Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dating Coffee: Josh and Coffee are no longer in a relationship

A few weeks ago, I picked up Susan Zimmer's book, I Love Coffee, from Canadian Tire. Simply put, I love coffee! I enjoy the warmth, the feeling, the comfort, the aroma, the taste ...

A couple weeks ago (Apr 6th to be exact), I started my "Coffee Purge", doing anything and everything to stay off coffee. Lemons, water, apples, and the occasional chocolate snack helped me with cutting coffee. I was feeling great!

This past Tuesday (Apr 20th), I decided to drink coffee again in the evening. So ends my Coffee Purge of 2 weeks. I started dating coffee again. The following day, I drank some more, longing for the comfort and intimacy I had with this beautiful drink. Our relationship seemed to be going great. I was happy with coffee and coffee was happy with me (or at least the coffee industry was :P).

Within the first couple days, I immediately noticed a difference. This energy wasn't mine anymore. It was someone else's. I was letting coffee take over my life. Instead of enjoying life through coffee, I went through some crazy times with coffee. Just when I thought things were going to be good again, when we could go out for long walks and enjoy the sunrise/sunset at Starbucks, I quickly realized I entered this relationship too prematurely. How I've been fooled by coffee. Instead of an amazing friendship, I found myself stuck back in the same abusive relationship. Coffee doesn't want to mess me up like this, or at least I don't think it does. However, it seems that is just the nature of coffee. That's just what it is. It just tastes good. It just smells amazing. It just makes you feel so awake and alive again.

We've been in a relationship for 3 years maybe. I got started just before I went to Seattle and when got to the Emerald City (Seattle), I fell in love. Throughout the past year, we were on / off, taking an intentional break recently for 2 weeks. After trying it again for the past 4 days, I've decided to break up with coffee.

Maybe I'll end up loving this wonderful drink again. But for now, I need to cut my ties with it. To burn my bridges of the past -- not just have a "temporarily closed down" sign on the bridge.

As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I'm grateful for the family and friends I have and for the God I serve. They've been awesome support as I go through this difficult time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Battling Temptation: Free Coffee!

Today is April 15, 2010 - Earth Day.

To celebrate, Starbucks is offering free coffee for those who bring their own reusable mug. For those just joining in, I'm on my 9th day into my Coffee Purge. See my previous post for the introduction.

Now, to understand the temptation, you need to know the following about me:

1. I am a student. Free stuff is to university students like gold is to pirates.

2. I am a coffee lover. I drink my coffee black. I love holding the warm drink, smelling the aromas, tasting the complex flavors.

Leading up to this day, I got an email from Starbucks Canada about this promotion. I received a forward from a fellow coffee lover about this same promotion. I also received 'friendly' notes on Facebook about this wonderful promotion.

I feel great.

Period. It's hard to describe this feeling. I have a lot more energy. More stable. More in control, ever since getting off coffee. Every time I would walk to school, I would pass by the local Starbucks (Thank you, Google Streetview). My instinct was to always veer to the right (or left - depending which way I was going) and gravitate to the wonderful aroma. My standard order was a Grande Bold, pulling out $2.05 before the barista told me the price. Had this offer come up at the start of my Coffee Purge, I don't know what I would have done. With the headaches and lack of focus, this was definitely a very tempting offer. Now, however, the offer doesn't seem so alluring. To me, this is a cheap way to cheat on my dreams. An easy way to give in and to give up. Again, for fear of being misread, it's not weaksauce to drink coffee. It's a great beverage! This is a path I've chosen - for more on motivation, I'll refer you back to my previous post.

Free Coffee at Timothy's too?!

Well, it comes with the purchase of a loaf / bread. Not a bad deal actually! Actually, I had no idea about this, until I walked into Timothy's to meet a friend this morning. Of all places! I figured I'd be okay and just order tea. However, it was still quite tempting, seeing how I also like to order a loaf slice from Starbucks when I want something to eat (Banana Bread being my favorite - here's a cool link to a recipe). I decided to order tea anyways, remembering that today is Serene's birthday and I made a deal with her too! So it would be pretty lame if I went back on my word just for a free coffee that really isn't free. Looking back, I'm glad I drank the tea (Organic White Pomegranate). My energy level is pretty high and stable. I feel less stressed and more focused.

