By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
May 4, 2019,
My beautiful love affair with coffee began at six months old when my mother put the creamy, sugary, caffeinated goodness in my baby bottle.
The story goes like this…
I was a colicky baby and screamed my head off nonstop from the moment I entered the world and throughout the first six months of my life. My mother, grandmother, and aunt took turns taking care of me so the others could sleep for a few hours and stave off total insanity.
Legend has it that one day while my mother was holding me and chugging her much needed cup of Joe, a few drops fell onto my face and slid into my mouth. Well, lo and behold, it startled me so much and shut me up just enough that my poor, haggard mother decided to let me suck a few more lukewarm drops off of her finger.
Now, this was the early 1970s and my mother was at her wit’s end, so I cannot really find fault with what happened next…
With subsequent formula feedings, she gave me half coffee in my bottle and everyone watched in sheer amazement as I miraculously quietened down and actually became a pleasant child. Thus life became much easier for everyone, or so the story goes.
Today, I believe that the caffeine in the coffee acted as a mild pain reliever and soothed my troubled little tummy, but who knows? It worked at the time and provided a little peace and quiet for my crazed family.
As a child, I was given a cup of coffee (mostly milk and sugar) every time the adults had coffee and that was usually multiple times a day. I learned early on where it was located in the grocery store, how to grind coffee beans, and at the age of eight I could brew a fabulous pot of coffee. We were a coffee swigging family, and by the time I was a teenager I was a full on coffee drinking fanatic!
When Starbucks was invented and came riding into town, I discovered that there really was a heaven on earth. I darkened that door at least once a day. Of course, that was in addition to the full pot of coffee that I’d already had in the morning and possibly the pot I would brew in the evening.
As the heat of summer sizzled the asphalt, I craved an Iced Caramel Frappuccino like a houseplant needs water. When the weather turned cooler, Pumpkin Spice Latte was my jam. Cinnamon Macchiato became my drug of choice during the holidays. And on a cold winter’s day? Nothing better than a coffee-laced Mexican Hot Chocolate. Occasionally, I even got a little wild and ordered a straight double espresso.
In the fall of 2014, I knew that I was overweight and undernourished. Something needed to change, so I went on a very restrictive low fat diet, started jogging, and gave up alcohol. I lost 113 pounds and was (I thought!) super healthy!
Except, I wasn’t.
I still struggled mightily with severe IBS, bouts of debilitating depression, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and intense migraine headaches.
As was my habit, I started yo-yo dieting and gained back 55 pounds. My wife was also experiencing her own health issues with horrendous reflux/GERD and painful osteoarthritis. We were both seeing doctors and specialists, getting poked and prodded with all kinds of tests, and were on multiple medications.
Then, after having lurked in the CFDG Facebook group for over a year, I realized that there were meal plans! So we decided to take the plunge, dive head first into a new way of eating, and see what happened. That one decision has transformed our entire lives in so many unimaginable ways.
Batching and eating all the plants became routine for me and I loved it! No more calorie counting, breaking food down into its parts, or restrictions for me. It was such freedom, and I was deliriously joyful! This time, as I was losing weight and feeling full of energy, I was truly healthy!
After an initial detox period, I gleefully experienced a complete elimination of IBS, a drastic reduction of migraines, was able to better manage the symptoms of Hashimoto’s, and dramatically reduced the frequency of episodic depression. It was a brand new life and I’ve never looked back!
Part of switching to a plant based diet, for me, was removing creamer of all kind from my coffee. That damn powdered Coffee-Mate was my Achilles’ heel for quite a while, but I finally left it behind and learned to drink my coffee black.
Then Molly asked the unthinkable…
I had let bad habits, vegan junk food, and plenty of wine back into my life, and the resulting weight gain, decreased energy, and a battle with depression in February shouldn’t have been a surprise. Molly had been letting me test a program she was working on and I was seeing great results. However, my progress slowed down and I hit the dreaded plateau. So Molly gave me some instructions, and as we were tweaking things a bit, she asked if I would like to do an experiment.
SHE ASKED ME IF I WOULD GIVE UP COFFEE FOR THREE WEEKS!
