QUIT: Constant Caffeination (Unintentionally)

[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end.  I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]


As I sit here writing today’s post, after a long and weary day of work, I am sipping a rewarding, invigorating, and soothing cup of…water.

This is not by choice.

Let me start by establishing how much I love coffee.  I.  Love.  Coffee.  Love, love, LOVE it.  I love the taste of it.  I love the smell of it brewing.  I love the million and one different blends and trillion and one different creamer flavors you can add to them.  I love the simultaneously energizing and calming effect of that first, delicious sip.

Goddamn, I’m depressing myself.

Because coffee, as the constant all-throughout-the-day companion it’s been for me, is now out of the question for the next year and a half.

I can still partake, but on a very regulated, limited schedule.  It’s no longer my way of life.  And this is a pretty big Quit for me, because I’ve had a constant stream of caffeine in my system from the time I discovered Tim Horton’s iced capps my senior year of high school.

Again, this is not by choice.

It is because, at the ripe old age of 29 and 4/5, I have finally gotten braces.


My Forced Rehab

(They’re Invisalign, actually, but still.)

I’m actually quite excited about this in every other aspect except for being torn asunder from my beloved caffeine.  I’ve been self-conscious about my teeth from the minute my friends started getting braces and I learned we couldn’t afford them.  I try not to smile too widely or too often when I meet strangers.  I opt for a close-lipped smile in pictures.  I usually cover my mouth or duck my head when I laugh around people I don’t know very well, without even realizing I’m doing it.  Invisalign is something that will completely change my self-confidence, and I’m abso-frickin-lutely thrilled about that.

Except for the part where they gave me my first set of trays and told me what I was and wasn’t allowed to consume with them.

The trays are supposed to be in for 20-22 hours a day, with 22 being ideal if you can swing it.  Since I’ve waited many a year longing for these babies, I’m trying to swing it out of the park.  Which means I take my trays out for meals—a short half-hour breakfast and lunch and a dinner I try not to linger over too long—and that’s it.  In between, it’s nothing but water.  This definitely took some getting used to.

But, to my surprise, my first unintentional Quit has actually had some pretty good results.

The Pros of a Normal Relationship with Coffee

Slight weight loss (woot!).  I call it my “Invisalign diet.”  Snacking is prohibited, but I never did that very much to begin with, so the only thing I can think of to account for my recent couple-pounds dip at the doctor’s office is the fact that I never just drank coffee.  I drank coffee with all variety of indulgent flavored creamers and enough sugar packets to make your teeth hurt.  And I drank mugs of the stuff ceaselessly throughout the day.  Limiting myself to my morning cuppa Joe and an afternoon pick-me-up, apparently, has cut a significant number of calories from my diet.  Score.

More energy.  While I still have my 3:00 cup to help motivate me through the last bit of the workday, I don’t need it like I used to.  I don’t feel that physical crash if I haven’t had a cup in a while.  When I’m tired now, it’s because I’m genuinely tired, not because I’m dependent and my levels are dropping.  And it’s not as hard to get through a drowsy day sans caffeine as I always thought it would be.  If anything, trying to falsely amp myself up when I was drowsy just made me drowsy and jittery, not un-drowsy.

Not having to pee every two seconds.  TMI, I know, but trying not to pee every two seconds was slated for an upcoming Quit, so now that this problem has been solved, you’re fortunate enough to only have to read a paragraph about it rather than a whole post.

I used to have to switch up which restrooms I used in my office so that whoever sat near them didn’t see me going in and out a dozen times a day and wonder what the hell was the matter with me.  My first thought whenever I entered a new building or left for a road trip was:  Where will the nearest bathroom be, and how long can I wait until I need to use it?  The first time I did a full morning’s worth of work and realized at lunchtime I’d gone three straight hours without needing a potty break, it was jaw-dropping.  I felt like I’d run a marathon.  Especially since I drink water like a race horse now to distract myself from the aroma of coffee all around me in the office.  Apparently my body likes water and doesn’t feel the need to get rid of it every twenty minutes.  Who knew?

I enjoy coffee when I do have it so much more.  “Going out for coffee” with a friend is a real indulgence now.  Treating myself to a Starbucks caramel macchiato feels like an absolute luxury.  Now that coffee isn’t my water, I really appreciate it when I do have it.  When my round of Invisalign is over and I’m free to eat and drink as I please again, I don’t think I’ll go back to my old caffeine IV drip lifestyle.  ’Cause this is actually kind of a nice way of having things.


Totally against my will, I’d still like to have it noted.  But I can concede that sometimes a forced Quit can be just as rewarding as a chosen one.

Any former caffeine junkies out there with their own Quit stories?  (Or current junkies unwilling to let go of it?  (I totally understand.))

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  • Wait, wait— Are you CANADIAN? I too, am a coffee addict. I was seriously craving a doubledouble yesterday. 

    Weightloss, though, eh? Hmmm. I shall have to rethink this. BUT IT’S SO NUMMY AND CREAMY!

    •  Not Canadian, but Buffalonian.  Let me tell you how much we love our Timmy Ho’s…

      There’s a possibility the weight loss may have nothing to do with the drop in caffeine intake, but since I need every reason I can get to feel good about this Quit, I’m still gonna take it.  🙂

  • Woah…woah…woah…

    You want me to give up caffeine??? 

    Maybe after this next book is done… maybe. 🙂

    •  Oh no, not give up altogether, just reduce to a normal level.

      If I were to give it up altogether, I think this post would have had a much less positive tone to it.  (More along the lines of a surly, grumpy, headachey tone.)  😛

  • I’d describe myself as a coffee lover like you are/were. Love the taste and brewing it and all that. Caffeine isn’t even that important to me, but I guess I welcome it as a side-effect of enjoying coffee. 
    I simply try to limit myself to coffee at breakfast, and that’s it for the day! It makes me happy, and I don’t feel like I’m overdoing it.

