Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from trying new beauty treatments to copying the most risqué runway looks of the season.
I wouldn't say I'm a coffee addict, but I also wouldn't say that I don't need a quad-shot latte to kick off my day or a shot of espresso before my morning workout. I rationalized my coffee habit because of the nootropic effect of caffeine. I also followed the advice of hydrating before I caffeinate, swapping out coffee for matcha regularly, and cutting off all caffeine consumption at 2 p.m.
Although I have guardrails on my coffee consumption, I wasn't crazy about how dependent I was on caffeine in the morning. So I decided to use I Tried It Month as an excuse to give up caffeine and develop some better habits.
How I Prepared
First, I got rid of the coffee in my apartment, and I turned the coffee corner of my kitchen into the tea station. I modified my environment to suit the habit I was trying to put in place. I bought Dandy Blend (a chicory-tea coffee alternative) and tea that brewed and tasted like coffee in my French press.
I got my cutest mug for my morning alt-brew. I even invested in a milk frother so I could try my hand at beautiful-looking lattes. I made my morning routine so indulgent that it was a treat I looked forward to. I bought Nutpod creamers that had all the fun flavors. And I got Moon Juice and Four Sigmatic adaptogens to play mad scientist every morning to try and recreate the energy and cognitive boost I was used to.
I also made a rule with myself from the jump: If I had to break down and get coffee, I had to leave my home to go get it. I made the alternative so easy you couldn't miss it, and it became more of a hassle to get a latte. I increased the friction on what I was trying to undo.
What Happened During the Challenge
My morning became a giant cup of Ting (an energy supplement from Moon Juice), a big glass of water, vitamins (Moon Juice came in clutch again with its SuperYou supplement), and Dandy Blend with Four Sigmatic's cordyceps or two packets of lion's mane, Nutpod foam, and stevia. It was delicious and simple and fit in with my usual routine easily.
I won't lie. That first day, I had a bit of a headache, and when I went to meet a friend for breakfast, I felt weird ordering hot water with lemon rather than an Americano. By day three, I craved the massive morning hydration boost and enjoyed the warming cup of tea. Since there was no caffeine, I could drink tea throughout the day.
I gave myself three weeks for this self-imposed challenge.
I'd been warned a few times about the caffeine-withdrawal headaches, and they weren't wrong. I got some early in the process. I regretted the challenge when I was up at 4:45 a.m. for a packed day. On those days, I told myself it was okay to break and have some coffee, but thankfully, I was too lazy to drive to a coffee shop, didn't have any in my house, or couldn't fit a break into my schedule.
Around week two, I fell into a rhythm of my new morning routine and saved some money and gas as a residual benefit. My energy was fairly steady. I didn't have that usual rocket boost in the morning followed by a late-in-day battery rundown. I think the cortisol roller coaster was gentle and sustainable. There were exceptionally busy days where I felt like I was running on fumes, but I also had to be patient with myself and realize it was natural to be tired.
What Happened After the Challenge
And now for the million-dollar question: Have I kept this new habit up? Not a chance... I wake up at 5 a.m., so mama needs her caffeine. Admittedly, my first quad-shot latte had me convinced I was hearing colors. That experience helped me see that I needed to keep some of my new habits in place.
I still wake up to a big glass of Ting and have my Dandy Blend. Then I follow up with Four Sigmatic coffee as my alternative—a little less caffeine but with the necessary adaptogens. I put myself on a two-latte-a-week limit so I can plan out my concentrated boost for my toughest days. My favorite Alfred vanilla latte and I were reunited the first weekend after I finished my challenge. And post-challenge, if I find myself needing a second cup during the day, I turn to matcha.
What I learned is that whenever you want to change your behavior, you can simply ask yourself these questions:
—How can I make it obvious?
—How can I make it attractive?
—How can I make it easy?
—How can I make it satisfying?
And when it comes to "bad habits," the inverse would be these questions:
—How do I make it invisible?
—How do I make it unattractive?
—How do I make it unsatisfying?
—How do I make it difficult?
I took baby steps toward rewiring my habit, but I realized I have the tools to change.
Products I Used for the Challenge and Recommend
This is the prettiest brand of loose-leaf tea that can also be brewed in a French press. Oftentimes, in the middle of the day, I would brew the hibiscus tea, chill it, and then make a spritzer of tea and Topo Chico. Half the time when I'd usually reach for caffeine, I was just dehydrated, and this was fancy water.
This post was originally published on an earlier date and has since been updated.