Wow where to begin? How about my accomplishment – nine days without a drop of coffee. No desire. No craving. No headaches. And the most amazing of all – I’m alive, awake, and fully functional! I’ll take it a step further, I haven’t been this awake and functioning in… 10 years!
Some background on my coffee addiction.
- I’m a night owl
- I’m a web developer / graphic designer
- I’m a Northern Virginia commuter
- I’m a mom aka mombie
So which came first the chicken or the egg? I’d say the hobby of graphic design and computers in general. O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. Chunks of time would slip away and before I knew it Letterman would be on and I’d have to start getting ready for work 5-6hrs later. Then came art school. Boy that was a commute! Oh Metro, how I don’t miss you. Combine that with assignments and a full-time job, and I was zombie!
Enter Starbucks stage left.
Oh yes, Starbucks. My first love affair. Warm. Creamy. Dreamy. Decadent. It kept me going. I loved going with friends. I loved trying new espresso drinks and don’t get me started on Frappuccinos!
Work & commute
Landed my first developer gig post-college and my commute was worse. Traffic in NOVA is a total nightmare. Construction. Accidents. Rain – I swear all driving senses go out the window with a slightest sign of precipitation. Special Events – holiday, weekend, sports, and political event traffic. I swear with each new gig, I got stuck driving deeper and deeper into NOVA. Then my husband and I started our pilgrimage south – out of Woodbridge and into Stafford, and ultimately buying our first home in Fredericksburg.
All designer and developers dabble in freelance from time to time. So, yeah, that’s smart – let’s add another responsibility to your day. And what? My husband started a welding business and needs me to offer admin/HR/accounting/marketing services? Sure why not?! I’ll sleep when I’m dead right?
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead”
This has been a popular saying of mine during these chaos years. I’m a go-getter, ‘never say no’ type, so if you dish it, I can conquer it. Coffee was a crutch through it all.
Sleep Apnea? Narcolepsy?
Since I was a kid, I’ve had breathing problems. Tonsils. Adenoids. Sinuses. Year-round allergies. A small mouth with overcrowded teeth and evolving dental issues. No wonder with all this I started to fall asleep at the wheel and merge into traffic or shoulders. Doctors felt it was sleep apnea or narcolepsy (EEK!). Luckily a sleep study showed it was just sleep apnea. The most un-sexy medical condition to exist in… EVER! A mask and long tube that makes you sound a look like Darth Vader. Condensation that whistled through your mask. Irritation and sores to the rubber and plastic parts. It was a nightmare but once I found a mask that worked for me and began to… zzz. Life was good.
But, still there was coffee
I’m not talking about a cup once a day. I’m talking about 2-3 coffee or macchiatos. Yum Caramel Macchiatos. Iced or hot. Loved it all. On a bad day, I’d make 20oz coffee at home, get a McDonald’s Caramel Latte halfway to work, and then late afternoon, either at work or coming home, I’d get a Venti Starbucks. Not only was the caloric intake ridiculous but my wallet was taking a beating. Coffee was such a HUGE part of my day-to-day, that my personal accounting software had a separate category ONLY for coffee. I felt it was important enough to track.
By no means am I dogging coffee or espresso, or the establishments that serve them. It’s delicious stuff and it’s popular for a reason. BUT…
I did a google search for “coffee versus tea” and Google, in its awesomeness, provided a side-by-side nutritional comparison.
A shot of espresso is typically 1 fluid ounce. A hot venti at Starbucks has two shots and an iced has three shots, so that’s 128mg-192mg caffeine, while there’s 47mg-94mg in black tea. Sometimes, I’d find myself consuming 2-3 espresso drinks. Eek!
Herbal, Black and Chai Teas
After 10 years of being physically, mentally, and financial consumed by coffee and espresso, I began to try herbal teas. I do not like iced tea or sweet tea, so I found myself drawn to dandelion and nettle teas for their medicinal power and flavor. Then I began to sample teas at Teavana and discovered that I loved black and chai teas. Slowly over the last year, I began to drink a tea a day to eliminate one coffee or espresso. I liked it so much, I tried two teas in a day and NO COFFEE OR ESPRESSO.
It worked! Oh my goodness, I survived a 24hr period of no coffee/espresso. Is this real life? A coworker joined me in my adventure. She wasn’t as consumed by coffee/espresso but definitely preferred tea. Rachel has been my sponsor these last nine days. Sponsor? Geez, makes it sound like AA.
Step 1: I’ve admitted I am powerless over coffee and espresso and that my life has become unmanageable.
Yep, it fits.
Day one was 20oz travel mug of black tea, mid-morning 8oz chai, and a 8oz late afternoon. Day two was 20oz travel mug of black tea and 8oz chai late afternoon. Day three was 20oz travel mug of black tea. Day four, wait, hold on… that was it for day three? Yep, mind blown. Each day got easier and easier. I actually found myself more awake and alert. A fog was lifted from my brain! My mood was stable and no lives were threatened. Abdominal bloating and digestion has improved ten fold! This is amazing. Can it be that all we need is a minute amount of caffeine to get by and after a certain amount, your body can’t process it and in return, causes bodily functions to breakdown and crash.
I feel empowered
It’s no fun when a substance has full control over your life. Your successes and failures all balance on a thin line. The day you realize you can get by just fine without it, is a day you’ll remember forever! Maybe I’m jumping the gun by making these declarations. It’s only been nine days afterall. Will I commit to NEVER drinking coffee or espresso again? Nah, it’s not necessary, but I will commit to reserving coffee as a treat. And remember too, I’m not admitting to eliminating caffeine, just coffee and espresso. I’ll simply consume a reduced amount of it in teas instead. I think I’ll put coffee and espresso in the same category as frozen yogurt. I don’t need it but damn it’s good… sometimes.
So I challenge you
I challenge you to evaluate what things have control over you in your life. Soda? A man? An in law? Food? Evaluate it’s necessity and if you can safely eliminate it. Even if just for one day. Someday that one day can become nine (or forever).