In this self-imposed experiment, I wanted to experience the side effects of not taking in any kind of caffeine for 1 week. This means no coffee (yum), energy drinks, sodas or anything along those lines (note: about 95% of my caffeine intake is from coffee, the others are thrown in on occasion). I actually learned a little something about myself as this experiment was psychologically more difficult than I thought it would be.
The ability to consistently keep up with a discipline is difficult, especially if you are attempting to create a new habit or get rid of an old one. In my case, I wanted to decrease my caffeine intake. I was averaging about 1-2 cups of coffee (with the fixens: creamer & sugar) and had a realization that I was depending on caffeine to “get through the work/school day” way too often and would experience mid-day crashes with yawning and sleepiness. I don’t really enjoy that feeling of having to rely on something (or a substance, in this case) in order for me to perform at my highest level. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a daily morning cup of coffee to get started, but when 3 o’clock came around I tended to reach for a cup of coffee to finish off the workday. I was curious to see what it would be like to go a full week without any caffeine intake, so I did.
The first couple of days weren’t too terrible as I felt a little sluggish but nothing too severe. Around day 3 is when the withdrawals really started to kick in. The side effects started in the back of my eyes and continued to give me a ruthless headache. Not only did coffee, soda or anything with caffeine sound heavenly, but it continued to consume my thoughts and cravings. A part of me hated myself for doing this, but a part of me loved the struggle of forcing myself to at make it the whole week and accomplish my goal. After the headaches and eye-sores finally fell through after around day 5, I began to find more energy else where. By this, I mean I had to intentionally and consciously tell myself to have positive thoughts and when those came, I began to feel more energetic and enthusiastic. For anyone interested in the science behind the addiction of caffeine, check out this link.
What I Learned From My Experiment
I was trying to think about how I could share my experience. As I thought about it, my mind came up with 3 steps to maybe help someone who is struggling with something more influential in their lives.
The first step to eradicating a bad habit or starting a new habit is you have to WANT to put your mind up to your task. Whether it’s working out, reading, or whatever it may be, you have to find a motivation to pursue your task. This is the hardest part of the entire process (I believe), as this is the part where you must change your mindset. Maybe telling yourself, “I want to do this for me,” or “Let’s just see what happens if I follow through with my goal.” Your mindset and results can be very exciting.
The second step is going from WANTING to do it to NEEDING to complete your task. This transition can be more fun than it is grueling, not only do you begin to crave your task/activity, but you look forward to it as well. For me, it took a couple of days for this “need” to kick in, as I was not a very happy camper at the beginning of this.
The last step is going from NEED to, to HAVE to; not giving yourself a choice and holding yourself accountable. There’s a quote by a famous Martial Artist & former SEAL team member, Jocko Willink that goes, “Discipline equals freedom,” (also has a book named that). This quote is a reminder for me that once you knock out all of the stuff that you HAVE to do (not giving yourself a choice), it makes life much easier and you can relax when the time is right. For example, if you want to make the gym or healthier lifestyle a priority in your life, you have to erase the thoughts like “well, I could always pick up the slack tomorrow” or “tomorrow will always be there.” I can tell you from experience, when “tomorrow” comes, you’ll be using the same excuse or coming up with a new one.
Don’t hold yourself back; hold yourself accountable. Don’t expect to have a great start to a new journey, but the important thing is that you started, now you can start your process in creating your new discipline. It is not earned over night. In order to earn something, you have to work for it. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Sorry to be cheesy, but it’s true.
If you’re curious, yes, I’m back to drinking coffee…but ONLY black coffee as I’ve been reading that creamer & sugar add about 5 times the calories but it also exaggerates the “come-down” from coffee. Have a blessed day my fellow readers!