Is Coffee a Drug? – My Relationship with Coffee & Why I Quit

I stopped drinking coffee. Here's why.I love coffee.

I love the rich, soothing smell of it wafting from the kitchen early in the morning. I love the first sip of it from a mug on cold winter days that snakes gently through my body, filling my bones with a comforting warmth. I love the first sip of it iced from a straw on summer mornings that sets with certainty an energized tone for what surely will be a great day. I love the ritual of coffee. Methodically preparing it at home; measuring out the grounds and water just how I like; the satisfying click of the silver BREW button that sets into motion the best part of my morning. I love ordering a cup at spots around the city. Sitting in a sunny corner by a street-facing window, sipping and working at my laptop while the coffee shop buzzes around me. I simply adore coffee.

And it’s been 83 days since I’ve had a cup.

My Relationship with Coffee

As much as I love this black liquid, I’ve always had a feeling that I shouldn’t be drinking it. I don’t mean to imply coffee is categorically bad–everyone’s body is different and responds differently to caffeine/coffee–but for me it felt like a bad habit right from the start. One of those “I should probably stop but…” guilty indulgences.

I’ve always been really sensitive to caffeine. The first time I drank a Red Bull in high school, I convinced myself it was laced with something because I was profusely sweating, jittery, anxious and swore I was having heart palpitations. I didn’t drink my first cup of coffee until college, and even then it wasn’t a regular habit because of how terrible I’d feel. I’d order the smallest cup available at the coffee shop with the intent of staying up late to study and would become so jittery and anxious I could barely even get any work completed. And even if I drank just a small cup first thing in the morning, my sleep that night would be all messed up. Nope, coffee was not for me.

Yet when I got my first real corporate job after college, I fell into the habit of drinking it regularly. I’d have a cup on my way to work and then not be able to sleep that night. So then I’d be tired the next morning and reach for a coffee to help me wake up. And then because of that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. This terrible cycle had me hooked. With time, my body adjusted and got used to the coffee and it no longer affected my sleep. This also meant that I no longer got that fun caffeine buzz when I drank a cup which bummed me out. I couldn’t increase my intake because more than a cup a day gives me a stomach ache, so I decided I’d stop drinking it for a while and then limit myself to only a couple days a week so that when I did drink coffee, I could get a noticeable caffeine high.

Even at the time, I was self aware enough to realize that that behavior and thinking was reason enough to say BOY BYE to coffee.

Whoaaa was quitting harder than I thought. The first time I went off it, I was shocked at how much the caffeine withdrawals kicked me in the ass (I was only having one cup a day!!). I was exhausted at work to the point where I contemplated taking a nap in my car during my lunch break, and I had a dull, persistent headache for two straight days. I couldn’t focus, I was lethargic–I felt terrible. I’d say it took a solid three or four days to feel normal without coffee–and when I did, it was pretty damn glorious to not be dependent on a drink to feel energized in the morning.

The past six years or so have been a cycle of drinking coffee every day, quitting it and hating life for three days, then being coffee-free for a couple weeks before caving and drinking it again.

Would I ever actually quit for good? Did it even matter?

For every article or study on the reasons why you should stop drinking coffee, you can find one touting its health benefits. The information out there can be confusing–is coffee good or bad for you? I’m going to get deeper into this in tomorrow’s post, but as with most things, I think it really depends on the person. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health because we’re all so different. For me, I’ve always had this gut feeling (literally and figuratively) that coffee is not good for me and my body. 

On December 13, 2016, I drank my last cup, a large iced coffee with almond milk from Dunkin Donuts at around 5:15AM as I walked to the North End to teach my morning classes at Btone. I felt “off” that day and had zero appetite, and it wasn’t long before a nasty case of food poisoning fully settled in (I had eaten raw cookie dough the previous day womp wommmp). I spent the whole night curled in the fetal position on my bathroom floor, and in the days following could barely stomach plain foods, let alone an acidic cup of coffee. I felt so ill from the food poisoning that I barely even noticed or differentiated the caffeine withdrawal symptoms from my overall state of sick. Honestly the food poisoning was pretty convenient in this regard and I’m weirdly thankful for it.

