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How I Quit Smoking

Updated on March 20, 2016
rail crossing
rail crossing

Now is The Time

You know you've got to quit smoking when you're coughing up a lung every morning, or the price of a single pack of cigarettes is the price of a seafood platter!

This is the story of my success!

Quitting smoking didn't come quickly and it certainly didn't come easy. There was a price to pay and I refused to pay, until the day when I woke up with aching lungs (I should say 'days' because it's never one day. It's more like ~years.). When I woke up coughing, I was in denial. It was the day I realized that breathing fresh air is the gift of life. It was that day!

cigarettes
cigarettes

Not a Pretty Picture

Let's Be Honest

I once tried the nicotine gum, and I saw a coworker smoke while she was on the patch. The electronic cigarette intrigued me at first, but I figured the habit of smoking is also part of the addiction. Now the apps are out to cash in on the smoker's addiction. Or perhaps they do help some individuals. The government tax on cigarettes is unprecedented. The highest prices are in the states of New York and Illinois. Some of the Canadian provinces charge more than $100. for a carton. (200 cigarettes). Still, I have to agree that for many persons encouragement and a helping hand is often what's needed for them to succeed. As I've witnessed from a couple of coworkers who did manage to quit smoking with the help of a Nicotine Transdermal System, also known as 'the patch'.

no smoking sign
no smoking sign

Time To Quit

In The Beginning

I knew smoking wasn't good for me, or anyone else around me, but I didn't worry much about it. I was young, and there are many people who live long and healthy lives smoking into their golden years. Plus, there were people smoking all around me each and every day. I was already inhaling their smoke at home, in restaurants, shopping malls, hospitals, airports.

Each time that I decided it was time for me to quit smoking I was strong in my convictions and determined to make it happen. I had a plan. I wouldn't set myself up to fail like so many others did by quitting cold-turkey. I would cut down and wean myself off gradually. I found out that too gradual a weaning was only delaying the cut-off date. That didn't work either.

So in my next attempt I immediately cut down to half a pack a day. It took a bit of nail biting, or I should say ~gnawing my cuticles to the quick, but I patted myself on the back at the end of three weeks. My incentive was to save up for an electronic treadmill and the money stash in my red candy tin was already amassing.

Then I cut out two smokes per week for three weeks. I was a bit nervous at how easy it was. Sure I thought about a cigarette a hundred times a day, but the craving was not in-my-face drastic. I was a bit snippy or teary-eyed on occasion, but as soon as I caught it I told myself to snap out of it and promised myself that I deserved to quit smoking. I had to quit feeling sorry for myself. This was a good thing!

When I was down to three cigarettes a day I set up the barriers; avoided the smoking group I usually hung out with. I was determined not to give in and feed my face to alleviate my cravings for a cigarette. I would not gain weight like everyone told me was inevitable. I have tremendous will power. I knew I could do this and remain a size five.

My next initiative was to cut out the last cigarettes and quit for good. So I booked an appointment with my dentist to have my teeth cleaned. I felt sparkling after that, though I stayed at two cigarettes (in the evening) for almost a month.

I finally threw my last pack away at the metro station on my way home one day. "Tonight's the Night" playing in my head and in the grips of fear.

In the first two weeks I brushed my teeth several times a day and fiddled with straws to keep my hands occupied while watching TV. I chewed the straws flat and rolled them up. I had sore teeth, but there was fresh air in my apartment. I told myself that my lungs were already healing and I hadn’t gained a single pound. YAY

The Battle Lost

Going To War

I wish I could say that’s it that’s all, but that’s not all. After nine smoke-free months I couldn’t deny it anymore. I had gained twenty pounds which I didn’t have the energy to work off after work and I felt miserable and depressed. Billy Crystal mocked me with his “It’s better to look marvelous than to feel marvelous” and I sensed that he was right. I wanted my sexy little dresses back. I wanted my high heel shoes.

The next thing you know, after nine whole months without a weed, I lit one up and vowed to fit into my polka dot bikini by mid summer vacation. And I did!

Each time I quit smoking this happened to me. Then I bought a little house with pristine white walls and white kitchen cupboards. New rugs in each room, new upholstered chairs, bedclothes, curtains. I didn’t want everything to turn into that nasty nicotine yellow-brown color. And that horrible stink from clothing to rugs, bed and sofa. Especially my breath, clothes and hair. Yellow fingernails, teeth and gums. Black lungs and shortness of breath.This was it!

