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I’ve taken the H2Only Challenge with three friends to raise money for the RNLI. This means we drank only water for 10 days from 5pm on Tuesday, September 13th, until 5pm on Friday, September 23rd. No coffee, tea, squash, pop, wine – even fizzy water was banned! It had to be just plain water, “H2Only”. You can sponsor me, Beckie, Karen and Keith at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/createh2only.

first_coffee

5pm, Friday September 23rd.

Wow, the day we thought would never come is here! It’s 9pm on Friday, September 23rd, four hours since I gleefully poured myself a cup of strong coffee in my favourite mug and found it tasted, well, a bit bitter.

It seems that my taste buds have adjusted over 10 days of drinking only water (and having a rotten sinus infection, but let’s not whinge about that again). I had a second cup an hour ago (yes, I know, I won’t sleep tonight) and that tasted more normal, so I expect shunning the water-only experience for a more varied menu of drinks will be just like riding a bike.

Much to my delight my husband came home from work armed with bottles of sparkling water, cloudy cider and Coke as a treat (he doesn’t read my blog to know that I was planning to pass on Coke completely from now on and apparently we don’t actually speak to each other!). While I really fancied the cider I’ve been doing admin for the baby and toddler group I help run and didn’t think that two cups of coffee AND a bottle of cider would help me handle the finer details. But I’m going to get my husband to make me a hot toddy (lemon, honey , cloves and whisky) in a minute, for purely medicinal purposes, of course.

So what I have learned from drinking only water for these 10 days?

treats

Husbandly treats

Well, it’s had no effect whatsoever on my skin, despite me having high hopes that it might improve the redness and bumpiness that comes from rosacea. I’m inclined to think that having a sinus infection which has left me extremely run down hasn’t helped there. I wonder whether I’d be glowing radiantly if that hadn’t hit me at the same time. My daily photos were meant to capture a big improvement but never mind. I have at least learned to take a half-decent selfie (my top tips: good natural lighting, hold the camera so you have to look up a bit, go for an enigmatic smile rather than a massive cheesy grin), which is a good skill to have in 2016 if nothing else.

My weight has bounced around a bit over the 10 days but I started out last Tuesday at 170 lbs (darn that baby weight!) and ended up today at 167.8 lbs, so 2.2 lbs lighter. I’m quite impressed with this because I’ve definitely eaten more cake and chocolate in these 10 days than I usually do. Nature abhors a vacuum, after all, so I had to fill the gap left by restricting my drinks choices with lots of sugary goodies (sorry, mum). I didn’t make any other changes to my activity levels – if anything I have been doing less, thanks to the afternoon naps I’ve needed every day due to being poorly – so a 2.2 lbs weight loss is pretty good.

day_10

Day 10 (167.8 lbs) – still rosy faced but 2.2 lbs lighter

I’ve also learned that I actually can decide to do something and stick to it. Although I did miss some drinks and just having choices, I never doubted that I would get to the end of the 10 days without cheating or giving in. It just wasn’t an option. I will do well to remember this in my daily life, when it’s all too easy to quit if something’s a bit hard or inconvenient. No more excuses, I just need to decide what I want to do and then do it!

Blogging every day has been great fun. I haven’t blogged for a long time as this website is usually just a portfolio for work, and it’s hasn’t even been used much for that recently as I’ve been on maternity leave for nearly a year. I’m tempted to keep it up if I can think of things to say, although definitely not every day! That level of commitment was definitely just for H2Only.

Of course, we mustn’t forget that this was a fundraising challenge and not just an interesting experiment. My friends and I have (so far?) raised a grand total of £226.53 for the RNLI (it’s not a nice round number because my sweet friend Kate down under donated in Australian dollars – thank you, Kate!), which is enough to buy five pairs of the RNLI’s special £42 non-slip reinforced wellies worn by volunteer lifeboat crew members. If you’d still like to contribute, you can give online on our Just Giving page or if you see me in real life, ask me for the paper donation form.

