The last time I attempted to quit smoking I turned into a hermit. I ducked and dodged everything I loved: my family, the outdoors, my window where I used to sit, my sister who smokes, bars, phone calls, and anything that reminded me of smoking. If I could have stopped going to the bathroom I would have.
I made it 4 months. But let me tell you about those 4 months, they were dark, depressing, and in my head. I felt like a failure in life, in my career, in general. I stopped working out, I had no motivation, nor could I smoke my pre workout cigarette or after, so it just started to add up.
I gained weight, I looked shitty, and I felt shitty. I had trouble forming coherent thoughts, I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want jobs.
Needless to say, it all boiled up to a breaking point with some extreme depression and I smoked. Guess what? That first cigarette, gave me my speech back, my motivation back, me back. I felt invigorated. The girlfriend at the time had to go, I realized I was dating her because she fed into my newfound hermit. My lifestyle had to go and I went out again, met people, friends, colleagues. I nailed 3-4 freelance gigs including a very lucrative long term job within weeks.
I started working out again. Although, never fully invested due to mindset. So I lost a few lbs but still felt like shit physically.
BUT, I was once again on my feet, active, productive, and clear. The “clouded” thoughts, mind, and body was clear and I was ready for everything.
Problem was, I was smoking again. And I thought perhaps this time I shouldn’t quit at all. But as my life began to fall into place I saw the issue, and I knew I would have to tackle it again. Smoking on and off since I was 14-15 has been rough.
My brain was also ready to get rid of the cigarettes. Sometimes your body just doesn’t want them anymore and you have to capitalize on that. I had to see a friend of mine go through chemo treatments when she is super healthy and never smoked, and I watched her strength during it, and realized I may not be that strong. And while not a deciding factor it helped to get my head thinking it was time to attempt quitting again. My mother said it indirectly the other day in a way that I liked. I made the mistake of starting smoking, and I had to fix it. Because even though I like it, it is a mistake and it is extremely dangerous. Which you know as a smoker but you ignore anyway, part of which is because of the extreme addicting aspects of it. It blinds you regardless of side effects. Which let me list some so you can grasp what I would deal with to smoke:
- Dulled smell
- Dulled Taste
- I smelled
- My breath was horrid
- Nausea in the morning
- Frequent diarrhea
- Coughing up nasty hard phlegm every morning
- Constant clearing of my throat
- The feeling of being winded
- Higher intake of oxygen, making you breath smaller when not smoking
- Mouth sores from the nicotine
- Teeth discoloration(fixed this as well with a dentist prescribed whiting tray)
- Habits of smoking right after using the bathroom, midway through a movie, on the phone, at a bus stop, after getting off a bus, after eating, before eating, 2 before a workout, 1 right after, waking up, going to sleep, the list goes on with this one.
- Upset stomach often
- Curbed appetite.
- House smelled
- Clothes smelled
- TONS OF LAUNDRY
- 300$ a month to smoke
So these are just some of the things I overlooked to smoke, because without being able to drink, smoke pot, etc, I felt like it was my only edge left. The only thing that made me sociably acceptable when out with friends. Yes I may not drink but I go on smoke breaks.
But I get afraid that without the cigarettes the results won’t be as good from working out. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it would yield faster results due to not being as hungry. But I couldn’t push as hard, and why get into shape to just be aesthetically pleasing. So this whole time I have just had to trust my workout, and know I will binge on some days, and crack here and there with food, but there is no rush. The first month is your body tightening without as much physical to show, the second month is more physical show, and the third month is a huge step. And after that, since I have a longer plan, I should be in amazing shape, and feel soo much better. It really comes down to trusting in the workout, trusting in your intake, and trusting in a better life style. “Trust the workout” is my mantra.
And to reiterate, it was my mistake to start, so I must take action to fix it.(even though I think smoking has sex appeal and I enjoy it, I get so pissed that we allow them to be sold even as a smoker, because I know what I am struggling with, and wish others didn’t have to ever do this. And I wish people understood how hard it is to quit smoking, it is as addictive if not more than other drugs because it is allowed to be incorporated into every part of our lives, not only associating it with the basics but with who we are.) And this time around I feel great about it. I feel empowered. I don’t want to smoke. I want to hike, i want to breath fresh air, I want to smell the beach, I want to inhale big for fresh crisp air, not a drag of a cigarette. I have been able to make the act of smoking seem bad in my head vs something I miss this time around.
I also made my own workout routine this time, combining aspects from Crossfit, p90x, and Insanity. It is high intensity but very doable everyday. I look forward to it.
That mixed with the food I am eating, when I do break my diet, it is on healthy items, as I don’t own junk food in my house. So it is better to bing on some almond milk and cereal than 12 bags of chips or candy.
My stomach feels amazing too. I thought I might need to get scoped prior, I thought I was broken, but the cigarettes really had bad effects on me.
So what did I do differently this time around that has allowed me to get this far?
There isn’t a simple solution for everyone here but this has been working for me and I am trusting it fully. First and foremost, I did NOT seclude myself inside my house. I forced myself out of the house, into the fresh air, as often as possible, even if just for a simple daily walk to the supermarket.
I had those moments where I would reach for a cigarette that didn’t exist, say when a phone call came in or I stepped outside or got off the subway, but instead of shunning that idea, I took a moment and breathed in as I might have had I smoked. I took in the fresh air instead of the burning smoke.
