I Gave Up Soda And Alcohol And I Thought My Head Would Explode

Wellness Wednesdays

The LD staff decided it was high time we all made health a priority. Enter Wellness Wednesdays, a series of weekly health challenges by LD writers (and editors!) where we commit to seven days of healthy habits and share the results with our readers. This week’s challenge: No caffeine or alcohol.

This Week’s Participant: Lauren

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I decided to do this challenge because I have a pretty serious Coca-Cola addiction. I drink multiple Cokes a day and have been known to down a Double Big Gulp from 7-Eleven with superhuman speed. My most prideful (read: shameful) moment was finishing a 24-pack of Coke in a week. Though, to be completely honest, my body has stopped processing the caffeine. I no longer get a caffeine jolt from Coke—it just makes my tastebuds happy and it relieves my caffeine headaches. When it comes to alcohol, I usually have a casual glass (or two) of wine or a beer after dinner at least once a week. I decided to give up alcohol as well because I tend to use it as a crutch and a coping mechanism for tough days or awkward situations. This challenge will seriously test my willpower.

Day 1

My alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. this morning and due to my usual game of, “How many times can I press snooze before I’m actually late?” I didn’t get out of bed until 7:10 a.m. So I’m running behind schedule, trying to calculate what time I’d have to leave to make it to work on time and be able to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru to get a Coke before the realization hits that I will have to make it through today without my caffeine fix. Send help.

Overall, the first day was OK. I survived my first day without caffeine. Luckily, I wasn’t craving alcohol tonight so I didn’t have to disappoint myself any further. I’m still seriously craving a Coke, though.

Day 2

I had a massive migraine all day. I honestly felt like my head was going to implode. I’m sure part of it was dehydration (I’m so bad at drinking water), but the other part was definitely caffeine. Unfortunately, I felt bone-tired all day and like my body and my brain were on two different planes. It was not fun, nor productive. Ultimately, I made it through the work day and got to bed relatively early without even considering having a drink first.

Day 3

Wednesdays are my errand days and I usually reward myself with either Starbucks or a Coke. I went to Starbucks in the afternoon and had to rethink my order (Trenta black tea lemonade). I haven’t really felt the effects of no caffeine today, just a mild headache, but ultimately I took a walk and was fine.

Since this is almost the midpoint of the challenge, I’m trying to reflect on any changes I’ve seen within myself or my diet. I really don’t see much: I’m not any less tired than usual and I have the same amount of (low) energy. So far, this challenge has just caused literal headaches. The good news: No alcohol cravings.

Day 4

Nothing notable happened today; it was a normal day in the office, but without caffeine. I didn’t have any headaches but I was exhausted. This seems like a good time to note that I have very low energy levels and I spend my days battling exhaustion and the desire for a nap. I very rarely feel like I’ve gotten enough sleep. Part of it stems from my health problems, but really, it’s exhausting being so tired all the time and no amount of caffeine helps.

Day 5

Today was rough. I work at a private school for students from low-income families as a teacher’s assistant and an office assistant. My job requires dealing with behavior issues that stem from fear, anger, sadness, and many other emotions. There were lots of student meltdowns and some concerning signs from one particular student. It was stressful handling all of that and honestly, I wanted to go home and have a drink or four. I was planning on driving to Hampton and back tonight (which usually involves at least one Coke stop) but those plans got canceled. Instead, I had a quiet night at my friend’s house where I had one drink because today was awful.

Day 6

I cheated today. I had both Coke and alcohol. My friend was visiting me and I woke up at 8 a.m. to go grocery shopping for my Friendsgiving dinner Sunday night. By mid-afternoon, I was seriously dehydrated and missing my caffeinated bubble fun. So my friend and I got bottled Cokes (we both cheated, as she’s also trying to drink less soda). Our taste buds rejoiced.

Day 7

No caffeine, no alcohol. I made it through the last day of the challenge and I feel accomplished. Honestly, this was a tough challenge. After work I tend to unwind with a beer or a Coke, rewarding myself for a hard day’s work, and I had to figure out new ways to relax. I also realized that I don’t hydrate nearly enough, and I rely way too heavily on soda (I know, soda isn’t actually hydrating, but the bubbles are deceitful).

Overall, a week isn’t long enough to feel any real effects besides caffeine withdrawal. If you’re looking to lose weight, cutting soda should always be your first step. Alcohol is difficult to cut because we tend to use it as a crutch for social interaction. I had a difficult time coming up with activities that didn’t involve bar-hopping with friends. So, if you want to cut caffeine and/or alcohol, I recommend giving yourself a month or more to get real benefits from it and looking for alternate ways to wake yourself up in the morning.

Featured Image by Marc Fulgar

Lauren Gustafson

Lauren is a Virginia native and graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she majored in English. She reads passionately, bakes occasionally, and loves rugby. Lauren has spent multiple summers supervising children at overnight camps and she is a pro at dealing with awkward and inappropriate questions. Her goals in life include: being a crazy book lady, living on her own, and traveling any chance she gets.
Lauren Gustafson
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