Since I was 16, my life motto has always been "but first, coffee". A coffee-less Mandi is a scary thought. But with my mental health constantly on the top of my list of priorities, I wanted to see if caffeine might be contributing to my never-ending anxiousness and concentration issues. I also don't like being dependent on things (call me stubborn). I'm always up for a good challenge and a caffeine-life would certainly not be a walk in the park.
For reference, each day I was drinking around 32oz of caffeinated drip coffee, 2 shots of espresso, and 1/2 scoop of caffeinated pre-workout. This is around 500mg of caffeine. 500mg. That is insane. I didn't even realize it was that bad until I just wrote this.
So I quit. My all-or-nothing personality required that I quit cold turkey. This isn't the easiest way to go about it, or so I hear, but nonetheless, I like to make challenges even more difficult for myself apparently. The first 3 days were rough, and that is putting it nicely. I was a walking zombie. I napped 2 times a day, was asleep by 9pm, and couldn't manage to wake up before 7:30am. Day 2 I had a 3-hour tattoo appointment and fell asleep while getting inked. If that doesn't tell you how exhausted I was, then I don't know what would.
Withdrawal Symptoms I Experienced: (lasted 3 days)
FATIGUE. I was so tired all the time. I had zero energy in the tank.
BRAIN FOG. I had very little brain power. I felt real dumb.
IRRITABILITY. Everything and everyone was incredibly annoying. Attitude: 0/10.
LOW PRODUCTIVITY. I couldn't concentrate and had no motivation to do anything. I did my work, but there was absolutely no going above-and-beyond I can tell you that much.
SLOW RECOVERY. My body struggled to recovery from my workouts and daily movement.
Sounds like a fun few days, right? I wanted to give up, but my stubborn self wanted to see it through. A characteristic I possess is that I do finish things I start, especially when I vocalize it to someone close to me. I also knew that I would feel fine soon enough.
Then I started feeling better on day 4. I went from 0-100 really quick.
Benefits I Experience By Being Caffeine-Free:
MORE STABLE MOOD. I seem to be less irritable and generally in a better mood throughout the day.
PREDICTABLE ENERGY. Instead of my energy going up and down throughout the day, I find it to be more level. I have an addictive personality, so because caffeine gives you a burst of energy, it's like I mentally told myself I needed that in order to be productive. It feels good to be more productive at all different times of the day, not only after a caffeine fix.
EVEN BETTER SLEEP. I've never had an issue sleeping, but dang, I am sleeping even better than before. I don't think my sleep could be any better.
SLIGHTLY IMPROVED CONCENTRATION. My ability to focus on a single task and be mindful still needs a lot of work, but I'm headed in the right direction.
IMPROVED ANXIETY. Again, I have a long way to go in this department, but I do notice that I'm able to remain more stable as of late.
Start it when you don't have a lot to do for a few days because you won't be feeling your best.
Wake yourself up naturally by being more active. If I start to feel very tired, I raise my energy levels by doing some squats or push-ups. Get some fresh air and go for a walk.
Do drink decaf. I still drink probably 1/2 pot of decaf coffee throughout the day. (I do realize that decaf has a tiny amount of caffeine, but you can't drain yourself completely from the magic of tasty coffee).
Get a non-stim pre-workout. Perhaps it's placebo, but I do still find enhanced training performance.
So now as I sit here at 7am on a Sunday at a coffee shop sipping my decaf happily, I can confidently say that I feel like I am capable of anything. Originally, I intended to cut caffeine for a week, but here we are 3 weeks in and I don't feel like the benefits stop here. I think that the longer I stay off, the longer the list will get. I'm very happy that I stuck out the first three days to experience how I feel now. It's so worth it.