Why am I giving up caffeine?

Posted on: November 30th, 2011 by Rachel Cosgrove

I am addicted to caffeine. Yes, I, Rachel Cosgrove am a caffeine addict.

I have always said that having 1-2 cups of coffee with protein is not a problem so why am I giving it up? In fact there are a number of health benefits to caffeine. Research has shown everything from decreasing your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, blood pressure, less risk of heart attack and even help with weight loss, improving focus and in sports peformance.  I am a BIG FAN of coffee not only because it may have all of these health benefits but simply because I LOVE my morning time with my Cup of Joe! I am such a coffee fan, I have an espresso maker at home and an espresso maker in my office. I love the smell and the experience of drinking a cup of coffee when I need a pick me up, a break, time to myself or time with my friends. Plus I love Starbucks- everything about it, the business model, how they run their company and the experience they create.

So why give it up? Because I’m addicted! Realizing that I couldn’t go a day without it, I thought that it probably would be good to take a break. Coffee does raise epinephrine(also called adrenaline) which puts your adrenal glands(the little gland that goes into over drive when you are stressed or using stimulants) into overtime. The last time I gave up caffeine was in October 2007 after I did my Ironman.

After doing a lot of volume with my training, like training for and doing an Ironman(which can also stress out your adrenals owing them a “vacation”) and having been increasing my coffee consumption it’s good to take a break to let my adrenals reboot. Plus after discussing this with various people in the industry including my Husband (Alwyn) I have come to the conclusion that for most people eliminating caffeine for a period of time to give your adrenals  a “vacation” can be beneficial and is something my clients and myself should probably do every once in awhile especially if you are addicted (like me but shhh don’t tell my husband). Plus Alwyn challenged me saying that he thinks I’m addicted and there’s no way I could give it up…so of course I had to show him…

The reason this came up was because last week when Alwyn was helping me make weight (read more about my making weight story here) he told me to give up coffee for three days so that it would work extra strong when I added it back in as a diuretic. I couldn’t even make it one day without it and told him – no way, not happening. After finishing the powerlifting competition and having also just trained for a Half Marathon recently I once again had a pretty high training volume(not as high as Ironman training days) but I had been pushing my body for a period of time.  Since I have a month before I start ramping up my training volume again for a Half Ironman I decided that I should give my adrenals a much needed vacation before I start my Half Ironman training (since they haven’t had one since 2007).

The fact that I couldn’t go a day without it was a small wake up call that maybe I am somewhat dependent and should eliminate caffeine. This strategy of taking an adrenal vacation periodically I believe helps to allow me to push myself the way I do and be able to recover and not get over fatigued or over trained.

Day One- I woke up and didn’t know what to do with myself since I usually sit and sip my coffee having my “morning time”. I made a cup of tea but it just was not the same. As the day went on I felt foggy headed and then the headache hit midafternoon and got worse and worse as the day went on.

Day Two- I woke up with the headache I went to bed with last night and it didn’t seem to ease up. I ended up napping curled up on the couch when I got home from work at about 6pm- I was having major withdrawals! It was bad. Didn’t know I was so addicted but I suppose that means I should definitley come off of it for a period of time.

Day Three- Today! I am thinking clear enough to put together this blog post. Headache is better but still there slightly. I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll feel pretty clear headed and somewhat back to normal.

But back in 2007 when I did this I don’t remember ever having a wonderful feeling of clarity sans caffeine and wanting to stay off of caffeine long term because I felt so good.

I have to say I feel pretty dang good on caffeine and I miss it.

Reasons people give up caffeine-

  • Not sleeping well – Not me, I’m the type that when my head hits the pillow I’m out even when I’m drinking lots of coffee.
  • Anxiety- I’m not a real high stress person as much as I have going on. I like having lots going on and am comfortable with that but don’t experience anxiety.
  • High Blood Pressure- My blood pressure is as low as it can be.

So I don’t plan to cut caffeine out long term- heck no! Instead just giving my adrenals a vacation for the next few weeks. Starting to think they may not need until Christmas though…maybe 21 days will be plenty. :)

Hope my adrenals are enjoying their vacation!!

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