30 Days Caffeine Free: The Results

Can you actually feel better without caffeine?

If you remember from this post a few weeks ago, I have been experimenting to see what it would be like if I removed caffeine from my life for 30 days. After hearing Jeff Goldblum say that he hadn’t had any caffeine in years and he felt better because of it, I wanted to give it a try. I figured that 30 days would be long enough that I would be past the withdrawals and it would give me a pretty good indication of how my body would feel without it in my life.

Well, I’m happy to report that this past Monday (February 17th) I celebrated 30 days caffeine free!

So How Was It?

I’ll be completely honest, it was pretty tough for me in the beginning. Like I mentioned in the post linked above, that first week not only did I stop using caffeine, but I had to get up 2 hours earlier than normal because it was the last week of 6:00am prayer time at church. So I was going through the headaches and the out-of-body feeling that goes with not having the caffeine in my system plus I was sleeping less. It wasn’t my best week.

Since then though, it really hasn’t been too tough. There have been times when I’ve been super tired where I would normally have reached for a caffeinated drink only to replace it with a nap. Let me tell you, having the occasional nap back in my life again has been awesome.

Plus it’s not like I just stopped drinking caffeine and replaced it entirely with water. There are still plenty of sugary, overly-intense flavored, high-fructose corn syrup wielding drinks out there that don’t have caffeine. I’ve had my fair share of root beer and Hi-C and other such things. So while I’ve made strides when it comes to one chemical in my body, there are still plenty more that I need to work on removing from my life.

One step at a time here folks.

How Do You Feel?

I feel good. I think I was expecting to be feel sluggish and run down all the time but I really don’t. My body is reacting just fine to it. If anything the struggle I have is habitual. It’s been harder than I thought it would be to just be able to stop wanting the thing I know I’m trying to get rid of. My habit of going to the grocery store or gas station and getting a Mountain Dew off the shelf is a hard one to break. Right now, I’m doing that by grabbing something non-caffeinated. In the future though, I can see myself wanting to remove sugary drinks entirely too. That one will be a little harder to work through, I think. I haven’t gotten to the point where I love water enough by itself to not drink anything but that. That day may come though. And maybe sooner than I think.

If this is something that you’ve been contemplating, it’s totally doable and worth it. You don’t need that mood-altering substance in your body anyway. Be prepared for the first week to be hard, but after that things should get easier for you.

As for me, I’m going to keep going on the non-caffeinated track. I feel pretty good so far. Let’s see where this thing leads.

But the Greatest of These

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

– 1 Corinthians 13

February 14, 2020love

A Little More on Fear

Fair warning: Today’s blog post is me attempting to think through things in a public forum. I’m thinking through this subject as we go. There will probably be no definitive answers to anything and you may completely disagree with where this goes. That’s okay. If you see me, pull me aside and let’s talk about it. I’d love to hear your opinion and use it to help me form mine.

After writing last weeks blog post I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. In that post I talked about “the fear of the new” and how fear always shows up no matter what. I gave the argument that everyone has a fear of something and that if you can name your fear then it becomes not so fearful after all. I mentioned that if you can recognize it, you can tell it to leave and defeat it.

I still believe this is true, but like I said, I’ve been doing a little more thinking and praying about this and I have some other thoughts.

First, Some Context

The topic of fear came up again last Friday night, right after I published that last post. Our church hosted a Men’s conference last weekend and on Friday night Jeremy Foster, pastor of Hope City Church in Texas gave a great message about how it’s time for men to step across the threshold from where we are and into the lives that God has for us.

Side note: Jeremy, if you ever read this, I know I am probably not quoting you exactly right. I feel like I have the gist of this section pretty well down though. Forgive me if it gets too far off course. Also, feel free to correct me. I can take it. 😄

Over the course of the message Jeremy mentioned a few reasons why we stay where we are instead of stepping into what God wants us to step into. One of those reasons was fear. You could probably think of a few fears right now that would hold you back from stepping up into what you know God wants you to do, couldn’t you? You can probably physically feel them. The fear of the unknown, the fear of what the people around you might think, the fear of letting other people down … these are some of them. There are most likely others.

