I was probably 12 when I had my first cigarette. Well, I picked up a cigarette butt at my Uncle’s house thrown on the driveway floor as he sped off in his white Mustang GT. Mind you this was the early nineties, so if you are to envision it this was a boxier style Mustang than the ones we see now and in his case, his Smith & Wesson decal was emblazoned proudly on the side of his window and his music was blaring and to say that my interest was piqued would be an understatement.
I got a lighter from inside the house, picked up that butt and LIT IT UP! That shit was nasty, however I was somewhat of a rebel in my younger days, and by the age of 14 I thought I was a bad ass because I would smoke cigarettes across the street from my middle school in the back of the Diamond Shamrock with some of the other skaters, before and after school.
By 16 I was smoking quite regularly and by the time I was 18, well it was a full fledged habit, a costly one at that. Fast forward to the almost present, about 4 months ago, were I started cutting down to about 5 sticks a day. The next month I cut down to 3 a day. By October I wasn’t even smoking every day, I would go 3 sometimes 4 days without smoking and when I did smoke I never smoked more than 2 sticks in a day. On the 31st, Halloween night, I smoked my last cigarette.
I kept a pack of Newports in the freezer, telling myself that I would smoke on my birthday, and it would be my last time to smoke EVER. That day came, and you know what, I didn’t even want to smoke. So I didn’t. I grabbed that pack out the freezer, and got rid of it today, December 6, 2015.
You know what helped the most, for me anyways. What helped me the most was running. Yes running. I ran my second 5k run ever, in October and my time was 30 seconds shorter than my first run. Albeit I was already smoking much less this second run, and it was raining quite hard during it, but I just didn’t want anything holding me back.
Furthermore I had been noticing for quite some time, what a difference I felt when I had cut down to a stick or two every few days. My stamina shot up dramatically! I literally felt healthier in just a few weeks. More so I wanted to push myself harder, and start running a minimum of 6 miles every time I ran. Once I had accomplished my first 6 mile run, I knew right then and there I never wanted to smoke another cigarette in my life.
And I haven’t since.
What also helped me, was changing my mindset about smoking. I had been smoking almost 17 years, and quite frankly it had become part of my image. For a long time I could not imagine myself not smoking because I always envisioned my “image” involving me puffing on a cigarette. Once the “movies” in my head changed, and those movies no longer consisted of me smoking, I was able to quit much easier.
The benefits of quitting smoking especially in terms of your health are beyond obvious. However I have to add some little quirks that are hardly mentioned.
I’m not tied down anymore by my smoking. I used to have to time things, or move things around to make sure I had time to smoke. Now I’m truly free.
I’m not washing my hands all the time or freshening my breathe all the time, because quite frankly I don’t smell like smoke anymore.
Another quirk is there’s NO MORE GUILT. As a parent I always felt guilty because even though I would not smoke around my daughter, she could smell it on me. Also, we know now that second hand smoke is not the only harmful side affect to others that comes from smoking. There are carcinogens that stick to your clothes and skin and hair and that is breathed in by others. Knowing that did not feel good, because my daughter IS my life, and I don’t want her put in harm’s way, especially by my hand.
I thought for sure I would never quit smoking, or at least not until I was about 50. The biggest quirk about quitting smoking is how EMPOWERING it is. As stated earlier it ties you down, at least that’s how I felt. It is empowering knowing that something that held so much sway over me for so long, was something I was able to quit. It also shows me how much I can accomplish, how disciplined I really can be, and how nothing and I mean nothing can stop me from achieving what’s important to me.
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