2013 has been christened the ‘The Year of Doing’ by myself and my friends. It’s the year to stop talking about doing things and actually do them. To get the ball rolling I’ve broken the things I want to try ‘give up’ and things I’ve always wanted to ‘take up’ into different monthly experiments! Each one will last for the month before I report back on how it went. This is my review of how my 2nd month went…
Give Up: Caffeine
I love my coffee, love the smell, love the smooth yet intense flavour, love the rush of energy that comes after drinking a cup and also the social side, the gossiping over a frothy latte! A few years back I tried to give up caffeine as I felt I was becoming too dependant on it, go cold turkey and I turned into a caffeine crazed monster.
But not a smiley happy one like that little guy… I experienced raging headaches, was exhausted, snappy and basically a total nightmare to be around. My moaning got so bad that one of the girls I was working with at the time got fed up and snapped, ‘my God, it’s not like caffeine is heroin, just shut up and have a cup!’. That was when my resolve broke and I chugged back a cup of Nescafe, no questions asked… Until this month.
Yes it’s not ‘heroin’, but it’s still a stimulant and the rate I was knocking the stuff back was in no way healthy. This month’s caffeine ban wasn’t as hard as my previous attempt as I had already massively cut back on my intake and had lots of herbal tea at the ready to sub in.
Side note: this isn’t supposed to be a scare mongering blog but I can’t help but share a few dodgy side effects of caffeine which I’ve come across:
Weakens the immune system: coffee hinders the body’s natural ability to effectively and completely regenerate, which results in a weaker immune system. So if you feel like you’ve a cold coming on, step away from the coffee.
Increases stress levels: Coffee aggravates already overworked adrenal glands and also it stimulates production of the mean stress hormone, cortisol. So if you are having a stressful day in work, the very worst thing you can do is reach for the coffee- it is just going to intensify your stress levels.
Hydration Hater: Coffee is a known diuretic and contributes to dehydration. This can have such adverse effects as fatigue, muscle weakness, poor concentration and dizziness.
Reduces energy levels: Shocker, but caffeine doesn’t actually add energy to your system, it just burns up your reserves at a faster pace. You get a short-term boost at the expense of long-term jitters and fatigue.
Fertility and PMS: This is a complicated one to explain but I’ll try break it down as much as possible. Caffeine has been proven to increase the levels of the hormone estrogen and also exhaust our adrenal glands. When these things happen our liver cannot effectively remove the excess estrogen from our systems and estrogen dominance begins to build in the female body. This excess estrogen increases symptoms of endometriosis and other fertility issues. So if you suffer from any PMS symptoms it is recommended you steer well clear of caffeine.
Verdict: I love my skinny lattes too much to keep this up in the long run and can see no reason why a cup once in a while would have any lashing negative effects. However I now know not to touch the stuff when feeling sick, stressed or PMSy as it will only aggravate my system more.
Take Up: Running
I’ve always loved running. I used to love coming in home from work in the evenings, sticking on a t-shirt, jogging leggings and runners and heading out with my Nike Running app on my iphone and pushing myself until I was about to vomit. That was fun to me. Therefore I thought this would be a triumphant return to pounding the streets… How wrong was I?!
My aim is to comfortably be able to do 5 KM in under 30 minutes, however I find each 30 minute run to be more boring than the last and the adrenalin high isn’t as rewarding as I used to remember it being! I just am not getting the same kick as I used to get. I think my pace of life has changed and I appreciate activities that don’t entile a large rush of cortisol as much as I used to.
Verdict: I do think it is important to engage in some weekly cardio so I’m going to keep this up for the time being and have signed up to these Saturday morning 5 KM runs in Marley Park with a friend, just to inject a bit of fun into what can be a very serious and sombre activity. http://www.parkrun.ie/marlay/