    I never realized that Invisalign could have so many other positive effects on your life!

    •  Me neither!  It’s totally changing the way I approach eating.  Now that I can only eat during certain time windows, I make sure that what I’m eating is going to be filling and fairly healthy.  No more temptations to snack when I pass a food stand in the mall, no more mindlessly sipping pop or eating a few chips in front of the TV, etc.  And I’ve gotta say, the largely-water beverage choice really does have me feeling sharper overall.

      That said, my morning and mid-afternoon coffee are still lovely parts of my day.  They make me happy, too–and happier than before, actually, now that I really appreciate them.

  • Congratulations on your braces! I say this as someone who had terribly crooked teeth and got braces as an adult. Unfortunately I wasn’t a candidate for Invisalign and I had to go the old-fashioned metal kind. Thanks to significant advances in orthodontia, I wore my braces a mere 18 months.

    As far as caffeine, well I honestly wish I could call this a quit. I drink soda, not coffee, and I’m horribly addicted! It’s really my one-and-only vice, and this has long been my excuse for not quitting. Over and over throughout my adult life I’ve cut down on how much pop I drink, only to increase my intake during times of stress. Fortunately my daily average is 1 soda per day, which is far too much, I know, but better than drinking it all day long.

    Perhaps you’ve inspired me to once again to quit, and maybe one day I’ll be adding caffeine to my own quits list.


    •  It sounds like you’re doing pretty well regulating your one vice, though.  I’m in a similar boat now–still enjoying a cup or two a day, but it’s a drastic change from how much I used to consume on a daily basis.

      Congrats to you back for your braces!  I know that you understand how incredible it feels to finally have your smile taken care of after years of self-consciousness.  I can’t wait till the day my round of treatment is done!

  • Think of the health benefits by cutting down on your coffee intake. As a Brit I also like my drinks of tea, so I’m reasonably balanced when it comes to my beverages, though I have to admit I still have to have several cups of coffee in my day.

    •  You’re right; there are definite health benefits too.  (How could I overlook that?)  They say caffeine in moderation can be beneficial to you (as can so many other things), but it’s the “moderation” that’s key.  I’m sure my health overall will be very happy for the reduction in my intake.

      P.s.  I love the Brits.  I spent a semester in London and long to go back someday.

  • Danielle PekalskI

    I can relate to the lurv of caffeine. As a wee babe I’d steal my mom’s iced cold cuppa when she’d nap…and she wondered why I was a little hell raiser, hehehehe. The rest is history, lol.

    In college, I was ridiculous. I worked in a coffee shop, ‘nuf said. Between work, school, and, actually studying, I was knocking back coffee like a mofo ALONG WITH a 4 pack of RedBull a day. I was busy, I had things to do.

    Since then, I’ve cut waaaay back. As in, a two cuppa in the afternoon to encourage me to do stuff when I get home.

    Long story short, you can do it. It takes time, and it’s not fun, but you can do it.

    As for the peeing a million times a day, I do that because I have to drink water (it helps with migraines), so I literally have to go like once an hour. Getting up and walking is REALLY good for you (unless you like blood clots in your leg), and being hydrated is so good for so many things, like keeping you alert.

    As long as you get shit done, and I know you do, that’s all that matters. Let others talk and speculate. I tell everyone I’m going to get away from the boys, ha!

    • I love your attitude.  “As long as you get shit done, that’s all that matters.”  Amen, sister!

      Sounds like you were giving me a run for my money in terms of level of caffeination back in the day.  Kudos to you for getting it down to a more reasonable dosage.  I’m also trying to be more active in terms of walking my dogs more, finding reasons to get up from my desk throughout the day, etc.  I keep hearing this wacky idea that exercising when you feel groggy can actually make you feel more awake, not more tired.  Crazy talk, I know, but it seems like it might not be a total scam.  😛

  • I’m not sure I should admit this, and you may not want this little hint, but….

    When I had my Invisalign (also as an adult), I drank coffee with a straw.  Couldn’t drink it as hot, obviously, and it looked rather silly.  Definitely not as enjoyable.  BUT, it didn’t melt or stain my trays.  It didn’t stain my teeth either, so I thought about continuing to use a straw when my treatment was over, but…yeah, no.  I quit that.

    • Can I admit something back?

      I have actually considered doing that.  But knowing me, I’d find some way to still mess up my trays. 😛

  • I involuntarily quit coffee as well when I moved out here. There’s no drip coffee, even in the restaurants and cafes it is instant coffee. Which is barely coffee. And I used to drink a pot (a 12-cup POT) daily when I lived stateside. It was hard, but by the power of iced lemon tea (still caffeinated, I know) and a discerning palate coffee caffeine has been effectively eliminated from my diet as well!

    As for the Invisalign, so happy you are taking that step towards feeling happier and more confident. I just wrote about my wide toothy grin and how often I use it, to the point where people point out my huge smile in pictures. I was fortunate enough to escape orthodontia as a child and just have naturally straight and fairly white teeth. You’ll love being able to show off a happy huge toothy smile in no time!  🙂

    •  Oh lordy, I could never do instant coffee.  I will suffer headache and withdrawal before resorting to it.  I feel for you being in a sans-real-coffee environment, but I’m glad you found a caffeine substitute of sorts, even though I know it’s not nearly the same.  (Although with a pot of coffee a day, girl, you’re probably better off.)  😀

      I’m so excited about the Invisalign.  I’ve always been horribly self-conscious about my smile, and I can already after a couple months see things getting better.  Definitely need to get some great pro pics for the site once things are all fixed up!