Month: November 2018

A Few Thoughts on What Happened When I Quit Coffee

A Few Thoughts on What Happened When I Quit Coffee

I’ve noticed something very interesting since I gave up coffee five weeks ago.

I better clarify that statement; I do drink coffee but nowhere near what I used to. When I say I gave up coffee, I did.

I stopped cold turkey one morning and went two straight weeks without a sip.

Then, after a series of personal accomplishments, I treated myself to an Eggnog Latte. Just the fact I treat myself these days is a huge improvement.

Since then, I have a cup about once a week…as a treat, a reward.

But I’m picky about that cup of Joe I consume.

It has to be frothy, chocolatey (or close to it), hot, sugary (I know, that’s not too healthy, but I have the barista use skim milk and hold the whipped cream—works in my head anyway), and most times, the barista does their creative gig on the head of my drink.

Like last week, there was this cool design of a cup with what looked like steam floating up.

How do they do that? I asked. She told me they watch a lot of YouTube videos. Cool.

Anyway, I noticed a few very profound changes in my psyche since I quit drinking coffee every morning.

Oh, and how much did I use to drink?

In my last vocation, law enforcement, I’d slam a whole pot of coffee before work.

Another three to four large cups through the night. So my coffee intake in a 24hour span was close to, if not more than, two pots of coffee. That included all the sugar and cream that went into it.

So, since I’ve quit…ahem…cutback, here’s what I’ve noticed…

  1. Headaches. I used to eat Advil like they were Tic Tacs. My head constantly hurt. Now granted there was mind-boggling stress involved from 9-1-1 calls to relationships failing. But the caffeine really jacked with my physical health. Later on, I noticed I had the jitters later on in the evening. I did my best to conceal it then. Once I stopped the coffee, I had a 24hour headache that was near the migraine level, but after that first day of quitting, I was fine. No more headaches. No more jitters. Only time I have a headache now is if I’m ill or don’t get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Sleep! I worked nights. That right there is detrimental to healthy sleep, which is key to a healthy life. But, I trashed my sleep with coffee, two pots of the stuff! For almost fifteen years, I rarely got more than six hours of sleep any one night. If I slept eight hours, it was because I was sick. And that occurred more and more the closer I got to retirement. Most days though, I slept three to five hours, even on my days off. I just couldn’t sleep. I remember the last year of my career; I used to wake up with my guts quivering. The only way I could stop that sensation was to hit a cup of coffee. Since I quit coffee, I sleep soundly. I can’t remember a better night’s sleep as an adult. I have more energy throughout the day when I get a good sleep. I feel healthier, and my guts don’t quiver anymore.
  3. Moods. I notice that when I have a cup of coffee, I feel up and seem to have this feeling that my plans are going to work out. But nothing in reality has changed. It’s like a false sense of all is well. Now that I don’t rely on coffee, I’m more aware of those times when my emotions swing during the day and make adjustments. With caffeine in my system all would be going good, but then as the caffeine wore off, I’d get irritable and would just allow that emotion to control me. With NO coffee flowing in the veins, I’m more of the master of my emotions without the vast highs and dips with mood swings. When something unexpected happens that’s not pleasant; I don’t knee-jerk a response like I used to and can quietly reflect on the best course of action. I don’t have the internal anxiety over such things as I did in the past.
  4. Anxiety. This could be stuck in #3 above. After the fourth cup of coffee, I would get anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was like a little spin wheel that would get ramped up inside me deep down. Without the coffee swimming in my veins now, I am by far more at peace inside than ever before.
  5. Not only feel better but look better. Aging has its way with all of us. That process is quickened with certain substances we consume and put into our bodies. Like it or not, caffeine is the legal speed. Ever see those photos of people hooked on meth after five years? That’s the extreme example of the aging process, but I do notice that since the coffee stopped, so did the dark circles under my eyes. Maybe it’s just me, but I can tell the difference in the mirror.

I realize that there are two different arguments on the effects of caffeine, but like any other research out there, one can spin the numbers and data to suit their interests, or in this case, consumption.

