The Angel or Devil on Your Shoulder
Welcome Players! I’ve got something to admit…
But before I do. I want you to remember, I’m human too.
As a Trainer, one of my favorite sayings is, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Really it’s just a great line to spill when I get caught doing something I’ve told my clients not too.
But this time, I really messed up.
I’ve talked about the caffeine addiction epidemic before. Especially in the United States, where caffeine-spiked lemonades even killed a dude (RIP).
So I’ve come here to atone for my sins.
What’d I do wrong? What have I warned you against doing?
I broke my own rules and went on a 2-week caffeine bender. It was great. Well, great at the time. I knew it had to come to an end eventually…
And today is my day of reckoning.
What happens when you build a tolerance to a substance, and then stop taking it?
And what happens during caffeine withdrawal?
Headaches. Fatigue. Lethargy. Loss of motivation.
You might be thinking that I’m being dramatic, but I want to challenge your assumption.
If you’re a habitual caffeine drinker, when was the last time you had a 7-day break of no stimulating substances?
Better yet, when was the last time you had a 3-day break!?
Most caffeine-addicted people I know need their coffee in the morning. So much so it’s a well-adjusted meme on thousands of products.
“Don’t talk to me unless I’ve had my coffee!” ha-ha!
Think about that for a second… Someone’s mood, energy, and overall well-being is entirely dependent on whether or not they’ve ingested a substance.
If that’s not addiction, I don’t know what is.
Ok - back to my withdrawal.
I know I’ve got about 3 days to get through the headaches, 2 days to get through the fatigue and lethargy. After that it’s smooth sailing!
After the fifth day my energy levels and mood are completely reset, and I feel great again.
When that’s behind me, I know I’m good to re-integrate caffeine on a sustainable basis, which for me means 2-3 times a week. I’ve got few rules I typically try to follow:
No caffeine 3 days in a row, or no more than 3 days in a 5 day span
The closer to the max I get to the rule above, the more days I try and go without (2-3+ days)
Because I dose out my caffeine, if I ever get above 250mg in a day it’s time for a tolerance reset
What’s important to recognize is why are you using caffeine?
Is it just a habit you’ve developed that you never properly evaluated?
Is it a social thing? Or are you acutely using caffeine for a mental/physical performance enhancement?
Do you “just like the taste”? Or are you secretly in love with the stimulating aspects?
Most people who are addicted to caffeine think they wouldn’t be able to function without it, and that’s partly true.
Like me, you’ll find that the withdrawal symptoms are not very fun at all. But you also underestimate your ability to withstand them. A shitty 3-days is worth every bit when you make it to the other side finding that you don’t need caffeine to sustain your energy levels.
Make it to the 5 day mark and see how your mood is naturally a bit better.
At the 7- or 10-day mark you can start to identify what other factors may be contributing to your fatigue; lack of sleep, meal timing, stress.
If you’re brave enough to go 14-days without that sweet magic bean juice, you’ll probably make a commitment to never have caffeine again you feel so great! Bold move cotton, no need to be that extreme about it.
Without a caffeine tolerance reset though, you never have the chance to truly evaluate where your body is at in terms of energy and fatigue. You’re constantly using a powerful substance to get through the day and at the point, the effectiveness of the substance itself is lowered because you’ve got so many confounding variables going on.
So my message to you this week is to take a good hard look at how you use the substances in your life, especially caffeine.
When used correctly caffeine is a powerful performance enhancement. It can improve cardiovascular endurance, strength output, mental alertness, concentration, and mood.
If used incorrectly, either in too high of doses or too frequently, can lead to anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, dependence, and a host of other issues.
If you use caffeine because you crave that mental alertness that it provides, but also can’t avoid some of the negative side-effects, there are so many more substances that could be of use to you. Natural ones.
There are so many different herbs, plants, and spices that can provide a cognitively stimulating effect that rivals or even supersedes that of caffeine.
Not to mention that each source of caffeine can provide different effects. Coffee vs. Tea vs. Yerba Mate vs. Gaurana vs. Yaupon vs. Cacao vs. Kola…
How many of you have even heard of some of these! All of them are natural plants and/or fruits!
While the concentration of caffeine does differ between them (if you’re looking for the strongest caffeine concentration, Yerba Mate is what you want), what matters more in my opinion is the synergistic compounds that are native to each plant.
In tea for example, the naturally occurring compound of L-Theanine provides the smoother, calmer energy amplification that is known to soften the jitteriness many people experience in coffee. Tea also has about 1/2 the caffeine of coffee, so that explains some difference as well.
In the future I’ll talk more about other cognitively-enhancing substances (all-natural of course!) that you can use to gain that mental edge you’re looking for, but in the meantime…
Mind Your Coffee!
- Trainer 01