Unleaded, please

Today I am celebrating my sixth day off drugs. I’m not a recovering heroin addict, and I’ve never done crack. I’ve never even had a puff of pot. Today is my sixth day without caffeine. I know this sounds a wee bit melodramatic, because caffeine is a drug that many of us consume every day. There are mugs, bumper stickers, and posters devoted to the worship of leaded coffee. Energy drinks are a big seller at grocery and convenience stores. It’s popular because it’s an easily available, legal high. Today is my sixth day without.

I think caffeine is fine in small doses, but over time it builds up in my body. I get to a point where no amount of the stuff wakes me up. Once this happens I feel tired and stretched thin all the time. A short respite from caffeine clears up my system and I feel normal again. I notice something during these occasional fasts. While I am without caffeine I get more sleep, because I know I will not be using an artificial prop to keep myself alert. I actually feel better and more attentive than I do when I’m drinking leaded coffee. I also drink more water when every sip does not come from a paper carton of java. I like decaf but I don’t drink nearly as much coffee when it doesn’t have the stimulant effect. When I drink decaf, I only drink it for the taste.

I try to stay aware of how the things that I consume affect my personal chemistry. I truly believe that what I eat and drink has a lot of influence over my health and general well-being. Of course it’s hard to make decisions solely on this basis. Like most people, I eat most things simply because I want them in the moment, or because they are the most convenient. I’m trying to pay more attention to my body. I usually go back to drinking caffeine after a week or so. This time I might not—after all, I feel better without it. When I really stop to think about which food choices give me more joy, I almost always choose the ones that are better for my health. I might even go out of my way for something I truly, joyfully, want. That makes my daily decisions a lot easier, and that’s great, too. Joy just may be a wonder drug—here I am, addicted all over again.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

82. What’s one tiny joyful step you could take today towards a healthier lifestyle? Do it!

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