I smoked cigarettes for 8 years – about 3/4th of a pack per day before I quit. In that 8 years, I did not attempt to quit smoking at any point. I was not actively going to the gym or participating in any sort of personal fitness plan during that time. I was, however, setting impossible fitness goals and failing for reasons that are quite clear to me now.
One night, after the idea crossed my mind for what seemed like the thousandth time, I decided to quit the following morning. I had many important reasons for quitting, but the biggest was the realization that I really want to have a family in the future. Of course, being a smoker doesn’t really fit anywhere into having a family (at least not in a healthy way) and I couldn’t stomach the idea of one day exposing my children to such a toxic habit. On top of that, I couldn’t stop thinking about my family and how my parents were probably worried about the negative impact on my health. I use these things as my motivation to never smoke again.
I smoked my last cigarette on that final night, planning out my process even while taking my last drag. To officially mark the occasion, I hid a pack of cigarettes in my book shelf – either as a failsafe, or a test of will power, I’m not even sure. Those cigarettes were soon destroyed, but in the moment they were both a comfort and a challenge. From that point on I researched everything I could about quitting, and began my new journey battling an 8 year long addiction.
At three months strong, I know I still have a long way to go. But the formula I have followed has resulted in success that I’m proud of – now it’s your turn to experience the same!
How To Actually Quit Smoking: Must Haves & Key Tips
- Buy a CASE of cinnamon gum – I chewed Big Red. Anytime I felt a craving or withdrawal symptom, I’d pop a piece of cinnamon gum in my mouth. It works WONDERS. I ended up going through a bazillion packs in just the first week, so I recommend getting a big case from Costco (or wherever). Big Red technically doesn’t even contain the spice itself, but the flavor and stimulating nature of chewing it directly combats the craving for a cigarette.
- Download the app “Smoke Free”. I downloaded at least 5 different apps designed to help me quit and Smoke Free is by far the best. It’s completely free, super easy to use and has a great feature that was ESSENTIAL to my quit: a heath screen that shows your percentage in categories like pulse rate, oxygen levels, carbon monoxide levels, and several others. The longer you go without smoking, the closer the percentages move to 100% – meaning you are considered “back to normal” for that category. Super motivating to see my health get better each day. The main screen of the app displays your primary stats: money saved/amount you’ll save in a year, time smoke free/life regained (in hours), and cigarettes not smoked/cravings resisted. There are also options to log diary entries and “missions” to help you along your quit. Here’s a snapshot of my current Smoke Free stats:
- Sign up for a gym membership. Quitting smoking is what sparked my interest in fitness! My research taught me that people who quit smoking typically gain anywhere from 3-10 lbs… and that did not sit too well with me. I joined a gym to ensure that I didn’t pack on that 3-10 lbs and to further immerse myself in an overall healthier lifestyle. Also, you can’t smoke cigarettes in the gym (duh). Sounds silly, but if I started to crave a cigarette, I knew that getting my butt to the gym would prevent me from giving in. Smoking after an amazing workout never seemed appealing.
- Have a good skincare regimen. I’m going to explore this topic in detail in a future post, but I actually ended up having some pretty intense breakouts on my face as a result of quitting. There are a bunch of different reasons why this could happen to you even if you’ve had crystal clear skin your whole life (like me). As of today, it’s slowly starting to disappear, I would say it’s about 1/4 of the way gone. I’ll share some of my tips in that future post – keep an eye out!
- Make a plan to tell people. Especially if they smoke themselves. Kindly ask current smokers to refrain from inviting you out for smoke breaks. Keep in mind you don’t have to tell anyone immediately – I waited a full week to tell anyone at all in order to adjust to the change. It is good to let people close to you know what is going on because everyone will support you, and people are going to catch on at some point anyway. You’ll be going through a wide range of withdrawal symptoms – one of which is being extremely irritable and moody. If people know what you’re going through, they will be more likely to understand and overlook your temporary change in behavior.
- Get rid of your lighters. I had about 15 stashed all over my apartment, car, and at work. THROW THEM AWAY. They will remind you of your old habits since they were always paired with your pack of cigarettes. There’s really no need to have them. If you have candles that you’ll want to light, go out and buy one of those long fireplace lighters.
- Take an alcohol & caffeine hiatus. Alcohol and caffeine are cigarette’s most evil partners in crime. Whenever I would go out and drink on the weekends, I would smoke an entire pack in one night – no problem. And whenever I would pour my first cup of coffee for the day at work, I had to pair it with a cigarette. Stay AWAY from these two things the best that you can. For serious coffee/caffeine drinkers – If you’re going to give up smoking, you will experience withdrawal… so you’re not going to notice a caffeine withdrawal headache on top of a nicotine withdrawal headache. And for people who drink socially on the weekends – you won’t regret taking a break from all the booze. Until you can learn to successfully decline a cigarette, it’s best your judgement isn’t impaired, lest you give in while under the influence.
- Drink LOTS of water. Duh, this tip should be on every single list that has ever been written. Hydration is key. You need to flush out all the toxic crap you’ve been smoking for however long, and lots of H2O will help do the trick.
I hope this helped – comment below if you have any quitting tips or if any of these things worked for you. Check back soon for Part 2: a timeline of what to expect physically & mentally during each phase of your quit. Thanks for reading!
P.S. – I am not a medical professional. Everything in this post is based on my own experiences/choices and what ended up working the best for me. Nothing in this post is intended as medical advice – please consult your doctor if you have any concerns.