At one point during this section of his message Jeremy sort of joked about an old preacher that said something to the effect of “If you have Jesus in your heart, you never have to fear again.” Reading those words doesn’t do justice to how Jeremy delivered it. Read it again, but think old southern preacher as you do. There … you got it now.

Anyway, the point Jeremy was making was that what the old preacher said just wasn’t true. We will always have fear with us. He said that if we ever want to do anything significant it will be full of fear. Taking unknown steps, doing big things … these will be fearful.

In the moment I agreed with him. We will always have fear. I said pretty much the same thing last week, didn’t I? I agreed that the old preacher was probably wrong and fear is just an inevitable conclusion to a life lived on the edge. Well then I started thinking about it some more over the course of the next few days and … well now I’m not so sure.

So What Changed?

I just couldn’t shake the idea that something about this whole fear thing was not quite right. Like maybe there was something to what the old preacher had said. Perhaps he wasn’t completely wrong.

I started wondering, thinking, and praying. I started asking questions. What if there was a difference between the fear we talk about having, and actual, deep-seated, real-life fear? Is it actually possible to live without fear?

I think there is a difference between actual fear and what we call “fear” on a daily basis. When I think about “fear” I think a “deep down at a soul level” kind of fright. When I think about the “fear” that I experience when I open up a new document to write, that’s just me being scared of what people might think about what I write. I believe more and more that there is a difference between fear and just being scared or nervous about something. That it comes down to the level of the soul. When the old preacher said that you never had to fear again, I believe he was thinking soul-deep, not skin-deep.

Maybe I’m just arguing semantics here. If you look up the definitions of “fear” and “scary” they are pretty much the same thing. But I don’t think that God defines them the same way and I think that distinction is a big deal.

Here’s why I say that. As I was thinking the things above I went to God to seek some clarity. Clarity on subjects that you find muddy is like cool water on a hot day. You know what I’m talking about right? You’re out there working in the yard and it’s hot, you’re sweaty and getting kind of tired. Then someone wonderful brings you a cold glass of water and you take that first drink … it’s like life has just been shot directly into your veins, isn’t it? It’s amazing what clarity can do for your life.

God and I were chatting about fear and I was asking Him about whether or not there was a difference between actual fear and just being scared about something. He reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:7, which says:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

A couple of things that He made sure I noticed:

God Doesn’t Give Us Fear

Fear is not from Him. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a). If it’s not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control then it’s probably not from God.

Fear is a Spirit

If it’s a spirit, and it’s not from God, that means that we can cast it away from us. 1 John 4:18:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

God is love. There is no more perfect love than the love of the Father. There is no fear in His love. Perhaps this is where the old preacher was speaking from. If we have the love of the Father, what shall we fear?

Also notice that if fear is a spirit (it is) then the love of the Father (and some spiritual warfare) casts out that spirit of fear.

So the next time we are feeling fearful, we can remember that fear is just a spirit and we can tap into the Father’s love and in the name of Jesus tell that spirit to leave us and ask the Father who loves us to fill that “now-empty-of-fear” place with power, love, and a sound mind.

Wrap it Up, Rich

So at the end of the day, I’m beginning to believe more and more that there is a difference between “soul-deep” and “skin-deep” fear. Public speaking, anyone? That might be a soul-deep fear for me. But I also believe that fear, in whatever form it comes in, is just a spirit, a tactic that my enemy wants to use to keep me from doing the very things that God wants me to do.

These are just my raw thoughts. Maybe they’re right … maybe they’re not. I may have made the whole subject clear for you, or I may have muddied the waters a bunch. I apologize if it was the latter.

But perhaps both Jeremy and the old preacher were right. Maybe we will always have some fear as we tread through this adventure called “life.” But if we know that the fear we experience is not from God we can defeat it at the mention of Jesus’ name and then move forward without it.

The Fear of the New

I have to be honest, as a writer, there isn’t much more frightening in this world than the blank page.

