Today marks 6 months… 6 months clean from alcohol and 7 months free of caffeine. I didn’t do a fancy cleanse or a 12 step program. I simply made the decision to STOP! I know it’s a cliché and an overused saying but life really is made up of choices. Yes, we have certain traits that we are born with and yes, life tends to bring variables that are out of our control but what we can control is how we respond to these things; What we do despite the inevitable.
My relationship with caffeine started out harmless. I simply enjoyed the flavor of coffee and it was a nice treat occasionally, or a beverage to enjoy socially. The problem was th
at I created neuro pathways in my brain that said caffeine gives me energy and makes me feel good; therefore, when I woke up at 5 o’clock every morning and was tired, caffeine was the first thing that came to mind. The morning coffee quickly became a habit. The problem is that with every up comes a down. I would have energy for a while and then came the crash. My morning routine quickly began spreading to the rest of my day. By the time I realized it was an issue I was having approximately 600mg of caffeine per day (that’s over 6 cups) yet I still felt tired often and was barely getting through my day. The effects of this poor habit brewed another unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Being fueled by caffeine all day came with side effects of making me on edge and anxious. I had trouble sleeping and even just relaxing. I discovered that wine would help me relax. It started with just having a glass when I was with friends or out; But again, I developed a habit. I created neuro pathways that said wine makes me feel good. It helps me relax and more importantly, sleep. Sounds good right? Like I found a solution to my problem? Well, for a while I convinced myself of that. But then this little voice in the back of my head kept popping up. It would say “Is this really the standard you want to live your life by? Just because the people around you are doing it? There must be another way. A way to live a life without constantly altering my state of mind artificially” For months, I just tried to ignore the pesky little voice, but over time it got louder and evolved from a thought to a feeling to a desire. I wanted so badly to live a life where I felt energized, confident and happy all of the time without relying on a substance, especially one that isn’t good for me. This is when I became self-aware of exactly what I was doing to myself. I broke down my daily habits and found the root of the issue.
My first step was to cut out caffeine. My method of choice? Cold Turkey! I slept more in that first week than I had in a month. Any moment I wasn’t working, I was sleeping… taking 2-3 hour naps per day and sleeping 10 or more hours every night. I was tired, cranky and having withdrawals to the max. It only took me about 10 days to not want it or think about it anymore. I found that it was very important to add a new habit in place of the one I was trying to break. My new morning routine consisted of drinking 16oz of water first thing after waking up and then brushing my teeth and taking a shower. By the time my body got an internal and external shock, I was awake. 7 months later, that is still the very first thing I do every single morning. Exactly one month later I tackled the task of cutting out alcohol. The theory behind my madness? Discipline is like a muscle. It takes practice and training to develop. I had just spent the previous month battling temptation and practicing discipline. With alcohol, I found that it was easy for me when I was at home. I just wouldn’t buy any. The times that I found to be the most difficult were when I was with friends and family who were all drinking, my birthday, and the holidays. I had to find other things that satisfied me instead. My go to drinks are now water, La Croix (sparkling water), and decaffeinated tea. Although it has been 6 months, I still have moments that are difficult for me, but I know that any moment of weakness is not worth going back to how I felt before.
Our lives are made up of habits. Things that we have tried or been exposed to and had a positive reaction to; therefore, we continue to do it without realizing the possible negative effect it has long term. It is so important that we are aware of the habits that we have created and make sure that they are good habits, ones that we are in control of. The worst feeling is feeling like you don’t have control of your own life or body.
Since taking caffeine out of my life I have more consistent energy than ever, my sleep has improved immensely and my mood is much more stable. Since taking out alcohol I feel more and have found other ways to express my emotions rather than just numbing them… but the biggest benefit of all is that I am so proud of myself for deciding to improve my life for no one other than myself and sticking to it despite the level of difficulty and the environment around me. There is no greater feeling than being proud of yourself daily.
“We cannot go back and change the past, but at any point, we can stop in our tracks and change the course of the future.”
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