I have a confession to make. Some of you may already know this, but I bet a lot of people don’t. I used to smoke cigarettes. It was a disgusting, horrible, mindlessly expensive habit… The worst part, is that I DIDN’T start at a young age. I know that to a lot of people this wouldn’t be bad, but in my opinion it is. I KNEW BETTER. I hated it when my friends did smoke growing up… But, when I started working at a restaurant in Plano, TX, I was working several double shifts a week… Let me tell you something about being a server at most restaurants. You don’t really get a break. Unless business dies down, you’re pretty much constantly on the go. The only way at that job I could get away for 5 minutes, slip outside for some peace and quiet, JUST FOR A SECOND, was if I went through the kitchen and out the back door for a cigarette. I even remember how gag-inducing it was at first… Made my head spin, smelled awful….
It started as just an excuse to slip away once or twice a double shift, but by the time I left the job it was a full fledge addiction. A pack every two days. Admittedly, sometimes it was even a pack a day.
I kept smoking for a few years. I would have a cigarette with my morning cup of coffee on the back deck with my roommate, every morning. I would have a cigarette in between classes at college. I would have a cigarette on my break at work. I would have a cigarette (or 12) with cocktails. And I always, always had a cigarette before bed. I wanted to quit after a few years. I knew it was disgusting, I felt disgusting DOING it. I also knew just how terrible, awful, and horrendous it was for my lungs, and my body.
I tried to quit a few times, and would do well until I was around people who were smoking. Which, in Jamestown.. Was basically everyone. No matter how strong I felt, everything fell apart when I was around smokers. I learned that the mind, indeed, is the most powerful instrument in any life decision you will make, whether for good or ill. And then I started running
I became a complete cardio WHORE when I quit smoking. When I was really fiending I would go for a run until my lungs burned. (Admittedly, that wasn’t very far at all at the time) I started eating healthy, treating my body right, and exercising. About a month and a half later, my desire to smoke was almost completely gone. I seriously felt better than I had in my entire life. You see, endorphins… Those lovely little things that leave us with a runners high, leave us feeling like we’re on top of the world… They’re natural stress reducers. The most powerful nicotine side effect.
It was hard. In fact, I would be 100% lying if I said there aren’t still days that it’s difficult not to smoke. I have been an “ex-smoker” for a year now, and I think I’ll always be “one cigarette away” from being a smoker. I was very fortunate to have Zack in my life. He HATED my smoking. Tolerated it, but completely hated it. So once I declared my quitting, he was so very determined to keep me accountable. Boy did he. I love him for that! He always supports my healthy decisions and kicks my butt to get them done. With love, of course
I will never become a smoker again. I won’t. I know too much. I feel too great. But I will probably always struggle ever so slightly after a few cocktails, or like last night when I was watching Carrie Bradshaw chain smoke while I was watching a Sex & The City marathon. I even admit, that during my brothers wake, I smoked. But I hadn’t in 6 months before that, and I haven’t in the 6 months since.
I do have a few tricks for anyone quitting smoking.
- Talk to your doctor! I quit cold turkey… It just worked best for me. But, doctors say that if you’re body is very very used to having nicotine in it, it can be dangerous to just stop. A lot of doctors will suggest scaling back rather than just pulling the plug.
- Start working out! I highly recommend cardio. It gives you a killer endorphin ‘high’ and the burning in your lungs will satiate your desire for smoking… However, its important to find something you love.
- Chew gum, suck on hard candy. I found that the more I kept my mouth busy the less I felt the need to smoke. A lot of people gain weight because they eat for this reason. I tried to stick to things I could spit out, or didn’t have many calories
- Water. Water. Water. Stay hydrated, and add a straw if your addiction extends to the oral fixation. I became a serious straw chewer when I quit smoking… I haven’t quit being a straw chewer. Oops.
- EVERY time you have a craving, remember how great you feel. How clean and happy your lungs feel now compared to when you were smoking.
So lets be completely honest… Who else out there used to be smokers?