Last Tuesday night, hours before Ash Wednesday, I made the (possibly crazy) decision to give up coffee for Lent. There was no “last cup” to savor and no time to mentally prepare. I’m not sure if it being a last minute decision help or hurt the situation, but once I made it through day one I was committed.
Over the past few months I found my coffee intake creeping higher and higher. Sometimes on the weekends I would have up to four cups, usually on weekdays I had two. I started cutting back to a max of two per day, and sometimes switched out my second cup for decaf. I didn’t notice any effects from making those changes, so I felt like I could manage giving it up altogether for 40 days. I thought I would share how this process has gone so far.
I knew the hardest part of giving up coffee would be my morning routine. If you have read any of my WIAW posts, you’ll know I always drink coffee right away when I wake up and read blogs. Then I do my workout, and usually have my second cup of coffee when I get to work. These times of day would be challenging because it’s a routine that I am used to. So on Wednesday, rather than reading blogs without coffee, I did my workout right away and then ate breakfast while reading.
I felt ok throughout the morning, and didn’t really notice (physically) that I didn’t have caffeine. I drank a ton of water during the first few hours of work. I guess during the time when I am drinking coffee I’m not really drinking any water!
Around 1pm I started to get a terrible headache. It lasted the rest of the day, pretty much until I went to bed. I was really surprised even though I have heard this happens when caffeine is cut out abruptly! I guess I didn’t realize it would happen just going from 1-2 cups per day to nothing.
After dealing with such a terrible headache I thought about how I was going to handle this process and remembered that I could still have caffeine. I didn’t want my intake to be as high as it is when I drink 2 cups of coffee a day, but I figured tea would be a good middle ground. So on Tuesday morning I bought a cup of tea on my way to work. Later that day I bought a box of green tea and a box of regular tea so I could make my own at home and not spend $1.65 on a single cup.
Since then, I have been drinking about two cups of tea per day. (One cup of regular black tea in the morning and one cup of decaf green tea later in the day.) I haven’t had any more headaches!
I think the toughest time for me was the weekend mornings, when I would usually enjoy a few leisurely cups of coffee (and I’m really not in the mood for tea when I first wake up). I also smell Rob’s coffee all morning long which makes me miss it even more.
I really think that coffee is one of the hardest things I could have chosen to give up. Even wine would be easier, because I only drink it a couple days a week, sometimes even less than that. Coffee is also tied to so much more than just the taste and the caffeinating effects. I associate it with quiet mornings (my favorite time of day), special treats (like a trip to Starbucks) and relaxing weekends. But that’s the point of giving something up for Lent: making a sacrifice. I was reading an article about choosing something to give up for Lent, and found this:
Once you’ve chosen what you’d like to give up, consider the following questions:
- Is this something I like?
- Is this something I enjoy doing/eating?
- Is this something that’s important to me?
- Do I think this will be a challenge throughout Lent?
- Will I appreciate this when I can have/do it again on Easter?
- Am I giving this up because I have to (someone is making me), or because I want to?
- Is this a true sacrifice?
- If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’ve chosen an excellent Lenten sacrifice.
I definitely answered YES to all of those things! Some other things I have given up other the years are soda (back when I used to drink it), dessert, red wine, Starbucks, and Facebook.
If you are a coffee drinker, have you ever stopped drinking it? How did it go?
Have you ever given up something important to you (either for Lent or any other reason)?