I literally fell to the floor in stunned horror and was immediately panic-stricken at the abomination of such a request. I think I gasped in sheer terror and clutched my heart in consternation. I don’t know. It’s all a blur.
Now, let me explain two things…
One: I love Molly. I mean, I seriously adore this woman and the way she lives and moves in this world. I am in awe of this company that she and Luanne have built from the ground up. The way that she treats me as a friend and as an employee is nothing short of brilliant. Molly is the real deal. She celebrates my successes and helps me figure out my challenges.
I love the way she approaches a task and works incredibly hard to see it through. I admire her philosophical view of this world. I have said many times that I would shave my head, don ornamental robes, and move to a CFDG commune wherever she builds. I would turn over backwards and walk on my tongue on hot coals before I disappointed her. I have mad respect for this human being.
Two: I love coffee. I mean, I seriously adore the smell and taste of this brewed bean. I have a 12-cup AND a 5-cup coffeemaker, a full-size AND a travel Keurig Brewing System, a cappuccino maker, and a French press. I have an entire cabinet dedicated to nothing but coffee supplies. I hunt out different coffee shops in any city I visit in order to bring home locally roasted coffee and mugs as souvenirs.
I love the feel of a warm cup of java in my hands. The baristas at all three of the coffee joints near my house know me by first name. My alarm in the morning is the beeping of the coffee maker letting me know that the timer-brewed, fresh pot is on! I have coffee decor in my kitchen for fuck’s sake! I’m thoroughly convinced it is the nectar of gods, and in the right hands, has the potential of bringing world peace.
Do you see my dilemma?
So with fear in my heart, trepidation in my soul, and a really bad attitude, I agreed. But, it wasn’t without warning! I told Molly up front that she would be named in the divorce proceedings when Lori had had enough and filed the paperwork. She graciously sent me a picture of her guest room with the invitation to come stay with her when Lori kicked me out for an intolerable level of bitchiness. She sent me an inspirational quote set in a lovely field of lavender to which I rolled my eyes and gagged.
Here are the results…
Week 1 – I knew that I was going to die.
Week 2 – I thought that I was going to die.
Week 3 – I didn’t die.
Molly’s experiment for me was based on what she had learned about the link between coffee consumption and the craving of sweets and fat.
I knew that, at first, I would have headaches and jitters as my body detoxed from the caffeine, but beyond that I knew I would just miss my coffee. And all of that happened.
But, here’s the thing!
Eliminating coffee, along with the other things we were trying, worked! It was the jumpstart that my body needed, and I actually started feeling better mentally and physically. The weight started gradually dropping again, and by the end of the three weeks I was able to go down a size in jeans.
It would be a lie to say that I’m quitting coffee. In fact, as I write this, there’s a fresh cup (of decaf!) sitting right beside me. However, I have decided to make some big changes and stick with it. I’ll limit myself to two cups in the morning, and then if I just have to have a cup in the afternoon I will choose decaf.
But what I have found so interesting (about this well-intentioned if not horrifying experiment) is that I did it! I’m so impressed and proud of myself for doing something that I positively knew I could not do. I now know that if I truly want something, even the hardest thing possible, then all I have to do is set my mind to achieving it!
What is it that you think you cannot do?
Do you think you can’t batch-cook the CFDG Plant Fueled Meal Plans?
Do you think you can’t ask for a raise, or chase a new job?
Do you think you can’t release extra weight, or get healthy?
Do you think you can’t stand up for yourself in your relationships?
Do you think you can’t change your way of eating?
Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do…”
In the grand scheme of things, giving up coffee for three weeks, doesn’t really seem like much to do. But, when you sit back and realize how much our actions, consistently over time, can transform our lives it is an awesome revelation!
We can choose to do hard things.
We can choose to chase dreams.
We can choose to change our lives.
We can choose to swim not sink.
We can choose to fly even if we’ve failed before.
There’s so much pure strength in the absolute knowledge of how much personal power we really do have over our lives. We may not have the power to change the shitty things that life sometimes deals out, but we have total and complete power over our attitude, perspective, and how we deal with those things.
