Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Off The Coffee

I’m off the coffee.

Shocking, I know. Blasphemous, I agree. ELF has gone out of her mind. She has. I think. Wait, I think I just answered myself. I think that is bad. I…I….can barely put together sentences without coffee.

But it was time to give it up. I’m going dry.

I’ve been on the coffee since college. I’m not sure what I ate in college other than air popped pop corn, snap peas and Molly McButter Cheese Flavor but I do distinctly remember drinking coffee. Every day. With sweet vanilla creamer in a big plastic mug.

Ever since then life has winded in and out of many opportunities and places but one thing that has remained the same is coffee. As a social worker I remember that mug going to work with me every day. No transition from home to work was complete without that mug filled with coffee.

At my last workplace coffee was the kingpin. It united us and divided us. She who liked her coffee thick as mud didn’t last long in our workplace. He who offered to make coffee runs on Friday was an instant hit. The day started with a gurgle of water and the drip of coffee into a glass pot. It was a routine, a comfort and at times the only thing that gave us hope we would make it through the day.

Coffee is not just my comfort, it’s my friend. I meet friends, family over coffee and enjoy conversation over a warm piping cup. The coffee shop is my office where I also conduct meetings. It’s safe and no matter how bad the meeting goes I can always rely on the fact that at least I enjoyed my coffee.

But in the past year things have changed. I’ve been making coffee mostly at home and I really don’t like it. I don’t know what the deal is. I have one of the best coffee makers out there and I’m not impressed with what it pours into my cup. Maybe it’s bad water, maybe it’s bad beans or maybe I just need to be with other people to really enjoy all of coffee’s properties.

Top that off with the fact that I had some pretty bad coffee in the past few days. So it got me to thinking – if this is bad and you don’t like it then why are you drinking it?

Clearly I needed an intervention. So myself ganged up on myself and said self: you are going to go off the coffee.

Be careful what you put out there, I thought to myself. If you start telling other people you are going to have to follow through. Follow through it is: I made a bold statement on the ride home last night: I’m giving up coffee.

I could sense Chris’ horror – you are moody enough with the coffee, Liz. Do you really want to give this up?

I do. It’s done. I’m giving up the coffee.

Chris suggested I ween myself off of this. Take in just a little every day or switch to decaf. I said no. I do things all or nothing. I do not ween myself off of anything. It’s on or off. I’m off the coffee.

Tuesday. I figured today would be the perfect day. I’m tired from training in Tucson. The time has changed and changed again with day light savings. My body has no idea what time it really is. And, I had somewhere to be later in the evening to distract myself from thoughts of…


Would I be the same person? Would I be able to set foot in a Caribou again? The more I thought about it the more worried I got that I would be giving up a part of me. If not coffee then what would I replace it with. Water? Or….gasp…tea?

10 am the experiment is in full swing. I have made it past awakening, through grocery shopping, operating heavy machinery (driving) and all without coffee. There is a fog in my head and my eyes feel heavy. I could feel a slight headache coming on so I drank some water and ate an egg. Eggs are like perfect little packages of nutrition and goodness. I believe eggs will cure me of coffee. Ok, I just had to put something in my mouth and the egg was there. And then it hits me – what if that is it with coffee. I just have to have something in my mouth. It took me nearly 2 hours to nurse a cup of coffee. Would I fill those 2 hours with food? And if so, how big will I get before I finally just give in and put myself back on the coffee?

Why is this so hard?

12:27 pm and I have made it over the hump of noon. I can do this. I’ve avoided headache and can think straight again. The fog is lifting but I’m not sure about driving to the city. Will I be alert? Perky? What about my workouts….tomorrow when I swim again will I hit my intervals?

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD it is just one day! But then I realize I have started every day for the past 3000 days with COFFEE! How could I deviate from what has become my norm. And what will be my new norm? After masters on Saturday will it be just going for bagels…no coffee? What is the point!? I don’t even like bagels! I just like the coffee. You cannot motivate me through a 90 minute swim with a bagel. I NEED THE COFFEE!

I don’t. I can do this. 2:01 pm and I am still caffeine free. If I can make it through the house, past the Dunkin’ Donuts and into the city later today I will be free.

And then I will make it through tomorrow. I think.

Is it normal to have obsessive thoughts about coffee? Is it wrong that I am picturing it in a mug right now? Or voices in my head saying: you don’t have to do this. Who are they? And what do they want from me?

I will wait them out and make it through at least Friday without coffee. At that point, I will reassess if a decaffeinated life is the one for me. But if you don’t hear from me for a few days, please come over and pour some coffee over me. I’m guessing that’s all it would take.

Until then, this is me, caffeine-free.

I almost can't handle it myself.


D said...

I think the husband's advice was self-serving ;)

Jennifer Harrison said...

I have never needed coffee and never understood its draw....BUT this post is the MOST shocking ever. You know I think you can do anything....this one will be the true test. I know you can do it - but will your quality of life be better is the question of the week! GOOD LUCK. If you get the shakes, come over for some hot tea (green, of course). hahahaha

Jessi said...


Admit it, I totally inspired you. :)

Kim said...

Good luck! In order to prevent myself from any sort of caffeine addiiction I always keep my coffee consumption irregular. One day I'll have a cup but then I'll be off it for a few days and then I'll have another. Or I'll drink herbal tea, because mostly I think I just like holding and drinking some sort of warm liquid in the morning.

ADC said...

Good luck with it Liz. I am an addict :(

Sherry said...

Whoah... you are a stronger woman than I am!

*bows down to ELF in awe and wonder*

Molly said...

I'm with Jen, I've never even liked coffee, but this is still shocking :) Good for you!

Meredith said...

Couldn't you have waited until after next weekend? Dave and I are afraid of the torture you're going to put us through now that you're in a ravenous mood!

But, Dave and I are not coffee drinkers and we will not be tempting you either.

JTri's said...

I think you can do it. But, will you want to do it when it's done? That's the real question. I have completely gone off coffee several times in my life, but I miss it and come back. Now I have a cup nearly every day, but not if I have to make it at home, and only one cup.

rr said...

And I thought you were crazy after the 100 x 100 shabang. This seals it..

:) I'm down to 1 c a day. And I've added oatmeal to my daily routine.. are we meeting in the middle?

Kona Shelley said...

I am SUCH a coffee addict, ONCE I tried to quit and it was hell..sigh. Hope you can do it.

Wes said...

Is this some kind of horrendous joke? April Fools is still 20 days away!!

You have my address if you need someplace to send your stash :-)

Rob Chance said...

Gotta side with Chris. Take the slow and easy approach and wean yourself off. You do it for big races....Don't you? That must have been some nasty coffee you had out there.

Bob Mitera said...

I'm not a huge coffee guy, although I like a cup every now and again. I found that if I buy really expensive coffee I don't drink it very often. Kinda like booze. : P

Good luck to you...and Chris. You'll be fine.

PS: I found some NASTY hills that are in Cary. Going to ride them Saturday PM if you are interested. Like Gates (hard side) but shorter. By the ski jump hill.

MandyB said...

You think tea drinkers are scary until you realize they're all reformed coffee drinkers... Fear not, ELF - you won't miss it after a while!

Jason said...

Good luck with the No coffee.

That is a big challenge.

Train-This said...

I can't even pick my mouth up off the floor.

Ange said...

I do understand this. I am afraid of the headaches. I get baaaaaaad headaches. I'll be curious to know if quitting the coffee makes you feel better as time goes on. Keep us posted ok? Maybe I'll join you on this one.