29 January 2014


Let's talk routines. Do you ever feel maddened by routines? Routines suck the life out of me. Like a vampire. Particularly those routines that surround work. You get up, maybe hit snooze a few times (if you really try to prolong the agony like me) before getting up for REAL. Then you drag yourself into the bathroom to take shower, before the mind racing and adrenaline rush sets in and takes hold. You then go downstairs, cup of water in hand, to take synthroid (skip this step if you still have a thyroid). In the remaining moments preceding your exit to the garage, you race here and there for random oddities, like... hair pins... lunch.... oh wait, there's the scramble to pack because we're just too unmotivated and lazy to do that the night before. It has to be spontaneous, never forced, this day's preparation. You then grab a few pieces of fruit, which you know you'll bring home later, but you try to save face in the health department. You contemplate fitting in a ten minute meditation session before condemning yourself for hitting that snooze button and making it now past the time when you were supposed to leave. Out the door it is to continue with the race to destination work. The most undesirable destination of all time.

10 January 2014

Moving forward with my coffee-free resolution.

I am so much better off since having given up coffee...... for good this time. Oddly, I haven't been craving it. Okay, scratch that. I did have a rather nagging craving this morning. I had smelled it and the thought that said, 'I have to have it,' surfaced and repeated itself, nagging me and begging me to go to Wawa. After all, I still have the gift cards. Fortunately, I just accepted the thoughts for what they are...... thoughts, and nothing more. Just because I have the thought that I need coffee, doesn't mean I have to act on it and get coffee. It becomes easier for me when I think of the other options available to satiate my craving for a warm drink, the most useful of which at the moment is chamomile tea and warm water. I do think the fact that I had chocolate chip cookies last night as well as the night before may have prompted the return of the caffeine cravings. Thankfully, they aren't all that overpowering.

For me, the removal of caffeine from my routine has many benefits and they far outweigh the temporary high I get from sipping on a hot cup of coffee.

I am less compulsive and am not spending an excessive amount of time on social media sites. I've only been on facebook two times today and only for a few minutes each time. When caffeine was rummaging through my veins, I had no motivation to get off the site even if I was just looking at the same pictures and there was nothing of interest or of use to me on there.

I am more restful. I can doze off easily and sleep restfully. When I am consuming caffeine, it feels as though I'm on high alert at all times and it's very much a strain to relax and decompress, even when I long for sleep.

My appetite has returned. I'm nourishing myself with healthful foods rather than constantly obsessing over when I have my next fix and focusing on coffee as my primary motivation to get through the day.

I'm calmer than normal. Yes, I'm still anxious and panicky as hell at work. However, outside of work, my sense of calm is much greater than it was before. My thoughts are not racing uncontrollably (on weekends). I can sit still and feel comforted by the silence of my mind.

My stomach is not as disturbed. I feel my digestive system is not as irritable as evidenced by the lack of stomach noises heard throughout the day and at night. It still acts up when I have gluten, but not in the same way as when I consume caffeine.

Thoughts of coffee are becoming less and less prominent and it's not my main priority to consume it anymore upon awakening. When I reflect on how a caffeine free existence will benefit me, I regain strength to persevere with this goal. While I won't beat myself up for a few transgressions like the chocolate chip cookies, I do realize that coffee is the ultimate downfall for me and especially at this stage in the game, since I am only five days out of the gate, it would behoove me to maintain my distance and not 'treat' myself to even a cup at this point, as it could lead to a relapse as far as resuming my habit of having it each day, in increasing quantities. Abstinence is working for me and I think it's the best way for me to beat this habit.

I feel more hydrated and better health-wise, when drinking more water. I have more thirst for water when off coffee. My dry mouth symptoms still linger, but I hope with adequate water intake, this situation will improve.

Other good habits, or at least intentions, are resurfacing. I'm reminded of certain goals I've let fall by the wayside a bit, such as working on my novel, exercising, yoga, and meditation. These are no longer taking a back seat to coffee.

Therefore, I would say, I'm continuing to make headway in terms of quitting my coffee addiction and I'm proud of having made it five days, marked by today. I'm getting closer to the one month point, day by day, and am just taking it one step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race after all, no?

06 January 2014

I quit coffee (again).