And in the end, my sweet friend, we have the power to choose love and action over fear and despair.
And that is everything!
Have you ever quit something that was really, really hard to quit? Talk to us in the comments below, we would love to hear about it.
- 1 cup whole teff grains (not teff flour / 200 g)
- 3 1/2 cups water (830 ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Press the saute button on your Instant Pot (IP) and heat up for 2 minutes. Add the teff and cook for 1 minute, stirring a couple times.
- Turn off the IP and add the water and the vanilla. Stir with a whisk and then lock the lid into place, making sure the nozzle is pointed in the sealing position.
- Using the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode, set the timer for 3 minutes. When the timer goes off, use the natural release method. When all the pressure is out of the pot, carefully remove the lid.
- Take your whisk and stir until all the clumps are out and your porridge is creamy and smooth.
- Serve with non-dairy milk, nuts, fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple or date syrup. One of my fave combos is unsweetened soy milk, diced apple, chopped walnuts and maple syrup.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with doing the thing you think you can’t do.
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Lyndsey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—you’re my spirit animal! Coffee with sugary, coconut-oily, guar-gummy, totally-non-WFPB almond milk creamer is my vice. I WANT to quit it, but I am firmly planted in my own way. Plus I hate pain, and the afternoon headaches are wickeeeeddddd when I miss my morning coffee.
It’s time for me to stop making excuses and get out of my own way. I can do it. I will do it! ❤️
You CAN DO ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING that you set your mind to achieving!
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Seriously, Lyndsey, I totally get it, fellow coffee lover here. I can’t imagine giving it up entirely, but, I found early on in my WFPB journey that I really didn’t NEED as much coffee as I was drinking (5-6 cups a day, for years and years). Down to 1 or 2 cups now (no sweetener, just plant milk). It took months to cut the sugar in tiny increments (a little less in each cup), and even longer to make the switch from dairy-milk to plant milk. Coffee is sacred. It really is a gift from the gods, and we should appreciate it (but not worship it…). Love your musings, and your full-speed-ahead attitude!
Yes, I’ll never give it up entirely. I enjoy it too much! But, I’m definitely excited that I’m drinking fewer cups. I wish you well!
I was happily reading this with a smile on my face when all of a sudden I read the line: “What is it that YOU think you cannot do?” I burst into tears. Emotional much? Probably. But something struck a major chord within me. Thank you for sharing, Lyndsey, and thank you for the role you play in all of this, Molly. You beautiful ladies. Big words here to think about today.
I’m so glad it got to you! That’s what I wanted. To make you think and to rise up and try new things. Big hugs to you!
I quit smoking in 1982 after smoking a pack a day for 10 years. I dreamt about it for at least 10 years afterwards, usually that I had started smoking again and I was horrified, or occasionally that i was only smoking one or two cigs a day and I was sure I wasn’t addicted again. It was really deep in my psyche.
Oh my gosh! I’m so very proud of you and am giving you gigantic high-fives on your massive accomplishment!
Soda! Coke, more specifically. Each time I’ve tried to give it up, I’ll have a stressful moment about 4 days in and I cave. Kudos to you for sticking to it!
You can do anything that you set your mind to achieving. I know that for sure! I’m proud of you for identifying and trying to give up a soda addiction. Keep trying – YOU CAN DO IT!
Oh for fucks sake now I have to give up coffee. I love you and despise you for this amazingly inspirational and informative sharing of your journey.
This article tore into my chest ripped my heart out and hugged it. Coffee is my one friend, constant companion, love of my life that comforts and lifts me so. But is it? It might be just morning’s version of evening’s alcohol.
Your story was more than just coffee, wasn’t it? That’s what hugged my heart.
“And in the end, my sweet friend, we have the power to choose love and action over fear and despair.”
Thank you dear Lyndsey, thank you.
You are most welcome. You can do anything that you want to do, even the hard things. I’m so glad that my words resonated with you.
Big hugs to you!
Great article! Is drinking decaf okay ie is caffeine the culprit? I drink decaf some days and high test some others – since I can’t taste the difference going just decaf would be easy!
