Category Archives: coffee

Water, water everywhere

This is the last week of my 30 days no-alcohol challenge. Yes, I have almost survived a month of no cider Sunday, no beer and pizza on Friday, no wine with cooking dinner on Saturday . . . and it hasn’t been hard at all. Yay! I feel great and I’m certain that this has contributed to me having more energy most days no than I did on most days at the start of the month.

Whether this is because not drinking has led to me being more tired (or actually noticing that I’m tired) earlier in the evening so I’ve gone to bed earlier and got more sleep, or whether it’s the absence of this drug in my system, I can’t say. It’s probably both.

I’ve mentioned Chis Bailey’s book The Productivity Project in previous posts, which is where the energy tracking experiment that I’ve been doing in conjunction with the no alcohol/no coffee/more sleep challenge came from.

In Chapter 23 (which I need to point out is in the section of the book called “Taking Productivity to the Next Level”—yep, that’s me, next level productivity!!), Chris talks about how he only drank water for a month. His intention had just been to see what happened when he removed caffeine and alcohol for his diet but he then found he had increased energy from drinking huge amounts of water—like four litres a day! He suggests three litres for women and proposes if you drink this much water “you will be surprised at how much energy you have especially if you’re already dehydrated”.

Now, I know there are lovers and haters of the two-litres of water a day regimen and that there are many different views on whether you need that amount, more, less, much more, much less, only drink when you’re thirsty, if you only drink when you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated and you should have been drinking more . . .

I don’t know.

Advice on how much water you need is confusing and inconsistent and I honestly don’t know who is right. I suspect it’s different for everyone and it’s probably different every day depending on what you’re doing that day. However, I don’t think that experimenting with drinking three litres of water a day for a week will be enough to damage myself significantly so I’m prepared to give it a go this week, the final week of my no-alcohol challenge, and see what happens.

This means I have to give up my coffee substitute for a week, which is a brewed cacao product called Crio Brü. This has no sugar, no caffeine but contains a substance called theobromine, which apparently has similar but milder stimulant effects as caffeine, without the addiction or the crash factor that caffeine has. It has potential health benefits as well which may or may not be real. If they are, bonus for me. If they aren’t, I haven’t found anything that says the stuff is bad for you like caffeine probably is, so I’m happy to keep drinking it instead of coffee, for now at least. It means I still can indulge in the habit of a morning hot drink but without the caffeine side effects.

Green tea would do it too, but yuck.

However, in the interests of the experiment, I will have a break from it for a week. I’ll miss a morning hot drink but I think I can cope.

So that’s the plan for this week. I don’t think, having stopped drinking coffee and alcohol, and already not consuming soft drinks, that missing a cup or two of cacao and a couple of herbal teas in favour of more water will make that much of a difference to my energy levels but I’m happy to try it out.

Update: Day 1

Monday: I noticed no difference in my energy after 3+ litres of water. I had a slight energy slump in the afternoon but this could have been caused by going into work early, not going out at lunchtime and not having eaten enough during the day. (You reckon?)

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19 for 2019: week 11 update

Week of 11 March 2019

Week 11 has been interesting. I’m halfway through my 30 days of no alcohol (thing 13), which I wrote about on Thursday and onto day ten without coffee.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m also tracking my energy levels over the course of the day, which have so far been rather erratic so I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from that other than my body is probably still settling down after its rude removal of caffeine. The big thing that I’ve noticed is that most nights I’m tired and feeling ready for bed by 9.00, which I put down to my tiredness not being masked by the fake energy that drinking alcohol gives me in the evenings. So, getting to bed by my goal time of 10.45 hasn’t been a big challenge at all.

Here’s how my week has gone.

Day 11 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,401 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 12 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,879 | Bedtime: 10.15 pm

Day 13 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,610 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 14 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,566 | Bedtime: 10.00 pm

Day 15 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,046 | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

Day 16 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,527 | Bedtime: 10.45 pm

Day 17 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 34,443, | Bedtime: 10.10 pm

According to my trusty Fancy March Habit Tracker™, this week I succeeded in turning my computer off an hour before my allocated bedtime of 10.45 five out of seven nights. The goal of turning it off and disconnecting an hour before my actual bedtime, which has somehow become closer to 10.15 most nights, is nowhere near happening and I don’t know if that’s realistic at the moment.