Flying High

People talk about getting high from drugs, alcohol, and so on. Yes, I agree, it definitely feels great ... in the moment. But the high doesn't last. Coffee gives me energy for a while .... even for a day. But if my body isn't properly rested, I pay for it. My Coffee Purge started from my abuse of coffee. And right now, I feel incredible! Runners talk of a Runner's High. The feeling is great. The energy is natural and stable. I feel a similar kind of high from changing what I drink: staying away from coffee, staying hydrated with fruits and water, and getting caffeine in moderate amounts from tea. It's awesomesauce!

I invite you to join me on my journey in flying high. In chasing dreams. In finding true strength in body, mind, heart, and spirit.



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coffee Purge: The Saga Continues

For Starters:

For those who don't know me, I love coffee. For my grad gift (see left), my friends bought me a custom tumbler from Starbucks. My passion for coffee developed over my time in University, and grew during my time in Seattle - where, ironically, I tried to quit coffee. The plan was to drink lots of water, fruits and vegetables. The plan failed horribly, as each day, I would walk by the kitchen and smell freshly brewed coffee. Coffee. Free. Fresh. How could I refuse? Since then, coffee has been an integral part of my life.

No Coffee?! Why?

My love for coffee has led to consuming large amounts of coffee, leading to: headaches, abnormal sleeping patterns, yellow teeth, bad breath, and funny feelings in my heart (when I drink too much). It's easy to think why I should stop, however, the taste, the warmth, the freshness, and friendliness of this wonderful brew was something I wasn't ready to part with so easily. I wanted to quit, yet at the same time, I didn't. Or rather, I what I really wanted was control over my coffee consumption - which I didn't have at the time. After much "encouragement" from my CCF friends (, I decided to give it another shot.

The Story:

I started Wed, April 7, 2010. I made a deal with Lorraine to get to her birthday (April 8 - 2 days). One of my favorite runners, Dean Karnazes, likes to say about ultramarathon running that he puts one foot in front of the other. For me, the 2-day marker was my first baby step. And here, on the right, is a picture of Lorraine's "surprise" birthday party. I'm holding a Starbucks cup, and in it, is the drink that saved me: Vanilla Roobios Tea Latte. I bought one for both Lorraine and I as a "stall" tactic as the rest of the people were preparing the "surprise". After meeting my 2-day goal, I found another birthday (Serene's) a week later. That was my next goal. Her birthday is in less than 1/2 hour!

So, how do you feel?

A full week has past since I stopped drinking coffee. Here are a few thoughts:
  • Headaches: The first 2-3 days were horrible. I couldn't focus and first had dehydration headaches, then caffeine withdrawal headaches. The headaches were much better after the first few days and my focus improved.
  • Energy: I have a lot more energy. The way I was drinking coffee often covered up how tired I was. The energy I have from fluids and fruits give me a more stable and constant source of energy. I'm lovin' it!
  • Drinks: Tea (yes, I allow myself to still have caffeine ... it's the coffee that I've been abusing), Water (lots of it!), Lemon + Water :). As I type this, I'm drinking a delicious concoction of freshly made green tea and squeezed lemons.
  • Fruits: Apples (my first apples during the "Coffee Purge" were purchased from the Wong Supermarket), Guava, ... okay, anything I love eating!
  • Exercise: I'm a fairly active person. Since my coffee purge, I've joined an unofficial running addicts club :) ... basically a bunch of friends who like to explore (running / biking / etc). I've also added a daily routine to keep myself strong.
  • Friends: I call them coffee police. These great friend of mine don't drink coffee (at least not excessively) and give me a well-deserved guilt trip whenever they saw me with coffee. Posting status updates on facebook attracted a lot of comments, which also helped me in my journey to a stronger me.
At the end of the day, I do this because I'm chasing a dream - to take hold of true strength. Not that quitting coffee makes me strong. When I refer to strength, I refer to my pursuit of 4 dimensional fitness, achieving strength in body, mind, heart, and spirit. The point isn't to quit coffee forever; but rather, to gain control over my desires and cravings. As I gain control over this one craving, I develop the strength to control my body, mind, heart, and spirit. I believe that God gives me the strength I need to fight my battles each day. He's given me a powerful Excalibur - I just need to take hold.

If you're trying to get rid of something that's holding you back, I'll be cheering you on with a smile :) Keep at it, stay focused, and find friends to help you stay on track.