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Listening to your Body... and Coffee

Always learn...


Be mindful ...

Learn to listen to your body...

These are all things I remind clients about when coaching. Things we ALL need to be reminded of.

It's said often that a coach would be their own worst client. In some ways, I agree when I think of myself and in other ways I disagree. This week, I had a very big "ah-ha moment" that reminded me to take my own #$%^ing advice ~ Listen to your body!! I pride myself on the fact that I'm quite good at listening to my body.

But no one is perfect. Sometimes you need that reminder. Also, none of us are invincible (even though always say "I'm Batman!". But hey - even he's not invincible!)

I am learning more and more how to better listen every month and year. And the lesson is often a simple change and right in front of our nose. It's also important THAT we continue to learn more about ourselves. It doesn't matter when or how long it takes before we learn something, it's just important that we do!


First things first - I'm a self-proclaimed coffee snob. Even a bit before we owned the ArtiZen Cafe; but that didn't help. LOL

I love coffee.

I love the smell and taste.

I love trying coffees from local and small roasters.

I love certain environments to have coffee such as on my porch, at the cottage or camping by a beautiful lake with a morning coffee in hand with water boiled over a fire.


I've had some things going on that aren't normal for me, over the past 3-4 weeks in particular.

  • 2-3 days per week I have been experiencing headaches (which is very abnormal for me)

  • 2-3 days per week I had broken sleep. I have always been a good sleeper, unless stress is very high. These 2:30-3am wake ups weren't due to stress, but rather "brain on" (also reminding me to get back to my meditation practice more consistently).

  • Nervousness / Irritability / Anxiousness - I'm wrapping these into one point. For me, anxiety has been more noticeable over the past few weeks for sure.

  • And my energy has been inconsistent. Not bad, but not normal for me by any means.

3 things that are NOT normal for me. My body was telling me; "Something isn't right" or "I'm not liking this". But did I listen early on?? Nope. I got things to do ya know!? ...insert eye roll here

This Tuesday I experienced what my wife and I thought was possibly my first ever migraine; impaired vision in one eye for the span of 20-25min (very scary to me) and headache came on (from lunch until mid-afternoon). Long story short, all subsided by supper time after an ibuprofen, nap, short walk and another small nap.


The following morning I felt better. Enjoyed my coffee on the porch and read my book, although the scary uknown of what was up inside of me was on my mind. By mid-late morning I had a headache again. Not ok!

I reminded myself of what would I chat about with a client: Control what you can control.

I thought to myself, two easy elements to control for me would be caffeine and alcohol. My immediate go to was caffeine in that moment; I love coffee and I know I could limit that a bit more.

What I didn't realize was that caffeine intake WAS creating my issues!!!!

....Insert shocked face here ... and enter: Learning

Of course, working in the industry for so long, you know caffeine is a drug, stimulant and we should limit what we have. I also know, especially as I get older, that I'm the type of perosnality that when I like something I will have it often. And in the case of coffee, without really paying attention, often was TOO MUCH! My body was trying to tell me this for the past 3-4 weeks (at least!).

The Numbers

The numbers (as often in health, nutrition etc) aren't exact....

1 cup of coffee (250mL) = 100-200mg caffeine

(this is dependant on many factors such as type, brewing style etc)

Up to 400mg is safe for most adults according to various sources such as the American & Canadian Medical Association. (I.e. Two cups in general)

The half-life of caffeine is approximately 5hrs (varying per person). In other words, after 5hrs or so, half of the caffeine you ingested has worked it's way from your system.

Now I've seen these stats before. However, once again I'm reminded of my own advice I share with clients:

Knowing something is one thing - taking action is another.

Let's dive into a few additional reminders of the effects of too much caffeine:

  • Headaches (check)

  • Insomnia (check)

  • Nervous & anxious (check)

... among others.

*To add to that - being a stimulant, caffeine does NOT help anxiety in that regard.

Take Action on what you Learn

Our modern world is designed to distract us. We don't often practice listening to our body. In this case, I was blinded by daily life and my general love for coffee. Even though, my body was trying to tell me something over the course of the past 3-4 weeks. It finally had enough by throwing me a fastball to the head this week to get me to really dive in.

With my reminders of coffee and caffeine facts, I was left with another question: How much coffee am I ACTUALLY drinking? The reality of our modern world is that we don't drink coffee in "cups". We drink coffee in our favourite mug, travel mug or super-sized drink at our favourite cafe or restaurant on the way to work.

After my morning client sessions, I headed home to experiment. These 4-mugs (left) are my go-to mugs for my coffee depending on where I am. I measured the exact cups each holds to better understand how much coffee I'm ACTUALLY taking in:

Blue "Sammich" Mug (front right) = 1 cup

"Oh-el-la" Cafe Mug (front left) = 2 cups

Yeti Mug (back right) = 2.5 cups

Tumbler Mug (back left) = 3 cups

Very quickly it was all VERY clear to me why these symptoms were occuring.

Late start at work (7am) mornings I have a coffee and read my book before I come to the studio. I have 1-2 "Sammich Mugs", then bring my Yeti full to the studio. Right there we're in the 4-5 cup realm.

Some mornings my beautiful wife will bring me whatever coffee is leftover in the pot at home, which often is the tumbler mug worth (reminder - that's another 3 cups of coffee worth).

I discovered in my ever basic math equations that...

Most mornings (in recent weeks) = 4-5 cups

Few mornings ( in recent weeks) = 5-7 cups (or a bit more)

HELLO "AH-HA MOMENT"... with a bit of shock and frustration with myself built in...

Yes that's right. We (in the health and wellness industry) are also human like our clients. We have struggles, strengths, weaknesses, experiences (both positive and negative) etc... I'm reminded of when my friend and former colleague clued in that his Tim Horton's Quad-Quad's he enjoyed had (and I quote) "A lot of extra calories!" LOL

(I also pointed out that maybe he actually DIDN'T LIKE coffee!?!? )

Anyway, yes I was shocked and frustrated with myself (as many clients are when they work against themselves). But as I discuss with clients - It's ok! You figured it out! AND you're in the process of changing it to better work for YOU. It would be different if you learn something that's not helping you and yet you continue to do it or ignore. But in cases like this where you learn and make the appropriate adjustments, let he frustration move on because you're getting back in the drivers seat!

As I type this, I'm on my first morning of taking back control. I had 2 cups worth of coffee this morning. As I type this almost 5hrs later - No headache. Funny how that works...

The reminder here isn't that "coffee is bad for us". I love coffee. What's bad is that I wasn't controlling my intake to the point where I can enjoy it without adverse effects. CONTROL in our health is all we need and ask for isn't it? That control, IS most often in YOUR power - If you take the time to learn, listen and take action.

In my experience since I first started drinking coffee, the other thing to keep in mind is that we all react differently to caffeine. In my case, I don't get "the jitters". Which makes it even more important to listen to other signs/symptoms the body is throwing out my way. Others know they're having too much because they GET those "caffeine jitters".

I caught myself in relatively short period of time, but that's not always the case. People can go years ignoring symtoms and what the body is trying to tell us, so much so that it becomes their "norm". And as we all know, we humans are creatures of habit (good or bad). Therefore the most powerful tool in our arsenal is LISTENING to our body so we can be as healthy and vibrant as we can be, for a wonderful quality of life!


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