Yes, the negative drawbacks are some of the above I’ve mentioned. Then there’s the hypertension, heart disease, bleeding disorders, diabetes, IBS, and osteoporosis; to name a few.

Now then, on the flip side, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a finding in August 2018, that there’s potential evidence that coffee drinkers may outlive non-coffee drinkers by ten years!

That certainly will help the coffee drinking cause for sure!

Well, I hope the cutback on the coffee doesn’t ruin another ten years for me.

In the meantime, I must say, I appreciate the deeper and better sleep, and the more level emotions these days. All in all, it seems to be a better quality of life lately.

And, maybe I shouldn’t be too worried about the extra ten years it can add; I’d rather have a better quality of life anyway.


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Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Intentional Living, Life Hack, Living Better, Self-Improvement
<em>Is it a Matter of Biting Off More Than We Can Chew; or A Simple Case of Not Being Focused?</em>

Is it a Matter of Biting Off More Than We Can Chew; or A Simple Case of Not Being Focused?

It’s been 21 days that I have posted an article every day.

I am grateful for the self-imposed challenge, but I find that other things that are important to me have fallen by the wayside.

And herein is my dilemma.

This struggle is nothing new for me: I easily overcommit and run after the shiny things rolling around in the corner.

I want to write, but I want to do X, Y, & Z too.

But…I can’t accomplish everything and still maintain a healthy life balance.

I need to sleep sometime, and I find that is usually the first thing to go when I’ve overextended myself.

Sleep is a precious commodity to staying healthy and living a full and long life.

There’s a plethora of studies that confirm this and an entire division of science dedicated to sleep. It’s not a new concept that if you sacrifice sleep on a regular basis, you will sacrifice your physical and mental health, and shorten your lifespan.

Yet, it is never just one thing.

Sleep tanked, yes…but other areas suffered and were put on hold too. I found myself becoming more and more stressed by not having enough time in the day to complete other tasks: classes I’m taking, web design, working a part-time gig, reading, finishing a novel, and researching for the next article.

Because let’s face it, when you contribute to a site like Medium.com, you need to have well-written and well-researched material.

If you don’t have the time to read and research, your articles are not going to be the best. They’ll be littered with disjointed opinions and ideas that don’t add value to anyone; rather those articles just become another outlet for personal writing like you would find in a journal.

Of course, for some of us that consume such material—myself included—it’s one thing to read someone like James Altucher’s material (he bleeds all over the page about his life, and I love it), versus someone like Zat Rana who writes incredibly well researched and thought-provoking articles on a consistent basis (which I also love).

Well, there’s certainly a contrast between both, but also a common thread…both are well read, and both do a ton of research.

I find that when I’m not focused and am pulled by too many projects and thoughts and nebulous ideas at the same time, I’m frustrated, anxious, and do not produce anything that resembles my best.

This is why multitasking is such a high anxiety producer; you do just enough to check off the next item in the list of whatever that needed your attention right now, and then move onto the next 9-1-1 emergency vying for your mental and physical attention, but is it your best work?

So, for now, I’ll go back to publishing an article on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, or bi-monthly, I haven’t decided yet.

What I do know is that I want my articles to add value and create a space in someone’s life to give pause and consider what is important and hopefully stir that consideration into a positive next step.

***

Takeaway

Being scattered and overcommitted in our lives creates a tension and anxiety that just doesn’t need to be.

That anxiety can be overwhelming, and our productivity suffers, not to mention relationships, goals and dreams, and our sanity.

The most satisfying and rewarding times in my life have been when I have prioritized what is truly important and then focused my attention on those things.

During those time, even when I’ve failed, being focused and not allowing myself to be pulled in every direction, those failures haven’t registered as a failure, but something to draw my inner strength upon and to figure a way around, under, or through whatever obstacle that got in the way.

And(!) when I’m focused and have my commitments aligned in a unified direction, my life is more at peace.

~ Love


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Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Intentional Living, Life Hack, Productivity, Purpose, Self, Self-Improvement, stress, Writing