I am a (proud) QUITTER!

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”
― Brooke Shields

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Lately I’ve been having a lot of people ask me how I quit smoking so I decided to write a post about it so people can use it as reference. Hopefully I’ll be able to help some people free themselves from this terrible addiction.

Some of my friends (and family) may be shocked after they read this post because they are about to find out right now that I used to smoke cigarettes. The reason I didn’t tell them will be explained in this post.

My addiction started sometime in Aug/2004 and went until 1/31/2011. I started out smoking Marlboro reds, to lights, to extra lights, to menthol lights, to the cheapest menthol lights I could buy (usually Maverick’s — which are disgusting, but like every other smoker out there, I didn’t mind when I was craving it).

I attempted quitting several times with no success. I made myself sick by smoking the whole pack as fast as I could (which made my cravings even worse the days after, because the amount of nicotine I had in my system sky rocketed) – bad idea. I also tried chewing Nicorette gum and using those skin patches (not at the same time, of course) but I had no success whatsoever. The gum and the patches made my heart beat really fast, and the cravings never stopped. So besides having some nicotine released by the gum and the patches, I was also smoking… not a good idea if you don’t want to risk having a heart attack. Something else I tried was smoking the electronic cigarettes. It’s funny how they advertise how that thing works great. The only good thing about that is that it doesn’t make you and your clothes stink like an ashtray like the regular cigarettes do. The bad thing about it is that there’s no “end” to the cigarette, and you end up smoking MUCH MORE than you would if you were smoking a regular cigarette. Therefore, the amount of nicotine you put in your body is much higher than if you were to smoke a regular cigarette. I went from the e-cigarette to the regular cigarette one time and found myself smoking much more than I used to, before I had started with the e-cigarette. So I would say don’t get caught up in those lies!

So, after getting so frustrated feeling like a failure, I decided to quit “cold turkey” with just the help of my willpower.

Here is the list of 10 things that I did to quit successfully:

1) IDENTIFY THE REASONS WHY YOU ARE QUITTING.
Do you really want to quit or are you quitting to make someone happy? You have to quit for YOURSELF to be successful. Why do you want to quit? Write it down. Have a list of pro’s and con’s and put it somewhere you can constantly look at. Trust me, If you say you don’t really want to quit you are letting the addiction rule your life. If you didn’t want to quit you wouldn’t even be reading this blog post. Don’t let your addiction win this battle. You KNOW how bad cigarettes are for you so stick to your goal! Here are some pro’s and con’s for you to get started:
Pro’s: I can socialize/mingle with people who smoke; It makes me feel more relaxed; I can have smoke breaks at work; It’s my way to rebel against ______.
Con’s: I constantly stink; My hair stinks; My car stinks; My house stinks; Some people don’t enjoy spending time with me because they find my habit offensive; I can’t run like I used to; I lack energy; I don’t have endurance; I will die younger than I would if I didn’t smoke; I may have cancer; I have to pay more money for health insurance; I constantly have phlegm in my throat; I can’t sing like I used to; I can become infertile; etc.

2) FIND OUT WHY YOU REALLY STARTED SMOKING.
Was it because you were curious? Was it because you wanted to rebel against someone? Was it because you wanted to make someone quit?…
In my case, the 3rd example I just mention is what applied to my life. I was tired of having to argue over smoking, and tired of finding out that someone I loved so much was lying to me when he would say he hadn’t had a cigarette all day (but I could smell it from miles away). So I started smoking with the hopes he would quit (I thought he wouldn’t want to see me kill myself because of him). I know, I was young and stupid, but that was a lesson learned the hard way.
It’s easier to quit when you leave from the same door you entered. In my case, I wanted to “please” someone; I did it for the sake of my relationship with my ex. So now I know what I did TO smoke. That’s what I needed to do TO quit. And I did it: I quit for the sake of my relationship with Tony (who doesn’t smoke). When you know who you are and admit your losses and your victories everything gets easier.
Now, pay attention to this: I really didn’t start smoking for someone. The mistake was totally mine. It was my fault. Somehow I wanted to smoke and I did it to myself, no one else did it for me. The same applies when I quit: even when I say I quit for my boyfriend, I know how much I wanted this and I really did it for myself. But I was able to succeed because I thought the same way I did when I picked up on smoking. Does this make any sense to you?

3) IF YOU WANT A CIGARETTE BREAK, HAVE A CIGARETTE BREAK WITHOUT CIGARETTES!
During your “cigarette break”:
– Drink a tall glass of cold water with a long straw: for some reason the cold water distracts your mind; it shifts your attention because when we smoke there is hot smoke going inside you. When you put something cold inside of you, it forces your brain to change its track of thought, making your cravings a little easier to deal with.
– Meditate about the list of con’s you have written down. Know that it’s completely normal to feel the way you are feeling, but also remember that you WANT to quit and you WILL win this battle if you focus on your goal.

