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Go To It! Kick the Coffee Habit

Having brunch with my mother over Easter, we reminisced about the little things we used to give up for Lent. One year she gave up coffee, and I caught her sneaking a cup within the first week. Indignant at her lack of self-control, the 10-year-old me lamented over how she could break her “promise.” She just rolled her eyes and said I didn’t understand. Now, as a coffee-addicted adult myself, I’m amazed she didn’t ground me!

That memory got me thinking. How addicted was I really? I decided to run a little experiment and give up coffee for two weeks, agreeing to record the results for BBL so I couldn’t back out! Here’s how it went down:

Day 1: I felt great, in control and energized, until about 3 p.m. when I crashed. Thankfully I can touch type because my eyes were so heavy that I could barely see my keyboard. I was very nostalgic about the 3 (4?) cups of coffee I had with my delightful brunch the day before. Damn you never-ending refills. Where are you when I need you?

Day 2: Some misguided individual told me to try green tea in lieu of coffee. It has a small amount of caffeine, and at least it will give me something warm to hold and drink while I eat my cereal instead of my icy cold water bottle. You know what’s not the same as coffee? Freaking green tea.

Day 5: The one thing that has really improved is my chronic insomnia. Now when I get into bed, I’m so exhausted my eyelids are heavy and I’m not tossing and turning for hours. I’ve heard caffeine should only affect your body for 5 to 6 hours, so cutting out my morning coffee shouldn’t really be affecting my midnight bedtime. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I’ll take it!

Day 6: I almost broke down today! Pancake brunch and NO COFFEE? Positively un-American. Thankfully my brunch partner sympathetically refrained from getting coffee as well because I don’t think I could have handled the peer pressure!

Day 9: Going strong! I’m much less fatigued during the day. In fact, I feel really alert and wide awake throughout the morning and afternoon. It definitely takes me a bit longer to warm up in the morning without a caffeine jolt, but there’s no mid-afternoon crash to worry about either.

Day 10: I cheated a little bit today. I went on a snack run to a coffee shop with some coworkers and got the most delicious chocolate chip cookie that was just begging for something to drink with it! I got a decaf cappuccino – not the same effect, but at least it was something warm to hold and sip.

Day 14: I had planned to officially finish out 14 coffee-free days, but I called it quits this morning. A rainy Saturday languishing in my local laundromat absolutely screamed for a cup of coffee to accompany my crossword puzzle. It was heaven in a paper cup, good smelling, good tasting and … gone in about 3 minutes flat. I will say, as relaxing as it was to sit there and sip (well guzzle), I paid for it later. My heart was racing a mile a minute for the next four hours, and I felt like it was burning a hole in my stomach! I guess it takes as long to readjust to caffeine as it does to wean off it.

In the end? It’s good to know I can control my coffee addiction, and not the other way around. It’s definitely worth decreasing my intake for the sleep benefits – maybe I’ll save a big cup of coffee for crazy Monday meetings and lazy Sunday mornings!

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