Molly has said that a cup of coffee in and of itself is not that bad for you. It’s the stuff we put in our coffee that isn’t all that great for you. There’s also the aspect of depending on something and that is never a good thing. I will continue to drink my coffee, but I am proud that I have definitely cut way back.
Lyndsey, this August will mark 29 years, since I was forced to give up caffeine, in all of its forms, as I suffered an anaphylactic shock reaction, from a double chocolate truffle. Marking the end of Black Forrest Cakes, for my birthdays. Sigh. Somehow, Carob just doesn’t cut it, for me.
Am so glad, you found the inner strength to meet this challenge head-on, Lyndsey. Chronic depression is horrible monster, to have to fight on a regular basis, as I share this struggle with you. Hopefully, your bouts will decrease over time, until they happen no more.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sending you lots of love and big hugs.
Like Lindsey, I have tons of coffee paraphernalia – Turkish coffee pots, a Vietnamese coffee pot, 3 French presses (including one darling mini French press -perfect for one!), an Italian moka pot, plus the standard all-American coffee pot that I can set a timer on….oooh, and I have grinders (old-fashioned hand ones + electric ones). I LOVE coffee. I LOVE all things coffee. I’d try and buy coffee all over the world. When I went to Bali, I brought back a handsome sum of the infamous Indonesian kopi luwak (and yes, I loved it). I was so close to investing in a pricey Nespresso maker. But, I was suffering. As a result, I have given up my much loved daily (actually, multiple times daily) brew several times over the past few years. The last time I did it (2 years ago), I had horrible withdrawals. I had a migraine for almost one month straight. I swore coffee off after that. What I noticed – once that month passed – was profound. More energy, clearer thinking, improved sleep, and a HUGE reduction in the frequency of my migraine headaches.
It is wonderful to wake up and not reach for coffee. It is wonderful to wake up and feel clear/energetic/alive. Now, when I crave a cup (along with the scent and the entire ritual), I will make decaf (very rare these days). Cafix or Dandy blend look like coffee in the cup and amazingly, actually work to satisfy my nostalgia. On extremely rare occasions, I will have a real cup of coffee – which now gives me an exorbitant amount of energy (so much, I usually cannot sleep that night).
If you can bring yourself to give up coffee and approach it as a rare treat, your entire life will improve. I know this is very hard to believe. But it sounds like Lindsey experienced incredible results – after just 3 weeks. I can attest that life without coffee is happier, healthier, and more fulfilling.
You rock and that is certainly a wonderful inspiration for all of us. Big love to you!
When I think about giving up coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nWAUCVbnDUg.
I’m down to one cup a day from a pot plus. This is the one thing that makes me negative thoughts about the reset.☹️
It’s important to remember that it was my choice to give up coffee for a few weeks. It was a really hard thing to do, but it really jumpstarted my progress when I hit a plateau. Do this for me? Don’t think any negative thoughts about any of it. Just wait for the new program and see what it’s all about. Then do what works for you. Big hugs to you!
What a great post! Thank you!
Almost 13 years ago I quit smoking. For 39 years previous I bowed to this addiction at least thirty times a day. I was a dedicated smoker. Nicotine invaded my DNA and I abided its demands.
The hardest part of quitting??….was finally making the decision to quit. The unknown was terrifying. Who am I without my constant companion?
You know, fence-sitting on a decision is uncomfortable, futile and fearful. If it is for positive change, just do it! The grass IS greener on the other side.
You won’t die even if you think you will. I found free and educational resources at whyquit . com which enabled and encouraged me to keep my decision to quit a reality.
Making valuable changes is empowering. It is gratifying.
And it is loving yourself enough to take that first step. ?
Whatever your challenge may be, let’s go change the world, -one decision -one day- one person -one heart -at a time. ?
And in CFDG, we always will have a helping hand, a listening ear and a safe space to be all that we can possibly be. ?
You said it so well! I’m proud of you for quitting smoking and I’m sending you huge hugs!
The hardest thing I ever did was quit smoking. But I still despair of losing weight and getting healthy. Thanks for the inspiration!
