Life without coffee

I like my coffee like I like my men. Tall. Dark. Hot.

(Joking…joking)

I share the same love for the beverage we call by many affectionate names—Java, Joe, sweet nectar of the gods—as my fellow coffee aficionados.

It came as a surprise, a shock even to me, when I proclaimed to take a month hiatus from coffee…the first time.

The second hiatus, currently ongoing, came about more easily and doesn’t feel like quite the sacrifice. This time, I’m not even counting down the days until my next Americano. I’m taking it one day at a time.

Why do I do this? Coffee

To prove to myself I can. To determine any changes in my health (sleep, skin, anxiety). To break what I see as an addiction.

I am on a streak of expressions of will power.

In January 2012, I quit drinking alcohol. It started as an attempt to cut out sugar and show solidarity with my oldest brother who was trying to stay dry.

My brother didn’t make it. His addiction to alcohol, and the life it created for him, led him to take his life in March of that year.

The day I learned of his death, and every day thereafter for over a year, I imbibed on sugar.

I didn’t go back to drinking. I don’t think I ever will. But, sugar proved to be my own personal white powder addiction.

With each deletion, I feel calmer, more centered, more confident.

Subtracting addictive substances tests my limits.

In April 2013, I again vowed to rid my life of excess sugar. I am an if- I-start (eating sugar, drinking delicious coffee, browsing Facebook)-I’m-not-likely-to-stop kind of person. So I decided not to give myself the choice to start.

Ruth I never before saw a problem with having my normal pot of coffee in the morning, stopping for a cup in the afternoon, and finishing off dinner with coffee and dessert.

I often would plan my days around when I could get a cup. When I was off sugar, I replaced every ounce of chocolate with an ounce of java.

Every time I choose not to yield to a caffeine fix, or an afternoon break at the coffee shop, I feel stronger in my commitment.

I feel less anxious and jittery. I feel grateful to enjoy my days in other ways—with yoga, hot decaf tea, short runs and fresh fruit.

 

How would I function without something, anything to escape, to “enjoy” life?

The first day of the first time I gave up coffee, I almost caved. I volunteered to sweep a 25K trail run course, which means I walked/hiked 16 miles in the woods. I felt tired and sore, and a cup of coffee would’ve been just the thing. Why I chose that day to quit, I’ll never know.

The second day was the hardest. It was Monday, and I definitely got the caffeine withdrawal headache and lethargy. I made it through, and each day after was easier.

After a couple forays into a coffee-free existence, I appreciate being able to bring my body and mind into focus and accomplish a set goal.

I know there are greater obstacles I can conquer with this strategy.

I also know I must find a middle ground between avoidance and indulgence. I’m still working on that one…

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