4) TAKE VITAMIN C AND DRINK A LOT OF WATER.
When I quit I started taking 2,000 mg of Vitamin C every day. Vitamin C helps push the nicotine out of your system, and the water makes it possible for it to leave your body – through your urine and your sweat. If you don’t drink enough water, it doesn’t matter that you take vitamin C, because the nicotine will still be trapped in your system. You HAVE to pee and sweat, so drink water to be able to release all of those toxins.

5) START DOING AEROBIC EXERCISES.
This will help you sweat and release nicotine, as well as increase your body’s ability to take in oxygen. — This means, you will allow your body to heal itself faster, making the cigarette cravings easier to deal with.

6) LOG EVERYTHING THAT YOU EAT.
At first this sounds silly for a smoker because this is not about weight (even though it does help you not gain weight when quitting smoking, which is very common). The reason for food logging is that you will be spending the time you would be smoking after eating with logging after you eat. Instead of lighting up a cigarette after a meal, you are logging what you ate, which is a little time consuming and will take your mind off the cigarettes. (Trust me, this is REALLY helpful!).

7) BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY.
During the day, every time the urge to smoke arrives, take a DEEP breath from your nose into your lungs. Make your lungs expand until you feel like you were smoking. Hold the air there for about 7 or 8 seconds. Release the air through your mouth as slowly as possible. About 10 cycles of breathing this way will ease your cravings tremendously.

8) STAY AWAY FROM FOODS AND/OR DRINKS THAT WILL TRIGGER YOUR URGE TO SMOKE.
In my case it was coffee, Mountain Dew, and alcohol. Every single time I drank a cup of coffee, a can of Mountain Dew, or went out to have a drink with friends, the cravings for cigarettes would hit me like if I went crazy. So much that one time I even looked for cigarette butts in the street hoping I would find a cigarette that was 1/2 smoked! Eeeewwwww, right?! Very, very gross. But this is what nicotine does to us. We become so dependent on it that you would be willing to smoke someone else’s cigarette from the street. Wow, this was hard to admit! Thank goodness I didn’t find any!!
So, it’s better to just stay away from what triggers those crazy cravings. In my case, I stopped having the coffee, Mountain Dew, and alcohol for one full year. You may be thinking “that’s impossible; how can I put myself under so much pressure and deprive myself of so many things?”, but the truth is: when you deprive yourself of things that make you feel bad, you start feeling good. Isn’t that amazing? hehehehe… It shouldn’t even be a question. Besides that, when your brain doesn’t know what is craving exactly, it’s easier to drift your mind somewhere else.

9) LIE TO NEW FRIENDS.
If you just entered a new circle of friends, or if a friend or family member of yours ask you if you smoke, LIE. It’s ok to lie right now. You are on your way to quitting. Don’t say “I’m trying to quit” because we all know that if you are “trying” it means you still are smoking and you don’t believe you can do it. So put your quitter shirt on and tell your new friends and the curious ones that YOU DON’T SMOKE. Yes, now you are a NON-SMOKER. Even if you still smoke and are seriously thinking about quitting, lie. The more pressure you put on yourself, the more it will force you to succeed. And trust me, it really works. When you do this, soon you will catch yourself having to take 3, 4 showers/day to wash the smoke off your skin; you will be washing your teeth like crazy; you will be even spraying Glade air spray on your hands (I did this many times) to hide the smell… In other words, your life will be miserable!! And, because you don’t want your friends to think you are a lier, you will stick to the plan and you WILL QUIT SUCCESSFULLY.
This is the reason why many of my friends and family members didn’t know (until now) that I used to smoke.

10) RESPECT YOURSELF.
If you relapse, it’s ok. If the craving is so strong that you think you have and need to smoke 1/2 cigarette one day, don’t beat yourself up. Do it but know you are not giving up on your decision; do it consciously.
After I quit I think I had 3 relapses, but I didn’t give up on quitting. I don’t even remember the days that happened and I don’t even want to remember. Don’t pay much attention to it if it happens, because the more you do, the more you take yourself from your goal.
I’ve heard that quitting cigarettes is harder than quitting cocaine. So cut yourself some slack. You are doing an incredible job if you are able to do it, so don’t put yourself down if you relapsed one day. Do it and then forget about it. (just make sure you drink EXTRA water afterwards!)

By Doing these 10 things you will not only help yourself with the cravings but will also keep yourself from gaining any weight. (which is usual after a smoker quits). It’s sad to hear people say they don’t want to quit smoking because they don’t want to gain weight. It doesn’t have to be that way! Put your health first. Love yourself. You deserve it!

I hope you find this post helpful and would love to hear some feedback about it!

S2 and willpower to all,

Gabi Brandao.
Eminent Health – Choose To Be Healthy

September 30th, 2013

 

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