51 days ago today, I gulped down my last $6 quad latte. (Yes. I said quad.)
It wasn't an easy decision to come to. Coffee has been my best friend, my lover, my everything since I can remember - since high school times. And it's become even more important to me since I stopped drinking alcohol. It's been my special drink, my little privilege. One of my last fucking vices like sexting and saying really bad words a lot.
But somewhere along the way, because it was so important, because it was one of my last vices, it became a terribly unhealthy relationship. I found my self going to great lengths to make sure it was available, found myself making an excuse to brew a 4-cup pot at 11pm at night, found myself in line at Starbucks two or three times in a day, found myself justifying that a $6.45 Ethiopian Yirgacheffe drip was a reasonable investment in my happiness. Most disturbingly, I found myself reaching for it in times of duress instead of dealing with the problem directly - if I didn't want to feel it I ran to coffee the same way I had run to cigarettes and pot and alcohol.
There's an idea in the world of recovery that sobriety means we need our coffee, means we need our sugar, and that because we aren't doing the really bad stuff anymore that this lower level stuff is okay. The truth is, what we end up doing is just moving our addictive tendencies from one substance to another, end up depleting our health when we need it the most, and end up undermining our attempts to transcend. That was the story of me and coffee in the end - it was simply holding me back from the greater things I wanted to achieve. The way all addictive habits hold us back. So it had to go.
Below is the longer WHY it was so necessary to quit (and why I'm posting it here on this site), and also the HOW. You can use these steps to deal with your own unfortunate coffee situation (if you have one), and you can apply the HOW to any number of bad or addictive habits you're trying to kick.
WHY I QUIT.
1. Frequency of Addiction. There is a concept, best put into words by Tommy Rosen of Recovery 2.0, that even though we might kick major addictions like drugs and alcohol and cigarettes, that unless we do the deeper work on ourselves and eliminate all the things that keep us in a state of addiction, that we remain stuck in a "frequency of addiction". This concept of "frequency of addiction" means our cells literally vibrate the energy addiction brings, perpetuating a feeling of lack, a feeing of need, and so we move the same energy we had around our relationship with drugs and alcohol to other behaviors and chemicals in stead of escaping it altogether. We might be free of specific addictions, but we aren't free of that energy addiction brings. It's almost like the game whack a mole, where we get rid of one addiction and jump to the next. This was my relationship with coffee, same as it was with the man I'd been fucking off and on this past year (now ended, boo-ya). They were two of the last remaining moles. Only sugar remains, and will be next to go.
2. Energy depletion. I was dependent on it to get out of bed, dependent on it to get through my 11am crash, dependent on it to get through my 3pm crash, and dependent on it to work at night (or honestly, do anything at night). My energy ebbed and flowed throughout the day, and I was crashing at the end of my day, and having to peel myself out of bed in the morning. It was just way too obvious that it was affecting my energy and that I was suffering adrenal fatigue from it.
3. Health. First, coffee (and dairy and sugar…my two favorite coffee additives) is high in acidity, which means it throws the body's pH balance off and creates a more acidic environment. An acidic body invites disease, cancer, and aging, and tends to leave us feeling unwell…and when we feel unwell, we are less likely to do the things that promote wellness. For me, this was obvious. I wasn't making other good dietary choices, wasn't doing as much yoga or meditation as I wanted to, didn't feel mentally clear, etc. Second, I tended to choose coffee over food, or pair my coffee with pastry or other unhealthy foods. Lastly, I was consistently dehydrated from it, which creates a whole host of other health issues - both physically and mentally.
4. Vanity. In the same way that alcohol robbed me of my youthful glow, so too did coffee. Lines on my face were more apparent if I'd consumed too much in a day. My belly was in a constant state of bloat. My teeth were stained from it. My breath smelled from it. My armpits had perma-stank from it. And because I was making other poor health choices (see #3), it added up to a less than pretty picture. I didn't stop drinking alcohol and cigarettes only to be fucked out of my new healthy looks by Starbucks.
5. Freedom. The same reason I quit everything - to be free and not dependent on things outside of me to cope. If I was stressed about something or up against something uncomfortable, I found myself reaching for coffee the same way I had other things before. Removing this substance as an "out" allows me the chance to rely on better tools to cope - like breathing or meditation.