Turning off your screens anywhere from an hour to two hours before you go to bed is a big favourite of the sleep gurus. For example, the US National Sleep Foundation says that using devices (including computers, TV and phones) before bed can mess with your body’s internal clock, reduces the amount of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin released into your body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep. The main reason is the blue light emitted by the devices. It claims “using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep”.

I don’t think I’ve read anything ever that says using devices right up to bedtime helps you sleep better, and most articles on sleep suggest turning off devices as part of an evening routine to help you get ready for sleep.

Even though I’ve tried developing an evening routine in the past I’ve never really made it work, and my evening routine is basically turn the computer off, clean my teeth and crash into bed. Given that most of the stuff I want to do is on my computer, I don’t know what else I might incorporate into an evening routine after I’ve shut the computer down and turned my phone off. Reading comes to mind but that’s about it. Anyway, I’m going to use this week to play around with bringing my bedtime back to 10.30 and my device off time to 9.30 and seeing if that makes a difference to my sleep quality. Since I haven’t gone to bed later than 10.15 this week I don’t see 10.30 as being a problem, but the 9.30 shut down might be!

It’s one to work on in the coming weeks.

Here’s how I’m tracking with the rest of 19 for 2019:

Photo course (thing 1): I completed the day 19 lesson and assignment.20190310 Assignment Day 19 05Walk from Taroona to Moonah (thing 3): I did this on Sunday! I walked over 34,000 steps, or 22 km, and I took heaps of photos.20190317 Moonah sign 1 editReading (thing 5): I finished book 13, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick, which is my sixth fiction book, so I have now finished this thing!20190314 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? editWellness (thing 6): I watched a video and I have a couple of ideas on what to do this week.

Photojournal (thing 11): I have now made all the collages for 2018 and they are ready for printing. All I have to do is stick them in the book.

33 Beers books (thing 12): I entered books 7 and 8 into the spreadsheet. I have two more to go.

Bucket List book (thing 18): I didn’t write anything in the book but I made a new note in Evernote with the heading Bucket List and I put one thing into it. The idea is when I get to 100 I will go through the list and pick 50 that I am really committed to doing and put them in the book to start with. I think I’m paranoid about putting something in the book that I’m not actually ever realistically going to do, and then failing to complete everything in the book. It’s the same thing as the fear of making the first mark in a brand new notebook, I guess! I think I have to take the perspective that this is a bit of fun, not a lifelong commitment to ticking off 100 things, and just start writing.

Lightroom (thing 19): I made some workarounds to avoid an issue that is constantly frustrating me. I edited some photos for a blog post.

Status for week 11

  • Things completed this week: 2 (3, 5)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2 (2, 16)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)
  • Things completed: 6 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 15)

more coffee, please

I am a coffee lover. I think it’s fair to say that coffee was one of the things that got me through my first attempt at quitting sugar in 2013. Back then, I had coffee with milk and it wouldn’t have been unusual for me to have five or six coffees a day.

I know!

At one point, I don’t remember when, I decided that this was just too much caffeine and, to help me cut back, I switched to black coffee. I now only have two coffees a day, one first thing in the morning and the other one from my plunger when I get to work, or sometimes at a coffee shop before I go to work.

My March energy experiment, which is based on chapter 4 of Chris Bailey’s book The Productivity Project and is intended to help me identify the times during the day when I have the most energy, involves cutting out alcohol, increasing the amount of sleep I get and tracking my energy over the month. In the book, Chris suggests cutting out all stimulants, especially sugar, coffee and alcohol, to give you a more accurate picture of your body’s natural cycles.

Cut out coffee!?

Um, no. No freaking way.

You’d have to wrench my morning coffee out of my cold, dead hands.

Okay, not exactly true. I’ve had in the back of my mind for maybe 12 months the idea of cutting out coffee for 30 days just to see what happened but I had no real interest in actually doing it. It didn’t even make the “potential 19 for 2019” list. Quitting alcohol was going to be much easier.

One of the first books I read this year was Dr Libby Weaver’s Exhausted to Energised. It’s one of my go-to references for finding strategies to give me more energy so that I can do the things I want to do this year. Dr Libby talks about caffeine in the book.

Caffeine sends a message to the pituitary gland in your brain that it needs to send a message to the adrenal glands to make stress hormones: adrenaline and/or cortisol.

