I stopped drinking caffeine last year over winter break. Although I've never been a coffee drinker, I've always harbored a few beverages of weakness: namely, any cherry-flavored cola (Dr. Pepper, I'm looking at you) and sweet tea. Oh, sweet tea, I'd drink a gallon of you without flinching. I'd hook myself up to a sweet tea IV. I'd write a haiku in your honor.
Sweet tea, fine and sweet,
Glucose steaming through my veins,
Liquid sugar love.
At the onset, it wasn't an intention break-up with caffeine. I was simply getting a reasonable amount of sleep, which doesn't always happen during the semester, and the extra jolt of caffeinated energy wasn't necessary. Once two weeks passed without any caffeine consumption, I delicately danced with the idea of foregoing it for the long haul. My decision was made at the start of the new year when I drew a proverbial line in the sand:
I would be a person who didn't drink sugary, caffeinated beverages.
This lasted for four and a half months. Then I reached finals week -- and the seemingly insurmountable amount of grading that accompanies finals week.
The relapse was swift and complete. In four days, I drank three of these bad boys:
There are people who taste something sugary, grimace, and proclaim it to be "too sweet." I'm not one of these people. I loved every unhealthy drop. Liquid sugar love, indeed.
Now, all of this leads me to today's contemplation of health, which has been brought to the forefront of my thoughts for three key reasons:
One, over the weekend, I accompanied my husband to Philadelphia where he ran his first full marathon (3:37, nonetheless!) It took me a while to place my finger on this, but spectating the event made me want to participate in the event. Moral of the story (beyond the fact that I'm exceedingly proud of my hot husband): if you place a competitive person in a position where she's relegated to watching the competition, her competitive nature is going to be drawn out.
Two, since my husband and I traveled to the race without our children, I had an uninterrupted opportunity to think, dream, and set goals. Essentially, during the three hour ride home I pretty much convinced myself that I should (and could) get in phenomenal running shape.
For the record, I also convinced myself that it would be possible to clean, organize, and decorate my entire house until it resembled the Fixer Upper farmhouse, cook more healthily, read more expansively, tackle a lagging project at work, and chip away at some of those Pinterest projects I've been contemplating -- and that I should complete all of these things this very week.
I'm balanced that way.
Three, we're entering the stretch of Holidays Which Revolve Around Food. If I could just get ahead of the game by taking proactive strides with my health now, not a month from now when everyone climbs on the "get healthier" New Year's bandwagon, my January self would be thanking my late-November self.
Of course, reality sets in. When we arrived home from our travels, we unpacked, started a load of laundry, and got swarmed by the kiddos who hadn't seen us for a day. Almost immediately, I came down with the type of head cold that causes you to litter your side of the bedroom floor with a dozen crumpled Kleenex, all thrown overboard during the long hours of the congested night.
Still, despite the head cold, the daily realities of parenting young children, and the lingering grading that I need to complete during this Thanksgiving break from classes, for the past two days I've managed to do something. I've put on my work-out clothes and followed though -- running a few miles yesterday and doing a Jillian Michaels DVD today.
I feel like I think I'd feel after having fallen off the exercise wagon since my trail run several weeks ago: a bit sore, a bit sluggish. But I'm moving. I'm headed in the right direction.
Even as I vacillate in that awkward space between extremes ("I should get in the best shape of my life," versus "Wow, I really like cookies"), I'm reminding myself that small changes -- whether with caffeine, food, exercise, or any other life goal -- can lead to real results if they're repeatedly done.
I'm not making a declaration about giving up caffeine right now. And I'm certainly not making a declaration about giving up cookies. (My momma didn't raise no fool.) But I am making a declaration that it's okay to fail.
I don't care how many times (or for how long) I fall off this wagon. I'm getting back up on it today.