We’d like to say a big thank you to all of our donors and our friends who have supported and encouraged us in this harder-than-you’d-think challenge over the past 10 days!

Day 9

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I’m taking the H2Only Challenge with three friends to raise money for the RNLI. This means we will drink only water for 10 days from 5pm on Tuesday, September 13th, until 5pm on Friday, September 23rd. No coffee, tea, squash, pop, wine – even fizzy water is banned! It has to be just plain water, “H2Only”. You can sponsor me, Beckie, Karen and Keith at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/createh2only.

drinks_cupboard

Some decaffeinated goodies in my drinks cupboard

I’m still not feeling great but no one wants to hear me whinge on again about my sinuses, so I thought I’d take a look at a question that a friend asked me yesterday.

She has been following our H2Only challenge with interest (and has sponsored us as well – thank you!) and was curious about whether my usual caffeine intake affected my breastfeeding.

I love any excuse to do a bit of research (I am a Questioner, after all!) so I enjoyed thinking about my friend’s question. I’ve definitely found that this challenge prompts people to look at themselves and work out what works and what doesn’t. The H2Onlies Facebook group is full of people who are planning to make permanent changes once 5pm tomorrow rolls around.

I probably hadn’t made it clear enough that I generally don’t drink a lot of caffeine. Well, not too much. That’s one reason I’m sorry that I never got to feel if I got any withdrawal symptoms during this challenge (“No moaning about your sinuses today!” – Ed) – I would have like to know if not much was actually too much.

I normally start the day with a mug of “proper” coffee (usually what’s left in the coffee maker by my shift-working husband, who has often gone to work by the time I wake up) and then for the rest of the day it’s good old Sainsbury’s decaf all the way. We switched to decaf teabags when I was pregnant with my five-year-old and never went back, and I will usually make decaf coffee during the day. I generally drink normal coffee when I’m out and about. I do love a tall Starbucks fresh filter coffee.

My (formerly) beloved Coke was a chemical-sugar-caffeine-infused guilty pleasure, but that was an occasional treat rather than an everyday drink. We switched to Coke Zero a while back to try to be healthier but I didn’t like it much so that tended to be for my husband. He’s developed a taste for sugar-free squash (which I also don’t like) so we’ll probably steer clear of Coke from now on. As I mentioned before, it’s easier for me to abstain completely than just have a little bit. And yes mum, I do know how bad Coke is for you.

I’ve got various yummy herbal teas in my cupboard, including some chocolate and vanilla rooibos teas that a friend gave me in a new mum care package when my youngest was born. And then there’s chai, lemon and ginger, peppermint, green tea, the list goes on. I can’t wait to try some of these again after tomorrow. And I’ve asked my husband to pick up a big bottle of sparkling water on his way home from work from tomorrow.

I love a hot milk and honey in the evening before bed (rock and roll!) and I only drink alcohol once in a blue moon.

Which brings me to breastfeeding! Note, I am not a trained peer supporter (although I would LOVE to be) or anything formal, just a mum who has breastfed two children and believes in encouraging women to trust their bodies and give it a try.

Caffeine does get into your bloodstream, and then about one per cent of that gets into your breastmilk. The NHS website suggests that pregnant and breastfeeding women should stick to less than 300mg per day, and gives a few examples of what that means in practice.

Babycentre says: “NHS guidance is to have caffeinated drinks occasionally rather than every day while your baby is young. In the US, women who are breastfeeding are recommended to have no more than about 200mg of caffeine a day. That’s about two mugs of tea, or two mugs of instant coffee, or one mug of filter coffee, a day.”

day_9

Day 9 (167.4 lbs)

The superb KellyMom website agrees that “most breastfeeding mothers can drink caffeine in moderation” and provides some interesting tables about the caffeine content in various (American) foods and drink.

