, during the last few years, I have evened out at anywhere from 2-3 cups/day. Most dinners out, I have finished with a cup of coffee. I often prefaced nights out with a cup of coffee and of course, began each morning with a hot cup of coffee. I saw myself generally tense overall and no matter how many hours of sleep I got, I woke up feeling unrefreshed and craving coffee. I became overly stressed over minor things and I didn’t feel right. As healthy as my diet had become and as much exercise as I had fit into a week, still things often felt a little off in terms of energy…
So last week, something snapped. I have always encouraged family/friends who smoke to quit and have generally been against the idea of being overly dependent on anything. I tend to think of these things as a choice so ignoring the horror stories of coffee withdrawal, headaches, moodiness – I quit. I decided enough was enough, and it was time to allow my body to just naturally have energy…so rather than getting energy from caffeine, I would go back to basics after all of these years – energy from adequate rest, a healthy diet, and exercise. The first few days were a little tough but surprisingly I didn’t have too many headaches. If anything, a few days I crashed very early and sleep for 10-12 hours with no problem. The first few days, I used tea to ease the transition. Today I drank water all day and forgot that I had not had any tea or coffee…
It’s now been 10 days and I feel GREAT. I immediately lost a few pounds of water weight for some reason. I feel energized naturally and clear headed. I can focus much more easily on tasks at work and overall my mental state is much calmer and more consistent. I’m sleeping well and am waking up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
I know this was a little long winded and slightly dramatic. But everyone has their vice….for some it’s food, alcohol or cigarettes. For me, I’ve been drinking entirely too much coffee for way too long. It’s nice to have stopped and not feel any desire to go back. I’m not saying everyone needs to stop drinking coffee – but I know I had gotten to a point where I was depending on coffee for my energy and that was not a good place to be. I’m feeling great now and hopefully the improvements will only continue.
Caffeine has been a part of my life since college. I remember pulling a number of all nighters studying and coffee was always there keeping me company. In fact, I hated the way I felt without my morning cup. I have realized over the years that coffee may be contributing to headaches and sleeplessness but it had become a welcomed habit that I did not want to quit. To give you window into my addiction, for the last few years I have been buying coffee beans whole, grinding them myself, and using a French press.
Recently, I caught a cold; one that kept me in bed for a few days resting to recuperate. It wasn’t a conscious decision but I had realized that I had been without coffee for 5 days! That is the longest I have been without coffee that I could remember. I then realized that I made it through the worst of the withdrawal period if I were to quit. So figured I would give it a shot to test if the headaches and sleeplessness I have been experiencing will be affected.
I can tell you I have been foggy and felt a bit unfocused the first few days back to work and yes still having headaches. But the overall benefits have been amazing. I have been sleeping better and dreaming a lot more. I also noticed my skin has been looking better and I have more energy.
One thing that concerned me was that I have been craving something sweet in the afternoons. This was around the time that I would usually have my second cup. To avoid substituting one bad habit for another, I have been keeping water, gum and healthy snacks available in case of such cravings.
I have been doing great up to today, day 10. Today I did have a cup of coffee with a friend. Sure enough I felt sluggish in the afternoon followed by a headache. I can’t deny the effects caffeine has on me. So I am going to continue on caffeine free.
If PB and Raz could do it, you can too! If you have a vice and have quit, share how you did it in the comments. If you have a vice and want to share just how bad it is, do that in the comments too! I will be posting all of your success stories and vices in a post later today.
P.S. My husband lost his pet as a kid and was devastated. He wrote about it in his diary in the cutest but also saddest entry ever. I bet many of you can relate to this entry- you can see it here.