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How to Conquer Caffeine Addiction – The Swift Films Vlog
By - Richard - 19th February 2018
Filmmaker Richard Nicholls embarks on a new weekly challenge – to banish his caffeine addiction.
This week, Richard goes cold turkey on his crippling addiction to Diet Coke and drinks 3 litres of water every day. But will be it enough to overcome a problem that has spiralled out of control? View the new Weekly Challenge vlog below.
You can read the full blog posts below of Richard’s attempt to kick his addiction.
Week 2 – The week without caffeine.
Monday 22nd January 2018
My name is Richard Nicholls and I am an addict. I have a shameful addiction which I have had since my late teenage years and which I can’t seem to shrug off. My drug of choice is Diet Coke.
At the peak of my addiction it wouldn’t be unusual for me to drink 2 litres of Diet Coke every day.
I don’t smoke, I don’t drink very much and I get regular exercise. I never really considered my addiction to Diet Coke to be adversely affecting my health. But my mood suffers when I’m off it and I do get really strong cravings.
This week I am going cold turkey. The challenge is simple: drink 3 litres of water every day for the next seven days.
My body is letting me know that I abused it last week. Last week’s lack of sleep accumulated and today I feel like I’m walking through treacle. This week’s challenge will hopefully go some way to redressing the balance.
We all know that water is vital for our existence. The NHS advocates drinking 6-8 glasses of water (1.2 litres) in a day to avoid dehydration. 3 litres per day should be more than enough.
To ensure that I drink my full quota of water, I will be drinking out of 4 x 750 ml bottles. Each bottle is the same size as a bottle of wine. So that I’m not up all night on the toilet, I will aim to drink 1.5 litres of water before lunch and the remaining litre and a half before 7pm.
I’m used to having a mid-afternoon slump which I will often try to cure with a strong coffee or Diet Coke. I’m intrigued to see if the water will have more of an effect.
Of all the weekly challeges that I undertake before turning 40, this is one that I really want to implement into my life.
Tuesday 23rd January 2018
The first hurdle to overcoming an addiction is to admit that you have an addiction. It has been over 48 hours now since I had my last swig of Diet Coke. I miss it. A lot.
I had little problem with dragging my body out of bed at 4.30am for seven consecutive days, but I will admit that I am really struggling without Diet Coke.
On Monday and Tuesday, I started the day at 6am by drinking 750 mililitres of water. This seemed to be a sensible way to tackle the new challenge. By 6.05am I’m already a quarter of my way to hitting my target. Bring it on.
I’m feeling hydrated and alert. The early morning whizzes by. Come breakfast time I’m craving caffeine. Or more to the point I’m craving some Diet Coke, but under the circumstances, anything will do.
For Christmas we got a new coffee machine. My wife makes herself a large Americano and the smell is simply beautiful. I love the smell of coffee beans grinding. It’s torture watching her make a coffee knowing that I won’t be having anything but water over the coming days.
I console myself by drinking another half of one of my four bottles. It’s now 9.30am and I’ve already drunk more than a litre of water.
I’m yet to see any benefit in the mornings however. Staring at a computer screen after breakfast brought on a severe headache, no doubt compounded by the caffeine withdrawal.
Everyone knows that headaches are often caused by dehydration. So I drink the remainder of my second bottle. It’s now midday and I’ve drunk 1.5 litres of water. I’m well on target to drinking my quota of water today.
My productivity is hampered somewhat by frequent trips to the toilet. Between 9 and 12, I went to the loo four times. Perhaps I’ve got a weak bladder or maybe my body just isn’t used to drinking this much fluid in the morning.
The afternoon cravings become worse. I know that the house is stocked to the rafters with cans of Diet Coke. We have over 40 in the house. I know this because I bought them at the weekend – largely because I need them as props for the vlog, but in hindsight this was a foolish mistake.
Anyone trying to kick a habit must not have easy access to the thing they’re trying to stop using. I open the fridge and I see cool water dripping down the side of a Diet Coke can. It looks too tempting. But I slam the fridge shut because I’m not thirsty. However, thirst rarely comes into my Diet Coke consumption. If I’m editing, having a can of Diet Coke on the go gives me something to do (something to literally hold and play with) whilst rendering or thinking about an edit. I guzzle the stuff without really thinking.
I have survived two full days without any Diet Coke. It has been hard but the difficulty is out weighed by the thought that I am being kind to my body. If I can get through this week, then dare I say it, feasibly there’s no reason why I can’t banish the fizzy black stuff for good.
Wednesday 24th January 2018
I had a meeting with a prospective client in a coffee shop this morning. This was awkward. I felt like a teetotaller at a wedding. “Why are you not drinking coffee and why have you have brought your own bottle of water with a number 2 written on it?“ These are words that the prospective client didn’t say to me, but which I imagine he must have been thinking.
I can see that these challenges are going to create situations like this.
The babysitter is booked for Saturday night and my wife and I are heading out for dinner. A crazy night will ensue with me sipping tap water. I may not be the life and soul of the party this weekend, but there will be no complaints about me being the named driver.
