Preparing to be Smoke-Free

I have some very exciting news to share with everyone! This month, I celebrated 100 DAYS SMOKE-FREE!!! I am beyond thrilled that I’ve gone this many days without smoking. I never thought I’d see the day!

I know that I was able to accomplish this achievement by first preparing to be smoke-free. This took a great amount of dedication and discipline.

My intention is always to help others. I hope that this post can help anyone who is thinking of, or actively trying to quit smoking cigarettes. I highly recommend you read this strategy!

I became a smoker 13 years ago, right in the middle of my adolescence. I was young and impressionable, as most of us are at that age, and needed something to pass the time. When I think back to the first time I put a cigarette to my lips, I’m transported to my old high school football field. There is a complete lack of peer-pressure, but rather, my own defiance and desire to rebel. I can very vividly see myself chosing to smoke. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Fast forward to now, when there is no one to defy, no true reason to rebel, and I’m still smoking. But why? Smoking had become so mindless, so second nature, that it no longer felt like a habit. It eventually just became a part of who I was as a person. I woke up to a pot of coffee and a pack of cigarettes; I smoked every hour on the hour, and loved every moment of it.

Then, one day out of the blue, I was mildly calculating some financial numbers in my head, and came to the unsettling conclusion that I was spending more than $300 per month on cigarettes! I was completely dumbfounded. I stopped walking, let my jaw fall to the floor, and stared aimlessly at the sky. To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

For the rest of the day, I still continued to smoke, but now with a twinge of resentment. I was furious at myself. It was then that I decided to quit smoking. I allowed myself to smoke the rest of the night, and assured myself that tomorrow would be completely smoke-free.

Unfortunately, that plan did not work. I didn’t have my usual pot of coffee and pack of cigarettes to start the day, and by noon, I was a raging terror. To comfort myself, I immediately ran back to my precious cigarettes.

I began researching. I no longer wanted to spend the amount of money I was spending, but was struggling to detach myself from being a smoker. During my research, I found that there are higher success rates for people who allow themselves one week to prepare.

I essentially needed to fall out of love with smoking, which was, and sometimes still is, harder than I had anticipated. I was very much in love with smoking, but the benefits of quitting are overwhelming.

During my week of preparation, I continued to smoke. But these cigarettes somehow did not taste as good as all the other cigarettes I’ve smoked. These cigarettes were stained with failure and disappointment. I knew I was saying goodbye, and my body knew it, too.

On my phone, I have three notes that provided an enormous comfort during both my preparation for quitting, and my first weeks of quitting. I know they will be useful to you as well.

Note One: All the Reasons Why I’m Choosing to be Smoke-Free

Taking time to write down all the reasons why life will be better as a non-smoker is absolutely imperative. Sit down and truly assess why you’re choosing to quit smoking. There are no right or wrong answers, because they are your own personal reasons. Writing down my reasons awoke a lot of emotions for me. A few of my reasons included:

  • I will save $300+ each month
  • I will not let an inanimate object control me
  • I will run longer and easier
  • I will not have to stand in the cold
  • I love myself and value my life much more than cigarettes

The reasons why are infinite! Improved health, increased energy, whiter teeth, better breath, and that’s just a few.

Be sure to be as specific as you can in your reasons. In prior attempts to quit smoking, I’ve been vague with my reasons, and clearly, that didn’t work.

P.S. My favorite reason why, and the reason I think of when I feel a craving is the last one I shared with you.

Note Two: Implementation Intentions

Think about when it is that you chose to smoke. Do you smoke when you’re bored? After a meal? How about first thing in the morning with a piping hot cup of coffee? Once you have discovered which situations permit a cigarette, you will need to think of what you will do when faced with these situations as a non-smoker.

Implementation Intentions, to put simply, is an “if-then” plan. I’ll share with you some of my Implementation Intentions:

  • IF I am tempted to smoke first thing in the morning, THEN I’ll brush my teeth. Do jumping jacks. Practice yoga
  • IF I am tempted to smoke while driving, THEN I’ll stick my toothbrush in my mouth
  • IF I am tempted to smoke after a meal, THEN I’ll thank God for the nourishment that he’s provided for my body
  • IF I am tempted to smoke when I’m bored, THEN I’ll exclaim, “I don’t smoke!”
  • IF I am tempted to smoke when I’m stressed, THEN I’ll take three deep breaths and squeeze Po*

*Po is my squishy toy. He is a ninja panda that I named Po, because Po doesn’t let me smoke no mo

This tactic may seem silly to you, and honestly, it seemed silly to me as well. Remember that you are creating a plan that will help prevent you from smoking during specific situations that you are most familiar with.

I was most worried about how I would handle my new morning routine. No cigarettes with my coffee? Hardly imaginable. But because I had set a plan as to what my new morning routine would be like without cigarettes, it suddenly became more bearable.

I also stopped drinking coffee in the morning and switched to tea. That’s a whole different subject entirely, but it helped relieve the trigger of wanting to smoke with a cup of coffee 😉

Note Three: Anticipating Withdrawals

Finally, we have reached the ugly side of quitting. This is the part no one likes to talk about. It is necessary to know what your body will experience when going through a withdrawal. As long as you acknowledge what is happening, you can overcome. Knowing what to expect and how to handle it will definetly ease the withdrawal. I have provided some of the symptoms I went through, and what helped me:

  • Sweating – Drink water
  • Nausea/Cramps – Drink ginger ale or soda and bitters
  • Headaches – Eat a banana
  • Coughing/Sore Throat – Drink warm water with honey
  • Insomnia – Drink Sleepytime tea

If you are not using a nicotine replacement, your body will go through withdrawals, that is a fact. They don’t have to be crippling though. As long as you know what to expect, you will be just fine.

Nearly half of my existence has been surrounded by a cloud of smoke. Having gone 100 days without a cigarette is an odd, yet exciting feeling.

My skin is glowing, my energy is higher, and honestly, I feel powerful! I am proud of myself, and I am also proud of the part of me that chose to prepare for success. I have to remember though, that this is Step One, in becoming smoke-free. Believe me… I’m up to the challenge 😉

 

Have you quit smoking? Are you thinking of quitting? I’d love to know! Comment below!

3 thoughts on “Preparing to be Smoke-Free

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