Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life Without The "Juice"

So, in an effort to maximize every possible advantage in my quest to be as healthy as possible for my Grand Canyon run, I decided, what the heck, I'll give up coffee and all "treats" ("Treats", as defined by my 6 yr old nephew, is basically all unhealthy desserts. Cake, cookies, ice cream, etc.  My nephew has given up "treats" for lent and I've got to hand it to him because it's got to be hard to go to a birthday party and say NO to cake!).  I'm not a big "treat" eater, and don't even really like cake and ice cream.  But I do like Eegees, a local frozen fruit slushy delight that boasts lots of vitamin C, but unfortunately, a lot of added sugar too.  This month's Eegees "flavor of the month" is Orange Dream and not one of my favorites, so fortunately, I'm not horribly jonesing.  

But COFFEE...oh, coffee!  I LOVE coffee.  I love the taste, I love the ritual of it and apparently, to my surprise, I've recently learned that my body loved it a LOT.  I honestly didn't think I drank that much coffee.  Yes, I drank it every morning, but only 2-3 cups and most of the time, I was too busy to get through a full mug anyway.  Nevermind that my "mug" holds 3 cups.   But HOLY COW!  I had some serious withdrawals the first few days.  Headaches that started around lunchtime and stayed with me until bedtime.  I don't think I was that irritable, but I'll bet those around me would say otherwise.    I've heard about these awful headaches, but in my mind, those withdrawal symptoms were for true caffeine junkies.  Not me.  Right.  I couldn't stand myself that first week.  I don't know if I was more upset that I couldn't drink coffee or that I was THAT dependent on caffeine.  It's pretty amazing how caffeine, especially in large doses, can effect the body.

I wouldn't really know how much it HAD effected my body unless I had quit the stuff.  And now, over two weeks later, I see some pretty incredible changes that just proved my dependency was truly producing negative side effects.  

Here's a list of the positive side effects I'm currently experiencing now that I'm off the "juice":

*I wake up and feel REALLY awake.  I don't feel like I need coffee to wake myself up.  I also feel like I'm sleeping better.  I used to think I needed 8-9 hours of sleep.  But I'm currently getting 7-8 and feeling great!

*I feel less irritable about trivial things.  This is hard to explain, but I guess I would describe the feeling as "calm" and "even" about things.  Stuff that would normally piss me off is rolling off easily.  I like that.

*When I take off on a morning training run, my body moves quickly, efficiently and no longer do I feel like it's going to take a good half mile to wake up my legs.

*The first thing I feed my body in the morning isn't caffeine.  It's water and good food or nutrients I need to sustain myself for a successful day.   My body is thanking me by rewarding me with a more balanced system both physically and mentally.

Okay, so for ME, this is turning out to be a positive situation and the benefits of not drinking coffee at this point definitely outweigh the negative side effects.  For ME.  I'm not advocating that everyone needs to swear off coffee or even caffeine.  In fact, there are many thought-provoking studies that have found a certain amount of caffeine to be good for the body.    My partner asked me the other day whether or not I would be relieved, after the G.C. run to start drinking coffee again.   Honestly, I'm kind of thinking I'm going to keep going with this.  Over fifteen years ago, my brother and I decided to give up all soda and to this day, I don't think either of us has had even a taste of it.  I quickly forgot it meant anything to me and don't feel I'm missing out on anything special.  Maybe coffee will be the same.  After all, there's decaffeinated coffee and tea to help with the missing taste and ritual, right?

What I WILL be looking forward to, after this run, is an Eegees...(and maybe some birthday cake.)

1 comment:

  1. I've found decaf a lifesaver when it comes to the taste and the ritual! It actually tastes pretty much the same. Just comes with a headache, lol!

    It's really interesting to read you say that you feel like your training has improved because of this though. We've all heard about the supposed benefits of caffeine and training, which really seems to be its only redeeming feature (beyond the taste, and the ritual -- did we mention that yet? !). I guess it has some antioxidant properties, but then so do lots of other things..

    Anyway, if you're happier without it, then I say stay without it. It doesn't mean that you can't have a coffee every blue moon as a treat, if you want it. But overall it strikes me as quite a good thing to be rid of, at least on a habitual basis.

    Me, I'm still having my 1 cup in the morning thanks. (And still getting headaches, even with that -- I'd be hell if I went cold turkey I think!). But maybe one day...