My Journey From Feeling Free with Caffeine to Being Caffeine Free

My Journey From Feeling Free with Caffeine to Being Caffeine Free

My story from addiction to living life without caffeine.

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Picture this: it's late at night, you have a huge test tomorrow, you need to study for as long as physically possible, what do you do? Do you study until you cannot keep your eyes open or do you reach for some coffee or tea, or perhaps an energy drink? If you're like me, you pound a cup of joe and keep grinding throughout the night, even if the sleep deprivation will hurt you.

In my last semester of college, I was probably addicted to caffeine. I would start off the day with a coffee, have another after my first class if it was a long night, and have another after class before I did my homework. It was especially bad if I had a test the next day, where I would drink as much as 300 mg of caffeine in order to stay up late enough to get a good study session in. According to Mayo Clinic, 400 mg of caffeine a day is the upper limit of safe caffeine consumption for most adults. I realized I was living an unhealthy lifestyle with that amount of caffeine intake, and tried to change during the school year, but I was always so tired and irritable without caffeine. After drinking copious amounts of monster energy zero during finals, I went back home to sunny Plano, TX and decided to make a change.

The first thing that I noticed about not drinking caffeine was that I slept a ton. And I mean a TON. I could barely go through the day without a nap, even if I got as much as 11 hours of sleep. My body was not used to staying up for an entire day without the chemical help of caffeine. Along with having to sleep all the time, I was always irritable and tired no matter how much sleep I got. It felt like I could never sleep enough to feel well rested. Because I didn't have caffeine to help me wake up, I always felt like I just woke up.

As a biology major, I had read a lot about chemical dependency but always thought that the written descriptions were exaggerations, and couldn't possibly be true. I have never been more wrong. The hardest part wasn't being tired all the time or being grouchy, instead of that it was having the willpower not to drink soda, coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine. Even after a month without it at this point, I still feel the draw of a cup of coffee. And to clarify, decaf is fine, but I miss the buzz after a piping hot coffee or espresso. Reading what addiction as an addiction is like on paper is one thing, but experiencing it is an entirely different story. I can hardly imagine how much harder it is to quit drugs more addictive than caffeine, but from my personal experience, I can guess that it's one of the hardest things to do in life.

Now that I'm a month into living without caffeine, I have learned so much about caffeine and addiction, and most importantly I remember what it's like not having caffeine all day, every day. When I wake up now after a good night's rest, I feel well rested, and after a bit, I feel like I did after a cup of coffee: awake, attentive, and alert. If I get that full night of sleep, I am also less tired throughout the day and don't need to take a nap to catch up on sleep. And the thing I worried about most was much easier than I thought. The thing that got me hooked on caffeine was staying up late at night doing school work. Because I'm currently in summer school, I have been unfortunate enough to stay up late into the night because of procrastination, and I was afraid that without caffeine I wouldn't be able to stay awake. But instead of that, it was much easier to stay up by sheer willpower.

After this experiment, I learned that it is possible to live life without caffeine, a thing which I thought was impossible while I was pounding back coffees left and right. I don't know yet whether or not this change will be permanent, but I can say for certain that I will (hopefully) never have my caffeine intake be that high again.

Cover Image Credit:

Nathan Dumlao

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I Learned A Lot After Jean Shopping, Biggest Thing Being That I'm More Than Just My Pant Size

We've all been there.

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Monday, I went jean shopping with my boyfriend for the first time in probably a year and a half. Jeans that fit me last school year couldn't even button and having clothes in my room that didn't fit me from the waist down was creating a mental toll on me. We've all been there.

My whole life I haven't liked the size I am even when I was two sizes smaller. I have bigger hips and somewhat of a butt, and everything either goes to my hips, boobs, or stomach when I gain weight. (The hips and boob part are a blessing and a curse.) In high school I had all these exercise-type activities, I had musicals and show choir that would make me winded and then I pretty much ate two meals a day and just munched. Being busy kept me smaller, but why isn't that working now? Oh right, that is just undereating and not being healthy.

I have had five knee surgeries that have kept me from exercising like I used to, or how everyone else does in the gym. I can't run and walking only gets you so far and if I'm honest it's kind of boring. I do work out dance videos in my dorm room by myself, but my knee hates me the next day. I can't use my knee surgeries as an excuse, but it is also my reality.

Things are going to come to me harder than others and I'm going to have to improvise.

That's what I've learned in my movement class. I have to improvise and find another way to do something without hurting myself but will still give me the same burn and effect. Who knew this class would give me a new insight into how I treat hurdles in my life.

Another reason why I have gained weight is that I lost one of the most important people in my life and food has been comforting at times. And at times, I mean at the wake, and the funeral. And at times I mean the desserts at dinner, I can't say no to a chocolate chip cookie and I should if I want to lose weight. If I want to meet my goal.

I have a weight goal, I want to go back to the weight I was before my knee surgeries. That's a lot, to be honest, and I try to ignore that goal. What's the point of ignoring a goal if it's a goal? The point is ignoring an unhealthy goal. It's not unrealistic but it's unhealthy to put that much pressure on myself, on the scale I step onto, and on the number I want to reach.

If I don't weigh a specific number I wish to weigh it doesn't take away from my worth.

I am still beautiful, strong, intelligent, and everyone has their own body image battles.

I'm not the only one who works out too much, not enough, or has an unhealthy relationship with food.

When I look at a piece of cake I can hear my mom's voice, "You don't need that." And I know she means well, she is just looking out for me, and me gaining weight. Yet I eat it out of spite because I'm tired of hearing her voice in my head. I'm tired of hearing her voice be the anchor of my unhealthy eating problems. She isn't the anchor of my problem with eating cake when I shouldn't, but her and other people's words have helped with the weight of my unhealthy relationship with lack of eating.

Sometimes I eat too much and sometimes I hold back and then I don't eat enough. I know this is unhealthy, but this body image problem is just another thing to add to my mental health issues. Who doesn't want to add the start of body dysmorphic disorder with anxiety, and depression? I mean, I have enough on my plate just move things around the plate to make room for another thing.

I hate that social media and the world's expectations on body image is this severe. Some people will comment on how fat someone is, and how they need to work out more. Maybe they have a thyroid disorder, Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or a diagnosis that causes them to be unable to work out or lose weight easily. I have three out of four of those and if you looked at me you'd think I'm just a curvier heavy-set girl who just doesn't work out enough.

Losing weight and jean shopping is more than guessing your size sifting through the pants on the display, and lifting weights and acting as if you know what you're doing in the gym. Losing weight is more than looking through "thinspo" posts on Pinterest and Instagram. Losing weight is finding what works best for you while taking care of yourself mentally and physically.

Treat yourself with kindness and treat your body with kindness. You are more than your pants size and your mental health. You are more than those photoshop girls on the magazine covers and the Instagram posts with thousands of likes. You are worthy no matter what size you are.

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