Smoke-Free Five years and Counting: Breaking Hard Habits One Day at a Time

Smoke-Free Five years and Counting: Breaking Hard Habits One Day at a Time

Up In Smoke

On June 6th, 2016 I smoked my last cigarette. Far too many years and thousands of dollars later. Wasted on absolutely nothing, literally up in smoke. I enjoyed it when I did it, missed it when I stopped, and occasionally have a passing thought about it.

As for cravings and regrets, ZERO!

Turning Point

The weekend filled up with events. Our oldest daughter graduated, my husband and I were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary, and Monday was Memorial Day. After the party was over and the company was gone, all that was left were empty packs and cigarette butts everywhere. It was so distasteful and left a bad taste in my mouth, literally.

As I sat at my desk at work, I wrote myself a note: “June 6th, I Quit!” I snapped a photo for my phone and taped the note to my computer screen. 

At 8:00 pm on June 5th, savoring every last moment, I smoked my last cigarette. The pack was empty. I sat there literally filling myself with anxiety and self-doubt, but there was no turning back. Unsure of my next steps, I started by putting one foot in front of the other.

When Cravings are at Their Worst, Crank it UP!

Walking, the pace and distance were all up to me; I was in control. I added in music, fast and loud. And then gum, lots and lots of gum.

It had only been a few days in when I started to feel weak and defeated but did not falter.

The assurance came as I picked up my phone and messaged my sister. I waited for a response and she did not disappoint. It was no longer a secret mission and it felt good to get it out. There were no questions to answer and no doubt cast. On day five, I told my non-smoker husband. He knew that something was off, but did not know what it was. His support was subtle. It was just enough to encourage but not draw attention.

Getting Over the Hump

Nicotine withdrawal for me was close to hell. I had physical pain everywhere. Shakes. Anxiety that not even a walk was enough to calm. The pain in the head I was sure was never-ending. Everything was a trigger that I responded to with a reaction of anger and frustration.

I was thankful when that time had passed.

To further my success, I changed my route home. I avoided all stops at drugstores, gas stations, and even the grocery store for a while. I stayed close to home and didn’t associate with others who smoked, including family and friends, for a while. Willpower was all I had to avoid temptations and I was hanging on tight.

I found a free app called Smoke Free registered my info, and gave myself a sense of accountability. It tracked time spent smoke-free, money saved, estimated health benefits, and had a daily diary. As days passed, I met milestones and earned badges!

Accountability and Success

On June 6, 2021, it was 5 years smoke-free. My body will always be in recovery mode, but I am doing all that I can to be the best version of myself. Still, checking in on my progress from time to time gives me satisfaction.  Every day is another milestone that is refreshing and rewarding in ways that I can not explain. I am a non-smoker!

Smoke-Free Five years and Counting: Breaking Hard Habits One Day at a Time

 Additional resources can be found at http://www.betobaccofree.gov

Do you have a habit that you would like to break? Here are some helpful steps to consider when YOU are ready.

  • Find your willpower to decide to change; the right mindset helps with your success.
  • Create a reminder for yourself. Note, Alarm, or Calendar.
  • Who are you doing this for? You, your grandchildren, your health, your job?
  • Avoid Triggers, at least temporarily. These include situations, people, frequent stops, and shops. 
  • Use a check-in: download an app on your phone, phone a friend, keep a diary.
  • Reward your successes with something meaningful to you and your goal. 
  • Side Note: (Please consult your physician for additional help and resources when making changes to diets or have underlying health conditions.)
You are stronger than you think, and it doesn’t matter if you try one time or ten. Your journey is worth it to the end!

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Amanda is a lifelong Cedar Rapidian along with her husband Chad and their seven daughters. She has been blessed by her littles at the ages of 21, 24, 32, 34 and again at 42. Her oldest two girls are now young adults and living their own lives, her middle girls are in their tweens and teens, and to round it all out, identical twin toddlers, four dogs and a house that is never empty.

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