21 Day Challenge: A Caffeine Conundrum, Part 1

coffee beans

I started the 21 Day Challenge with My Fit Foods again Sunday. It wasn’t because I went off my “diet” and have to start over. The company is having a contest, both local and nation-wide, in which customers compete to lose the most weight on the 21 Day Can’t Fake Fit Challenge. Everyone who wants to participate went to one of the locations and weighed on Saturday. You can win My Fit Foods gift cards if you lose the most weight (percentage-wise) at your store and win a trip to Cabo if you lose the most weight nation-wide. While I don’t have my eyes on any prizes, I wanted to start over so I’m on pace with other customers. The Uptown location is giving away additional prizes, like passes to gyms (don’t worry, Cassie and Brent, I’ll never go anywhere else!) and gift certificates. I may or may not have eaten a chocolate chip bundtini before I weighed in to tip the scale a little higher. 😉

I’ve completed 14 days of the challenge, including three days on the second-time-around meal plan. For dinner tonight, I ate roasted salmon and grilled vegetables (only 200 calories!) and yesterday, I had a truly delicious salmon stir-fry for lunch. I’ve gotten used to the liver cleanse, but I haven’t weaned myself from coffee yet. The My Fit Foods guide to the 21 Day Challenge says the following about caffeine:

  • caffeine raises blood sugar and cortisol levels
  • chronically high cortisol affects insulin levels and causes a rise in hunger as well as fat storage
  • both regular and decaf coffee have been linked to increased risk of heart disease
  • a diuretic, caffeine slows the body’s metabolism
  • coffee is highly acidic

But the main admonition against caffeine is that it is an artificial stimulant, like sugar, soda, and tobacco, and the 21 Day Challenge is all about learning how to get energy from all-natural, non-processed foods like lean meats, fruits, vegetables and “good” carbs (foods low on the glycemic index) so you don’t have to rely on stimulants to get through the day. That makes sense to me because I absolutely used (yes, past tense) caffeine, sugar, carbs, and chocolate for energy. I definitely have a coffee addiction.

The dark side of getting off caffeine is the withdrawal headaches, which I have not been willing to tolerate. I have too much to do! Caffeine constricts blood vessels in the brain; withdrawal headaches are the result of blood flowing back into your brain! Who knew??? (Probably anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking!) I am trying to go from two large mugs of coffee in the morning to one, but it hasn’t happened yet. Since the rest of the time my body is running on actual, good-for-me food, a cup (large mug) of coffee – or two – is okay with me.

The biggest shock is that I am not craving sweets. My picture is in the dictionary next to the entry: sweet tooth. I have been ice cream, cake, and cookie free for two weeks, and I don’t feel like I’ve made a huge sacrifice. I can think about ice cream, and it’s just, “Huh, a bowl of ice cream” instead of half an hour debating whether to stop at Baskin Robbins or Randall’s to get my peanut butter and chocolate or cookie dough ice cream fix. I like to eat one snack-size York Peppermint Patty after lunch or dinner – the mint and chocolate are just enough to satisfy me. I didn’t think I would feel this way so soon. I really thought it was going to be very hard to give up foods I love and have depended on for the last four months.

Come back tomorrow to read Part 2 of my caffeine conundrum. 

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