I decided that I was going to be new for my new house. I set a quitting date nine months before moving day to be sure I wouldn't fail in my goal to keep my new house smoke-free. This time I cut down to half a pack the first week and down to my last cigarette in two more weeks. I was giving myself an adaptation period.

Nine months after I’d butted out I moved into my new home. I had only gained five pounds, but I had my trusty treadmill now and I vowed to put it to good use as soon as I was done unpacking and setting up my household.

Fresh country air
Fresh country air

Finally Free

In the four years that followed I purchased an electromagnetic stationary bicycle, a stair-stepper, a bench press, weights, and an elliptical (skiing) machine. I had a virtual gym in my basement playroom with loud speakers and wild music. I had also gained thirty pounds.

One fateful evening at a club watching a band I lit one up from my friend’s pack (back when smoking in public establishments was still allowed). I actually had four cigarettes that evening and I blamed it on the drinks, but that’s a cop-out. What surprised me most was the fact that the next day I had no cravings at all. It was like it had never happened. But of course that isn’t the point. But of course I had a couple more sticks at the next club date. Good thing I’m not much of a clubber!

Nothing But The Truth - Nothing Better Than Fresh Air

A branch of my mom's magnolia tree against a blue Spring sky
A branch of my mom's magnolia tree against a blue Spring sky

I haven't bought a pack of cigarettes since October 1999, though I do have one on a rare occasion. The cute little dresses have left my closet but my new clothing don't stink and my house is always fresh and clean. I did lose ten pounds in just three weeks by cutting out all meat; especially red meat. Then I lost the battle to a T-bone steak at a BBQ one evening. I also lost ten pounds following the first phase of The South Beach Diet. I was so excited I didn't move on to phase two as I should have and I was defeated by the chips and wine again. My downfall. If you don't have an albatross like mine you'll be successful at both quitting smoking and keeping fit. I did it, with thirty pounds more than I'd like, but no more coughing. I deserve it and so do you!

© 2013 Carol Houle

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      It's great of you to share this Carol, to show the failures that go along with the success. So many get down on themselves for failing, which is so self defeating to determination! I'm so glad for you! Isn't fresh air great?

    • Sir Daniel UK profile image

      Danny Gibson 3 years ago from Northampton

      Enjoyable read, Carol. As a long time smoker I've suffered the same pitfalls when daring to try to kick it (except not being able to fit into a polka dot bikini). But please don't go bashing e-cigs just yet. Nothing conclusive about them either way; studies pending!

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Also wanted to say congratulations and way to go! I know that quitting must be super difficult!

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Very helpful and inspirational lens, wish my mom would stop smoking. Sadly my mother-in-law just recently passed away from lung cancer in her early 50's and she was smoker :(

    • Carol Houle profile image
      Author

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      @tonyleather: Congratulations, Tony! I believe Overnight-to-Zero is the best way, but one has to be 100% committed.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Hey Carol. Inspirational Lens here! I stopped cold on my 58th birthday - five and a half years ago now - going from 40 a day to ZERO overnight! Never smoked since and it was the smartest move I EVER made!

    • Carol Houle profile image
      Author

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      @Namsak: You are fabulous to this day!I was just like you. You're great, you're fabulous! It's just one smoke outside, right? It's freezing cold, So I NEVER go out when it's that cold. Call me and we'll talk...if you want

    • Carol Houle profile image
      Author

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      @anonymous: Good for you. But new evidence claims the e-cig to be almost as bad as cigs, so check that out. We all need bathroom remodeling. LOL Thanks for your input.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Good show, Carol. Glad to see you shook the habit, finally.I had to resort to an e-cig, that I still use. Someday I'll shake that too. Some of us aren't as strong as you are. For the curious, I tried this one -MyecigHub.com. The site belongs to my husband. he makes some pocket money when people buy something. Not enough to remodel my bathroom, as I've been wanting to do. :)

    • profile image

      Namsak 4 years ago

      I stopped about 20 years ago. Like you I didn't find it easy but managed eventually but even to this day I still occasionally get the urge - so far without giving in!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Awesome! I'm proud of you for stopping smoking. Thanks for sharing your motivation. Here's to good health and beautiful, clean white walls!

    • Carol Houle profile image
      Author

      Carol Houle 4 years ago from Montreal

      @SteppingRasor: I am so happy to hear of your decision to stop. Once it's out of your system (sooner than you might imagine, if your convictions are true) you will be smoke free and happier for it.

    • profile image

      SteppingRasor 4 years ago

      I am in the process of stopping. I have stopped a couple of times and before I start to get lung pains, I am quitting really soon for good. Thanks for your lens. I needed to know this.