Basically, these hormones prepare your body for action so that you can deal with the “threat” that has triggered the release of the stress hormones, and the functions that aren’t necessary for ensuring your immediate survival start to slow down. They also make you crave sugar for getting fast energy, rather than taking energy from your fat stores.

I’ve been reading a lot about the effects of chronically high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream due to stress as part of the wellbeing work I’ve been doing this year. A lot of the calming strategies I’ve been putting into place (thing 6 of 19 for 2019) have been to address this issue, so now I know that consuming caffeine may also be contributing to me being not-calm, perhaps it’s time to rethink my reluctance to at least experiment with not having it.

Dr Libby recommends taking a break from coffee for four weeks just to see if there is any change in your energy levels.

Still reluctant to stop completely, last week I decided to cut back from two to one coffee a day, with the idea that once my coffee supply at work ran out I wouldn’t replenish it. That happened on Thursday so Friday was my first one-coffee day.

I made sure I had a substitute ready to go so I at least had the ritual of having a drink when I got to work, even if it wasn’t the same thing. No problems.

20190307 Last coffee at work edit

Last coffee at work

I think I would have been happy with that until this morning when I read chapter 23 of Chris Bailey’s book and I started to rethink things. Chris says that drinking caffeine is a way of borrowing energy from later in the day.

He explains

Eight to 14 hours after you consume caffeine, your body metabolises it out of your system, which causes an energy crash (the exact number varies from person to person). There is a chemical in your body and brain called adenosine, which tells your brain when it’s tired. Caffeine prevents your brain from absorbing this chemical, which prevents your brain from knowing it’s tired. But . . . while caffeine prevents your brain from absorbing adenosine [it] continues to build up until caffeine eventually lets your brain absorb it again. Your body and brain then absorb a whole whack of this tired chemical at once, which causes your energy levels to plummet.

I didn’t know this but it makes a lot of sense. Basically, caffeine attaches to the same receptors in your brain that adenosine attaches to and once the caffeine wears off you get a massive hit of adenosine, feel exhausted, so you grab another coffee to wake yourself up. Apparently, this is why people who drink coffee late in the day can feel exhausted the next morning because the drowsy-causing adenosine is still in their system, so they head straight for the coffee first thing in the morning.

I don’t drink coffee in the afternoon but I certainly get a huge energy crash after lunch that lasts well into the late afternoon and sometimes early evening. I put it down to my body needing to rest after a meal, but the duration of my low energy spell in the afternoon seemed to be excessive so, having learned about adenosine, I wondered if there was more to it.

All factors were pointing to the coffee experiment needing to take place.

Thinking about this, I figured the worst that could happen is that I felt a whole lot better and had more energy in the afternoon and felt less anxious. The best would be that it had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever and I could continue drinking coffee.

I still wasn’t sure. I mean, it was a four-week experiment. If I can quit alcohol for a month, surely I can quit coffee.

But coffee!!

I went to get my second coffee of the day.

The coffee machine made a weird noise and stopped working.

I am not making this up.

If ever there was a sign, that was it.

It seems as though the decision has been made for me and I will be abstaining from coffee for the foreseeable future.

I’ll be interested to see how this pans out in the energy tracker over the next couple of weeks.

12 of 12 October 2015 (the Zoe edition)

If you got lost a while back, we’ve just returned from a two-week holiday in New Zealand. You can check out our adventures over at my TravelPod blog http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/sleepydwarf/2/tpod.html

Zoe and five of the other teddies came with us, and they had a great time too. Yesterday Kramstable (aka Juniordwarf) told me that Zoe would be spending the whole week with me.

So today’s 12 of 12 is “Things Zoe did today”.

1 of 12 – Zoe on the bus with me and Kramstable.

1 of 12 - Zoe on the bus

1 of 12 – Zoe on the bus

2 of 12 – After two weeks away I had no coffee either at home or at work. This required urgent rectification.

2 of 12 - Coffee

2 of 12 – Coffee

3 of 12 – We also needed some cash.

3 of 12 - Cash

3 of 12 – Cash

4 of 12 – Kramstable said that I’d do half the typing I needed to do today and Zoe would do the other half.

4 of 12 - Typing

4 of 12 – Typing

5 of 12 – Last time I took Zoe in to work and she watched the building site, she (a) got photographed looking out the window by someone on the street outside and (b) got left behind overnight. Kramstable was very insistent that she not get left at work again.

