Recently I had a palm reader tell me it was my calling in life to help others, so this one is for Lupe:
My Journey from Smoker to Non.
It’s bizarre to be proud to have quit something, but I so am. 2 months and counting.
At my last check up my doctor asked me how much I smoked and I quickly responded with the standard: “a half a pack a day.” To which he threw me off by asking: “five to 10? Or 10 to 15?” Reluctantly I was truthful. I smoked 10 to 15 cigarettes every day for close to eight years, and honestly most days it was closer to 15. A half a pack sounded so much better.
But I was able to go from that, to not a single one- completely cold turkey- much to the surprise of my friends and family, who thought my promise to quit on Mother’s Day was about as believable as my announcement that Andy Cohen is going to start filming me and my friends for a new Bravo series (he’s not. Yet).
Admittedly until that day, I had never tried to quit because I loved cigarettes. I still do. Even after quitting I don’t mind people smoking around me. I encourage it- and ask them to blow as much smoke in my direction as possible.
Still, quit I did.
I know many, many, many people struggle with quitting. I for one was shocked that, having the least amount of will power ever, I was able break such a strong addiction. And although I am not really sure why I had such ease, I figured it best to share how I did it.
Hopefully my experience with it will help someone else who is thinking about, needing to, or struggling with quitting because let’s be honest, every smoker knows they should quit.
People were always bugging me to quit. It meant nothing. Again, I loved to smoke. But I had said out loud multiple times that I would quit when I was 25 years old. My quarter life crisis snuck up on me and the year was flying by, so I was running out of time to keep that promise to myself.
Luckily, I was finally in a place where I hated the smell of it, the ashes it left all over my car, the money I could be enjoying in other ways, the inability to taste clearly, and the fact that I had the early onset of a completely unattractive smoker’s cough. I work in the healthcare industry and was tired of hiding my scandalous habit every day. I hated (and fully understood) the dirty looks I would get from mothers with small children. I hated my dread of flying over the fact that I couldn’t spend an entire day at an airport without wanting to rip my hair out or because I fully expected to nearly miss my layover because the only terminal with a smoker’s lounge was, without fail, a shuttle away- and knew I would risk missing my connection for a few puffs. I hated having to find the smoker’s section at an outdoor park- which was really just a line drawn on pavement filled with people crowded together feeling like caged animals in a zoo. It was becoming exhausting.
So here is how I did it:
Be ready to quit for yourself (See rant above for sample reasons).
Think about the pros and cons logically:
Weight Gain: Yes I was worried about weight gain, as many women and even men who think of quitting are. If you care about your weight then you probably like white teeth too, and clear skin, and fresh breath, and smelling nice, and being wrinkleless. And not having a hole in your throat or losing your hair with chemo. Now a little weight gain isn’t so bad.
Bitchiness: I was expecting to be bitchy, which is more of a problem for those around me than it is for me- but the people around me understood my bitchiness was a side effect and didn’t mind my snapping at them for a minute. Some preferred me in that feisty state.
Headaches: I was anticipating headaches, but reminded myself that the headaches and discomfort I would experience were temporary and were not going to kill me, but that cigarettes eventually would. Just suck it up and you’ll be fine.
Cravings: Research has shown that each craving is less than 3 minutes in duration and the average quitter experiences a maximum of 6 cravings on their most challenging day. You can handle 18 minutes of challenge. It builds character.
Pick a date, no matter how far in advance it is:
I chose Mother’s Day because I thoroughly enjoy giving better gifts than my brother and sister. I kid, but I seriously knew my mom would see this gesture as the best gift I had ever given her. Quitting on a special date like Mother’s Day also gave me added motivation to stay smoke free. I don’t really think anyone that knew me, my mom included, had 100 percent faith that I would stop smoking- and that disbelief actually continues to provoke me to keep it up. Not letting people down and proving people wrong are two of the strongest influencers. Sometimes I think the latter is more of a driving force. I am supppper stubborn and love surprising people- especially, of course, when the result makes them happy.
Supplement the Oral Fixation:
My best friend dropped off a Mother’s Day gift for me that morning. Knowing my plan to quit, she disguised the card as being from my son (dog) Samuel. My gifts from them included dumdums and licorice. When I needed a cigarette, I grabbed a dumdum or candy instead. And took a few deep breaths. And thought about rainbows, superheros, Brad Pitt- anything other than how lovely it would be to smoke. The craving passes a lot quicker than you initially believe.
Use Social Media
It isn’t real if it isn’t on Facebook. Well no, but telling the masses that you quit or plan to quit puts added pressure on you to keep it up, so go ahead and fish for some support online. Encouragement coming from people and places you wouldn’t expect is very powerful. Who knows, you might run into your facebook friend Joe from the deli you frequent next week and when he asks you how you’re doing with the not smoking, do you really want to say you broke down and started smoking again? He’ll probably defriend you before you pay for your sub. Just saying.
Eat more nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, green vegetables.
When it come to nicotine cravings, like most things in life, what you’re eating can effect how you feel. You can ease cravings by eating more silicon and tyrosine which are found in the foods above.
I was told once you hit three days, you are clinically no longer addicted to nicotine and it is simply mental from that point on. This really helped me. Looking into this brilliant bit of knowledge a little further I found some wonderful news for people who choose to quit without the help of nicotine replacement (ie: Cold Turkey). If you have remained 100% nicotine free for three days or 72 hours, your blood is now 100% nicotine-clean and your chemical withdrawal has peaked in intensity and is now beginning to gradually subside.
The mind is a powerful tool, and if you focus your energy on the belief that you are stronger than your addiction or other positive thoughts you will be amazed by the results-
If you are thinking about quitting Cold Turkey, I am already proud of you. Read the Nicotine Warning For Cold Turkey Quitters found on WhyQuit.com for added insight.
And lastly remember… Impossible is a state of mind. Only you have the power to change your life. Nike said it best (ad geek, here):