I run for the finisher shirt and medal…yeah, kinda pathetic.


Today is my fifth anniversary as a nonsmoker.  After 25 plus years I never thought I’d ever quit; I LOVED SMOKING!  I loved the way it calmed my nerves.  Nothing went better with a cocktail than a menthol.  And what better way to pass the time on those long solo car trips.  But there came a time when I coughed constantly, leading to a never-ending headache, and I hated the way I smelled.  Not to mention the disapproving glares when you stood outside chasing a little breath.  So I knew I needed to quit, but how could I actually stay quit this time?

I never bought into the theory that smoking was a chemical addiction.  After all, I never knew of anyone who went through withdrawals after quitting.  What I did believe it to be is a habit.  I read somewhere that it takes thirty days to make something a habit, so I thought I should just train myself to have a different habit.  I selected my quit date thirty days out, July 27th of 2007; twenty days after my wedding.  I then sat down and made a list of all of the reasons why I wanted to quit smoking.  I was going to keep this list with me to look at before every smoke.  My top three were the smell, the coughing, and the physical after-effects.

I then set out to create my new habit.  Before every cigarette I read my list.  I took a few seconds to imagine what I was going to feel like after I smoked.  When I finished a cigarette I came inside, washed my hands, applied lotion, sprayed myself with fabric refresher, and chewed a piece of gum.  I did this every single time I had a cigarette.  This was extremely important, no skipping steps.  Now, let me just digress for a moment.  I worked in a hotel with a staff full of smokers.  Before they went outside they would stop in my office to see if I wanted to join them.  They were ruthless and heartless about my quitting and made sure to taunt me at every possible opportunity.

As I got closer to my quit date, I wanted the actual cigarette less and less.  When I got to the 27th I maintained my routine—my new habit–except I skipped the part about smoking a cigarette.  I read my list, concentrated on how I would feel physically if I did smoke, then washed my hands, put on lotion, sprayed fabric refresher, and chewed a piece of gum.  I didn’t even miss the cigarette!  When my staff would come in my office to goad me, I focused on my list of reasons why I could not go outside with them.  When they came in I pointed out how bad they smelled.  It didn’t take long for them to stop teasing me.

It was important to find things to do with my hands other than smoking.  I bought a toy called a Tangle at a discount store.  It’s a bunch of long plastic ‘beads’ that you can rearrange and manipulate into different shapes.  That did wonders, especially when driving!  I snacked on licorice, carrot sticks, and celery.  I started doing crocheting and yarn crafts to fill the extra time that was now literally on my hands.  Anyone can quit.  Make a list, set your routine for your new habit, and focus on your date.  The best thing I did was buy a pair of running shoes.  Four half marathons later I’m not looking back.





One response to this post.

  1. […] and in health care expenses.  Set up teams for support and quit together.  Check out this blog post for a great way to stop for […]


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