Well, here's from a future former-smoker. I'm trying really hard to quit, and hopefully I'll be able to join in the ranks of being able to smoke (pun intended) my peers. I know it's an uphill battle, but I'm trying.
I smoked between 1.5 and 2 packs per day of Marlboro reds for over ten years and was a thoroughly hooked smoker. Finally quit in 1989 and haven't smoked anything since....not even a puff. Became an obsessive cyclist and runner instead. My tips:
1. Make a hard promise every morning when you first wake up and renew that promise throughout the day as needed: "I will not smoke today....no matter what happens, I will not smoke today. Surely I can make it through one day."
2. Don't smoke today.
3. Don't worry about tomorrow. Just don't smoke today.
4. Repeat every day.
Seriously, the hardest thing about quitting smoking was actually not smoking. That may sound obvious, the once you get through the first couple of days, the physical cravings aren't that hard to deal with. The mental aspects, however, are extremely difficult. The basic problem I had was that I didn't want the negative aspects of smoking (health,cost, stink, image) but I did want the satisfaction that comes with smoking a cigarette. Well, you can't have both and you have to decide which is more important and then follow through with the decision.
Quitting in some ways was simple and in other ways was complex. The simple side was the daily promise and sticking to it. The complexity came in the longer term. This addiction is tricky. Some examples and how I dealt with them:
a) If I'm just focused on today and I might fold and smoke tomorrow, why am I putting myself through this misery today? Why not just go ahead and have a smoke now? Answer: worry about that tomorrow. Honor your promise to yourself today.
b) The idea of never smoking again is depressing. Its too heavy to deal with sometimes. Answer: Each days brings ups and downs. Sometimes its hard, sometimes it seems easy. Use the easy times to give yourself positive, long-term visions of success. During hard times, fall back on your daily promise.
c) After a few weeks, you feel flush with success and are actually tempted to allow yourself a smoke as a reward for doing well. Or, you figure you've got it licked and can have an occasional smoke without getting hooked again. Answer: don't ever, ever allow that. Honor your daily promise at all times.
d) There are certain situations where you have to have a smoke (bars, after a meal, waking up, cup of coffee). Answer: either eliminate those situations temporarily from your life or substitute the smoke with something else (like pushups in the morning or a walk after a meal).
There is no "good" time to quit. You just have to decide to do it and then actually do it. In my case, I had a co-worker bugging me to quit for a day on the Great Amercian Smoke Out. I didn't want to but he kept bugging me. I finally made a deal with him that if I quit for the day, he would leave me alone for the rest of the day and not speak to me. I gave him my cigarettes and went cold turkey. That was almost 17 years ago and I have never smoked a single puff of anything since. Couldn't be happier.
The first 24-36 hours are the worst. Get through that and it gets easier every day.
Be proud of yourself as you progress. Its hard. People who've never been truly addicted to cigarettes don't understand.
What else? Put aside the money you would normally spend on cigarettes and spend on bikes and gear instead. Amazing how fast that adds up. I still do that to this day. I have a garage full of gorgeous bikes and clothing galore.....and I'm still financially ahead of the game compared to if I had pissed that money away on tobacco.
That's pretty good advice actually. I've never really had someone explain it to me like that. Everyone just says to "stop smoking" and that's it. No real game plan or anything. Thanks, I'm going to put that into practice today, after this cig. Just kidding.
I was a pack a day smoker for about 6 years, and quit cold turkey 8 years ago. Bikemoore has great advice. My experience was much the same. Replace your addiction with a new one, in my case cycling. You may have to avoid coffee shops and bars for a while, and you will still get urges years later from time to time. Deal with each one separately, enjoy your rewards of better health and money (LOTS of it), and know that if you smoke a single cigarette, you're starting over on breaking the addiction. It really is an all or nothing deal, and it takes commitment.
My experience as a smoker taught me that you'll never be able to quit unless you truly *want* to quit. Most people who try to quit are doing it because they think they should. When you really decide that you want to quit, it's actually not that hard.
I must say bikemoore's advice is excellent. I did quit cigarettes but picked up chewing tobacco, that was twice as hard to quit.
What worked for me was believing that after all the cigarettes I smoked in just about every possible life situation and all the chewing tobacco and how over the years I even had to move the chew to different areas of my mouth due to sores that the tobacco would cause, I just knew my relationship with tobacco was completely fulfilled. I was done.
You have to know that you are a non-smoker. You must have that as a self-image in the same way you look like a Tour de France wanna-be to your non-cycling friends. Once you believe it's over, it's over. Only it takes a long time to be really over but you get there because in your mind you're not really that person who used to smoke.
