Why did I smoke? Why did I quit? Can I make it?

I’m not entirely sure when I quit nicotine entirely. As a rule, I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself at my ‘quit date’, and so this time, as I tapered, I purposely set no goals further away than 5 minutes into the future. If I could meet that goal – and most of the time I did – then I could relax until the next craving and next goal showed up.

I estimate my approximate no-patch, no-gum, no-snus date as about 2 weeks after my last cigarette & occurring on as June 20, 2012. If we say that nicotine takes 3 days to leave your body, that means that nicotine has been out of my system for 3 weeks. Wow!

I’ve learned a lot about my smoking habits in the last few weeks. For example –

  • I smoked to calm my nerves. I knew this, but it was interesting how often *that* was my breaking point when it came to quitting smoking. I made sure to taper down slowly during a period when I wasn’t stressed.
  • I smoked during transition – literally either just after I left a building or just before I entered one, I would smoke a cigarette! If I were to be going from one place to another, I lit a cigarette.
  • I smoked to cover social anxiety/have something to do in public. I definitely noticed that this is when I wanted a cigarette the most! Waiting for my train and trying not to make eye contact with people, I certainly wished I could light me up that cigarette.
  • I smoked when I drank. Definitely became an excuse to light a cigarette during “quit times.”
  • I smoked because I smoked. I smoked because I bought cigarettes, had them around me, and was addicted to the nicotine & other additives in them.

I don’t miss it much. For example, I almost never miss my after meal cigarette any longer, which I thought I would crave heavily, and only occasionally do I wish I had a cigarette before I walked into work. In public waiting areas, I’ll read or write in my journal.

How do I calm my nerves? I’m not sure (breathing exercises?)- but I don’t crave a cigarette! I am not a smoker, and it’s awesome.

Part of my issue with quitting smoking was trying to understand why I smoked and why I wanted to quit. The above list of reasons – those were all my excuses for smoking, and until I admitted that I could finish a meal, deal with stress, walk from my front door to the bottom of the stairwell without lighting a cigarette, I wasn’t going to give credit to the reason why I wanted & needed to quit:

  • Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it is expensive.

I understood that not only was I buying cancer at a ridiculous mark-up, not only was I exacerbating my asthma, but I didn’t have any excuse for it. I smoked because I smoked. I smoked because it was a habit and addiction, but that is no reason to smoke. Once I realized that I wanted to quit, truly wanted to end my reliance on nicotine, I was able to finally kick that habit to the curb.

Some of the benefits of not smoking for me have featured more largely than I had anticipated they would.

  • I can wear nice perfume. As a smoker, I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone if I tried to cover up the smell on my clothes with body sprays, and if I spent any considerable amount of money on a scent, it was money down the drain. Non smokers smell cigarette smoke, plain and simple, and you can’t mask it.
  • My skin is better. I don’t just mean that it’s clearer (it is!) but that the color, the texture, the elasticity of my skin has improved markedly in the last few weeks. I’ll take this over a nic hit any day of the week!
  • Sinuses. Nuff said, eh? Less congestion, less swelling, and less SNOT.
  • Food tastes awesome. I was missing out on so much!
  • Sense of smell is HERE. Which isn’t always a good thing. People – you stink. I’m not saying you have to shower daily. Remember what I said about not masking the scent of cigarette smoke with perfume? You can’t hide your rancid body odor with perfume, either! Take a washrag to your pits.
  • I’m presenting a positive, non-smoking image to my nephews. And that’s what matters most, isn’t it?
Non smokers for life!

My grandfather quit smoking cold turkey – & I hope that Joey & Johnny never pick it up!

Even though I get the occasional desire for a cigarette, I wouldn’t call it a craving, and I’m proud of myself for staying nicotine free. Have any of you quit smoking?? What about it was the most difficult thing? And who all went BACK to smoking years after they’d quit – I’ve heard of people being quit for 5 or 6 years and starting up again. Have you seen or experienced that??

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Dinner, drinks, and a run

I have been running every day for the past 4 days. This is a huge win in my book. Every day was hot and horrible; every day I was tired and exhausted before I began; every day was hard before I even began.

Throwing on my shorts, lacing up my sneakers, and stepping out the door every time has been a huge step forward (no pun intended!). Getting started is, for me, more than half the battle. Getting started is the reason I never seem to get anything done – because it’s easier for me to put it off, or to excuse myself for today and promise I’ll do it tomorrow.

Yesterday especially was difficult. The weather in Dallas reached and surpassed the 100F mark, which meant the hours I had been running – about 4:30 or 5:00, were much too hot. Frankly, it was much too dangerous for me, a novice runner, to push myself in heat like that.

It’s a lot like writing this blog, actually. I have ideas that I want to put into place, but I postpone them. If it takes more effort than a quick draft, I don’t attempt a second. Almost as if I’m afraid of the failure, I won’t push myself forward. I’ll make a goal, set a routine, and then, if I miss a day, give up. I don’t have determination, or confidence, or maybe just basic trust in myself. That’s something I’m working on lately.

This evening, I went out with two good friends of mine that I’ve met since moving to Dallas (actually from my small town connections!), @saraw87 and her sis @k0rtniL0ve. It was nice! We went to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Gloria’s, and I had a house margarita & the carne asada (2 of my favorite things ever!).

I had been meat free since Friday’s potato and bacon extravaganza, so I was really looking forward to the beef! I ended up spending most of my time on their dinky salad, which I guess goes to show that my eating habits have rather improved bwahaha. I think it was probably a testament to my love of avocado, personally.

Tonight, I am full. It’s 9pm, and it is 100°F/38°C exactly. I was going to get up super early and run tomorrow morning, but walking home from the train station, I saw a young woman in a baggy shirt and shorts blazing down the sidewalk. “It’s so terribly hot!” I told her. She agreed with an easy, breathy word. “I was going to skip running, but I think I’ll go tonight. You’ve motivated me.”

So excuse me while I throw still too-short hair into a bun with a rubber band and 8 metal clips, lace up my tennis shoes, and go running off that margarita. I’m sure I’ll thank myself tomorrow for keeping to the routine, even though it’s difficult.

(P.S. – 4+ days absolutely cigarette free!)