Plan a Lifestyle Change

Blog Post created by rechsanwald on Jul 15, 2018

mindset is key!


I quit smoking July 9, 2018. I smoked 37 years. By the end, I was smoking 2 packs a day. I had quit for a year twice before and tried several other times to quit and failed. Here is what made me successful the two times I successfully quit for a year, what caused my relapses, and why I utterly failed the others.


When I simply tried to quit smoking, I failed. When I chose to make a positive lifestyle change, I succeeded. When I found myself in the old lifestyle, I relapsed. Thus, for me, quitting smoking had to be a lifestyle change, not just quitting smoking, and it takes time to prepare.  


Making a lifestyle change is so important because of how entrenched smoking is in your life. You chose, friends, smoking friendly establishments, and even eating/drinking habits that are consistent with or conducive to the smoking lifestyle.


There is always that voice telling you, "I have to quit smoking." But, there is always the other voice saying, "No, you will gain weight . . ." I have generally been thin my entire life, but I know smoking helped keep weight off. I never really counted calories or thought much about portion sizes before. I simply ate whatever I wanted. So, in addition to the "stop smoking" voice, I added the "change your diet" voice and the "exercise more" voice too. No, I did not add the, "Kill the babysitter" voice.



(or for those that failed the SAT, SEE THE BALL - BE THE BALL).


So, about a year before I set the quit date, I began to focus negatively, daily, on behaviors like poor nutrition, lack of exercise and smoking. I would visualize how they were having a negative impact on my life, e.g. health, social stigma, money, physical issues (back problems, chronic fatigue), and mental issues (problems concentrating). 


I also SLOWLY began to pay attention to the number of calories I was ingesting each day. Then, I started eating a few more salads here and there. I cut back on portions and ate fewer fried foods, etc. . . I splurged on the weekends at first but have, by choice, splurged less. I cannot tell you how nasty a greasy hamburger and fries tastes after you stop eating them for a while. Anyway, notice I did not say dieting. I simply changed my eating habits and was 215 lbs a year ago. Within 6 months, I weighed 198 lbs without a lot of effort.


This gave me two benefits. One, psychologically, I have a 15 pound cushion to work with. Even if I gain 15 pounds over the next year, I am really simply back to where I was a year ago. Since I lost the 15 pounds without a lot of effort, I am confident I can do so again in year 2. Second, I probably will not gain as much as I would have because I am eating better.


I also SLOWLY started exercising just a bit more about six months ago. I had an old elliptical that my former spouse wanted but only used like twice in 15 years; I was shocked when she did not want it in the divorce. Anyway, I started simply doing 5 min. every day or every other day for a week or two and then increased it to 6 min. and then 7 and then 10 . . . eventually I have picked up the pace from mosey to jogging. I was doing 15 min. at an 8 min. mile pace as of my quit day. 


Read articles on what smoking does to you. Visualize things like what your lungs look like; how your children see you as weak because you cannot quit; what it will be like to slowly die of long cancer; consider your contempt for humanity in that so many have died from smoking in vain because you haven't quit (I think of my parents who both smoked); appreciate that you are committing a sin because you are killing yourself. Visualize yourself without cigarettes. No more planning around smoking. Visualize freedom. 




Once I had all the above in place, I was close but needed to focus on why my prior successful attempts failed. Drinking. Don't get me wrong, I am not a big drinker, but I generally have a few beers on the weekends. For me, smoking is sin quo non with drinking. So, I stopped drinking about two months before I set the quit date and will not drink for at least a year. If you are a big drinker, you may need to start this process earlier than I did.


I also had to let some friendships with people that smoke drift apart. You cannot hang around in the smoking area with those people anymore. Its fine to sit with them in the lunchroom, but you cannot be with them when they smoke. It's like being a sex addict in a strip club; something bad is gonna happen.  




Finally, get your quit plan ready. I am using nicotine patches and rubber bands.


Because of the amount I smoked per day, I started with two 21 mg patches a day (my choice to do more than recommended - not saying you should) for the first five days and am now back to one and plan to use one 21 mg patch a day for another five weeks. Then, I will begin slowly cutting back but not jumping down to 14 mg per day. That was always too much of a jump for me the other times I tried to quit. Instead, I will cut an eighth off the 21 mg patch for a week, then a quarter for a week, and then switch to the 14 mg patch for a week, then cut a quarter off for a week and . . .  SLOW changes. 


The rubber bands are to create a negative association with the thought of smoking. Every time I have a craving, I snap welts onto my wrist. When I was a kid, the cure for ADD was a belt. It was a different time. Anyway, welts work for me. Plus, chicks dig scars.   


Because I employed visualization with SLOW changes to various aspects of my life, actual sustainable change took root. I was way more prepared when I set the quit date. Since the quit day, I am absolutely amazed at how much easier it has been this time, and I feel way more confident that I will continue to be successful.

Winning is 90% mental; you have to be balls out all in. Do the mental preparation, and the cravings won't control you; you will control them and get back control of your life.  


July 17, 2018

Past couple of days were difficult (stress at work) so I went back to two patches. Still smoke free.