Posted in Lifestyle change, Wellness Coaching

Leaving Precious

I love coffee. And I’m a coffee snob. Like Goldilocks, it has to be “just right.”

But I had a problem. Every form in which I consumed coffee was loaded with sugar.

I was a late bloomer when it came to coffee; I didn’t start drinking it until my late twenties. Starbucks frappuccinos were my gateway drug. Then I discovered a magical potion that transformed the bitter black brew into sensory bliss: flavored coffee creamer.

International Delights Pumpkin Spice was my absolute favorite. I was obsessed with it. I anxiously awaited its arrival every Fall, and hoarded it as the season neared its end, cramming as many bottles as I could into my tiny fridge.

A friend snapped this picture on New Year’s Eve, 2013. We were shopping when I discovered a clearance shelf of Pumpkin Spice creamer.
My fridge stuffed to capacity with creamer.

My fixation became a running joke among my friends. I thought nothing of carrying a container of it in my purse, and whipping it out at restaurants and coffee shops to satiate my need. One of my friends, a chain-smoking, black coffee purist, referred to it as “precious coffee.”

The moniker stuck, and “Precious” became an umbrella term for all of my beloved coffee concoctions: frappuccinos, frappes, mochas of all varieties, pumpkin spice lattes, and on and on. I didn’t even want to be in my car without some form of Precious to drink, either made at home or purchased while out and about.

I would often do a Gollum impression as I stroked my cup of Precious. I’m not joking.

If this were an occasional indulgence, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But it wasn’t a sometime treat. It was a daily need. I had a whole ritual around it; my day didn’t feel complete without it. During Starbucks “treat receipt” season, I stalked my co workers carrying Starbucks cups and asked if they saved their receipts, which were good for a $2 grande drink from 2-4 pm. Those treat receipts were like gold to me.

Yes, I was that ridiculous.

I didn’t kid myself about what I was doing. I knew that all things Precious were just empty-calorie sugar bombs, not to mention expensive. I knew that my beloved creamer was nothing but Franken-food, a monstrous brew of industrial additives and flavoring agents. But in all seriousness, I felt utterly powerless against my cravings for it. Like most of us with an unhealthy habit, I knew at an intellectual level that I was destroying my insides and spending money unwisely, but I couldn’t imagine life without it.

So when I hit the proverbial wall early on in my training with Matt at Ludus Magnus, when I tried to change everything at once and failed miserably (see my last post, “All or Nothing Leads to… Nothing”), I made a momentous decision.

I would change one thing, and one thing only, in my diet at this early stage to go along with my training.

I broke up with Precious.

August 7, 2014. I was house-sitting for my best friend. It was a sunny morning with a breeze coming through the windows of the covered back porch. I made myself a cup of coffee with my usual pour-over brewing technique (for single cup, it’s the only way to go). But instead of using Precious, I poured in a dollop of high-quality half and half. No sugar, no chemicals, just a splash of creaminess. I sat on the porch, inhaled the lovely aroma, and drank.

A screenshot of my Facebook post from that day announcing the Big Breakup.

And I discovered, much to my amazement, that it wasn’t terrible. I actually kind of liked it. It didn’t light up all the same addictive-compulsive buttons as Precious, but it filled the niche in my routine.

I have not purchased a single bottle of flavored coffee creamer since that day.

Occasionally I would treat myself to a “special” coffee drink made with less sugar (fact: a small mocha with an extra shot of espresso and just one pump of syrup is delicious, and tastes better than one made with all the milk and a vat of added syrup).

But even that declined significantly as time went by, and I found that I honestly enjoyed plain coffee with cream, iced or hot. Columbus has a great coffee scene, and I have fun going to local coffeehouses and trying different roasts from all over the world.

This small change profoundly impacted my life in several ways:

  1. It dramatically lowered my daily sugar intake. I lost approximately 15 pounds in a month just from eliminating Precious and training with Matt twice a week.
  2. My bank account balance jumped as I stopped hemorrhaging $3-6 a day on Precious.
  3. I learned that I could change a habit previously thought impossible.
  4. That small changes have snowball effects that lead to even bigger changes.

I cannot overstate the importance of those last 2 points. Successfully ending my relationship with Precious showed me that I was not helpless to my cravings, and that I was in fact capable of change.

If I could do this, what else could I do?   

What small change do you want to make? Let’s find out what you can do together, call or email me to learn more about my coaching services!

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