Oh sure, there are probably some large animals I wouldn’t want to run into and there are people I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley I suppose. Then again, I’m not sure why I would find myself in a dark alley anyway, but I guess that’s a different thing.

Oh … and bugs. I hate bugs. You know how the farther south you get on the Earth to bigger the bugs get? Yeah, that’s not for me. I’d rather move further north and need a shotgun to keep bears and wolves away than to move further south and have to deal with giant bugs.

No thank you, sir.

Anyway, staring at a blank page is right up there with those things. Whether it’s because I have no ideas and need to write something in a hurry or I have so many ideas that I can’t choose what to write about, the fear still remains.

What do I write about? What do I put down on that page first? I personally have a tendency to want it to be something profound or life changing. Like it’s not good enough if the first sentence is just normal. Don’t I have to have a topic before I start writing?

These and other questions flood my mind like the river that Arwen causes to swell and sweep away the Black Riders in The Fellowship of the Ring. Which only makes it harder to concentrate and actually get any writing done. The more I think about it, the more questions I have, the less actual writing I do, which just leads to more questions. It’s a vicious circle. The fear is very real.

You may not be a writer so maybe this particular fear isn’t your fear. But if you’re honest with yourself you have your fear too. Anytime you start a project or cook a new dish, it’s there. When you pull out that pencil to start drawing or make that first measurement on that piece of wood for that shed you’re going to build, it’s standing right there with you.

What I’ve learned in my time in life is that if you can name your fear then that fear has less of a hold on you. The more you recognize “oh, that’s just that fear named … “ the more you’ll know what to do when you see it. The last time you felt that fear you did “this” to defeat it. That means you can probably do that same thing (or something like it) this time and beat it again. Over time you learn your fears and how to handle them. It doesn’t mean that they don’t scare you. It just means that you get to be in charge and you can choose to dump that fear where it belongs.

It all starts with giving your fear a name.

In my case, I call this particular fear “The fear of the blank page.” For our purposes here we’ll give it a more generic, overarching name. We’ll call it “The fear of the new.”

So now that we’ve named it, it is no longer a foreign thing to us. We know that every time we start our new thing it will show up just begging to be a part. It can no longer sneak up on you. You’ll see it coming from a mile away.

The next time it comes around and you start to think “What if I screw this up?”, or “What if I fail?”, you can stop and say “I know you. You are the fear of the new. You don’t belong here. Get out.”, and then get to work. Because there is no better way to get rid of your fear than to take action on the thing you want to do.

Name your fear, and it becomes not so scary after all.

Oh, I almost forgot about dragons. As fantastical as they are, if dragons were real, they would scare me to death.

I Didn’t Drink Any Caffeine This Week … and Here’s What Happened

Wow … is that a “click-bait” worthy title or what? 😂

Okay, so let me start here. The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a show by National Geographic on Disney+, is one of my favorite new things. I’ve been a Jeff Goldblum fan for ages, ever since I saw him in The Fly waaaaayyyyy back when. I’m pretty sure it’s just his personality but in this show in particular he’s quirky and insightful and makes us laugh in every episode.

Anyway, so we were watching an episode the other day where he was talking about coffee. For the record, I don’t like coffee at all. I love how it smells. I hate how it tastes. It smells like heaven and tastes like burnt beans. If my house smelled like it I would never leave.

Real life question: do they have a way for me to pump that smell into my house without having to actually waste coffee?

Moving on …

So he was talking about coffee and at one point he mentioned that he stopped drinking caffeine years ago.


Jeff Goldblum GIF

I don’t even know what to think about that.

Personally, I’ve been drinking caffeine for ages. You probably have too in one form or another, right? Mountain Dew has been my go to since college. I also have been drinking something called Amino Energy by Optimum Nutrition pretty much daily for the past few years. Before I moved to South Carolina I was drinking Monster Energy drinks almost exclusively. That was a bad idea for my heart. I haven’t had one of those in just about 7 years. My heart thanks me.