I’m so proud of you for not smoking any longer. That is a HUGE accomplishment and you should pat yourself on the back. Make sure to check out the new reset that’s coming this month! It will help you achieve your health and fitness goals and allow you to live your best life!
Really enjoy reading your posts, always funny and insightful as well 😉
I gave up tea and coffee overnight last year on the advice of a health coach who diagnosed that I had adrenal fatigue and also because I was craving sweet all the time to have with my caffeine drink. I thought I would miss it, but I didnt. I switched to decaf coffee for a while but gave that up too. Nowadays I do have a glass of cold coffee made in almond milk or a cup of Masala Tea (living in India, this is such a ritual in every home) but I enjoy and savour my treat and I love the fact that I am in control of my cravings.
believe it or not, I am sleeping much better after I gave up caffeine and I have renewed energy too ! The mind is a powerful tool indeed.
I am wowed by you! That’s fabulous and I’m excited to hear of your results.
Also, I hope to travel to India one day – I want to see the country and eat all the food!
Thank you for the great laugh! FYI ~ I hate coffee, the smell, the taste are yuck to me but I can relate this to anything. I especially LOVE this…
We can choose to do hard things.
We can choose to chase dreams.
We can choose to change our lives.
We can choose to swim not sink.
We can choose to fly even if we’ve failed before.
I’m going to make a poster of this and put your name to it ? to keep me inspired.
Thank you, Mindy
You just made me grin from ear to ear! Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that you can relate and find inspiration and motivation in my story. Sending huge hugs to you!
You are such a badass! I am proud of your sacrifice and grateful for the life lesson you shared. Also, thank you for the Eleanor quote – she is one of my inspirational heroes (her and Mary Poppins – but thats another story)…
When we have life changing experiences not only are they are magical but they can be difficult to share with others. Difficult, for the vulnerability one must practice to put oneself out there but also to capture the essence of what was experienced. Well done. You give so much inspiration on the FB page – I hope you realize how much your cheerleading effects us out here in the world.
Strong work. Well done.
Congratulations on cutting back, and thanks for an amazing story. I, too, gave up my beloved coffee once, long ago in a distant world…but alas, it grabbed me back into its’ web.
I found that I missed the social aspect of sitting with friends over coffee. Somehow, tea didn’t cut it. Anyway, now I only drink 2 cups in the morning, black or with some cinnamon, and after that just water or La Croix. Gave up soda, too. In 1991 I decided I was done with a 2 pack a day-20 year cigarette habit. Never looked back. It’s truly amazing what we can do when we decide choose to. I’m still waiting for “that moment” to kick in with what food goes in my mouth. I know in my brain what to do… just need to make it happen. This Tribe gets me closer every day. Love you all.
Thank you for this blog about being empowered to choose love and action. It was just what I needed to read tonight. In fact, I wrote about it in my journal. Mahalo!
Thank you Lyndsey. This has helped me make the decision to totally quit coffee. It won’t be a lot- I am down to 1 cup every morning but I have been adding surgery loaded almond creamer to it (I use to be hooked on coffee mate french vanilla coffee creamer to0- fat free so I knew it was made of crap stuff.)
You ask about things we have over-come. Mine came in 2014. It was giving up cigarettes cold turkey after 55 years. I will always be very grateful to Allen Carr and his book “The Easy Way to quit smoking.” He saved my life. I had to read the book three times but on the third attempt, I actually read and heard his words that when I got the horrid “Oh I need a cigarette” mind echo to replace it with the statement “I am SO very happy I don’t smoke anymore! This feels great.” It worked. The only withdrawals I had were a slight numbing feeling I did expect because I have Lupus and nicotine can hide MS and Lupus symptoms. Sadly, my older sister continued to smoke and she died in 2018 of lung cancer.
I am on this WFPB lifestyle to be able to live and enjoy life with my 3 wonderful grandchildren. Thank you for the inspiring words you and Molly always give all of us.
Love & hugs,
Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with me. I am STOKED to hear that you’re loving that body of yours and making gentle shifts to care for it. WAY TO GO!
Sending you a big hug and lots of wishes for continued health in order to keep loving on those grand babies.