Why did I do this to myself?
I decided to give up caffeine (and alcohol) for a week. I’ve been drinking coffee (and gulping down chocolate) for as long as I can remember, so I wanted to give myself a little break to see if I felt healthier and better without it. And, considering I only drink one cup of coffee a day (albeit a huge one), I didn’t think doing so would make a big difference in my life.
Good grief, was I wrong.
I found out why. If you search “caffeine withdrawal,” a bevy of articles come up explaining how stopping caffeine cold turkey has its effects – many of which aren’t so fun. The top 15 symptoms include: headache (yep), sleepiness (like ‘falling in your cereal bowl’ kind of tired), irritability (check), lethargy (double check), constipation, depression, muscle pain (or cramping or stiffness), insomnia (seriously?), nausea and/or vomiting, anxiety, brain fog (yep), dizziness, and heart rhythm abnormalities.
Don’t I sound like a riot to hang out with?
I took a quiz to see just how addicted I was to caffeine. Turns out, I’m one of the lucky ones. I scored 3 out of 10, which marked me as ‘mildly’ addicted to caffeine, meaning in one or two days I could break my addiction.
But it was going to be a long couple of days.
I started with a trio of Peerie Teas. The names sounded like something I could get behind. Kiss Me Quick, Give Me Attitude and Peppermint (okay, that one’s not so inspiring) made me think I would be just fine. And I was. If I weren’t so damn sleepy. The teas were definitely tasty – I didn’t put any sugar, milk or sweetener in them – but I would have preferred if they came packaged in bags. Luckily, we have disposable tea bags at the office, so I put the tea in there and was happily sipping away all day. Yes, I had four cups. Okay, five.
Waking up was miserable. And, although I was exhausted, I had a hard time falling asleep last night. However, I did sleep straight through, so that was a bonus. But man, I am tired. I started today with a Tizzy Shot. According to the instructions, I was supposed to put the first shot in herbal tea or hot water, so I opted for the hot water. This is where you picture a cartoon character with her eyes bulging out – it had a kick! And yes, it certainly woke me up. By midday, I started to feel a bit low on energy and took a shot full throttle this time, which wasn’t easy. The ginger burns your throat a little, so I added a bit more honey to it and it was easier to toss back. Because of my caffeine withdrawal, I have had a dull headache all day. Day three better be awesome.
If, by “awesome,” I meant, “much worse,” then today totally met my expectations. Not only am I still tired, but I feel achy and couldn’t do my normal yoga class because my muscles were so tight. I decided to do a higher intensity workout instead, hoping to get my blood flowing and mood lifted, and guess what? I’m still tired. So I took another Tizzy shot, because so far, that’s the only thing that wakes me up. It’s 11a.m. and I’m on my third cup of caffeine-free tea. Lord have mercy.
It’s time to go the Chinese route. I have been trying out this new place around the corner from our office called CheckCheckCin on Jervois Street, because it creates teas tailored to how you feel. There’s a menu entitled “What’s My Drink Today?” and it has a list of symbols which include “Feelin’ Annoyed,” “OK Feelin’ Good,” “Feelin’ Cold,” “Feelin’ Tired” (yes!), “Feelin’ Stressed” (I mean…), “Feelin’ Bloated, and “Feelin’ Dry.” Naturally, I opted to get the Boosting Yuzu Ginger tea (made with yuzu, ginger, honey and rice water), because it had the “Feelin’ Tired” symbol next to it and was caffeine-free. For just $32 ($30 for hot), you get a decent sized cup of tea (bring your own mug and you get $2 off!) that is tasty and refreshing. Am I awake? For now…
My God, the pain! I laughed when I read I might experience muscle cramps and tightness, but when I needed to take two Advil for the pain today, I wasn’t giggling anymore. My legs feel as if someone has taken the hamstrings and cut them, then tied them and put them back a few inches shorter. My sleep has not been restful, and I am already yawning at 11a.m. I tried to do my usual yoga and failed – my muscles were that tight.
Why? Why did I do this to myself (#diditforSassy). I had no idea that my somewhat hefty cup of coffee each day would be so easy to miss. When I began, I actually entertained the idea of giving up caffeine for good. But when our intern brought in a bunch of Mrs. Fields brownies that I couldn’t eat (yes, chocolate has caffeine too!), it was the final straw.
Java, I can’t wait to have you in my life again.
Peerie Teas available from Feather and Bone, G/F, 18 Gage Central, Central, Hong Kong
Classic Ginger shot available online from Tizzy Shots
Boosting Yuzu Ginger tea from CheckCheckCin, G/F, Kai Fung Building, 4-6 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong