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Blogs

One Small Change

Contributing writer Joe Kita dares to make one little, healthy change every month. Past experiments include giving up caffeine, napping daily, and stretching like it's your job.

One Small Change

The Perfect Recession Drink

Having now crossed the halfway mark in this month-long drama, I'm beyond most of caffeine's major withdrawal symptoms. Although I still crave a jolt before exercise and early-morning projects, I no longer need it, and that's a liberating and empowering feeling. There is one thing, though, I sorely miss and maybe even need, and that is the comfort that a cup of joe provides on a steel-gray morning when there's no one at home and threats of recession and fear dominate the headlines.

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Tags: Beverages, Stress, Caffeine

One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 11

There's another unexpected side effect of giving up caffeine that's been plaguing me. Whenever I exercise lately, I feel crummy. I'm a pretty active guy, running about 20 miles per week, cycling when the weather's nice, doing ashtanga yoga, and playing basketball and baseball. When I was drinking coffee, I would normally have a couple cups and then work out. And I usually felt pretty strong. But now my legs feel dead and, even more bothersome, I'm experiencing these nagging aches and pains in different joints and body parts than I haven't felt in a long time. It's as if the fogginess that was initially in my head after abandoning caffeine has drifted into my body. I hate to admit it, but I feel physically old.

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Tags: Pain, Beverages, Energy, Longevity, Caffeine

One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine is Making Me Fat

Yikes! I've gained 5 pounds. Despite maintaining my normal workout schedule I've somehow managed to inflate my inner tube. It's a result that was totally unanticipated, and it's curbing my newfound enthusiasm for the decaffeinated life. Here's what may be at work:

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Tags: Weight Loss, Beverages, Metabolism, Caffeine

One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 4

c g-k / flickr

I’m finally out the other side, I think. The worst seems to be over. The fog in my head has lifted, just as Dr. Antonio predicted. The reason it’s apparently taken so long is because caffeine has a half-life, just like those radioactive isotopes Homer Simpson brings home. Caffeine’s half-life is about 5 hours, which means that it takes approximately 5 hours for half of the drug to clear from your system, then another 5 hours to get rid of half of what remains, and so on. Considering that I binged on coffee the day before I quit, no wonder it’s taken so long for me to apparently be free of the stuff. But there’s no guarantee it’ll work that way for everybody. The half-life of caffeine can be as long as 10 to 11 hours in women taking oral contraceptives or those who are pregnant. Age and liver function also enter into it.

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Tags: Caffeine, Beverages

One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 2

Today – Day 2 of a planned 28 without caffeine – is brutal. Not only did I fall asleep during the Super Bowl last night and miss the Steelers comeback, but this morning I felt like Rocky Balboa talks. In fact, so groggy and punch-drunk was I that I began questioning my success in life. That’s right. As a fulltime freelance writer, I’ve always taken pride in my work ethic, my ability to rise at 5 and get more things done in 8 hours than most people can in 8 days.

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Tags: Caffeine, Beverages

One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 1

It’s Sunday. A day that I usually wake up early, get the New York Times from the mailbox, and sit in the sunroom reading and sipping. I’m a double cappuccino guy. This wondrous machine I have turns itself on automatically at 6 a.m., froths the milk professionally, grinds and brews the beans, then shoots a double shot of espresso into it all. Depending on my mood, I might add a dollop of vanilla, hazelnut or caramel syrup. And yes, I’m in my slippers.

But this morning I have to turn the machine off when it turns itself on, and it makes this unusual grumbling noise as if it’s miffed at me because I’m interfering with its job. My Jack Russell terriers, who normally nuzzle nearby, are equally annoyed as I shuffle quickly through a paper I normally spend hours with. Thinking I’ll get a little work done instead, I head for my home office, but I can’t seem to focus. In fact, I can’t even make my normal morning constitution. (Among other things, caffeine relaxes the sphincter muscles.)

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Tags: Caffeine

One Small Change

Why Give Up Caffeine?

madame.furie / flickr

Why would anyone want to give up caffeine?

It’s a valid question, especially since it’s being asked by Jose Antonio, Ph.D., the chief executive officer of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. He points out, and rightly so, that caffeine enhances athletic performance, health, cognition, productivity, metabolism, sociability, mood…If it sounds like he’s rambling on that’s because he’s a caffeine disciple himself, drinking a cup or two of coffee every morning to wake up, an occasional Coke during the day as a pick-me-up, and a caffeinated energy drink before exercise to insure a power workout.

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Tags: Caffeine

One Small Change

New Blog: One Small Change

Big change is scary. Whether it’s a new job, boss, home, marriage, baby, diet, workout, economy or even haircut, there’s always apprehension. Although it’s healthy to shake things up, too much shaking can unmoor us.

That’s why I’m a fan of small change. Over time, if you’re diligent, it’ll succeed where big change often fails. And when coupled with other small changes, it’ll usually deliver you to the same goal (and sometimes even beyond) without nearly as much uncertainty, stress and hassle. It may not be as exciting and dramatic as big change, but it’s generally more effective.

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Tags: Stress, Caffeine, Goals, Motivation

Blogs

Movement

5 Stretches to Refresh Your Warmup

Try these dynamic stretches to prepare for a better workout.

Live Better

Feeling Uninspired? Take a Walk

When you feel your creativity lacking, taking a walk can help you find inspiration, according to a small study from Stanford University researchers.

Nutrition

Q&A: Supplements for Vegetarian Bodybuilders

Three things to know if you train hard and don't eat meat.

Well at Work

Survey: American Employees Skipping Vacation Days for Work

A new survey found that only 25 percent of employees with paid time off took advantage of it in 2013.

The Performance Life

5 Tips to Build Teamwork and Fun Through Obstacle Racing

Here's what you need to know about using obstacle races to build teamwork at work.