My first taste of an energy drink was Monster mixed with Jaeger.
The best way to describe the taste was a burning kick, with an adrenaline rush that hits you straight in your eyes, making you feel like your contact lenses are ready to pop out – even if you don’t wear them.
My relationship with the drink was reserved for nights out, enabling me to have that buzz to keep going, keep partying, keep getting more drunk.
On one particularly tiring afternoon, I was drawn to the big ‘M’ (not the golden one, … the green one).
Without realising, it became a fixture of my working day.
Did I start having energy drinks because I was tired, or was I tired because I started drinking energy drinks?
All I knew is that with any temporary high, it must be claimed back at another time.
It became a running joke in my office – James going down for a 2pm energy drink; something which secretly irritated me, but I couldn’t say anything about, because I knew they were right.
My manager issued a daily, clear reminder “don’t drink that shit!”
There was no need to tell me it was no good, I’d seen more than enough news articles about young men in their twenties having heart attacks.
If all it took was knowing something was bad for you, then everyone would be able to stop a destructive habit.
On several occasions, I tried quitting, but to my shame, many times my resolve didn’t even last a day.
I stopped trying, choosing not to worry about what others said and applying the pressure.
Then one day I gave it all up.
But it wasn’t like the other times.
One day became two, a week went by, then a month.
Those early days were the biggest battle, I swear the cashiers thought I was a shoplifter, circling round in their stores, battling my conscious, deliberating whether “one wouldn’t hurt”.
What kept me going in those early days was thinking what a shame it would be to go back to how things were when I’d got this far.
I mixed up my routine, going for long walks to avoid temptation.
Yet in an act of cruelty I’d spot crumpled can of black aluminium by the side of the trail, just to tempt me.
You couldn’t make it any less enticing, yet all I wanted to do was press that invigorating liquid against my lips.
Eventually it got easier, I didn’t need to fight myself off every time I saw a display like a reforming addict does when they get a bag shoved under their nose.
I’d reached six months without a single sip.
Give Me Energy… Give Me Meaning… Give Me Strength…
Why did I stop?…
One particularly unspectacular day I drank my last energy drink.
I never planned it…
Then three days later my second daughter was born.
So wrapped up around her arrival, I never gave a single thought about having an energy drink.
This was a breakthrough in my beliefs, previous efforts failing, because I genuinely thought energy drinks were needed to perk me up.
However, this theory was proved wrong – if anything dealing with sleepless nights was a time it would have been useful to have a stimulant more than ever!
And yet I managed without…
When I went back to work, I returned to the same routine and became worried about resorting to the old habit.
All my thoughts focused on reminding me how close my last energy drink was to my daughter’s birth – my view was what a terrible shame it would be if I resorted back to how things were.
If I ever got tempted again, then all meaningful connection to my daughter’s birth was lost.
This is why I believe quitting this time has worked.
As I celebrate each week my daughter gets older, inside I congratulate myself knowing it’s another week staying off that horrible drink which messes with your heart rate.
When you apply a special event to something that seems quite mundane and difficult to stop, it makes it significant.
And when you attach meaning for doing something, you have a reason, and with that, you can change anything.
This post was originally written for Tribe Media and under the title Give Me Energy… Give Me Meaning… Give Me Strength… which I wrote to celebrate not having an energy drink for six months.
I’ve just welcomed my youngest daughters first birthday, so that means I’ve managed one whole year without having an energy drink!
Happy birthday to the little boss, thank you for giving me meaning and strength to quit.
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