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Managing the Caffeine: A Coaching Tool

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Our daily behavior is profoundly impacted by our patterns/decisions regarding sleep, exercise, exposure to light, and the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other mind-altering drugs (including caffeine). It may be hard to assist other people until they are “physiologically-primed/prepared” for this assistance. Should a coach insist that her client be physiologically prepared for the challenges of coaching prior to beginning the coaching process? If one’s client is taking more than 250 mg. per day of caffeine then this person is likely to be struggling with inadequate (interrupted) sleep. At 350 mg per day of caffeine, one’s client is likely to experience a diminished capacity to focus on a specific issue for a sustained period of time—the kind of concentration that is needed during a coaching session.

Use of the Coaching Tool

The following Caffeine Consumption Checklist can help one’s coaching client determine his or her average consumption levels per day—to see if they total 250 mg or even 350 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine Assessment Checklist

You Use This on A Regular Basis (Yes/No) A) Number of USes per Dat (Average)(e.g. “4”) B) Number of Mg per Use(e.g. “50 mg”) A x BAverageDailyTotal
Beverages and Candy
Drip-Crewed Coffee 100 mg (8 oz cup)
(12.5 mg per oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Coffee: Convenience Store[See More Detailed Chart For Starbuck’s Coffee Below] 150 mg (12 oz mug)
175 mg (14 oz mug)
250 mg (20 oz mug)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Black Tea 50 mg (8 oz cup)
(6.25 mg per oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Hot Chocolate (Starbucks) 20 mg (12 oz)
25 mg (16 oz)
30 mg (20 oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Caffeinated Soda(e.g. Coke, Pepsi) 40-50 mg
(12 oz can)
(3.75 mg per oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Super-Caffeinated Colas(e.g. Jolt) 70 mg (12 oz can)
(5.83 mg per oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Energy Drinks (e.g. Red Bull) 80 mg per can
(8+ oz can)
(10 mg per oz)
________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Milk Chocolate Candy 6 mg per oz ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Other ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Over-the-Counter Medications
Maximum Strength Anacin 32 mg per tablet ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
No Doz/Vivarin 200 mg per tablet ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Extra-Strength Excedrin 65 mg per tablet ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Other ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Prescription Medications
Cafergot 100 mg ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Fiorinal 40 mg ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
Darvon 32 mg ________ A_______ B_______ AxB=_______
TOTAL CAFFEINE INTAKE ON AN AVERAGE DAY ___________

Starbucks [Obtained from Starbucks Website]

De-Caff Coffee 12 oz Tall – 20 mg 16 ox Grande – 25 mg 20 oz Venti® – 30 mg
Latte/White Chocolate Mocha 12 oz Tall – 75 mg 6 oz Grande – 150 mg 20 oz Venti® – 150 mg
Frappuccino® 12 oz Tall – 90 mg 16 oz Grande – 115 mg 20 oz Venti® – 160 mg
Café Au Lait 12 oz Tall – 115 mg 16 oz Grande – 150 mg 20 oz Venti® – 195 mg
Caffé Americano (Espresso) 12 oz Tall – 150 mg 16 oz Grande – 225 mg 20 oz Venti® – 300 mg

Use of Insights Generated by the Coaching Tool

Given your client’s assessment of their average level of caffeine consumption, you might wish to work with them on the following issues:

  • Assisting your client by having him identify the sources of caffeine in his daily life and by encouraging him to reflect on the impact of this caffeine on his capacity to concentrate, manage stress and work effectively in interpersonal relationships.
  • Assisting your client by inviting her to consider ways in which to remain alert other than through the consumption of caffeinated products. Perhaps exercise, a morning ritual (such as taking a shower, yoga, stretching) or a good night of sleep.
  • Assisting your client in his identification of settings in which he is most likely to consume caffeinated beverages—before breakfast, during breakfast, on the way to work, around the water cooler, during lunch, after lunch, on the way home from work, during dinner, etc.. The environment in which one consistently finds oneself during a specific time of day plays a powerful role in creating expectations and priming one’s body for the intake of specific foods, beverages, etc.
  • Encouraging your client to vary the environment in which she operates from day to day. Habitual behavior can be more easily controlled if the environment is varied. For example, instead of eating breakfast before leaving for work, one can eat breakfast at a local diner once or twice a week on the way to work. Similarly, one can chat about the day’s news and events with a colleague while walking around the block rather than at the water cooler (with a cup of coffee in hand).
  • Setting a boundary for your client, refusing to engage in coaching with her until she reduces her consumption of caffeinated substances. Without this reduction in caffeine consumption can she really concentrate on the coaching process? Can she really change her behavioral patterns? Can she really handle stress associated with any transitions or transformations in her life?

Further Reference:

John Preston (with Agnes Mura), Lesson from Neuropsychologist John Preston, Psy.D.: On stress, Sleep, Energy and Solutions that Backfire, International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, v. 3, no. 2, pp. 16-21.

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