6. Coffee stains and coffee smell. In addition to the coffee stains on my teeth, because I'm such a fucking messy mess I also had coffee stains on almost every thing I owned - which is unfortunate because the Kundalini has increased the proportion of white clothes I own and wear. And in the last few months alone I've spilled entire cups of coffee three separate times at my desk, one time soaking all my yoga manuals in it. Nothing is more disgusting than a house that smells like spilled coffee and nothing is more pathetic than a coffee-stained yoga manual.
7. Clean. Going without alcohol and cigarettes and pot has been a game changer for me in LIFE, and the more I go without these toxins, the more I care that I am the healthiest and most optimal and cleanest I can be - because it just feels better. Because I just feel better. The goal is to be clean, and this is another step towards that end.
HOW I QUIT.
1. I was ready and I WANTED it. While time and a gain we may want to live without something, a lot of times we aren't really in the place where we want it more than the perceived consequence of living without it. I had thought about and honestly dreamed about a life without coffee for a long time before the day I decided to quit - and had even attempted it a few times. But the truth was, it still meant more to me to have it in my life. I wasn't all in. Only when I got to the point of being so fucking fed up with it, only when I got to point of saying "I want FREEDOM from coffee more than I want that delicious Blue Bottle latte" did I find the power and strength to go after it. You must, must must must must must, WANT IT. You cannot force it.
2. I got pumped about it.. I can't stress enough the power of flipping it from "giving something up" to "adding something more". The former gives us the feeling that we are being deprived, but the latter gives us a feeling that we are gaining and gaining big. I was giddy about the prospect of having natural energy, of waking up in the morning with the same zeal I had when I first stopped drinking. I was excited about the money I would be saving, the time I would gain, the health benefits, the vanity benefits, that my body would smell better, that I would ditch all those whys from above. Focusing on the good stuff and seeing it as a gain over a loss is a game changer in moving forward from all addictions - and the excitement sustained me through the very real, very rough periods of the quit.
3. I planned the timing of it. I knew I would need a ton of sleep, knew that I would at some point turn into a monster bitch, knew that I would indeed get a huge migraine (and yes, indeed I did). So I did it over a period of time where less was required of me and I knew I could get away with staying in my pjs for a day if needed - a few days before Christmas.
4. I minded my hydration. I have been in Tommy Rosen's Recovery 2.0 Coaching Program, and per his suggestion, began adding a pinch of sea salt (pure sea salt - not iodized salt) to my spring water, and tripled the amount of water I normally drank. Remaining hydrated helped reduce the severe headaches (though not by much, they were awful) and to help my body heal itself.
5. I added green juice and raw foods for 5 days. I busted out my juicer and added juice first thing in the morning, had juice or a smoothie for lunch, and ate mostly raw vegan. There were one or two exceptions like cooked grains and some vegetarian protein, but I kept it as healthy as possible. The times I craved coffee, I instead grabbed a green juice.
6. Used EFT when cravings hit. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a great way to deal with any sort of craving or urge or any state where we are stuck in a story or an old pattern. EFT is a method of moving energy and trauma out of our bodies - we tap on specific energy meridians and say a specific dialogue. I will go into more on this later (currently in training for certification in it), but for now you can watch this great video by Gabrielle Bernstein she did for breaking her sugar addiction. You can simply replace the word "sugar" with "coffee". TRY THIS. IT WORKS.
7. I upped my meditation practice. I normally meditate for 11 - 30 minutes a day, but to support this change, I added in an additional Kundalini practice - Ego Eradicator. I used this throughout the day for 3 minute periods as needed. This is a GREAT practice to use not only to aid in moving through addictive habits but also to move through any block that you experience. It can also be used simply as maintenance.
8. I eliminated it as an option. The most important part of this whole formula. I eliminated drinking coffee as an option for me. Meaning that if a craving popped into my mind, I didn't entertain drinking it on any level - drinking it wasn't an option. Doing something to counter the craving or to just be with the craving was it. It's that simple. I can't stress this point enough. Don't give yourself the permission to do something that you know will fuck you up. You DO have control. You CAN decide to not. It is entirely up to us to decide what things we don't want to participate in anymore. The second we question that decision, let it become an option, think that "just this once", is the second we hand our power right back over to the substance. Eliminate the option and don't question the fucking decision that you made in the first place. It was right.