As I recovered and began to feel better and eat normally again, I had a choice to make. Do I start drinking coffee again? Quitting coffee had been in the back of my mind ever since I started drinking it years ago, and now I had gotten the hardest part out of the way with the caffeine withdrawals, so I decided to stay on the wagon. I was sure of my decision but very wrong about one thing: The hardest part was not out of the way.

Day 83

This is the longest I’ve gone without coffee since I started drinking it years ago and what’s most surprising is how sad I was about it (and still am, but to a much lesser extent). It’s like I lost touch with a best friend or my dog died. This thing that I would go to bed looking forward to enjoying the next morning was now gone … yet still there. Coffee is everywhere. Joe still brews it in the morning before heading to work and often there’s some leftover in the pot when I get home from teaching, still warm and just sitting there ready for me. I pass my favorite coffee shops every day while walking around the city. I live above a mother effing Dunkin Donuts.

During the first month without coffee, I almost caved every other day. The thought of never having coffee again was so sad and overwhelming that I had to really switch my focus and take it not even one day at a time but one decision at a time. I’m not going to have a cup right nowI can get through the next hour without coffee. Gradually it got easier to pass up and finally in month three I can say I don’t think about coffee much at all. Still though, writing this post is bringing back so many good memories and I’m starting to miss my BFFAEAE … 

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In addition to the temptations and general sadness, I even had a dream one night about coffee. This was about a month after eliminating it from my daily routine. The dream was nothing extraordinary except for how vivid it was. I was brewing a cup of coffee in my kitchen and then settling down on the couch to enjoy it but IT WAS SO REAL. I could smell it, taste it, feel it hitting my lips. When I woke up, I didn’t know whether to cry or pour myself a cup.

*Neither, for the record.*

I was going to name this post something else, but continually throughout the writing process I found myself thinking, “Damn am I talking about coffee or getting sober??” In no way am I suggesting that quitting coffee for a coffee lover is the same as quitting alcohol or drugs for an alcoholic or addict (I have the upmost respect for the strength it takes to stay sober for those battling addiction!), but it is kinda crazy that parts of this post would still make sense if you replaced “coffee” with the name of a hard drug.

This rambling diary entry of a post is already long AF so I’m going to end it here, but I have another one coming your way tomorrow that’s a bit more focused and constructive. I’m going to talk about the changes I’ve noticed with my body since quitting coffee. All have been positive things and have reinforced my decision to quit in the first place–it was 100% the right choice for me. (Emphasis on “for me“!)

What’s your relationship with coffee like? Can you enjoy it here and there or are you dependent on it? Have you ever tried quitting?

4 Products I’m Loving for a Healthier Home

This post is sponsored by Bed Bath & Beyond. All opinions–as always!–are my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible.

When Joe and I moved into our current apartment this summer, we were pretty much starting from scratch with furniture and decor. Our previous place had been a sublet, so we found ourselves a bit overwhelmed by all the purchases we’d need to make. Rather than rush to fill the apartment, I’ve been taking my time to slowly only add items that I truly love and make the space a happier, healthier home.  So when Bed Bath & Beyond reached out about their new healthy home section, you can image how excited I was.

Well Beyond is a curated shop by Bed Bath & Beyond focused on health, fitness and general well-being in the home. The selection is huge and the product range offers solutions for better nutrition, better sleep, more effective exercise, deeper relaxation and making your home a cleaner, healthier environment in general. I was able to select a few products from the shop that I absolutely love and want to share them with you all today. My picks are all under $100 (some well below that) so these are reasonable purchases that can make your home that much more comfortable.

4 Products I’m Loving for a Healthier Home

Brookstone 4-in-1 Bed Wedge Pillow

I’m so happy to have a reading wedge pillow back in my life! Joe keeps joking that it’s my new boyfriend because of how weirdly sentimental I am about this thing. Growing up we had one (“The Wedge” as we called it) and I used it almost everyday to binge read Boxcar Children books. Having one in our apartment makes my heart feel so full (it’s the little things in life??).

