Challenge yourself, break a habit and feel fantastic that you are in control of your body and mind. Abstain from one select food or beverage that you know is not good for you but just can’t stop indulging in for 10 days.
What’s your bad habit? Too much candy? Bread? Burgers? A sip of alcohol every day? Soft drinks? Smoking? You name it. Pick something that would be challenging to abstain from but yet realistic. And it’s only 10 days, starting December 1st.
My bad habit is coffee and I decided to challenge myself to abstain in the spring earlier this year when it dawned on me that I was drinking very strong coffee as if it was water. Averaging 10-12 double espressos a day for the last 2-3 months, and not really drinking much else than coffee during the day it was clear that my coffee consumption was out of control. I’ve always enjoyed coffee but I’ve normally limited it to eight to ten normal cups a day and only when I am working. It’s a mental thing, as if the walls in all the offices I’ve worked in are whispering coffee all day long. Over weekends and holidays, away from the office, I would have two or three cups a day.
Back in March my body and mind started protesting against being marinated in strong caffeinated coffee and I noticed that the quality of sleep dropped and my diet suffered as I tended to go for a coffee instead of a fruit or nuts as a snack. And pumping this much caffeine into your blood stream five days a week would make any cardiologist break down in tears.
In addition to the physical impact of this bad habit I hate not being mentally in control so as much as I wanted to get back to a healthy diet I wanted to prove to myself that I am not addicted and can keep my coffee consumption on a moderate level.
I set myself the challenge to abstain from coffee for seven days. The first two days were terrible, I had severe headache and was generally grumpy. Day three to four was physically ok but it was tough to not slip into the habit of having a coffee in the morning, after lunch, with my colleagues, and in other typical coffee situations. Day five to seven continued like this and I started to dream, day and night, about that first cup of coffee I would enjoy in the morning of the eighth day.
On the morning of the 8th day the feeling of having accomplished my challenge was fantastic but it was soon pushed away by my urge to taste coffee again. I went to my favorite cafe and ordered a small espresso. Placing the cup in front of me I enjoyed the fantastic smell of coffee for a few minutes (ok, seconds) and imagined the wonderful taste of coffee that soon would fill my mouth. A first small sip and…. it was pretty disgusting. Damn, why had I been drinking this as if it was water and fooling myself to believe that I loved it? It’s a mind game. My mind is conditioned to associate work with coffee.
The good thing was that I had proved to myself that I can abstain from coffee and that the primary driver for my excessive coffee consumption is the association to work. The bad thing was that after three to four days of just one cup of coffee a day the volume started to increase again. It takes more than seven days to break a habit but I had proven to myself that I can live without coffee and that I have the character to stay away from it. For 7 days.
A few months later, in July, I decided to challenge myself again but this time I extended it to one month. This time I prepared by stocking up herbal teas in the office and at home and the whole experience of 30 days without coffee was actually quite enjoyable. I did not rush to the cafe on the morning of the 31st day, actually I didn’t have coffe until the 32nd day. And again, the first sip wasn’t magic.
Since then, I am on two-three cups a day. I love the smell and enjoy the taste of a perfectly brewed espresso. I have made drinking coffee a special occasion, going to good cafes, selecting good coffee and enjoying it slowly. No more corporate coffee machines.
My challenge this time is a combo. No drinks but water, herbal teas and freshly pressed juice.
What’s your challenge?
Be strong, let me know how you progress and on Dec 11th – enjoy the feeling of making it!
abstain, challenge, coffee, eat clean, habits
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