So anyway, I heard Jeff say that he quit drinking caffeine and was blown away. How do people function who don’t use it? What really got me though was that he said that when he stopped drinking it he felt incredibly better. Like just in general he overall felt better by not drinking it.

I began to wonder. Would my body (and life) feel better if I stopped drinking products that contained caffeine? This is a year of health for me, right? Would I be and feel healthier if I stopped?

I decided to experiment. Last Saturday was my last bit of caffeine for at least the next 30 days.

I probably should have waited until February 1st or something so that I could have a easier way of tracking or whatnot, but why not just take the bull by the horns and get after it, you know? My wonderful wife would say “Suck it up, buttercup.” Sometimes it’s just time to go. Waiting, procrastinating, just puts off the inevitable. Rip the band-aid off. I guess that is another blog post for another day though, huh?

In an effort to be completely transparent and honest - “authentic”, if you will - I only decided the whole 30 day thing while I was writing this post. I could have been done today. I could have only tried it for a couple of days. But here’s why I chose 30 days.

You know what you feel when you’ve given up the worlds most consumed stimulant? Tired, lethargic, and like your head is going to explode at any second. Well, maybe that’s just me. But as of right now, one week in, I’ve only just begun to get rid of the headaches that plague your body as you go through withdrawals. I’m just now beginning to start to feel like I might have some energy again. Like my brain is coming back to my head.

All of that plus, I didn’t really pick a great week to decide to start. We had the last week of our 21 Days of Prayer at 6:00am at church this week so getting up after 5 or 6 hours of sleep and having no caffeine to go on was kind of tough.

So I don’t really feel like I have a good handle on what my body can (and will) feel like without the caffeine coursing though it yet. I just kind of feel like 30 days should give me a pretty good grasp on that.

And who knows? I might not want to go back. That’s got to be better for me in the long haul, right?

I’ll report back in a few more weeks and let you know how things turn out!

Physical Health

I’ve mentioned it in a couple of other posts but my word for 2020 is “health.” That being the case, in an effort to keep that in front of me and to continue down the path of health in all areas of my life, I will probably be writing about different aspects of health more and more over the course of the year. Today that starts with physical health.

This is probably the easiest one to write about. I know a good bit about physical health. I have a beautiful wife who is a Beachbody coach and has studied health for a while now. I have read my fair share of health and fitness blogs and articles and for a while I kept pretty close tabs on the bodybuilding world. I’m sure I don’t know everything, but I know enough to know what’s good and bad for me and what I should and shouldn’t be doing.

Now, you’ll notice that what I did not say was that I actually DID the things I know how to do. Knowledge does not necessarily lead to action. You can know a lot about a lot of things but if you do nothing with that knowledge then it’s just more useless information wasting away in that beautifully complex brain of yours.

And so it is with me. I have a lot of knowledge, but I haven’t been very good at putting it into practice. I haven’t made “health” a big enough part of my identity to make the actual changes I know I need to make.

Therein lies the key. In order to make real, lasting change, it has to become part of your identity. You can go out and lose 20 pounds … but it won’t stick, because you didn’t change who you are.

So while a portion of this physical health thing is actually in the physical (the actual exercise, the acts of making and eating the right foods at the right times, etc.), there are significant portions that are mental, and even spiritual (down in your soul at the level of your identity). For years I’ve been telling myself that working out and eating right where just too time consuming. I didn’t have the time in my day to make it workout. I couldn’t eat well because it was just too time consuming and too expensive and too … you get the idea.

When it comes down to it, I just didn’t want to. I still don’t really want to. My journey this year will be a much more involved thing then just doing my cardio and eating some celery. It will be that too. But it will involve a trek into my heart to determine the kind of person I want to be. It will take me being honest with myself about where I am and where I want to be. It will take a change from the inside before a change on the outside every sticks.

Now that’s a process that’s worth going through in every area of all of our lives. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be uncomfortable as you encounter who you really are? Absolutely. Is it going to be worth it? My gut says “yes”.

Here we go…