New Years resolutions have always been easier said than done for me. Every year I decide certain things I want to do (or not do) to better myself, but I usually end up giving up or forgetting sometime around mid-January. For 2017, I initially decided against setting any kind of resolutions that I would force myself to stick to; instead I planned on a general goal of trying to “live healthier” and let that shake out how it might. Near the end of 2016, though, as my anxiety was in an upward swing, I made two decisions that would later become my New Years resolutions – I gave up caffeine and started eating breakfast.
Though these goals were unrelated to my general betterment goal I had initially set for myself, I quickly realized these two changes were having a positive impact on my life. I meant for both of those decisions to only be temporary, however after seeing how much they were helping me, I decided to make them my New Years resolutions that I plan to carry with me throughout 2017 and beyond. For me personally, these were both difficult to start and maintain, but once I got over the initial hump, they became much easier and something I can see myself maintaining long term.
Giving up caffeine was by far the hardest and the scariest one. I also knew it would end up being a difficult commitment because, as a friend said, “What will you order at Starbucks now?” I had tried to give up caffeine before, once intentionally in high school and once unintentionally in adulthood, but both of those ultimately failed once I realized I needed that boost to get my through my school and work day. I have always had some sort of caffeine in my diet since my early teenage years and have hardly been able to function without it. But as I mentioned earlier, I have some issues with anxiety, so I was trying to cut out any potential triggers, knowing that caffeine can be a big one. I initially made the decision to cut out caffeine until I could get my anxiety back under control, but even after I did, I decided to continue to cut it out and see how it helped me.
One of the main reasons why I was able to successfully do this is because I had a taken vacation time around Christmas and New Years. For anyone who has ever tried to give up caffeine, they know that withdrawal is incredibly difficult. Because I was able to take naps and rest essentially whenever I needed to for that first week, I was really able to beat it. I also consider myself lucky that my body hadn’t been needing as much caffeine to function over the few months prior to this. I gave up coffee because it was making me too jittery, so at most I was having a cup of tea a day. I used to drink soda as my primary source of caffeine, but found myself unable to finish an entire can in one day anymore. Because I could go through the withdrawal at my own pace and my body wasn’t getting as much caffeine as it used to before I started this, I believe is why I was able to actually give this up.
In the few weeks that I’ve gone without having caffeine, I feel like I’m able to make it through the day with more energy. I nap significantly less than I did before, and I’m able to push through the afternoons at work without needing an additional pick up. In the past, there would be certain days where I know I’d need to go get more coffee or tea to make it through the day, or I’d be waiting until I got home so I could take a nap, but I don’t feel that way anymore. Though I might get sleepy, I’m able to push through naturally and don’t need anything extra to help me. I was certain that coming back to work after my vacation would make me slip back into drinking caffeinated drinks, but to my surprise, I came back with lots of natural energy. Even if I don’t sleep well, I can power through, though I do find myself sleeping better and having a more consistent sleep pattern after giving up caffeine. I don’t think I can give all the credit for my newfound energy to just giving up caffeine, eating breakfast has helped give me a daily energy boost as well.
Admittedly, I have never been a breakfast eater. Sunday brunch at 1pm was the closest thing to “breakfast” that I consistently indulged in. I much preferred sleeping in for an extra 10 minutes than shoveling in a muffin on the go or actually attempted to cook something. Breakfast became a necessity, though. I started to get uncomfortably hungry in the morning and my body was telling me it needed food before lunchtime. I tried some different make ahead recipes because even though I started getting hungry, I still like to sleep in. The frozen yogurt pops I wrote about have become my go-to breakfast. They are easy and quick to make ahead of time, and I can grab one and quickly eat it before I leave or take it with me and eat it in the car on my way to work. I keep an emergency supply of goldfish crackers in my car in case I’m still hungry, but usually the yogurt pops do the trick.
The combination of eating breakfast and giving up caffeine has given me more energy throughout the day than I ever thought it would. Though I’m not running around like the Energizer Bunny, I can tell a noticeable difference in how I feel throughout the day and the amount of energy I have. Though I do plan at some point to reintroduce caffeine in small amounts on rare occasions, like a cup of tea during with dessert or a soda at the movies, I want to give myself a few months so that I don’t risk becoming dependent on it again. I also think that eating breakfast has helped me snack less during the day. Though I do eat light snacks still, especially on days that I’m working, I don’t snack as often, and I’m not as hungry between meals as I used to be before I started regularly eating breakfast. This might be the first time I successfully follow through with a New Years resolution because I can actually see and feel the benefits in my life.
I also realize it has only been two weeks, and there is a lot of time left in the year for me to potentially fall off the wagon. I consider myself fortunate that right now I’m not craving any of the caffeinated drinks I used to love, but that could change someday, which will make staying caffeine free that much harder. Getting sick of all my make ahead breakfast foods is another worry I have. But I fell into an incredibly lucky set of circumstances that so far has allowed these changes to take hold in my life, and I’m going to go with these as long as I can. There’s a lot more I want to do in 2017 to make “living healthier” a reality, but so far, these resolutions have been a good start.
How have your New Years resolutions benefited you so far? Feel free to share in the comments!