This 4-1 Bed Pillow from Brookstone has a layer of memory foam and is covered is the softest, coziest outer material. I use it for reading in bed and like it on the couch for doing work on my laptop. Wedge pillows can be super helpful for sleeping during cold and flu season as well–laying on a slight incline helps decrease sinus pressure.

Himalayan Glow Salt Crystal Lamp

Himalayan salt lamps are super trendy right now and promise an impressive list of health benefits. As with any newer trend, the jury is still out as to the actual extent of these super powers, but if nothing else, the soft glow of this lamp is so pretty and relaxing–I love it! So why all the hype? Himalayan salt lamps are said to generate negative ions which are associated with a sense of calm and mental clarity. Negative ions occur most abundantly in nature, especially around running water like the beach or waterfalls. Positive ions, which are produced by electronic devices, can have an opposite affect. So by keeping a salt lamp by electronic devices, they can supposedly neutralize those positive ions, thus purifying the air. This article has some great info on them if you’re interested in more.

Miracle workers or not, I’ll take a cup of warm tea, good music, some adult coloring and the relaxing glow of my himalayan sea salt lamp any day. Bonus: it makes for a great nightlight! This particular model I have has a convenient dimmer so you can control the brightness.

HoMedics Deep Sleep Sound Machine

I live in the Downtown Crossing/Chinatown area of Boston on a busy street and the noise on the weekends is no joke. I’m used to the general background noise that comes with living in any city–and actually quite like it!–but we also have loud upstairs neighbors so it can really be a double whammy at night. This Deep Sleep Sound Machine is awesome! There are a ton of different sounds to choose from (varying white noises, ocean sounds, rain, thunderstorms, forest sounds, etc.) and then within the modes you can adjust tone and volume. I’m obsessed with the rain setting.

HoMedics Ellia Soothe Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser

I’m a huge fan of diffusing essential oils, and in the winter months you get the extra bonus of adding a bit of moisture to the air when you do. I don’t know if it’s my apartment building or what but this winter has been brutal for me with the dry air. My lips are constantly cracked, I have to apply lotion and oils to my skin multiple times a day, and my throat and nasal passage get so dry while I sleep that it’ll actually wake me up in the middle of the night. Joe and I both got a humidifier/diffuser to place on our bedside tables and it’s made a HUGE difference. Scents like lavender are great for promoting a good night’s sleep, but sometimes I’ll even just diffuse water without adding any oils.

This HoMedics diffuser is the perfect size for my one-bedroom apartment, and I love the simple white design. There’s a color-changing light option and even though it’s compact, it’ll last over six hours when running continuously. It also comes with a few oil blend samples to add to your collection. 

As I hit publish on this post I’m actually diffusing some lemongrass oil and enjoying the glow of my salt lamp. Perfect start to the work day! 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy home products? Do you have any of these four?

bra I’m wearing is Aurum Activewear and you can shop for other blue sports bras on Amazon

10-Minute Gentle Workout for Holiday Travel + Other Tips for Staying (Mostly) Healthy

Sorry for the silence around here this week! I got hit with a nasty stomach bug and have spent the last couple days in the fetal position on my bathroom floor. Feeling much better today, but still don’t have much of an appetite and will probably need a nap soon. There’s a video to go along with this workout, but it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube so I’ll just add it in later. Subscribe to my channel to be notified when it’s live.

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The holiday season can cause a bit of a disruption to your normal fitness routine, so it’s always nice to have quick, at-home workouts on hand that you can do if you’re unable to make it to your gym or go-to studio. Today I’m sharing a 10-minute workout that’s perfect if:

  • You need to be quiet. Sleeping relatives? Downstairs neighbors? There’s no loud thudding and jumping around with this one.
  • You need to go easy on your joints. No jumping! This workout is low-impact.
  • You’re short on space and/or time. Trying to squeeze in a workout in your grandparents’ spare bedroom on Christmas Eve? I gotchu.
  • You’re a beginner. As the title implies, If you’re looking for a heart-pumping, ass-kicking workout, this one might not be for you. Compared to the majority of workouts I post, this one is on the gentler side and definitely beginner-friendly.