I really am most amazed at the body's ability to heal it's respiratory system after the abuse I gave mine. To work my heart at near max and breathe and gain fitness is incredible. Sure beats the self-loathing that a pack of cigarettes gives you.
I smoked a pack a day for 10 years. Quit 6 years ago and bought a full XTR Santa Cruz as a self reward. I rode a bit before then, but I smoked so not that much. After I quit I started riding more and more, and then started racing. I'm cat1/2 now. I often think how much faster I could be had I never smoked. Maybe a bit, maybe alot, maybe I would have never started racing at all. Who knows?
My advice for quiting is smaller than one day at a time. More like one hour at a time, especially for the first three days. Eventually you are going to have to quit. Be it now, or 5 years down the road, sooner or later you have to do it. What I tell people is that as soon as you have that first "one won't kill me smoke" you are starting all over again. If you have gone 30 hours without a smoke, you are 30 hours into quiting. If you have a smoke, you have to repeat the 30 hours of hell all over again. If you can not take that smoke and hold on for another 40 hours life gets alot easier. After the first 3 days, then it's day by day.
I found that it was hardest on the 3's. After 3 hours, the 3rd day (that was the hardest day of my life), on the 3rd week, and there was a couple of days after the 3rd month that were quite hard. After that it gets real easy. You get to a point where the smell of it makes you want to vomit. That's when you know you have won.
Cycling helped because I noticed after 3 days that my breathing rate dropped much quicker after a hill or sprint. After another 4 days, I gave up the gum and haven't smoked or chewed since.
I quit once before for 9 years by substituing sex for smoking. I wasn't able to keep the sex thing going as long as I'd have liked, it's a very pleasant addiction. I'd try the "I really feel like smoking" line and after a few weeks my wife would tell me to "Light my ass on fire."
This time around I've been nicotine free for 13 years. Both times I quit successfully were relatively easy. Quitting unsuccessfully, which happened more than once was agony. There is hope that after a few days of torture the idea that if you never smoke again you will never feel the pain of nicotine withdrawal again can become a realistic vision. That vision was very powerful for me.
quit cold turkey after college. got into cycling. raced for 4 seasons. stopped racing. started smoking again. smoked 2-2.5 packs a day for 10 years. got into cycling 3 years ago (during the last 3 years of my habit). surprised myself that i was still strong as a smoker - just missed that little bit extra. quit 4 months ago today. used the gum for the 1st 2-3 weeks. found that little bit extra and laying down the hurt at my races
Bikemoore hit it right on the head. I quit 3 months ago after trying several times. I did it cold turkey this time.
Every day is a challenge. I enjoyed the pleasure of smoking, I didn't like the effects, the smell, the costs (physcial and monetary), the bad example I was setting for my 2yo (who didn't see it, but could no doubt smell it when I came in from outside), and the stigma.
Like bikemoore and others said, you will find yourself dreaming of having one, and then being horrified in your dream that you had one. You will crave for a long time, some days horribly. Stick with it. For me when I crave, I remind myself 1) that if I give in, it will just make the next craving worse, and 2) over the 15 years I smoked, I could have bought the used Porsche I have always wanted, but instead smoked the damm thing.
When it gets really bad, I have a Ginger Ale. I know it sounds nuts, but it works for me.
Well, all of your posts have been a great encouragement. I slipped this morning and had a few, and a couple the rest of the day. But beginning right now, I'm throwing the rest of this pack away. The hardest thing for me though, is that I have no one to keep me accountable. I live alone, and have a lot of "down" time. I've noticed during this time is when I smoke the most. I would just jump on the bike and ride, but I'm having some bad back problems and can't ride right now. I'll figure something out though, I HAVE to.
I started 20 years ago in the 7th grade. The only time I quit was in 8th grade track, when the coach decided I should be a long distance runner. Running 5 miles a day for practice made me quit, as I just couldn’t smoke.
Now I’m trying it again and using cycling as my new drug. I havent quit yet, but I plan too.
No smoking, I'm actually allergic to cigarette smoke. BUT, I chewed for 23 years. Bikemore's advice is dead on. Do not think you can stop for months and then just have one. I did that previously with tobacco, and right back into the addiction I fell.
I decided a year ago April that I was done, and tossed my last can (it was almost brand new!). I still have occasions when the urges hit. But, they are habit related, not physical. Once again, see Bikemore's post - very wise words.
I love the old saying "Quitting tobacco is easy, I've done it a hundred times!"
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