Yes, you read correctly. Six months smoke free.
This has been a long, long two year journey. See *Here* and *Here* if you don't believe me. Did I say it was long? It was. It was horribly long. It was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my whole entire life. Over the course of the past ten years I have tried millions of different ways to quit. I have tried the patch (made my arm ache and tingle), gum (tastes horrible), inhaler (gross), acupuncture (worked while it was in), a web site support group (depressing....) and I even tried cold turkey 4 separate times.
Looks like fifth time's a charm.
So, what's my key to success you ask? Well, I thought you'd never...
- Will Power - Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I know, right? Me and will power mix like oil and water. But, it took gobs and gobs of will power to not just give in, drive to the nearest gas station and buy a pack of smokes. How doyou fight that? You think about that first drag from that first smoke of the morning, and how it makes you dizzy and light headed and not very pleasant. You think about your son - wanting to see him graduate from high school, university, get married, have children of his own. Those were two things that got me through.
- Eat - Whether you want to or not, you WILL gain weight. So, you might as well just go with it and accept it. Co-incidentally, the more you deny it (or yourself), the more you will eat and the more weight you will gain. In total, I've gained 30lbs. But that's over two years of starting and stopping, starting and stopping. That's also two years of closet eating. This time around, I stopped the chocolate and started the baby carrots, snap peas and almonds.
- Drink - No, not alcohol (although, being un-sober for six months might be one way to get through it....okay, okay, maybe not...) The experts say water, but water makes me gag so I found that tea (green tea was probably the best, with just a touch of honey) and coffee helped me. Instead of a morning smoke, I would have a morning coffee, the hotter, the better, too. It soothes, it comforts. Instead of an evening smoke, a cup of green tea.
- Talk about it - I think everyone is sick of hearing about how long I've been smoke free. I tell everyone on every single anniversary. I tell strangers, I tell coworkers, I tell family members. It keeps me accountable and it makes me feel proud of myself, so I don't care if you're sick of hearing it. However, you'll also find allies - fellow non smokers who also celebrate every single anniversary, even it's five years along. Remember, once a smoker - always a smoker.
- Change your environment, change your routine - I think that moving to a job where none of my coworkers smoke was huge in contributing to my success. It eliminated that extra peer/self pressure and longing to belong. It took away the social aspect and made it a solitary, alienating habit.
- Separate yourself from the mind games - The first few times I quit, it was an emotional journey. I was mourning the loss of a friend and I allowed myself to get sucked into the grief. If you separate yourself from that grief and don't give your addiction a *personality* it is so, so much easier. Instead of missing your cigarette, think of missing the ability to breath on your own and requiring an O2 bottle 24/7.
- Give yourself a treat - Or two. Or three. For the first six months, think "I deserve this" because you absolutely do. Whatever *this* might be...a new pair of shoes, a purse, a ring. Splurge on yourself.
- YOU CANNOT JUST HAVE *ONE* - It's true. Don't think you can. One leads to two, and two leads to a pack, and once you've bought another pack, you're a full fledged smoker, honey. Yes, yes you are.
Don't get me wrong, six months later, I still think of having a smoke every single day. No joke. But after 6 months, it'll burn my lungs and make me want to puke. I keep telling myself that. My weight gain has plateaued, I hope, and now I add a little bit more exercise, some healthy eating. But you know what? I can totally do it, because I am invincible. I just quit smoking...I can do anything!
Okay, so what benefits are there, six months in?
- I have way more energy. I cannot stress enough how much I notice this
- I'm not tired and yawning all the time
- My stress levels have decreased (and my mood is UP!!) No more highs and lows
- My skin is healthier. It looks pinker (instead of a dull grey), and my acne has calmed down
- My teeth and gums look healthier (my gums are pink again)
- My hair and clothes and skin don't smell anymore
- No more head aches. Well, less headaches
- My resting heart rate used to be 102 beats per minute, now it's 89
I don't notice that my sense of smell or taste is any better, but then again, I've gained 30lbs so maybe it all does taste better and I just haven't noticed.
Have you quit smoking lately? How'd you do it? Geez, forget smoking...have you eliminated anything unhealthy in your life/routine and noticed a difference? How'd you do it and why?