10-Minute Gentle Workout (Beginner-Friendly!)


You’ll do each exercise for 30 seconds, performing them back-to-back without resting in between exercises. That’ll make for 3 minutes of continuous work. Once you’ve completed all six exercises, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit a total of three times (or more if you want a longer workout).

Air Squat with Pulse | Feet about hips-width apart, squat down, sending your hips and butt back and down (not the knees forward!). Keep your chest open, shoulders back—it’s natural to lean forward slightly as you lower down, but we don’t want to hunch forward. Bring your hands in front of you as you sink down to your lowest point, bodyweight staying in your heels. Hold at the bottom and do one pulse (up an inch and down an inch). From there, powerfully stand back up, straightening your legs and thrusting your hips forward (squeeze your bum at the top!) and driving your arms behind you. 

Single-Arm Plank to Lunge (RIGHT) | Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward. Place your right hand behind your back. Your left arm should reach up overhead. This is your starting position. From here, dive your torso forward in a bowing motion and plant the left hand on the ground next to your right foot. Keeping your other hand behind your back, step the right foot back into a single-arm plank. Reverse the movement by stepping your right foot forward back into a deep lunge and then sweeping your left arm and torso upright (stay low in the lunge).

Inchworm Push Ups | Start in a plank position. Do a push up. Next, walk your hands back towards your feet so that you’re in a forward-fold position. Walk the hands right back out to a plank and do your next push up.

Single-Arm Plank to Lunge (LEFT)

Stationary Side Lunge Slides | Start standing with feet wide apart, toes pointing forward. Your feet will stay where they are the whole time. From here, bend into your right knee, sliding your hips back and sinking low into a side lunge (left leg stays straight). Holding low, you’re going to slide across over to your left side, gradually straightening the right knee as you bend into the left. now you’re in a low left side lunge. Straighten the left knee to rise up to your starting position. Repeat, in the opposite direction (lunge to the left, slide to the right, stand up).

Bicycle Crunch Sit Ups | Start laying on your back with your hands lightly behind your head, elbows bent out to the sides and chest open. Engage your abs, pulling your bellybutton down to the floor as you lift your legs off the ground about six inches to a hover. This is your starting position. From here, bend your right knee in towards your chest as you crunch your left elbow across to meet it, lifting your shoulders off the floor like a twisting sit-up. Your left leg should remain outstretched in a hover as you do this. Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side. The goal is to keep the legs off the ground the whole time, but if you need to modify, your heel can quickly rest on the floor in between reps.

Gentle 10-Minute Bodyweight Workout (Beginner-Friendly)

WEARING | Pugs N’ Roses tank c/o Puppies Make Me Happy // Lululemon leggings (old – you can shop Lulu’s current selection of leggings or check out these ONZIE capris with a similar mesh cut-out look or these mesh stirrup leggings from alo yoga) // Free to Be Bra c/o Lululemon // grippy barre socks

If you want more of an advanced workout to take with you during holiday travel, I have a massive collection of bodyweight workouts in the archives. Browse them all HERE.

Tips for Staying (Mostly) Healthy during the Holidays

Treat Yourself the Same Way You’d Treat Your Loved Ones

This might sound corny, but any time I catch myself spiraling down with the negative self-talk, I just picture saying all those things to someone I love. That usually stops me dead in my tracks.

Why did I eat that second piece of pie?! I’m disgusting. Ugh I’m so fat. I look terrible in this dress now. I shouldn’t have eaten so much at that holiday party. I didn’t workout today so I don’t deserve to eat a Christmas cookie.

Replace the “I” with “you” and just imagine saying that to your best friend, your daughter, your nephew, your mother or anyone else you love. It’s sickening, isn’t it?! My eyes literally well with tears when I think of my little niece hearing those words from anyone. Never never NEVER.

