It’s been just about six weeks since I drank caffeinated coffee (I use that disclaimer because I did have a decaf Pumpkin Spice Latte on Asia’s wedding day!). Ok I did have 1/4 of a cup the morning before Long Beach Half Marathon because it helps move things along. But yes, I’m coffee free. Mike and I have both been big coffee fans for our entire relationship, with the exception of the 3 months we gave it up for P90X. We talk about coffee quite a bit, we have a ritual on weekends of walking down the street together to get it, and every workday I didn’t feel quite right until I’d had my fix. I wouldn’t say I was a heavy coffee drinker though, as the most I’d ever drink was 2 cups, and not even large cups. But, the addiction was definitely there.
So why would I give up my dear ritual? A few reasons.
First, I have been sleeping poorly. My new job (which I’ve now been at for over a year now) is stressful at times and I found myself tossing and turning thinking about work (or worse dreaming about it) as I struggled to fall asleep. This is probably the primary reason for my decision to give up coffee.
Second, I don’t drink my coffee black and the crap I put in it to make it taste so good is very NOT good for you. Overall, I eat a really healthy diet and I take pride in the fact that I put mostly whole foods into my body. However, every morning I’d add a very healthy pour (and I mean healthy) of processed creamer into my coffee. After experimenting with a fully vegan diet, I used to justify the creamer being OK to eat since it was technically non-dairy (which is gross itself? why is there no dairy!?) but upon later review, I realized it does actually contain lactose. But that aside, it’d be much better to just drink half and half than the stuff I love, which has an ingredient list far too complex to understand. I’ve always given myself permission to indulge in this treat, however, because all in all I think I eat pretty good and let’s be honest, YOLO.
Third, caffeine makes me pee A LOT! I already have the world’s smallest bladder and I drink a lot of water which doesn’t help, but I definitely have noticed that the more coffee I drink, the more urgent and frequent the trips to the bathroom.
There’s a lot of controversy about coffee. A lot of studies say that it’s good for you and a lot of studies say it’s bad for more reasons than the ones I mentioned above ( just google “why coffee is bad for you” or “why coffee is good for you”). I definitely think that for some people, it’s great! But for me, I think that I’m better off it.
So how did I do it? In the past, I’ve gone off coffee cold turkey. This has resulted in severe withdrawal symptoms (extreme tiredness, headaches, moodiness). This time I weaned myself off of it slowly over the course of 5 days and it worked much better. I started my first no coffee day on a Saturday because I didn’t want to scare off my coworkers. Sunday, I had a pretty bad headache all day and I felt tired and out of it. By Monday, I felt back to normal.
Since giving up coffee, I’ve noticed the following benefits:
1) Better quality sleep. I dream WAY more and I wake up feeling much less tired. The difference in how I feel when I wake up, even for my 5:30 a.m. mid-week wake-up calls, is extremely noticeable. Despite heavy training, I am rarely groggy and exhausted or thinking of when I will get to sleep next, which was much more common during heavy training mixed with coffee drinking.
2) Sustained energy throughout the day. No more adrenaline rushes in the morning and crashes in the afternoon.
3) Less moodiness at work. I find myself responding to stressful situations at work with less emotion than before. I used to drink an extra cup of coffee on very busy days at work and I think that the caffeine actually made things worse.
4) Less urgent and frequent bathroom breaks.
5) Increased running performance. Coffee may not be related to this, but I feel like it’s possible that the better quality sleep as a result of giving up coffee has impacted my training.
6) Weight loss. Within two weeks of giving up coffee, I lost about 2 lbs and now it’s 3. This definitely could be related to my increased running volume as well but it did correspond with giving up coffee!
Will I give up coffee forever? I’m not sure. For now, I plan to stick to it through the race. I can definitely see myself enjoying some coffee on our upcoming trip to New Zealand (we leave 2 days after CIM) but who knows. Some days I really want it, other days I could care less. Because I’m so busy at work, I tend to barely notice that I’m not drinking something in the mornings most of the time which helps. On the weekends, I’m focusing on getting ready for a run and that takes my mind off of it.
Do you drink coffee? If not, did you give it up or never drank it?