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One Small Change

The Verdict on Caffeine


It’s Sunday, 10 a.m., prime coffee-drinking time. It has been exactly 29 days, or one month, since I swore off caffeine. And honestly, I haven’t touched a drop. The experiment is over, I’m free of my lab-rat cage, and I could go on a caffeine binge if I so desired, but I’m sitting here at my desk without a fresh, full mug. I am in control now, and there’s a surprisingly nice buzz to that.

I used to get up every morning, perhaps like you do now, and head directly for the coffee machine with blinders on. I believed that I couldn’t begin or function without this black-magic substance. And throughout the day I reached for it, perhaps like you do too, whenever my mood or productivity slipped. It was like an old man’s cane, always there to lean on if I stumbled. I even sought it out prior to workouts that, ironically, were designed to make me strong. I needed it, in the guise of energy drinks, to help me get through them.

What I didn’t fully realize was that caffeine had come to control me. It had snuck its way into my life the same way its aroma drifts into a morning bedroom.

I’m not telling you this to gloat, to brag how much better and stronger I am than you, but rather to try to awaken you a little. We chafe under control. We yearn to be free. Yet at the same time we willingly permit many things to rule us in ways we’re not even aware of. Caffeine is one of these.

So I sit here and relish the simple fact that I could walk into my kitchen right now, turn on my glorious $1,699 Saeco Talea “brewing system” and fire up a double skinny vanilla cappuccino with cloud-like froth that would make me warm and happy and eventually fired up as well.

But I don’t. And, funny thing, the suspension of that satisfaction makes me warm and happy and fired up, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I will resume drinking coffee. There are just too many proven physiological and psychological benefits to condemn it. (Chief among them, for me, is its athletic performance-enhancing effects. As I detailed earlier, I sure miss that.) Caffeine is not an evil substance; it is a healthful one. It is an innocent pick-me-up in a world that too often gets us down. It would be foolish to deny ourselves that. But at the same time, I think it’s also foolish to allow ourselves to become dependent on it, as I had.

Yes, I will resume drinking coffee, but this time it will be on my terms.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Caffeine, Focus, Beverages