A breast-fed baby whose mother consumes too much caffeine might be particularly wakeful and restless. KellyMom quotes from The Breastfeeding Answer Book: “A baby who is being overstimulated by caffeine is a wide-eyed, active, alert baby who doesn’t sleep for long. He may also be unusually fussy” and, interestingly in the H2Only context, says “it may take a few days to a week after mom eliminates caffeine for baby to become less fussy”.

My 10-month-old is generally a very laid back little man who doesn’t show any signs of caffeine stimulation, and hasn’t been any different during this challenge, so I don’t think I need to be concerned – unless I go absolutely crazy on the caffeine at the end of this challenge! (Not likely – it’s a sad truth that I am boringly sensible).

Thank you, my friend, for your question! I really enjoyed looking into it – and hope it might be useful to others too. It sure beats complaining about my sinuses!

Day 8

Day 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m taking the H2Only Challenge with three friends to raise money for the RNLI. This means we will drink only water for 10 days from 5pm on Tuesday, September 13th, until 5pm on Friday, September 23rd. No coffee, tea, squash, pop, wine – even fizzy water is banned! It has to be just plain water, “H2Only”. You can sponsor me, Beckie, Karen and Keith at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/createh2only.

coffee_and_walnut_cake

I imagine this coffee and walnut cake was delicious.

Get ready to give me some sympathy – I think I have sinusitis. I feel rotten. It’s even worse than man flu. I have been poorly throughout this whole challenge. I have missed out on the withdrawal headaches and the renewed burst of energy once the fog clears. I have just felt awful the whole time. I’m breastfeeding my 10-month-old so I wouldn’t have been knocking back the Lemsips anyway, but I reckon a few good strong cups of coffee would have pepped me up a bit. Thank goodness for afternoon naps, giving me the chance to lie down too. It’s a challenge in its own right to get up again for the afternoon school run.

But, as everyone knows, a mum doesn’t get to stop for long and I have more or less carried on as normal despite the full body aches, fatigue and the copious tissues full of snot. I went to the women’s group at church this morning and forced down, FORCED I tell you, a piece of coffee and walnut cake. I normally would have gone for the lemon drizzle but I felt duty-bound to get a coffee hit where I could. I’m sure it was delicious, but I couldn’t really taste it at all.

day_8

Day 8 (167.6 lbs) – my big boy wanted to be in today’s picture

Interestingly, I’m still not missing Coke at all. If you’ve been here from the start of the H2Only challenge, you’ll remember me (almost literally) kissing my Coke goodbye. I just don’t fancy it. I could really really REALLY drink some sparkling water right now. Oooooh, bubbles. Fizz. Carbonation. “Give her effervescence, she needs a little sparkle.”

By the way, thank you so much to all the people who have said they are reading this. I haven’t blogged for a long, long time (this website is usually more of a portfolio for work) but it’s been a lot of fun, and it’s nice to know that people are enjoying it. And thank you also to all our generous sponsors who have taken us past our £100 target!

Day 7

Day 9

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I’m taking the H2Only Challenge with three friends to raise money for the RNLI. This means we will drink only water for 10 days from 5pm on Tuesday, September 13th, until 5pm on Friday, September 23rd. No coffee, tea, squash, pop, wine – even fizzy water is banned! It has to be just plain water, “H2Only”. You can sponsor me, Beckie, Karen and Keith at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/createh2only.

coffee_chocolate

I thought this might help, but my cold was too powerful.

I’ve hardly had anything to drink today because I’m so sick of water. I even had cereal for lunch so I could have some milk with it. I was very good and didn’t slurp the milk out of the bowl though.

I really miss the act of making a cup of coffee or tea and putting my feet up to drink it. A glass of water just isn’t the same. I am so bored of water! I just can’t wait to have some choices back in my drinking life. (A big thank you to Freebird Ventures who heard my plaintive cries from Day 3 and are sending me some free samples to enjoy at the end of my 10 days – I can’t wait!).