This alone was not the only thing that helped. I cleaned my entire apartment, washed every corner, every sheet, and began spending the money I would normally spend on cigarettes (250+$ a month) on healthy alternatives that could ease my mind, help with the clouded thoughts. I bought a green tea that helps boost metabolism since weight has always been a huge reason for my smoking. It is called Steaz teas and comes in great flavors. It is only 40 calories a can and comes to my door monthly for only a dollar a can on amazon. I have one everyday and love it. I looked at my food intake and changed it to be very healthy and realized, when i smoked because of the buffer it gave me metabolism wise I actually ate way more unhealthy and it cost me more. The food I buy and cook now actually costs me less and is way better for me! I bought tons of candles with different scents. My sense of smell has returned so strong that I have to be very careful I live in a pleasant environment. I may have even smoked because my sense of smell is so acute without cigarettes, that I wanted to dull the world around me to deal with my anxiety. But just knowing that helped as well.
I talked about it NON STOP with my Mom, Dad, friends, sister. Anyone who would listen I vented to. And I vented the same shit over and over. So be sure to pick someone who won’t mind listening to a broken record. I talked about the good things I now had to look forward to without smoking, such as waking up without being nauseous. It is also important to find someone who will not spout off the negatives of smoking to you too harshly. I get it, we get it, that is why we are trying to quit. We just need someone to listen to us and understand that quitting smoking is as hard as any drug or any addiction and should be treated as such. However there is nothing wrong with hearing it too. I was very humble to everyone telling them I might not make it and they needed to accept that. And as time goes on I feel more comfortable sharing and saying I am doing well. Because even though I am the first to write, talk, or yell, when it comes to this stuff I feel like if I jump the gun it is no longer me making the decision but my fear of failure infront of others. I still have that fear, but I gain confidence over it day by day.
I used to run away from nay sayers or factoid people, but I kept an open ear this time. I saw a friend go through Chemo who hasn’t smoke a day in their life, and I watched how strong she was with it, and I wondered if I could do that, and I decided probably not as well. Everytime I thought/think of smoking, I was able to twist it in a way that made it a negative in my life rather than a positive. I didn’t run from smoking circles, at first I did (need a few weeks) but then I embraced it and just rememebered if I were smoking, which I wanted to do, it wouldn’t be the same as it felt right then. I smoked a pack a day so that wouldn’t have been my first cigarette, that would have been my 20th, and if I smoked as much as they were, I would make myself sick as usual and not be able to just be in the moment and enjoy the surroundings. So I enjoyed the smell as an outsider rather than someone who had to join in. I made sure to bring my water bottle or a yogurt. Something to keep in my hands.
I continue to force myself out into situations that a cigarette would have given me the confidence to go to, but might now make me feel out of place at. I got there and I owned it. I owned the fact that I am not a big drinker, no longer smoked, and don’t do drugs, so technically one could point and laugh at the straight edge. But I didn’t care this time, well I did care, but I accepted myself. And through this acceptance and realization that I would be less likely to get the runs, wouldn’t throw off my stomach, get a cigarette hang over, and smell like crap when I got home, I was able to tackle one at a time, each place, each muscle memory moment that I would normally have a cigarette, and just tell it to go fuck itself.
A big help for me was through hiking. I got to the top of the mountain on the crispest day in February and breathed in after running up the steep slope. I remember being a kid and running around outside, I remembered through sensory memory the good times, and that was enough to calm my mind, my body, and not to go overboard but my soul. It brought to me meditation which I cannot do in the generic definition of the word. I cannot sit and breath, I cannot relax and ponder with empty thoughts, I need motion, I need challenge, and the challenge of that mountain, the fresh air it brought into my lungs allowed me to have that moment of meditation even if it wasn’t technical. And I am greatful.
I also notice the differences, such as when I smoked I always wrote negatively about it and how I wish it wasn’t there, and now a little over 2 months in I am writing with invigoration and positive outlook. I am proud of my health, my body, and what I can accomplish. And god I love to be able to sit through a movie without pausing and getting up. As I write this I still have cravings, I still want a cigarette, but mostly as a way to pass time in a day that is not as action packed as the others. I don’t actually want the cigarette, I just want to be doing something.
To keep moving, has helped me beyond belief. To stay busy, but to also remember that I love to take a moment, to think. Those 5 minute breaks every hour were great, but now I take them all at once through a workout for an hour in the morning, a 10 minute lunch with a delicious(now that I can taste) green tea, or a 5 minute walk outside. Sometimes I will even just go to my smoking window and open it and look out, enjoying the breeze and world as I did when smoking. Kissing someone is amazing now, no more worries that I will taste like shit. Plus now I know what someone tastes like right away, i always worried if I met someone, then I quit smoking, maybe our chemistry would be different when I stopped and I wouldn’t like their taste.
I got over the clouded unable to think period of time extremely quickly this time around and I think it is because I forced my brain to do it. I forced myself to embrace all the habits I had but without a cigarette and learn how to do them all over. Turns out, I can do those situations with or without a cigarette. It is just scary sometimes to get there. It takes an open mind and a very active stance.
But I am proud. And I will continue to be as I continue to struggle with the season changes, the different triggers, and the such. But instead of running, I will face it head on. I will challenge it as it appears. It is like when you get the jitters on stage, the shakes no one else can see, but you can feel trembling your whole body. If you tell those shakes to shake more, if you confront them and tell them, DO YOUR WORST, they tend to back down, and you stop shaking. I suppose this is the same. Except you need to force yourself to go back into the situations, you need to reprogram your life, because cigarettes are a lifestyle.
So drink your coffee, you don’t just like it because of the cigarette, but maybe instead of bringing it to the office, wake up 5 minutes earlier and drink it outside on a park bench and enjoy the moment. Whatever you do, don’t give up, don’t worry if you feel defeated. Talk about it. It helps. Keep talking it out. And remember you will get irritable, but you can also control that as well. You just have to force a smile, it really does help.
Shit talk to me, I will be more than happy to share, talk, or listen to a vent. 🙂
Rambling now, so I will end this, but I wanted to write it down.
Good luck to everyone in the same boat.