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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- My bank account balance jumped as I stopped hemorrhaging $3-6 a day on Precious.
- I learned that I could change a habit previously thought impossible.
- 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!