Last week I posted a picture blog about what I used to eat vs. what I eat now. The picture of before and after my lifestyle change were completely different except for one thing: my morning Starbucks iced coffee.
I admit it. I’m a Starbucks junkie. Before I started trying to lose weight, I drank iced coffee with whole milk and sugar. Once I started counting calories, I weened myself off the sugar and started drinking it unsweetened. Once I started reducing animal products in my diet, I switched from cow’s milk to almond milk. Calorie wise, my iced coffee is negligible, which is why I never thought about not having it.
Stopping at Starbucks on the way to work (or class) has been a ritual of mine for probably close to 10 years. I always call it my last vice – I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore, I don’t overeat, I drink rarely and moderately… let me have this one thing.
After I posted the before and after pictures of how I eat, I finally started thinking about that Venti Unsweetened Iced Coffee. I love the smell of coffee and I love the taste. But once I thought about it, I realized that the acidity of the coffee wasn’t really all that pleasant when it was sitting in my stomach. Then there’s the caffeine. I drank coffee daily out of compulsion. If I skipped it, or waited too long, I would be treated to a caffeine headache that no amount of caffeine would cure. This was problematic on days when I wanted to do a lot of things in the morning that didn’t involve coffee- like running or going to the gym. Finally, there was the cost. At about $3 per day, Starbucks adds up. Again, I justified this to myself. I told me long ago, “If you don’t smoke cigarettes, you can have Starbucks every day.”
Obviously making my own coffee at home would negate the cost issue. But I’ve never been able to pull off making anything that I found remotely as tasty and satisfying as Starbucks. I know that’s a point of debate- but to my taste buds, Starbucks iced coffee is king.
I decided last weekend that it was time to try not having it, just to see how it affected things. Instead, I brewed a light iced green tea. I figured it would be easier to have something with a lot less caffeine at first than to just quit caffeine cold turkey. It’s been seven days without Starbucks, and I don’t think I’m going back.
The first few days were pretty miserable. I had a headache despite the green tea and I felt just kind of weird and off. After 5 days, I had an iced black tea with lunch and it made my heart race like caffeine hasn’t done to me in many years. Apparently the tolerance to caffeine wears off very quickly! I did not like the way that felt.
Iced green tea is good. It’s easy to make, not acidic, and it’s cheap compared to Starbucks. Since the switch, I feel I’ve slept better and my stomach has been happier. Yesterday, I was able to wake up at 6:30 am, go pick up veggies from Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op, putz around the kitchen, head to the gym for cardio and BodyPump – all without any caffeine or the dreaded caffeine headache. It’s worth it. After drinking it daily for so long, I stopped liking the coffee all that much, I guess.
I’m going to let myself get used to the green tea for awhile and then see if there’s something without caffeine to drink. Herbal mint tea is one suggestion that sounds appealing to me.
Now, I know some of you are reading this and thinking “Oh hell no. I am not giving up my coffee. Nope. Don’t even bother suggesting it.” Don’t you worry, I’m not suggesting it! I don’t think coffee hinders weight loss in any way and there are many health benefits to drinking coffee (avoid sweeteners though.) For me, it was just time to try life without it. I think it’s a good practice in general to question anything you’ve been doing by habit for a long time to see if it’s still working for you. When I questioned the coffee, I realized it wasn’t working for me anymore, so I changed. If I still loved it the way I used to, I wouldn’t even dream of giving it up.