Why I stopped drinking coffee
Why I stopped drinking coffee
Okay, well not complete cold turkey, but why I drastically cut my caffeine intake and don’t have coffee first thing in the morning. Like so many of us I still love a cup of coffee to get me going and know it can be a secret weapon for getting sh*t done, but I’ve completely shifted my relationship with it.
I had no intention of cutting down on coffee but started by accident. I got rather ill on a trip to Iceland and stopped drinking coffee to not further aggravate my system. Two days after I got home from Iceland my rowing team set off to Sevilla, Spain for a two week training camp where I subsisted off a diet of burnt pasta and peanut M&M’s under the blazing sun. I was grossed out by the instant-coffee served at the cafeteria and figured it wasn’t helping me stay hydrated out on the water.
Once I came home I returned to my morning routine and started drinking coffee, but all of a sudden the effects were much stronger. I felt the coffee hit me like a wave of anxiety, making me feel nervous, restless and slightly nauseous. Thinking I was just super groggy after traveling and stressed about how much I needed to get done, my response would be to make another cup of coffee and brace myself for the next tidal wave of caffeine and adrenaline.
This was my habit pretty much every morning until one day I made myself a cup of fresh hot lemon water instead of coffee to see if it would stop the nausea (more about my love of hot lemon water later). Once I had replaced the habit of making coffee first thing in the morning I started to see the effects of a less-caffeinated version of myself. And with it went the nervousness and the nausea. Not only that, I realised I was a lot calmer, I slept better, and waking up was a bit easier (I’m still definitely not a morning person). The fog in my brain lifted and I felt more naturally alert and energetic throughout the day.
I started to change my relationship with it. My goal was never to cut it out completely, but rather to not to be dependent on it. Specifically, I didn’t want my body and mind to suffer through the effects of being over-caffeinated, but rather I wanted to use coffee as a tool that’s on my side for specific purposes, usually in the following cases:
- Occasions when I need to be alert. We all have those days where it seems like our brains just aren’t functioning. In those instances coffee is a great tool and because I drink it sparingly it is so much more powerful when I really need it.
- When I want to savour it. My favourite way to spend a Sunday morning is to have a cup of coffee with breakfast while writing or reading before tackling the rest of the day. A ritual I love and that coffee is an integral part of.
- Sometimes I have it before a workout. This one is tricky as there is evidence for and against it being healthy to exercise directly after a caffeine jolt, but personally can help me get motivated for the workout (I hate going to the gym) and helps me stay focused all the way through. Maybe one day it’ll be easier for me to get up and go for a run but that’s a blog post for another time.
We all have habits that may not be as good for us as we’d like to believe. Let’s think about our daily routines – food, sleep, drink, people we engage with, etc. – and try a gradual test on how we perform with and without them. See what works and what doesn’t- you can always slot something back in and may have a new appreciation for it. But you might find that what you thought were your keys to success might actually be holding you back.
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