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Kerry McLean: The movie star who finally persuaded me I'd have to beat my caffeine addiction

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Mark Wahlberg remains at the peak of his powers thanks to his punishing fitness

Mark Wahlberg remains at the peak of his powers thanks to his punishing fitness

Mark Wahlberg remains at the peak of his powers thanks to his punishing fitness

I've had a bit of a personality transplant this week. I like to think of myself as a fairly laid-back, chilled-out soul, but those traits have taken a tumble as I try to break an addiction I have to caffeine.

Now, I know you're probably thinking that's hardly the worst thing in the world to be addicted to, and you'd be right. But as someone who has an average total of three or four hours sleep a night, a hyperactive toddler to contend with and two pre-teens to organise and chase after, caffeine has become less of a choice and more of a crutch in my daily life.

I quaff down my first cuppa before waking the kids up in the morning and knock back my last mug of tea just as my eyes are closing over in the wee small hours.

In between times, I'll have maybe 10 or more cups of tea, and I've even been known to pop one of those little energy boosting effervescent tablets into a glass of water in the afternoon, just to keep me going. They claim to be chock-a-block full of vitamins and minerals, but it's their heavy hit of caffeine I crave.

Sounds bad, doesn't it? But it's actually a big improvement on a few years ago, when I'd have been squeezing several coffees and a litre of fizzy cola into the mix as well.

It's good that I've cut back, but I know that I need to cut it out.

My family has a history of heart problems and now, approaching my mid-40s, I've realised I have to live as heart healthy a lifestyle as I can.

The problem is that I'm great on theory but, having been born with a serious lack of willpower, I'm not so great at putting it into action.

What inspired me to finally act this week was reading about movie star Mark Wahlberg and his punishing fitness regime.

He goes to bed in the evening before my two-year-old, tucked up by 7.30pm, is back up by 2.30am and spends the rest of the day working out, lifting weights and spending time in "cryo chamber recovery".

Answers on a postcard as to what that is, because I haven't a clue!

He pushes himself through this physically intense programme every day, which explains how he maintains those incredible muscles and his place on Hollywood's A-list at 47 years of age, long after most movie actors are left to shuffle off into early retirement.

I have absolutely no desire to follow his regime and rediscover my long-lost muscles, and I've long since accepted that the closest I'll ever get to a six-pack is on a supermarket shelf in the crisp aisle.

But just to have a sliver of the self-restraint he has shown, enough to help me kick my caffeine habit once and for all, would be amazing.

Past experience hasn't left me too hopeful.

Years ago, I shared a flat with my sister, who would buy a chocolate bar at the start of the week and treat herself to one little square each night before bed, putting the rest back into the fridge.

After she'd go to sleep, I would feel myself drawn to the fridge and, before I really knew what was happening, nothing but a chocolate wrapper would be left in my hands.

The next morning, I'd be up with the birds, dashing down to the corner shop to replace the missing chocolate bar, carefully removing the right number of squares so she'd be none the wiser.

That went on for weeks until I finally had the sense to tell her to hide her chocolate bar.

Not that I didn't have the odd game of late-night hide and seek looking for it, but at least I didn't always find it!

It's been almost a week since I've cut out the caffeine, and I'll confess to being like a bear with a sore head and a thoroughly bad-tempered biddy.

I'm getting better, but my advice would still be keep walking if you see me coming, and spare a thought for my poor husband. For him, there's no escaping this storm in a teacup.

Belfast Telegraph


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