This water drinking challenge hasn’t been too much of an inconvenience so far. However, I’ve had to pace myself a bit better with when I drink the water. I don’t want to get caught short. Today I’ve been driving around Edinburgh for work. With no easy access to a toilet, the majority of my water consumption has taken place early evening.
We ordered Dominos pizza for dinner. Whilst my diet remains unhealthy, at least I’m flushing out my system. I drank a litre and a half of water after eating Dominos and I still feel thirsty. Not a good advert for their food.
It’s Day 3 of this weekly challenge and I’m not yet noticing a big difference in how I feel. I’m still tired – most likely due to the sleep deprivation last week. Whilst the afternoon slump has been avoided today, I don’t feel substantially different to how I did last week when I was getting regular caffeine hits from coffee and Diet Coke.
The cravings for Diet Coke are getting worse. My mouth was watering (literally) at the thought of drinking a can with dinner.
Three days without has proved that I can do it. But I guess, like any addict, each day is a struggle to avoid relapsing. Right now the thought of a chilled Diet Coke next Monday is very tempting.
Realistically I doubt that I’m going to quit Diet Coke altogether. The aim is to get the habit down to a more manageable level and be more conscious of hydrating myself with water during the day. There is a long way to go, but I think that is achievable.
Friday 25th January 2018
Fifth day in a row of drinking nothing but water. It’s boring. There, I said it. I suffered caffeine withdrawal symptoms on the first day (a severe headache in the afternoon) but it soon subsided.
Since then I’ve been fighting the urge to drink the Diet Coke that’s sitting so tantalisingly close by in the kitchen. So far I’ve resisted the urge, but it has been hard.
As the days have passed, the urges have become less and it has got easier. Like any addict, I take it a day at a time knowing that I could relapse at any time. Only two days to go…
The water is doing my body a lot of good. I’ve got into the habit of downing my first 750 ml bottle of water as soon as I wake up. I’ve never felt so alert during the morning. The afternoon slump is cured by a solid litre and a half of water. The experiment is working.
Today I had drunk 3 litres of water by 6pm. This evening I went for a run on the treadmill and I’ve drunk a further 1.5 litres. That’s 4.5 litres of water that have passed through my body today.
All well and good, but it has been a struggle to force myself to consume all this liquid. I need it to become a habit in order for it to stick and I feel a long way away from this.
I’m already thinking about how nice it will be to have a Diet Coke once this week is finished – I am an addict after all. But that’s ok! It’s all about moderation.
After this week, my addiction won’t be cured, but I have learnt that I can live without it. There are many benefits to be had by ignoring the fizzy black stuff and consuming water. Soon, I hope to be a water-drinker who has the occasional Diet Coke. Mind over matter. In the meantime, I’ve got a weekend to get through without any more of my drink of choice.
Sunday 28th January 2018
The water drinking challenge is over and tomorrow I look forward to my first coffee in seven days.
I will continue to abstain from Diet Coke until I feel compelled to drink it again. But I shall be much more mindful of my consumption.
The start of this week was difficult. I told my mum about this week’s challenge and there was a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. “Is that it?” she seemed to imply. Yes, that’s it – it’s that simple!
Has it been much of a hardship? Possibly not, but the weekly challenge is all about trying out good new behaviours and eliminating bad ones. Diet Coke is a REALLY bad habit of mine and drinking lots of water every day is a very good habit.
Here are the key things I’ve learned this week:
1) Drinking 750ml of water first thing in the morning is the best thing you can do for your body. I’ve never felt more alert in the morning than when I had conusumed my first large bottle of water.
2) Drinking three litres of water every day is too much. During the week, there was one day when I went to the toilet 14 times. It’s not practical to drink this much water, especially if you’re out and about.
3) Drinking lots of water in the afternoon helps beat the dreaded afternoon slump. Typically I will have a lull around 3.30 – 4pm most days. This was cured by drinking a 750ml bottle of water.
4) Caffeine withdrawal sucks. You can expect headaches and nausesa. It does subside after a couple of days though. Once you’re through the worst of it, the cravings subside and it’s much easier to manage.
5) Taking a bottle of water with you everywhere you go is not a problem. It’s a great idea too.
6) Drinking lots of water makes you feel like you’re being kind to your body. Strange as it may sound, I felt like I was providing my body with the best possible fuel it needed this week.
7) The dry skin on my hands has all but cleared up. Hydrating your body properly is very good for your skin. If I keep this going, I may start to lose some of the bags around my eyes. If that’s not a good reason to continue drinking lots of water then I don’t know what is.
8) Going cold turkey is hard, but it makes you question your addiction in the first place. After a few days off Diet Coke, I questioned the need to ever go back. I worry that if I start again, I will struggle with moderation.
9) The key to kicking any habit is will power. You have to really want to do it. Having to be accountable (in my case making the vlog and writing a blog) provides extra motivation. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment if you’re successful.