Go easy on yourself during the holiday season. A few massive meals, a few too many cocktails, a few less workouts–IT’S OK. Yes, like a muscle, will power can be strengthened; but, also like a muscle, it becomes fatigued under constant, unrelenting stress. You’re not weak if you give in to the cookie tray at your fourth holiday office party of the week–you’re human. And you’re allowed to enjoy some damn cookies!

It may seem counterintuitive but I know for me personally, the less pressure I put on myself to maintain some perfect health and fitness routine, the easier it is for me to do just that. If I allow for the missteps, they become nothing more than a detour. If I stress about them and beat myself up, those missteps snowball into a complete derailing that has me stuck in my tracks or even moving backwards.

Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mentality

Throughout my college years, I struggled with moderation–everything was an extreme. If one little thing didn’t go as planned in my mission to eat rigidly “clean” and workout, I’d just completely throw in the towel on doing anything remotely healthy that day. It was perfection or complete gluttony and lethargy–there was no in between. Sometimes the holidays can bring out this mentality. I have my family’s holiday dinner tonight so today’s a wash. It’s absolutely fine to have days like that. ABSOLUTELY. But not so much if that’s your mentality for the entire month of December.

Instead of deeming each day an “all” or a “nothing,” I like to maintain some normalcy. Even if I know I’m going to drink several glasses of wine and help myself to seconds of dessert at a holiday party that night, I still treat the rest of the day like any other. I eat my typical breakfast, I go for a workout, I eat lunch as I normally would.

Supplement Your Holiday Diet to Fill in the Gaps

Going hand-in-hand with maintaining some normalcy in your daily schedule is maintaining some normalcy in your daily nutrition intake. Yes, I fill my holiday plate with roasted veggies and healthy side dishes, but let’s be real. I’m going HAM in the dairy, carbs and sugar departments as well. Larger-than-normal portion sizes, different foods than I normally eat, travel–it all can throw off my body a bit (bloating, irregularity and other such sexiness).

I take the following MegaFood supplements regularly, and find them especially important during the holidays.

  • Multi-Vitamin | MegaFood’s Multi for Women is my personal go-to, but they have a wide selection of formulations to choose from in the multi category (based on gender, age, preference for taking one or two tablets, etc.). Both MegaFood and I share the philosophy that food should always come first as your nutrient source. A multi-vitamin is there to the do the important job of then filling in the gaps. During the holidays, that gap might be a little larger than normal (Christmas salad? Never heard of it). 😉
  • Probiotics | I did a whole post on the benefits of probiotics but can summarize it with: gut health. In a normal week, I take MegaFlora two or three times, maybe every other day at most. However, during periods of abnormal eating (Thanksgiving feasts, back-to-back holiday parties, your grandma’s famous Christmas cookies as breakfast, etc.), I find that taking one daily helps ease any digestion issues and keeps me regular.* MegaFlora contains 20 billion active bacteria and has strains naturally found in the digestive system. I love it! If you’re traveling for the holidays, keep in mind that it needs to be refrigerated.
  • Turmeric Strength for Whole Body | I highlighted the Daily Turmeric Nutrient Booster Powder in a blog post this summer–it’s perfect for adding to smoothies or other beverages. During holiday travel though, I’m not likely to make myself a smoothie for breakfast and it’s much more convenient to pack my daily dose of turmeric in tablet form. Hello, Turmeric Strength for Whole Body! This tablet features a blend of FoodState (=made with whole foods) Kauai Organic Turmeric Root with a pure Turmeric Extract to deliver a full spectrum of curcuminoids, which support healthy inflammation regulation in the body.* It also includes berries and cherries to deliver antioxidants that support healthy aging.*

How do you stay healthy (ish) during the holidays? Any tips to add?

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* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by MegaFood. While I am a paid ambassador, all opinions–as always!–are my own. I truly believe in this company and stand behind their products 100%. I know you all will love them as much as I do!

Some links to outfit details are affiliate.