Giving up caffeine: It’s not you, it’s me.

coffee_lambentlifeWe met when I was 18 years old. Fresh faced and ready to explore all that the world had to offer, I ran to you with open arms. They say that college is a time for exploration and experimentation. While some of my college peers tried uppers, downers and round and rounders, I dabbled in flavored lattes and energy drinks. Your bottomless cup was my support during those all-night study sessions at the diner. My 48-count of Red Bull was the only thing there for me when my computer crashed at 2 a.m., wiping my entire Women’s Studies final project just hours before it was due. Through the turmoil of self-discovery and navigating quasi-adult relationships, you were there to lend a comforting lift.

I grew older and wiser and you grew stronger. No longer satisfied with the sickening sweet beverages of my youth, I graduated to the grande triple shot latte. It was more than the temperature of my beverage that warmed my body and stirred my mind. You, caffeine, were the muse to volumes of publications and articles. You sat with me through hours of edits and acted as my meeting and media event side kick. There was no water cooler conversations in our office – only those friendships built during frequent Starbuck’s runs. As time marched on, our relationship evolved from one of convenience to one of necessity.

When I got pregnant, things became a bit awkward between us. Everyone said you weren’t good for me and, truth be told, they were probably right. But I couldn’t just give up on you so easily. We had history. So we met secretly in the diluted cups of half-caff and an afternoon Coca Cola to soothe the nausea.  Childbirth didn’t do much to fix our broken relationship. Taunted by fears of an insomniac infant, you gave me pause. So I mentally packed you away with my expensive lacy bras and turtleneck sweaters, not to be fully enjoyed again until all babies weaned.

Parenting young children brought new life to our friendship. With the whack-a-mole bedtimes and questions of sanity, I was thankful to have you back in my life. Despite the messy house, cranky toddlers and sleepless nights, you were there for me. You saw me at my worst and still shared your mind clearing goodness. You were a key figure in the early years of my motherhood. And I wasn’t alone. As I made new mommy friends, there was as much discussion regarding the location of our next play date as to who would pick up with Dunkin’. We knew each other’s secrets and coffee orders by heart. I traded the fancy (and expensive) Italian beverages for the simple joys of a morning and afternoon cup of coffee. Your predictability was a small comfort in the midst of motherhood’s chaos.

I loved you and was leery of those who doubted your goodness. You were a litmus test to easily determine my compatibility with a potential friend. But as time goes on and I learn more about myself, I began to see a dark side to our friendship. I needed you. At some point, a long history wasn’t enough to ignore how toxic our relationship had become. What once brought me renewed energy and inspiration turned me into an anxious, slightly manic version of my otherwise copacetic self. I hate the way I relied on you to get through the day.

It won’t be a clean break – more of a slow fade – but I’m already feeling the simple pleasure of being less and less addicted to you. I don’t want my mood and abilities to be controlled by a drug (no offense, but that’s what you are). The joy of a caffeine rush simply isn’t worth the racing heart and shaky hands. My heart isn’t pounding hard enough to be visible to others. I have more patience and I’m less on edge. I’m giddy to be exhausted in the evenings and look forward to building a stronger relationship with my other friend – my bed.

I’ve grown and evolved and you’ve stayed the same over the millennia. So really, it’s not you – it’s me. I wish you well and perhaps we’ll cross paths someday during a late night road trip or a particularly vicious migraine. But until then, I bid you adieu.

Lift, Tone, Burrrrrrrrrn.

Sometimes, I have to ditch my kids. It’s for everyone’s good. Things between the girls and me have been a bit tense so it was necessary that we all head to our respective corners for a little time out. The girls get some time away and I get a solid chunk of time without tears (except my own).

So this morning, I dropped E off at preschool and B went to a mom’s morning out program. Three entire hours to myself. It may as well have been a Hawaiian vacation. I grabbed my water and sticky socks and hightailed it to the Pure Barre studio.

When it comes to doing cardio, I get bored really easily. I’m not one of those folks who can hop on a treadmill and pop out 5 miles. My mind doesn’t get quiet enough to enjoy the repetition. Instead, I’m clock-watching and silently cursing the guy next to me who changed the channel to ESPN. My disdain towards the treadmill has made running a challenge, recently. Although our weather is mild enough to hit the pavement, daylight savings time means it’s dark outside before I have time to even lace my runners. I’ve been keeping busy with an evening yoga class but itching for something more.

A Pure Barre studio opened late last year and I was so excited to try it. They ran a sweet deal on Groupon and J was kind enough to snag me a 4-pack of classes. With all the the holiday madness and the sickness that encompassed most of December, I didn’t have a chance to go until the calendar rolled into 2013. After the first class, I was hooked.

I’ve had a lot of friends curious about what exactly Pure Barre is. You can get a feel for the culture and philosophy at their site but here’s my take:

It’s 55 minutes of constant strengthening, stretching and cardio. There’s a lot of tucking, stretching and pulsing. And lifting, toning and burning. Oh, the burn. And shaking. Lots and lots of muscles shaking. While burning. I have zero ballet experience and was nervous about a class full of women in a mirror-lined room. But each workout requires so much concentration, you don’t have the time to feel self-conscious or check out the other ladies. Compared to the other participants, I’m sure I look like a fool. But it’s a practice.

When I dropped the girls off this morning, I was so tempted to cancel my reservation and go home to my still-warm pajamas and half-drank coffee. It’s a hard workout and I was physically and mentally exhausted. But the best part of this workout? There’s no time to think. Each set of exercises focus on a muscle group – arms, thighs, seat, abs – and by the time I’m ready to quit, it’s over.

feb613_2

Loads of Pure Barre gear | The only equipment you need – sticky socks, tube, ball, 2 pound weights

Today, I sweat it out for 55 minutes and emerged a new woman. I had a few errands to run at Target before picking up E from preschool so I made a rare pitstop at Starbucks for an iced vanilla spiced latte. It seemed sort of counterintuitive to load up on liquid calories after such a workout but it was oh so worth it.

Have you ever tried Pure Barre or something similar?