For almost 10 years I was a heavy smoker. For a large portion of that time I smoked close to a pack a day, and, if I’m being honest, I loved it. One of my favourite catchphrases was, “I should quit smoking but I’m just so damn good at it.” All good things must come to an end though. As time went on, smoking became such a chore! As more and more of my friends quit, the ‘social smoker’ circle became a circle of one. On nights out, I would have to stand outside alone braving the Melbourne winters to get my nicotine fix, only to re-join my mates and receive a diatribe about how I stink of smoke, and how I need to quit, yada yada, ad nauseum. If you’re a smoker, no doubt you’ve experienced the same.
The real catalyst for me to actually consider quitting was the government pledging to raise the price of cigarettes to something like $40 a pack. After a bunch of half-hearted attempts at quitting and failing, I finally found a system that worked for me. My system involved a lot of introspection about why I was quitting and what it was doing to me, the acceptance that no matter what I can’t allow myself to even have a drag because I’ll start justifying more in my mind, and medication (Champix) to help with the initial quitting stage.
The thing that has shocked me the most is the drastic change to my aerobic fitness within the first few weeks of quitting. It seems obvious that your fitness would improve, but by so much in such a short time frame was really eye opening!
I don’t want to give advice on quitting methods because I’m in no way a professional on the matter. I do have two pieces for advice for anyone thinking about quitting though. First, try it for a month. Commit to a ‘health month’ where you don’t smoke, and keep a fitness regimen too. Then if you go back to smoking after that month, try and keep the fitness up. It will be really eye opening for you just how much cigarettes affect your physical health!
My second tip is to ditch the whole “ok this is my last cigarette” half-hearted quitting. If you want to quit, pick a date 1-2 months in the future and quit then. Use the time before your quit date to think about why you want to quit and how cigarettes make you feel. If you are like me, quitting smoking involves a massive lifestyle change, so it wouldn’t stick without the proper thinking and planning. I decided in February this year that I’d give up in April, and I’m just about to celebrate six months of being smoke-free.
Before I sign off, here are a few resources to help you, or someone you know, quit:
- Quitline online resource for people looking to quit smoking
- What happens to your body when you quit smoking
- Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking
Daniel Singer, Group Marketing Coordinator