Day 1:

Yes, I have decided to quit coffee for the umpteenth freaking time. I'm a freak. Okay. I definitely am doing it this time. I almost caved though. Day one was a struggle, let me tell ya. It was torturous having to abstain. Having several Wawa gift cards in my wallet made it harder because I kept going back to the fact that essentially the coffee was free and just a short walk from my office. My willpower wore thin by early afternoon and I was thisclose to sprinting to Wawa to get my fix. I searched my phone contacts. Who to call to talk me out of this? My mom ended up being out when I called home. I tried explaining my plight to my dad and the conversation went something along these lines:
  "Should I go to Wawa to get coffee."
  "Yeah, why not?"
  "Well, today is day one of my quitting and I don't want to go there, but I have these Wawa gift cards."
  "Well what else can you buy there?"
  "Nothing. Only coffee."
  "Well isn't there something else you can get instead."
  "Well they do have soft pretzels..."
  "The problem though is I have fifty dollars in gift cards and that means I could go on fifty separate occasions to get coffee as it's only like a dollar. This is why it's so hard for me not to just go there and get it."

The thought of the soft pretzels distracted me just enough as I walked down the steps from the second floor of the office building back to my desk. After searching frantically online for reasons to continue onward with my goal to give up caffeine entirely, I came across this funny article, wherein this woman outlined her feelings throughout a thirty day period of withdrawal. Her withdrawal symptoms very closely matched mine during my three week effort in November. Her cravings went in ebbs and flows and then by the third week period, the cravings resurfaced. Then I typed 'quitting coffee' into twitter to see how others fared in their attempt to give it up and came across several posts about quitting coffee and smoking. That wasn't as inspiring as the article written about a 30 day coffee free trial period. What's funny is at the end of the thirty day period, the author gave in and didn't have just one, but three cups of coffee. Yep, sounds like me. She ended by expressing the fact that her mind was spinning from caffeine overload and she concluded that she really needed to give it up for good.

The fact that she made it thirty days and reminding myself of the fact that I did feel calmer today than I would have otherwise, helped me to persist. There were some other forum posts that I found regarding a woman being encouraged by her doctor to give up caffeine to benefit her anxiety and panic disorder. She mentioned the fact that her doctor had told her if she truly had hopes to improve her well being, she needed to cut out the caffeine. She wrote a progress update after three weeks, noting how proud she felt that she'd stuck to her goal of giving it up. It motivated me as I thought to myself, if she can do it, I can do it.

So here I am, the night is drawing to a close and I consider my first day a success since I resisted the ultimate temptation despite the voices inside my head urging me to give in all damn day. I do have a slight headache, but am comforted by the quietude of my mind. I can at least focus on writing this blog post and don't feel edgy, jittery, and with thoughts spinning. I'm tired but it's a good kind of tired. I'm not masking my body's natural response by giving it an artificial jolt, but rather letting it do its thing. Feels good. I'll take the temporary headache over the permanent state of hyper activity and restlessness (as well as panic, anxiety, and loss of appetite, among other negative side-effects).

My plan to stave off the craving is to keep myself busy, by exercising and by nourishing my body with nutritious foods. Sadly, I used my quitting coffee as an excuse to indulge in an entire box of pecan shortbread cookies and nearly an entire bag of kettle chips, but as long as I'm keeping my mouth away from the java, I'm making progress. If I can make it through today, I can manage the rest of the week. I'm thinking of maybe having some chamomile, so as to satisfy my desire for a sweet, soothing drink without the side effect of skyrocketing anxiety. Day one, done. Now off to take a nice warm shower to further relax me....

01 January 2014

My fifth day of being caffeine-free!

Today is my fifth day off coffee (and any caffeine -- so chocolate is off limits -- sad face). Today, while I craved it a little bit, I resisted without much issue. Then again, I overindulged on carbs, possibly to make up for the lack of satiety in terms of caffeine cravings. Do I want chocolate and coffee right in this moment? Not particularly. The most prominent effect of having gone caffeine free (aside from the headaches, which have dissipated by this point for the most part) has been the reduction in stress and anxiety level. Although I still feel more anxious than anticipated, it's different than the caffeine-induced kind of anxiety that I have experienced over the past few months when being hooked on it. My thoughts are not racing to the same extent.

When I went to work on Tuesday (which was the fourth day of withdrawal), I felt a surge in anxiety along with an overall downgrading of my overall sense of well being. I felt unwell. While I think I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, I know work stress was another component to my not feeling great. Today, I still feel a bit groggy, but it's not as bad as yesterday. Last night, I had a natural electrolyte drink (made of lemon, honey, and sea salt), which I found helpful to improving some vertigo and headache symptoms I was experiencing.

Some benefits I have noticed from eliminating caffeine from my life in just this short time frame has been an increase in restfulness. If I'm reading, I decompress and drift off easily. I am able to nap for the first time in so long. This is the old me. Caffeine just charges me beyond normalcy and gives me an unnecessary jolt, making me feel uncomfortably restless, despite making efforts to relax, like reading. It revs me up unnaturally and puts my body on overdrive, thereby stressing my already naturally nervous tendencies. It feels so much better to be able to naturally give into my body's craving for rest. It feels like I'm doing my body good, and that is enough motivation to make me continue forward.