My cold is still laying me low, so even though I bought some coffee-flavoured chocolate today I can’t actually taste it. I would normally be knocking back hot lemon and honey, so instead I’m eating satsumas like they’re going out of fashion. It’s definitely man flu, and it’s making this experiment a lot more difficult than it needed to be, but never mind.

day_6

Day 6 (169.2 lbs)

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who has good self-control or willpower but it’s been satisfying to see that I actually can stick to something when I want to. My husband left half a pot of coffee in the kitchen this morning, and although I admit that the thought “who would know?” did flash through my mind, I didn’t go anywhere near it. In the end, I would only have been cheating myself.

(I’m not sure it’s really worth doing these daily photos anymore but I’ve started so I’ll finish! I was expecting (hoping!) that you’d see me gradually transform into a vision of svelte radiance, but unless that starts to happen in the next couple of days, I’m just going to carry on looking like my plump, rosy-faced, shattered self for the duration.)

Days 4 and 5

Day 7

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I’m taking the H2Only Challenge with three friends to raise money for the RNLI. This means we will drink only water for 10 days from 5pm on Tuesday, September 13th, until 5pm on Friday, September 23rd. No coffee, tea, squash, pop, wine – even fizzy water is banned! It has to be just plain water, “H2Only”. You can sponsor me, Beckie, Karen and Keith at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/createh2only.

diary

My bullet journal, with appropriate motto

Apologies for missing a blogging day yesterday – this flipping cold has completely wiped me out. I’m still at death’s door today, but I didn’t want to skip another day.

Much to our surprise, my friends and I are finding the challenge harder than ever. We bemoaned our fate at church this morning while everyone around us washed their sausage rolls and doughnuts down with tea and coffee.

We all expected that it would be getting easier by now but we all agreed that this weekend has been tough. I suppose at the start you get carried along by the novelty of it all, but by this mid-point we are all just grinding towards the finish line. I’m also feeling rather disappointed that I haven’t suddenly got gorgeously radiant skin! Maybe I need to increase my water intake as we enter the home straight to give my skin a big blast. Or maybe drinking more water just doesn’t really have much impact on rosacea. Or maybe I just need to give it more time. In any case, I’m dreaming of a cup of coffee to put hairs on your chest on Friday at 5pm.

day_4

Day 4 (168.6 lbs)

I’ve noticed in the H2Onlies Facebook group that a few people are throwing in the towel. If you’ve never done something like this you would be surprised at how hard it actually is. It sounds so easy, I was almost a little embarrassed to ask for sponsorship. It doesn’t sound anywhere near as impressive as running a marathon, does it? But what you drink is so intertwined with your daily life and habits and the fabric of society, that it ends up colouring everything you do.

This challenge makes me think about one of my favourite authors, Gretchen Rubin, and her work on habits. It’s worth doing her quiz to find out if you are an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner or Rebel – namely, how you respond to expectations – because it gives you so much insight into yourself. I’m a Questioner (“Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense”), so essentially I weighed up the positives and negatives to doing this challenge, decided to do it and there we go. But I imagine that people who respond differently to expectations (I’m looking at you Rebels, and you Obligers, to an extent) might find this extra-difficult, if they even decided to volunteer for it at all.

day_5

Day 5 (169.8 lbs)

It’s also cemented for me (if there was ever any doubt!), that I am 100 per cent an Abstainer rather than a Moderator, another of Gretchen’s distinctions. Even though I miss coffee and, to a lesser degree, Coke, it’s easier for me to go completely cold turkey. If I cheated and had a sip of coffee, the entire mug would be down my throat in seconds. I wouldn’t be able to stop at a little bit. Maybe I just need to draw the line and say “I am not drinking Coke ever again”. Maybe I will do just that.

PS I have to give a special shout out to my friend, Beckie, who is also doing this challenge and told me at the start of our first aid course today that there was tea and coffee available in the other room! Nooooooooooo!

Day 3

Day 6

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