Let me preface this post by saying I take coffee very seriously.
I love coffee.
I would kill for coffee…
Anyone who knows me is nodding up and down vehemently right now, I know. It’s true. (Well, except the killing part.) I have been drinking coffee since my early teens and have enjoyed every single rich, decadent, stimulating cup. The only part that seemed to change over the years were my tastes; I did the cream and sugar thing at first, then just cream, then black in my quest to remove dairy from my diet. But the coffee itself always remained, comforting me with it’s hot, delicious delight…
So why did I quit drinking it?
Anyone who knows me also knows that I have always been a total sourpuss first thing in the morning. I am grumpy, frumpy, and belligerent even; full of stress energy. I don’t like to be spoken to unless I speak first – and NEVER, EVER before I have my coffee. Only until the black velvety liquid slowly coursed through my body, I became more alert, carefree, and chatty even. Bubbly. I was finally ME. My morning routine had been this same grump-to-coffee-to-personable transformation for as long as I can remember. I always figured I was just not a morning person and used coffee to facilitate a positive morning mood. However, as time has passed, I noticed a couple of other things. Like I wouldn’t stop at one cup – I would always have 3. Often this occurred before I had eaten any kind of breakfast at all, and because of it, I wasn’t particularly hungry since caffeine is an appetite suppressant. I also noticed that I would get jittery, found it hard to relax, and even got heartburn from time to time. Eating usually quelled all these symptoms, so I would stop thinking about it after breakfast…until it happened again the next morning, and the next, and the next…the point is, I was aware that coffee was having adverse effects on me (at least in the quantity in which I was consuming it) but my love of coffee always won out to common sense.
Then in mid-January, a friend & fellow Health Coach and I decided to eat super clean for 2 weeks – kind of as a reboot since we both eat clean in general, but we both had noticed some weight creeping on and admitted to eating a little bit too many snacks of late. Part of the plan was to quit caffeine for those 2 weeks…I was intrigued since I had never thought to quit my beloved coffee before. But since I couldn;t deny the negative effects it was having on me, I was willing to see how I would feel without it. (In the program we were doing, Decaf was not allowed either since there is actually caffeine in it.)
I’d heard all the stories of people quitting coffee cold turkey and getting withdrawal symptoms like headaches and fatigue, and since I had never skipped a cup of coffee in like 30 years, I decided it best to ween myself off the delightful stuff for 2 weeks prior to our start date. I went from 3 cups to 2. Then to 1. Then to half a cup. Then to a sip. Yes, I had a sip in the mornings at the end that last week! Don’t laugh! It was the best sip EVER!!! Finally, the sip turned to nothing and the 2 weeks began.
I’m not going to lie – it sucked at first. I missed my coffee every day. I even cried one morning about it! (YES, you read that correctly. I, a 43-year-old self-realized woman, CRIED because I couldn’t have coffee!) Luckily, one of my best friends in the entire universe, who loves coffee about as much as I do, had successfully reduced her coffee consumption by making “herbal coffee” instead. I was immediately interested since I was in quite a dark place over this, and so I bought some, albeit skeptically. To my relief, it was surprisingly good!! Since I was drinking my coffee black, I found that I preferred to make the herbal blend stronger, so I bought extra chicory root powder to add an extra teaspoon to make it richer and bolder. It really began to satisfy my need for the taste of coffee in the morning! A bonus was that the ingredients are mainly derived from organic root veggies, so it is truly a healthy drink. And NO JITTERS! Other than a headache on the 3rd day, I was surprisingly OK once I entered week 2.
By the end of the 2 weeks, not only was I back on track with my diet, but I was truly tickled that drinking herbal coffee in the morning had successfully displaced my regular coffee habit. I didn’t even miss it! That was such a surprise…
But not the biggest surprise!
I only drank one cup of the herbal coffee in the morning because of time constraints; it took a little bit longer to make since it had to steep – and I liked steeping it for about 15-20 minutes to get it nice and strong. So I had this 15-20 minutes to wait every morning and got to thinking about what to do with that precious time; when I brewed regular coffee, it was ready when I woke up in the morning because my coffee pot has an auto-programming feature. I would just pour a cup and go straight on the internet until I was fully awake. Since I had to wait longer now, I decided to do something relaxing and good for me to facilitate the waking up process while I waited; something less obtrusive than the internet; something kinder to my body and mind. Serendipitously, I had recently been focusing on cultivating new habits to reduce and diffuse stress in my life since I am such a stress-ball – especially in the morning – so it seemed like a perfect time to practice my ROMWOD (Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day) while I was waiting for my herbal coffee to steep. I started doing that every day.
A new morning routine was forming that started to resemble what the person I always hoped I could be in the mornings would be doing – a calm, functional, kind, connected person, who was using movement to wake up as opposed to caffeine. It was this small, glorious transformation that was the biggest surprise! I was waking up early, drinking a glass of lemon water, putting my herbal coffee on to steep, and then going into my little home gym to do ROMWOD for about 15 minutes. Then I would relax further by finally getting to enjoy my herbal coffee. I even started thinking different thoughts – like perhaps I WAS a morning person after all! My mornings became blissfull and I started waking up with more purpose every day. I was gaining flexibility, mental strength, and calmness from the ROMWOD so I noticed my afternoon workouts were not as difficult. I was sleeping better because I had no caffeine in my system. I was NICE in the morning!! All because I performed the simple act of quitting coffee.
What I ultimately realized was that coffee was enabling a stressful morning ritual. I wanted the opposite of that and I found the culprit that was sabotaging my efforts – literally right under my nose 🙂 Quitting coffee and forming these new morning habits were helping me create the stress-free, easy, meaningful morning I had always imagined when I thought about myself in the future. She has finally arrived!
It’s been about 6 weeks and I still don’t have coffee when I first wake up. I know – it’s crazy but true. However I did add coffee back into my life, but not as a means to awaken. My new morning ritual has totally trumped the old one of staring at the internet brooding & stressing over a cup of coffee until I felt jolted enough to greet the day. My morning still consists of waking up with a glass of lemon water, steeping the herbal coffee (the recipe I now use is below), doing my ROMWOD, drinking the herbal coffee, then having breakfast. Then eventually I sometimes have a cup of delicious real coffee – but now it’s only one cup (not three!) so it won’t interfere with my sleep and after breakfast so it won’t interfere with my digestion. I am drinking it solely for pleasure now because I love how it tastes. I know now that for me coffee is not a necessity or addiction anymore and now I can really savor it instead of slugging it down for fuel. There is real freedom & enjoyment in that. (And in my new, calm, focused, totally transformed morning!)
Maybe old habits don’t have to die hard after all…
What old habit have you quit that doesn’t serve you anymore? What new, better habit have you cultivated to replace it? And who else out there is drinking herbal coffee? Please post your stories and your herbal coffee recipes in the comments to share!
BELOW IS THE RECIPE I USE TO MAKE HERBAL COFFEE
(Thanks to one of my best friends in the entire universe!)
OH – ONE MORE THING: DON’T FORGET!!!! For those of you suffering from digestion issues (and other symptoms such as eczema, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, ADHD, joint aches & pains, arthritis, or if you have an autoimmune disease – all of these issues may stem from an unhealthy gut!) just a reminder that the Microbiome Medicine Summit starts TOMORROW FEB. 29! Don’t forget to sign up today – it’s FREE!!