The jury is still out on coffee. Is it packed full of superhuman antioxidants? Check. Does it make you more alert? Check. Is it a society based ritual? Check. For most people that’s enough information. They are happy downing six Venti lattes throughout the workday. While science continues to chase it’s tail about whether their are significant health risks to drinking coffee, the vast majority of peeps drink on average 3 cups of the bean a day. All in moderation right? I was a typical sheep until I started paying true attention to how I felt and behaved after drinking a cup of joe. A world of endless energy unfolded when I dropped the habit cold turkey.
Why? Because most of us are addicted to coffee. Like any other addiction, we NEED that morning cup to make it through the day. Whether it’s the energy jolt you crave or merely the ritual of sipping something warm while socializing, if that cup is missed you might as well climb back in bed because in your mind the day is shot. Wow isn’t that sad?! A substance should not control your life. Period! Your mind and body are all you need.
My friend Tessa’s facebook status said it all. “Tessa is sipping a tall coffee..baby steps.” We’ve all been there at some point. Realizing that the bean has a vice grip around our ability to function in the wee hours of the morning and that the only way to ween the habit is to cut portions. That’s like saying I can easily quit smoking if I just smoke two sticks a day instead of a pack. Yes that is progress in a positive direction, but you are still fulfilling the “need.” The fact that some people get severe headaches when they don’t drink coffee is another clue. If the body is reacting negatively to the lack of a substance you know it’s downhill from there. We must take back control of our lives people! Only when we have true self control can we make positive lasting change in our lives. Self control over mind and body = instant freedom. Freedom to choose.
Science will forever dig deeper into the statistics behind coffee’s long term effects on the body, so in the mean time learn to pay attention to your body now. How your body uniquely reacts to a given stimulus should be the backbone of your lifestyle choices. Quit paying attention to scientific tail chasing and draw your focus to what’s going on inside. Your body will surprise you, I guarantee it!
A few years back I was the one buying two Venti, triple shot lattes per day. Here’s my guide to breaking the cycle.
1.) Quit Cold Turkey For At Least A Week: Decide that today is the day you are going to stop waiting impatiently in line at Starbucks for you morning fix. Commit to a full week of this “torture.” Don’t let yourself down by cheating.
2.) Be Aware Of How You Feel: During this week of change become aware of how you feel without coffee. This takes some serious self awareness. Listen to your thoughts, focus on how you interact with others, and sense how the body feels. Chances are you’ll find like I did that your thoughts become less chaotic, you don’t snap in irritation at people, and your body is a hell of lot less tense. Your energy won’t crash after an hour and any jitters will disappear. Bingo!! Less stress on the mind,body, and spirit. If it helps write down how you feel during the time you normally chug a mug full. Maybe you are tired, can’t focus, have headaches or other with-drawl symptoms. Which leads me too..
3.) Create A Morning Energizing Routine: Find ways to get the energy you need in the morning that the coffee normally provides. This means actually getting 7-8 hrs of sleep! Meditating to focus the mind for the day. Stretching/moving to wake the body up slowly. Drinking a morning elixir. And last, but certainly not least, eating a stellar breakfast packed full of superfoods to give you energy for the demands of the day ahead. Coffee is just a quick fix to whats lacking in most peoples lives…a balanced lifestyle of work and rest. Find what works for your body. These are just ideas that work for me.
I know what your next question is going to be…what about those times when I can’t get a restful night sleep and everything doesn’t go perfectly as planned? What should I do when my morning energizing routine gets pushed under the rug because something comes up? All you need to do is find ways to put a little of your lifestyle adjustments into the day.
Prime example: Last Tuesday I awoke at 5:15 to start my typical 15 hr work day. With only 4 hours of sleep under my belt I stepped out into the morning thinking, “this is going to be fun without a Starbucks.” I had spent the evening before at a dinner with friends and lost track of time, getting home at 1am. Smart Amber, real smart. So I tried an experiment. I got to the Pilates studio to teach my 7am reformer group and spent 20 mins warming up my body for the day. Focusing all my attention on where and what I was doing and how my body was feeling for the day. Basically being present or mindful! Breathing along with my movement helped wake me up as well since I was getting much needed oxygen to my brain and muscles. That got me through my class with ease.
Then on the bus ride between teaching and dance rehearsal I closed my eyes and meditated for the length of the ride, relaxing the body as best I could. What did I find? That I all of a sudden had unreal amounts of energy. That’s the power of meditation for you! My energy levels remained high the rest of they day through my 4 hour rehearsal and into the evening when I taught two private clients. Of course I was eating when I needed it as well. Snacks like fruits, nuts, seeds, and other superfoods keep me going throughout long days like that.
The point is that you do have a choice. You can be a slave to the coffee machine, can of Redbull, or even cup of black tea, OR you can choose to make simple behavior changes that will enhance your energy tenfold without the negative effects of caffeine. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have coffee in your life. Some people will realize their bodies just can’t tolerate the acidity at all, while others really enjoy the taste and don’t want to eliminate the black stuff completely. Either way, the first step is to take coffee out of the diet to see how your body reacts without the jolt and implementation of a morning energizing routine. Then decide whether you have enough willpower to stick to a moderate consumption of a few cups a week as a treat.
Oh to be free!
Can you meet the challenge? Do you have a success story?
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