My “Quitting Energy Drinks” Experiment

I love energy drinks. There, I said it. I tell people, “I’ve never been drunk in my life, never did drugs, never smoked a cigarette, so this is my only vice”. While all of that is true, I’ve always prided myself on being “in control” and not being addicted to anything.  I remember as a kid, watching my parents trying to quit smoking.  They did, but it was hard for them.  I never wanted to lose control like that. But now I really am addicted to energy drinks and I have to write about it to set goals and stop the madness!

I remember how it started: I live in Florida now, but when my wife and I were living near Charlotte, N.C., we went back to my hometown of Buffalo, New York to visit family and friends (this had to be around 2008 or 2009). My friend Jack, who works for a beer manufacturer, said they just started carrying Monster Energy Drinks. At the time, I was probably an 80% water, 10% milk, and 10% Gatorade drinker. I rarely, if ever drank soda, and never drank alcohol. Jack offered me a large Monster “import” drink with a sweet sliding opener/closer that added to the experience.  It was game on after that!

So back in NC, I began “rewarding” myself twice a week after going to the gym by drinking a Monster or Xyience that my brother brought up from Florida which we started selling at our family store.  That continued until I moved back to Florida in 2010 to teach and work part-time at the store.  It was pretty subtle: I would have 2 per week, then maybe 3-4, then it became one a day in a matter of about a year!  For awhile, I was holding the “one per day” rule, but I found myself every now and then breaking that (I still have never done more than 2 in a day!).  The problem was on the days I was working a “double”, teaching PE in the morning at school then going to our grocery store, I would have one in the morning, and couldn’t wait to go get another one working at night.  So the “one-a-day” became “2-a-days” twice a week.

My wife hated this (and still does).  She’d text me links to stories of kids and adults who died from energy drinks.  I’d tell her they usually had alcohol mixed with them or bad hearts to begin with, or they drank like 5 of them in a row (which often was true), but I would be okay.  I’ve always prided myself on my health, being a personal trainer and physical education teacher, and enjoying going to the gym and working out, so I just told myself I could “work it out of my system”.  As I’m writing this, I can’t believe all my excuses!

Our store closed about a month ago after 22 years, which has been really hard for me.  I miss the people and the grocery business as a whole, and that was a big part of me.  I could write a whole book on the store, but I’ll save that for later.  What we did get from the store was a lot of leftovers that no one bought.  We donated a lot, but kept some things, along with a bunch of energy drinks!  So for the past month, it’s been about 2 per day plus some soda whenever.  I’ve noticed being tired a lot at 7 or 8 pm, and I really believe it’s the “crashing” of my body from the highs and lows of the drinks.  This has to end!

Now that my “supply” has dwindled, I think this summer is the perfect time to stop the madness and end my addiction (that word was difficult for me to type)!  I’ve thought about a few ways to do this, but I’m not sure…

  1. Have a “farewell” week, where I drink what’s left (about 10 cans of soda), then stop for good.
  2. Stop now and throw everything out.
  3. Buy a 4-pack per week for 2 weeks and slowly cut down to 2 per week, then 1 then none.

I know I’ve tried to stop “cold-turkey” before and it didn’t work.  Without as much access to it (our grocery store), I’ll keep it out of the house and not have to look at it while I work.  I’m wondering if #3, while it’s not the best option, might be the best for me- Zero soda, but 4 a week for 2 weeks, followed by 2 weeks of 2 cans per week, then 2 weeks of 1 can a week, then done!  

I like this option the best for me, even though I’m scared I might grab one at the gas station or something.  I’m going to add to my plan with more help:

  1. My wife said she’d give something up (she’s not sure yet what it is).
  2. We’re going to work with our 6 year old daughter to break her habit of sucking her thumb.
  3. My son needs more IPAD boundaries.
  4. I’ll put the $$$ I normally spend on the drinks into savings and we’ll go to Universal Studios next year with it.  I figure about $1.50-$2.00 per day so I’ll put $50 aside per month.  If I need to, I’ll pull a “Tim Ferriss” and give the money to a cause I dislike!  I’d rather not, but it’s a thought.

I’ll keep referring back to this post, but to remind myself of why I’m doing this:

  1. My health: I need this “liquid poison” out of my system!  It’s bad for my heart, my teeth and there’s just too many unknowns and not enough long-term studies done so far.
  2. My energy levels: I get a jolt in the mornings, but crash way too early at night and I think it’s because of them.  After this experiment, I’ll find out if it’s true.
  3. My family: This should be first, but as an obvious side-effect of not great health and energy, I’ll lose time with my kids because I don’t have the stamina to spend quality time with them and my wife.  What could be more important?
  4. The loss of control: I don’t like anything “owning” me.  This is no exception.

So I need some alternatives.  I love water, but I’ll need something else to substitute for the drinks.  Here’s my ideas:

  1. Flavored water: I like Mio and Crystal Light mixed in my water bottles, along with lemons.
  2. Gatorade: A lot of sugar, but an option.
  3. Club soda with limes or lemons: I really like the taste and it has that fizz I need.  This might be the winner!

I think all 3 might come into play.  I’m starting Monday.  I need this and need to write about it.  I’m putting it out there for others to follow along and keep me accountable.  Maybe this will help someone else quit a tough habit.  I’d love to hear about it and your thoughts regarding this difficult journey.  Thanks and wish me luck and discipline!  As former Navy Seal Jocko Willink put bluntly: “Discipline equals freedom”.  Well said.




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