Who: Gina Goff, Sunset.com managing editor
I gave up: Caffeine, alcohol, red meat
The biggest challenge: Shockingly, it wasn’t giving up caffeine. Weaning myself down in the days leading up to the challenge really worked to prevent the withdrawal headaches. And I even got less tired as the week went on. Not having caffeine all day let me sleep more soundly at night and that meant I had plenty of natural energy the next day.
Boredom, however, WAS a challenge. Our talented associate food editor, Elaine Johnson, put together a wonderful and varied menu of delicious recipes for us to eat this week, but actually shopping for the ingredients and making different dishes each day proved to be too overwhelming for someone with my commuter/subpar home cook status. So instead I ate the same thing pretty much every day: oatmeal for breakfast (I’ll probably still be eating it for the next 2 weeks—recount the tragic story of why here); salad with grilled chicken and oranges for lunch; and more chicken or fish with quinoa and vegetables for dinner. Repetition, combined with the absent glass of wine on the dinner table, made meals start to feel more like a chore than something to look forward to.
My takeaway: It’s a bit embarrassing that I had to complete this challenge in order to really internalize this, but that clichéd saying really is true: Everything is fine in moderation. And after 5 days of abstaining, I’m confident that I CAN lead a more moderate lifestyle. Am I going to give up caffeine altogether from here out, just because I can? Hell no. But I am going to try to stick to one cup of coffee a day (in the morning only—to maintain that newfound sleep quality) and avoid artificially sweetened energy drinks and diet sodas. Am I going to stop drinking wine on weeknights? Doubtful, but I will at least start mixing in some heart-healthy cabernets with my beloved sauvignon blancs.
I’m celebrating with: At 5pm, I’m going to toast my fellow challengers with some fancy beer from the grocery across the street. That store has been taunting us all week with its Monday parade of food trucks, its Wednesday tri-tip special, and its free Thursday beer tasting, so it seems fitting that our celebratory reward should come from there.
Next time I’ll: Up the ante a bit and make an exercise commitment too. My workout routine has suffered since I took this job and started forfeiting 2 ½ hours a day to Hwy. 101. But a big part of this challenge is figuring out how to balance work commitments with self-wellness, and exercise is an important component of that. How I will fit that in with everything else, I have no idea, but I have about 50 weeks to strategize.
In the meantime, I’m going to start each day by treating myself to one cup of good, hot, black coffee.