how I quit smoking
I've been thinking a lot about getting healthier lately. I feel like I'm getting a little older, and things are slowing down - I'm not in the most positive body image place right now. I'll post later on about what I'm going to do about that - but for today I thought I'd focus on one positive change that I made that was very difficult, quitting smoking.
I started smoking when I was a teenager, and became a fairly heavy, pack a day smoker in college. One thing about the smoking habit is that it becomes such a way of life, there are triggers that make you want to smoke, things that have nothing at all to do with smoking. That was one of my first steps. I knew that there were several times during the day when I was smoking habitually, not because I needed a "fix". I decided to cut these out first. I still smoked when I really wanted to, but only then. There were a lot, I always smoked when I was driving, and after eating, while drinking coffee, while reading...etc. I was never an AM smoker so usually I wouldn't even have my first one until after 12. So after awhile, that cut out a lot. I was down to just a few a day, and more when I went out.
Another big part of the process for me was also getting pregnant. This is not a recommended way of quitting smoking, but it certainly helped! I quit cold turkey. However, and this is the key - I had an external reason. And once I no longer had that reason, I started back up again. I didn't ever smoke around my child, and to this day she doesn't know that I ever did. I just found that it helped with stress so much. But I'm not stupid, I knew that it was not actually helping anything, it was a temporary fix, and I was a drug addict. I had cut way back at this point. I was smoking maybe a pack a week. That's 20 cigarettes for those who don't know. I also made it a big deal. I put them into a neat case, and tried to make it a special thing when I had one, not a mindless habit. I know my grandmother smoked once a day, in the evening with her 7 and 7, for years. I think that vices are kind of nice in that way, if you really appreciate them. Unfortunately, that just never worked for me, the numbers would always start creeping back up.
The biggest help for me was that Louisville passed a city wide smoking ban. No more smoking in bars and restaurants. That totally sealed the deal, as the alcohol+smoking habit was one I could never break. Leaving the conversation to have a lonely smoke outside is not something I would want to do, I hate to miss out on things! So I was able to finally break that last habit. One more crucial thing that I had to do to completely quit was find something that would calm the crazies I would get when I really, really wanted one. I tried all kinds of things. Tea, yoga, blow-pops, what have you. The only thing I found that worked, was getting in the car and driving around and singing at the top of my lungs. Granted, it will be different for everyone - but it's important to find that new habit that will make you feel better. If the one you're trying doesn't work, try something else. Jumping jacks, pinch yourself, put money in a jar and spend it on something really lavish for yourself. That's also a great tip - reward yourself, you deserve it!
That was two years ago. I'm so glad to have finally quit. I smell better, my clothes, home and car smell better. The main thing is that after I had a child, I really wanted to quit. And I always had that little voice in my head telling me that I should. But the way that drugs work are very sneaky. Your brain will begin to justify them in so many ways, you don't even realize that you're doing it. I've heard so many people say, "smoking is the one thing I have, I don't drink or do drugs" or "smoking keeps me from getting stressed out, my life is too crazy right now to quit" or "I only smoke when I do X, or hang out with X." They're just excuses. I know, I said them all. There was a time when I really couldn't imagine my life without cigarettes. But now, I can't imagine smoking again. I've finally been away from it long enough (by choice) that I can see it for what it is, a dirty, stinky, addiction.