I’m pretty sure I was at Grandma’s house the first time I drank coffee. I might have been five or six years old at the time. There were a few of us sitting around the table in the kitchen. So many good memories were made in that place. The last thing I remember someone saying before taking my first sip was something about my growth being stunted.
Everyone quietly and patiently waited my reaction. I must not have disappointed anyone because I remember the smiling faces which I can only now assume was amusement. I must have no doubt made the bitter-tasting facial expression then followed by the wide-eyed expression of “THAT’S REALLY GOOD!!” when the full bouquet of flavours had presented itself and ran its course. When I was a kid, this was the treat a grandma’s house: coffee or tea and coffee bulla (Pulla or Finnish Cardamom Sweet Bread).
I began drinking coffee regularly in high-school at maybe 14 or 15 years old; I didn’t have a driver’s licence yet. My group of friends tended to congregate at one coffee shop or another: Country Style, Robins Doughnuts, or Tim Hortons. All any of us needed to do was show up at some point after dinner and there would be someone to have a coffee, a smoke, and a conversation with. We’d spend hours there. Multiple coffees, overflowing ash trays, and stimulating conversations that made us not want to sleep.
This ritual continued until near the end of my 18th year when I decided to pack up and move to a new city and start my own adventure. There were a few friends from my hometown in the new city, some I shared a house with and others that were going to college and were near by. We went for a coffee on occasion, but for the most part the old ritual had passed on.
About a year went by until I was introduced to another group of people, much like those in my hometown that loved to congregate at one coffee shop or another. It felt right. I felt like I belonged somewhere again.
About eight years passed by as I kept on meeting my friends for a coffee until one day I stopped going on a regular basis. I somehow fell into the trap of working overtime, and as much as I could. It goes without saying that coffee is an integral part of working long hours.
Fast-forward ten years or so through a couple of coffee fueled long-hour and stressful careers to where I’m now sitting typing this out.
Today is day ten without drinking coffee.
I’ve stopped drinking coffee for a few reasons.
The whole reason for any type of health related thing that I implement is usually for fat loss, performance, and maybe longevity. The ship might have sailed on the last one already, but who knows: I might as well try anyways. The worst thing that can happen is that I live longer.
Reduce the total stress load on the body. There are so many things that influence how the body stores and uses energy in the form of body fat. It’s actually pretty complicated when you dive into the finer details. From the reading I’ve been doing and as that information applies to me, the stress component looks like the most important factor. Every time I try to do something about my weight, my body seems to adapt quickly and either no weight is lost, or I’ll gain it all back in short order. This means that anything I can do to relive constant stresses on my body the better. That means caffeine and other stimulants need to take a hike.
Reduce the amount and severity of my headaches. If I miss a coffee, the headache comes pretty quickly. For the longest time I always used to get headaches on the weekends but never during the week. Sundays were always pretty bad. I’d only have one or two normal sized cups of coffee at home on my days off compared to the two large sized portions from Tim Horton’s I’d have during the a typical workday. Between caffeine withdrawl symptoms and the drying affect of the coffee itself causing dehydration, its no wonder why I’d get headaches.
Improve Digestion. I don’t know about you, but when I have coffee, a bathroom break or some rumbling is ususally going to happen within fifteen minutes. This isn’t necessarily good for my digestion. I occasionally like to add real dairy into my coffee. I love the taste and texture of it, but it sure doesn’t love me. The less distress the better.
Increase sleep amount and quality. Stimulants aren’t good for getting a good night’s rest. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant with an eight-hour half-life. This means that the amount you have reduces by half every eight hours.
Normally I’d have a coffee in the morning, another around lunch time, and sometimes another at three pm to keep me going. By the time I was ready for sleep around ten o’clock, there is still almost an entire cup of coffee worth of caffeine in my body. When I wake up about eight hours later the next day to do it all over again, this makes the base level of caffeine in my body about a half a cup of coffee worth. Wow. How did I even sleep correctly before? Or did I….? hmmm.
After ten days of not drinking any coffee, the levels of caffeine in my body might not even be detectable. I’m already seeing an improvement in my sleep. I am properly tired before bedtime and I am waking up less often during the night.
To have whiter teeth. I’ve always had coffee stained teeth. Always. It’s time to start caring a bit more about my teeth.
To not be addicted to it anymore. I don’t know if you’ve ever been hook, line, and sinker addicted to something, but let me tell you: that nasty insecure feeling you get when you don’t get whatever it is that you’re addicted to is not fun. Seemingly normal people will become monsters without their fix. I think the mug with the saying “don’t talk to me before my morning coffee” qualifies this nicely. It’s nice to be able to function without relying on something to make it through the day.
Save some money. I typically make coffee at home and it was still at least $50 per month. Money in the bank. Who doesn’t like saving money.
What about the health benefits of having a cuppa joe every day?
I think that for me, the stress effects of a coffee habit are more detrimental than any of the benefits that it might bring. Just like any other health related thing, bio-individuality plays a huge role: what doesn’t work for me might work just fine for you.
For now I’m going to abstain from coffee and see what happens. I’ve always ever replaced it with tea whenever I wanted to stop drinking it before, so this time should be a bit more interesting than the others.
Then whenever I want or genuinely feel the need to have a cup I can do so and not feel dependent on it. It’s the same with everything else in life I suppose where the advice from my great grandfather is true in practice “everything in moderation”.
If I can stop drinking coffee and still have a good day, I can do anything, and so can you.
You see, coffee is a huge part of my life, and it still will be in the future. What I’m doing is taking a step back to see the larger picture.
Is the coffee the one thing I really enjoy in life that I need to stop using on a constant basis in order to achieve some of the other goals I want?
Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.
But I’m willing to give it a try to find out.
I hope you enjoyed reading (or listening to) today’s blog.
Have a great day!