5 of 12 - Watching

5 of 12 – Watching

6 of 12 – My driver licence expires tomorrow. When we were organising the rental car in Christchurch, the guy asked me if I knew when it expired. Yes haha. I thought I’d better do something about that today.

6 of 12 - Service Tasmania

6 of 12 – Service Tasmania

7 of 12 – We picked up some sourdough bread from Pigeon Whole in Argyle Street. This is the Best Bread Ever.

7 of 12 - Bread

7 of 12 – Bread

8 of 12 – Zoe tried on some shoes at Faulls. (I didn’t.) They were a bit big.

8 of 12 - Shoes

8 of 12 – Shoes

9 of 12 – We looked at some notebooks at Fullers. We didn’t buy any. (Somewhere along the line she lost one of her hair ties.)

9 of 12 - Notebooks

9 of 12 – Notebooks

10 of 12 – Zoe did some photocopying and scanning for me.

10 of 12 - Photocopying

10 of 12 – Photocopying

11 of 12 – I had a couple of computer problems. Our system conveniently got upgraded while I was away and not everything worked, so Zoe called the IT Helpdesk for me.

11 of 12 - Phoning the helpdesk

11 of 12 – Phoning the helpdesk

12 of 12 – Zoe and I were very careful to stay hydrated all day.

12 of 12 - Hydration is very important

12 of 12 – Hydration is very important

Day 13: Another travelling song

Day 13: Another travelling song
Ashburton, New Zealand

Ashburton, New Zealand


I can now add “cafe that offers its customers sunglasses to block out the early morning sun” to the list of places I’ve been in New Zealand. This was the Kitchen Table, just up from our motel in Dunedin, and we had a fabulous breakfast and a couple of coffees there before setting off up the highway for the final leg of our trip.

I really wanted to stay in Dunedin. There’s so much more I want to see, places to explore and things to do. And the more we travelled up the highway the more I know I have to come back to this part of the country.

Our first stop was the Steampunk HQ in Oamaru, about an hour out of Dunedin. Very cool. The ultimate trash to treasure exhibit. I loved it.

I’d love to have been able to have spent more time in Oamaru as well, but we couldn’t, and our next stop was Timaru, for lunch.

We’d originally planned on staying in Timaru today on our way back to Christchurch, but we hadn’t been able to find any accommodation. It seems like a lovely town, and we wondered if it was to Christchurch what Batemans Bay is to Canberra because it’s a similar distance away.

We’d spoken about Teppanyaki with Kramstable a few days ago, and he thought it sounded really cool. Eagle-eyed restaurant spotter me saw a Japanese Teppanyaki bar while we were driving round the town, so we decided that would be a great idea for lunch. It was really good. Well spotted me!

About an hour up the road is Ashburton, where we’d managed to find a motel room for the night. On the way those apparition-like mountains reappeared totally out of the
blue. There must be few places on the South Island you can’t see them.

Going to Ashburton meant a longer drive than we’d wanted today, but on the plus side we’ll have more time in Christchurch tomorrow, the last day of our holiday. It’s hard to believe we’re this close to going home. We’ve seen so much and done so much, and missed so much!

We had dinner in the motel and are currently making sure we don’t have any excess beers to take home with us!

12 of 12 September 2015

A boring Saturday at home. The first day of my “let’s try getting up earlier and doing some things I have to do in the morning instead of lazing around and then having to rush out the door at swimming time because I couldn’t be bothered having breakfast and getting dressed until 10 minutes before we had to leave, and having all the things not done at the end of the day.”

20150912-02 Early morningThat seemed to go well.

1 of 12 – It’s been a cold winter. Really cold. Just lately there have been signs it’s coming to an end, but we all know that this is just a teaser before we’re plunged back into freezing temperatures. But for the next couple of days, it’s going to be really nice. Forecast top today: 20 degrees, actual top: 22 degrees. Quite a contrast with where we’ll be in two weeks.

1 of 12

1 of 12

2 of 12 – Juniordwarf volunteered to make us coffee this morning. He used to do it all the time a couple of years ago but fell out of the habit. Unfortunately the coffee machine goes through temperamental phases, which makes coffee very hit and miss. Today was one of those days.

