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How to Quit Smoking in 5 [Not So] Easy Steps
How to quit smoking? If you have been asking yourself that, you are doing yourself a great service. You can definitely do it just like I did! And I did it cold turkey. You can do it too, if you follow this article.
First, let me give you a little background. I picked up smoking when I was 20 years old. It was, without a doubt, the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life. Like with many people, it started with “Let me bum a cigarette.” But that one cigarette a day with a drink amongst friends turned into a 10 a day, then a pack a day. Soon, I was smoking about 2 packs a day. And driving for a living – being in the car alone most of the time – there is nothing else to do but smoke. Especially in those long drives like the Alligator Alley in Florida’s I-75.
My smoking was taking a toll on me and my health. I kept losing weight since I wasn’t really eating much. I’d smoke each time I felt the need to do something. This cut into my appetite. Look, I am not the tallest person in the world! At 5’11”, at one point, I weight as little as 123 lbs. My lung capacity was really bad and I couldn’t even get up a flight of stairs without being short of breath. Each morning I’d wake up to a nasty cough that felt like a piece of my lung was being ejected with the green nasty stuff coming out. If I was going to change my life and live,I had to do something. I had to quit smoking!
As if you need me telling you this, but knowing you have to do something, and actually doing it are two completely different things. According to Helpguide.org:
“Smoking is not only a physical addiction to nicotine, but also a psychological habit.”
You smoke when you have nothing to do, not only when your body needs nicotine. So just denying yourself nicotine is not going to work. You may in fact make the problem worse.
I have organized this guide into a few steps that I think will benefit based on what I went through. Each step is very important.
Step 1: Realize you have to quit
The first step is very simple. You must realize that you need to quit. As simple as this may sound, most people may think they need to quit smoking. But the reality is that unless something happens, which will force you to quit, you haven’t really realized you need to quit smoking. Yes, you know it isn’t good for you, and you have to quit, but knowing that smoking is not good for you is not realization that you need to quit! What I mean here is that you have to realize that smoking is causing you harm and see that harm. For me, chain smoking caused my lung capacity to diminish and to cough each morning as if I was coughing up a piece of my lung. Sorry, I know that is kind of nasty visualization, but you need to truly realize that it is in your best self-interest to quit. People don’t change themselves, or their habits, until they absolutely have to. If you need a bit of a push to accomplish this step, this commercial could help you out.
Step 2: Surround yourself with people who support your decision
Quitting without support from friends and family is impossible. Surround yourself with people who mean you well and have your best interest at heart. Don’t hang out with smokers as much. If you drink coffee, like I do, there is nothing better than sitting on the outside patio of a local Starbucks, smoking a cigarette with your morning espresso. That has to stop. Maybe even brew your own coffee at home rather than go to Starbucks. For some, drinking is also an issue. When they have a beer, or two, they like a cigarette with it. For me that wasn’t really an issue. But if you think you need a smoke with your beer, it is best to avoid the local bars, beer, and the friends that do both for a few weeks.
Step 3: Quit smoking – Cold Turkey!
Here comes the hardest part! Denying yourself the nicotine! If you have completed steps one and two, this shouldn’t be impossible. It is still going to be tough as the body goes through physical withdrawals. You will be somewhat moody:grin: – at least I was, or so I was told, although I don’t remember doing the things my friends and family said I did. If you have realized that you really need to quit smoking then that should be at the forefront of your thought process. Don’t let that image or vision escape your mind. Whenever you feel like smoking a cigarette, remind yourself of the reasons why you need to quit. And if you have surrounded yourself with people who support you and your decision and mean you well, they will put up with anything you can throw at them while the body goes through the detox process. This should subside within about 4-5 weeks.
Step 4: Setup a Reward System
As cheesy as this step sounds, it is very important. Set goals for yourself. For each day or week you make it without smoking a cigarette, you should treat yourself to something nice. Whether that is a dinner, a new electronic toy, or something for the house – reward yourself. Take the money you would have spent in cigarettes and buy something nice for yourself. I prefer the weekly rewards for two reasons.
1. More money to play with – be able to buy something nicer than if I rewarded myself with $6/day and
2. A week without smoking is an actual accomplishment. Many people can make it one day without a cigarette. Not many can make it seven days. So reward yourself. It is important.
Step 5: Pick up another habit – at least for another while
Because smoking is a psychological habit just as much as a physical addiction, it is important that you replace the habit of smoking with something else. For me, it was important to feel like I had something in my hand. So, for me, I ended up eating pretzel sticks – the larger ones that look like cigars. I don’t need to tell you how ridiculous I looked with that between my fingers and bringing it up to my mouth, but I tell you something, I didn’t care. I was committed to quitting and nothing was going to get in my way of accomplishing this seemingly impossible task. This “new habit” helped me get over the psychological habit.
Now that you have seen the 5 steps, you have to understand that you and only you can make that determination that you need to quit smoking. I have heard many excuses how people “can’t” or “it’s hard” or “I’m not ready!” While the latter too are very much true, the first one is bogus. It takes a lot of determination and courage to quit, but you can make it. It is really hard – especially during the first weeks as your body is going through the “detox” from nicotine. But it can be done. I am a living proof. It has been almost 2 years since I have quit, and I have never felt better. I have gained about 45 lbs (and 80% of it is muscle) and I exercise regularly. I even finished the Insanity workout recently. For those of you who don’t know what insanity is, just Google it. It is so intense in cardio that I never could have imagined completing it before I quit smoking. I can taste my food. I can smell the air – although depending on the area of the country I am in I am not sure this is a great thing. But you get my point!
You need to quit. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to quit smoking, and I wish you all the best. It is hard, but the rewards are very much worth it.
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