I am currently not smoking. This is my third week. No cheaters! That is what I am now calling cigarettes. Cheaters!! They are trying to cheat me out of living a smoke free life. Now, seriously, a friend told me that she was starting to quit today and I started this as an email and decided to make it a blog. The main reason I quit was the money. I remember telling myself that when cigarettes hit $1, I would quit. I guess the real dollar number was $10. I could not believe that I was spending almost $250 a month on cigarettes. We have a seriously high tax in Washington state.
I have been a smoker for thirty plus years. Usually, a pack and a half, occasionally 2 packs, but rarely just one. I’m a Veteran, so I am going through the VA’s smoking cessation program. I guess since the majority of Veterans started smoking while they were enlisted, there should be a smoking cessation class. Makes sense.
It starts with the class and the belief that I could do it. The class is three hours long. They had the usual scare tactics with tar… a pack of cigarettes in a jar, the obligatory lung photo, you smokers know what I am talking about, similar to the new Surgeon General pictures that they want to place on packs of smokes. The interesting thing was they measured your carbon dioxide output. Yes. Smokers emit carbon dioxide. Who knew? Nasty thought! I should be carrying a plant around to offset my carbon footprint. I emitted 28 whatevers. Non-smokers emit less than 5. (She even told me about this one time, she had such heavy smokers in the class, that the air in the room was registering on the device. She had to measure in a different room.)
At the class, she talked about things that I could use. I decided on almost all of them. Why not? I want as many tools in my toolbox, as I can. Anyway, they scripted bupropion, anti-anxiety, which I started ten days before I started quitting. Patches and gum. I passed on the lozenges. Did you know that you are not supposed to chew the gum? If you are not supposed to chew it, why call it gum? You are supposed to scratch it with a tooth and then park it between your teeth and lips. Like snuff. The first week I could smoke. I really did not stop, until the cigarettes were out of the house, meaning until I smoked them all.
She talked about using cinnamon to help. If you have a craving, use cinnamon. They say that a craving lasts 3 mins. If you can not smoke in those 3 mins, tell yourself, Phew! the crisis is over, and think of something else. Think of anything else! and Eat more cinnamon! Did you know they make cinnamon Altoids? They rock! Big Red gum – its full of flavor! They also recommended using cinnamon flavored toothpicks. You can buy them or make your own. I personally just thought that would look too hoosier, so I passed on that method. (I know, peanut gallery, what did smoking look like? When I was sixteen, it looked cool. Now, not so much.)
And yes, I am afraid of gaining weight. Exercise is a great idea. A treadmill is even better because you can’t blame it on the rain, like I can in Seattle. I read that people, who exercise while quitting, are 40% more successful than non-exercise people. Another recently quitting friend, joined the gym. She said that she was too tired when she got home to think about smoking. I’m not that motivated. If you get a craving, do some jumping jacks, go for a walk, just get distracted, so you stop thinking about smoking.
Do you have chocolate in the house? Get rid of it. You will eat them all. The whole bag. Before you know it. Gone! Keep them out! Keep all sugar out because you will start craving it too. Just stick with the cinnamon.
Yep. It is a problem. It is a problem because I mentally see myself smoking. I actually notice that my hand is not moving to my mouth and my mind says I need to correct that problem. It is not normal for my hand to not be going to my mouth. When this happens, get up. Move. You need to change your perspective. Another friend of mine, who recently quit smoking, told me that she could not sit on her sofa anymore and watch TV. The craving was too high and difficult. She sat in a rocking chair instead. It helped.
I am surprised at how much “learned” behavior is a problem. You need to unlearn it. Easier said then done. I also always carried my cigarettes and lighter in my hand. It feels strange to leave the house, or even move from room to room without my smokes. It feels disconcerting to not have them. I feel lost. I guess they really were a crutch. I have been doing this same behavior for almost all of my life, so this is where Charlie Sheen comes in.
Changing the smoking behavior is a problem for me. I know that I joke about my inner Charlie Sheen, but it works. (I am sure he would love to hear that.) I use it to squash cravings. I actually do tell myself that I have tiger blood, and I do not need a cigarette. I AM NO LONGER A SMOKER! I AM A WINNER! And then, I do something else.
Do you have any tips to help me or anyone to continue to not smoke? I would love to see them in the comments.
And for fun, and because I like to include a photo — This one was also from our stroll around our neighborhood the other day. It was such a glorious day that even the weeds looked pretty.