2 of 12

2 of 12

3 of 12 – One of the things Juniordwarf does is help make breakfast when we have eggs. Now that the chooks are laying again, we’ve got a good supply. Fresh eggs, sautéed kale and my favourite bread from Pigeon Whole. Nice way to start the day. And yes, I do have my breakfast on Juniordwarf’s “Bunnykins” plate.

3 of 12

3 of 12

4 of 12 – I had to prune back this boronia (I think) bush because it was in the way of me being able to see where the chooks are. By “prune” I means chopping off anything in my line of vision. Note to self: clean kitchen window.

4 of 12

4 of 12

5 of 12 –Swimming lesson day.

5 of 12

5 of 12

Remember a couple of months ago when I didn’t have anything to take photos of so I went for a walk around town. (It was actually May) Here are some updates.

6 of 12 – Not so much an update as something totally new. This building has been a couple of restaurants since we’ve been here, but has been empty for several years. Looks like it will be back in use again soon.

6 of 12

6 of 12

7 of 12 – Lees Corner. The old site of Banjo’s, the lolly shop and Sintonic, which burnt down in 2012, and has sat unused since. They are now making it into a small park until the owners decide what to do with it. The work started in May. Apparently it was supposed to be finished by the end of May.

7 of 12

7 of 12

8 of 12 – Happy springtime!

8 of 12

8 of 12

9 of 12 – Old cottage, meet new hardware store. Bad luck if you want any light. In May this was the site of lots of puddles and diggers. It used to be the site of old fruit packing sheds.

9 of 12

9 of 12

10 of 12 – Anyone want to buy an old supermarket?

10 of 12

10 of 12

11 of 12 – This is the latest addition to the Willow Court site – new gates in front of the old Barracks. (I know. It’s been there several months. There are conflicting opinions on the suitability of this style for a historic site.)

11 of 12

11 of 12

12 of 12 – We are very lucky to be able to have Two Metre Tall Beer-fed Beef delivered to our front door.

12 of 12

12 of 12

12 of 12 June 2015

Friday 12 June started out cold at home, but warmed up very nicely during the day to about 13 degrees.

Yesterday had been intense, and I was feeling all sorts of things all at once. I stayed up way too late last night and looked and felt like it this morning.

1 of 12 – Coffee. I needed many of these. This is my fabulous Kalgoorlie-inspired cup by the wonderful Kim, aka frogpondsrock.  I got this last month at Kim’s Mud & Ink exhibition with the cartoonist Jon Kudelka at the Long Gallery in Salamanca.

20150612-01 Coffee cup2 of 12 – The moon looked very pretty when I went out to let the chooks out. At 6.45 am.

20150612-02A Moon

3 of 12 – The chooks were still in bed at 6.45 am, like I wished I could have been. The two older ones came out at the sound of their food bin opening, but the young ones took a bit longer to get moving. I don’t blame them. In the meantime these two hooked in.

20150612-03B Chooks

4 of 12 – This person needs more coffee right now.

20150612-04B Walk to work selfie

5 of 12 – Nice to see these posters popping up around Hobart. They are part of Peter Drew’s “Real Australians Say Welcome” project.

20150612-05 Welcome6 of 12 – Some sort of restoration work at the GPO. (As you can see, I pay a lot of attention to what’s going on.)

20150612-06 GPO restoration

7 of 12 – It’s always exciting when “other mail” is waiting for me in the PO Box. The excitement is usually followed by disappointment when it’s not for me.

20150612-07 Other mail

8 of 12 – The bus mall coming out of the GPO is a dark and scary place. And look! I managed to get the person in the red top in my photo. Because in every photo you take of a tourist spot, building or landmark, there is always That Person In Red.

20150612-08B Bus mall

9 of 12 – Inbox Zero is one of my goals each week. I’m slowly making progress with my organisational systems. It’s one step forward two steps back some days, but I’m feeling a lot more in control than I had been.

20150612-09 Inbox zero10 of 12 – Well that’s a bit blurry. A planning application notice near Franklin Square. Unsure what it’s for. Not that you could read it anyway.

20150612-11 Planning application notice

11 of 12 – Fountain at Franklin Square on my way to the bus.

20150612-12 Fountain in Franklin Square

12 of 12 – The GPO at night and Dark Mofo’s light tower to show us what a real actual tower would look like. Apparently.  Art ‘n’ stuff.

20150612-10B A light