A course correction towards sleep.

pexels-photo-290164.jpegI recently had a long  and miserable bout of insomnia. It’s got to be the worst thing ever. I was walking around like a zombie and snapping at strangers on the subway. It wasn’t pretty and it’s not how I like to live at all. During this time, I was diligent in cleaning up my sleep habits – when I do something I don’t half ass it!! Here are the steps I took, which you might find useful if you ever find yourself staring at your alarm clock at 4am.

 1. Ditched [most of] the caffeine: I am down to one cup of matcha in the morning which I enjoy because it gives me the energy boost I need for my workouts in the morning. I also really enjoy the taste of it. My tea cupboard is overflowing with every flavour of herbal  tea – from dandelion root to apple cinnamon.

Continue reading “A course correction towards sleep.”


From black to green – making the switch to a better morning drink.

Everyone with a mouth has an opinion about coffee. Some call it unicorn blood and others think it tastes like death. There are a lot of benefits to guzzling double doubles. It helps people survive crushing workouts in the weight room, gives your brain a boost while studying and ups your performance at work. Plus it tastes damn good, imo. What got me eyeballing my morning coffee is that I’m currently staring down perimenopause in my 40s.

As we all know, hot flashes are the bane of menopausal women and according to most of the research I’ve done like this site here, touts the caffeine in coffee as a culprit for this special kind of torture during menopause. I talk to enough women dealing with sleepless nights that result in crummy mood and low energy affecting their nutrition, relationships and workouts. No thank you!

I was and ardent coffee lover, easily sailing over the recommended 400mg of caffeine per day with my giant coffees in hand throughout the workday. What started me thinking was how much earlier and earlier my cut off for having coffee was becoming. Pretty soon, a cup after lunch would have me tossing and turning. I was definitely becoming more sensitive to the caffeine in coffee.

This led me to start reducing my caffeine by having my usual stop at Aroma with a “half cafe”. Eventually the decaf portion got larger and larger while I suffered through withdrawl headaches until I was drinking decaf and to any coffee lovers – it’s a pretty terrible substitute. Add to that, as I travel through life my teeth have become increasingly prone to staining.

I needed another option.

I started drinking green tea. Having tossed out many Tim Hortons cups of green tea, I decided to invest in a good bag of tea and it made a world of difference. That and my Cuisinart Perfect Temperature Kettle (a must for all tea lovers!). No longer did my hot beverage taste like dirt. But I admitedly missed the effects of coffee during the morning – namely the alerness provided and the extra punch at the gym during my morning workouts. Green tea only has a third of the caffeine kick of coffee and so it doesn’t have the same kick as a cup of coffee. I also missed the mouthfeel of a full bodied cup of coffee.

One of my colleagues was telling me about matcha. I decided to try it. Normally what you’d do is heat water to 175 degrees and froth it up with a bamboo whisk which sell for $15-$20 at most tea shops. Because I wasn’t committed yet to drinking matcha, I decided to whip it up in my Vitamix after making my shakes. From the first sip I was in love. It’s a very intense tasting green tea. If you like an earthy, grassy flavour, you’ll really enjoy matcha. It’s also a little creamy because it’s made from powdered high quality green tea leaves. So essentially it’s like an instant coffee, but tea form. It’s about 70mg of caffeine in a cup and the average made-at-home drip coffee in a regular mug (so not a Venti Starbucks Bold) is 100mgs of caffeine. Roughly. I’m not a scientist so don’t quote me on it.

Green tea is said to be great for women going through menopause according to many articles including this one. The way the caffeine in green teas affects us is different than coffee because while coffee blocks receptors that makes us feel tired and is easy to knock back eay too many cups which can leave us jittery, green tea’s L-Theanine content helps delay the caffeine effect a little longer and can help you perform better mentally. There are a number of great benefits for matcha, a quick google search will bring up pages of websites mentioning everything from cancer prevention and weight loss. Regardless of these claims, it tastes good and provides the boost I was looking for and that you may be as well.

Most importantly to me, I don’t find green tea “addictive”. If I sleep in and have to run out the door, I am okay if I don’t have a matcha. I’m okay if I don’t have green tea. When I was a coffee drinker – watch out if I missed a cup of coffee! I like not “having” to have something. Once it becomes something I’m compelled to do, it’s no fun anymore.

The only downside for many people is that matcha is a little expensive. I have tried the high priced $50 a 50g tin ceremonial matcha and the $26 for a $100g you could use it in a shake matcha. I personally like the grassy taste and I use a blender and it breaks up a lot of grit. So I’m down with saving a few dollars on my matcha habit. In fact, Costco recently started selling matcha for $20 for a 250g tin. Worst case if I don’t like it, I can cook with it or make a shake. Other great brands or Organic Traditions and Matcha Ninja which is so fine, you can mix it with cold water. But I don’t think it tastes as good lukewarm or cold.

Hit up your local health store or Costco to get yourself a mug of matcha.