In 2006, my blood pressure tested higher than normal and my doctor ordered me off all caffeine. At the moment he issued this edict, I nodded along in happy agreement (maybe it was just the Lexapro?) but the thought bubble over my head went something like:

“You doctors just don’t understand how real people live. C’mon—me, a TRAINER who gets up at FOUR THIRTY in the MORNING, quit drinking COFFEE?? Yeah, right.”

Still nodding, I agreed to a follow up seven days later so he could re-test my blood pressure and determine whether or not I needed to be placed on “blood pressure meds.”

As I left the office, those three words rang in my head: “Mocha Iced Blended.” I pulled myself out of my daydream and started doing the math. I’d been drinking coffee every day from the time I was 13. More or less EVERY DAY for the past 21 years. Maybe the doctor was right after all. Could I really be a coffee junkie?

I decided to quit.

I started by going cold turkey. That lasted—(not)—for a little less than three days. By the 69th hour, I’d succumbed to a Diet Coke late in the afternoon. I tried to sell all sorts of reasons to myself, but it was really all bullshit. I needed a new plan: a way THROUGH the madness.

MY “PRACTICAL WAY” TO STOP DRINKING CAFFEINE

I created this approach from scratch, and it’s been a pretty easy way for me to reduce the amount of coffee I drink, largely because I haven’t felt deprived, while “tricking” my body.

Taking a tip from a client who suggested coffee drinkers are far more addicted to the ritual of drinking the coffee than the actual beverage, I moved our coffee pot from the central point in the kitchen to the far side, making the coffee “ritual” less central to my morning experience. Next, I took two large clear plastic canisters and placed them on the kitchen counter. I bought a large can of 1/2-Caf, which contains 50 percent less caffeine than regular coffee, and dumped it into one of the canisters. I bought the same sized can of decaffeinated grounds and poured them into the other canister.
When I take a scoop from the 1/2-Caf can, I take an equal amount from the Decaf can and mix it into the 1/2-Caf can, thereby diluting the ultimate caffeine content of the beverage. I’ve mixed about 75 percent of the Decaf into the 1/2-Caf now, which means that I’m mostly drinking mostly decaf now.
I’ve also changed my behavior. Instead of setting the alarm clock for 4:30 AM, now I sleep until 5:15 AM, and immediately hop into the shower, waking up naturally with great lemon-sage aromatherapy products. That gives me an extra 45 minutes of sleep each weekday—that’s almost 8 hours of extra sleep every week. Not a small thing for a trainer.
I’ve done a few of other things too. I’ve stopped using those impossibly huge mugs in favor of smaller mugs. I don’t make as much coffee in the morning, either. And I stop at two mugs, max. This morning, I only had 3/4 of one.

About a week to the day, I returned to my doctor. I could almost hear the pride in his voice when he gave me the good news: “Congratulations Sam. Your blood pressure is normal. You’ve saved yourself from having to start a new medication, and you’ve improved your health.”

I think he was a little surprised that I’d done it.

I was, too.

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About The Author

Sam Page's picture

Named one of the “Top 5 Trainers in Los Angeles" by Ranker.com, Sam Page is the owner of Sam Page Fitness (www.sampagefitness.com) and the force behind PeaceLoveLunges.com. He can quickly identify problem behaviors through motivational interviewing, and uses science, exercise physiology, and 10 years experience as a coach to produce red carpet results. 

A technology fanatic since his time at Apple, Sam was one of the first trainers to offer remote online guided training to people around the world using his app, PocketSAM. He continues to educate and inspire others with regular speaking engagements at wellness conferences across the country, and is a regular contributor to MensFitness.com, Passport, DNA, HIV Plus, and The Advocate. Sam is certified in Executive Protection, CPR/AED, and First Aid, and is active in the Buddhist, LGBT, and SMART Recovery communities in LA. In his free time, Sam enjoys documentaries, playing flag football, and hanging with his Yorkie, Max. He is founder of Athletes for Humanity.

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