Oh, the habits we have!

So, I apparently did a crazy thing.

A few weeks ago I got slammed with a brutal respiratory virus in the chest and sinus, and because it was not a bacterial thing and could not be treated with antibiotics, I was told that all I could do was ride it out.

Two of the symptoms were bad headaches and extreme exhaustion.

Now, incidentally, I’ve had daily coffee habits in the past, I’ve quit, I’ve fallen off the wagon, I’ve quit, I’ve started again, as the typical cycle goes.

Out of the blue, the thought occurred to me: Hmmmm. Courtesy of the virus, I’ve already got headaches like the ones I get when I go through caffeine withdrawal, and the last thing I want when I’m bed-ridden is to be extremely exhausted by a virus, but unable to fall asleep because I’ve had coffee! You know what?! I might as well quit coffee!


Here in Bellingham, well, pretty much the entire Pacific Northwest, coffee is practically a religion. To the Japanese, drinking tea is a spiritual practice. Here, I suppose you could say that visiting the drive-thru espresso stands every morning is like going to church.

So, two funny things happen when I tell people about my virus-induced coffee cold turkey.

  1. Half the people think I’m crazy to voluntarily put myself through that.
  2. When I tell the other half, there’s this awkward silence as they start thinking to themselves about their own coffee addiction and wonder if I’m being judgmental, thinking I’m superior to them now that I’ve quit.

Come to think of it, there’s nothing at all funny about that, and now I’ve gone ahead and used the word addiction for the first time in this post, a term guaranteed to weigh a topic down.

Throwing around the word addiction is a very tricky matter. You’ll never hear me argue that an alcoholic who is self-destructing and hurting other people left and right doesn’t need to accept that they are an addict and start walking the steps. And yet, to borrow a line from Thoreau, what about the mass of people leading lives of quiet desperation, habitually using coffee, sugar, shopping, television, etc.? And what about the millions of people who are addicted to activities that could have some actual health benefits, like exercise? Did you know that long distance runners often experience diminished sex drives?

It’s just too depressing to think that most people in the world are addicts, so where exactly do you draw the line?


It just so happens that, up until a few months ago, I had another daily habit. For 9 years straight I rode my bicycle to and from work, rain or shine. A mild injury caused me to stop for a while, so I started to ride the bus mostly, and even drove the car occasionally.

Well, ever since I got over this recent virus, I’m back on the bike.

I’m such a hopeless addict.

7 thoughts on “Oh, the habits we have!

  1. so, there is a third group and I fit into that: those that are not addicted to caffeine at all and watch all of the crazily caffeine addicted folks and hope for their epiphany……

    1. Hi Jamie,

      I was hoping to convey something in this post about how, if we think about it long enough, everyone is probably addicted to something, and so we should be careful of throwing stones in glass houses.

      It’s possible that in my typical stream of consciousness style of writing that I didn’t convey that coherently enough.

  2. I think I’ll fit in just fine in the Pac NW.

    As a marathoner, I’m sure my husband will let me know of that “side effect” when my mileage increases. 😉

    1. Hey Rebekah,

      So, when are you planning on migrating west?

      As for running, please don’t take my inclusion of that factoid personally, or even as representative of my view on running in general.

      In fact, I just recently bought a pair of new running shoes, and before my virus I was running about three times a week.

      1. Hi!

        Migrating? Not soon enough! Really, just as soon as we get some things settled here in CO and there in WA. My husband is actually waiting to get a call back for a potential 2nd interview, in which case he would fly out for a few days. House is on the market. Who knows how long that will take to sell!

        Nothing personally taken. I think I’ve been running long enough that I’ve heard it all! My personal favorite is that females shouldn’t run because their ovaries will fall out. 😉

        Great for you! Is this for cross-training purposes (you get a lot of exercise with the bike) or are there race goals in mind? And where did you purchase said running shoes? Fairhaven Runners? Yes, I’ve done my research.

        1. Ovaries falling out?! It really is a good thing that that is a myth. Phew!

          And, yes, I did buy my shoes at Fairhaven Runners! Awesome research. They are a great locally-owned business. They really take the time to evaluate needs and find just the right shoe for each individual customer. They measure, of course, but they also watch you walk, they try a variety of shoes and have you run down the block as they watch you run, and then they ask you what the experience of each shoe is.

          As for cross-training or race goals, I was initially considering training for a half or full marathon with a local six-month training program that has a great success rate with beginner runners. But, I’ve since decided that I don’t want to jump into tackling a huge goal right away. I’d settle for simply maintaining a regular 3-day/week running schedule, on top of my daily bicycle commute. That alone would be huge, given that running, thus far, has been incredibly difficult. A lot of discomfort.

          1. Gait analysis is key. Though now, many would argue the need for shoes at all! I’ve not jumped on this bandwagon. Yet.

            I’m hoping to join up with a running group soon after we move to Bellingham. I think it will be a great way to meet people, and obviously connect with other runners, learning the trails, etc.

            I think maintaining a base is wise. There is plenty of time to make and meet goal. Jump into a program too soon and you risk injury. I’m sure you know all this.

            Why so much discomfort, if you don’t mind my asking?

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