Quitting smoking

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Ten months ago I quit smoking. I had quit previously for five years but started up again when I was living in South America. To be truthful, I enjoyed smoking. I looked forward to lighting up each and every time.

But the problem was this: I was getting sick. Constantly getting sick. Then I got an ulcer that was debilitating and I was done with smoking. I quit cold turkey.

When you quit smoking cold turkey there are several side effects and I get why so many people fail and can’t quit. Or quit and then start up again soon after. Side effects can last up to three months and it’s important that if you want to quit smoking to read up about what they are, because you’ll be more able to identify what’s going on with your mind and body.

Here are three of the major symptoms I experienced:

  1. Mood swings. Now I’m pretty moody on the best of days, but not smoking when I was used to finishing a pack a day is crippling. For starters, whenever I was stressed and needed some alone time I would go outside to have a smoke. And then all of a sudden, I didn’t have that to fall back on. So I got irritated more easily and I lashed out. I replaced this loss with walking. That’s right, at lunch I would take an hour walk and clear my head. I’m fortunate enough to work near a conservation park, so it made this transition a lot easier for me.
  2. Lethargy resulted in an extra 20 pounds. Yep. At 5’9″ I have consistently weighed about 66 to 68 kg throughout my life. But when I quit smoking I started to drink more alcohol and eat more food. I also had little energy to move. It’s true, cigarette smoking suppressed my appetite, as it does for many people, unless they are obese, then there are underlying issues. Well, I ballooned to 74 kg and then, shocking 78 kg. I’m in the process of losing the weight, but as I’ve never weighed this much in my entire life, it’s taking time. I run 40 km a week, lift weights and… I’ve cut down on my food portions.
  3. Sleeplessness. I couldn’t sleep very well for quite some time and I got headaches more frequently. It’s just your body coping with the loss, I suppose. This side effect eventually vanished and I now sleep a lot better than I ever did. I also breathe way better, and my skin has cleared up. I don’t look so sick all the time. Also, in the ten months since I quit I haven’t been ill once, with the exception of seasonal allergies.

The side effects suck, there’s no doubt about it, and yes, I was shocked to look in the mirror after a couple months and not recognize my body, but it all evens out over time. My one recommendation if you’re looking to quit, not that you’re asking, is to give it some time. It’s not going to be easy and there are cravings, but you have to be strong, have willpower and motivation. Patience does pay off.

My biggest struggle right now is my weight. I can’t stress that enough. For the first time in my life there are pants I can’t fit into and t-shirts I can’t wear because my love handles are visible. But I’m slowly shedding the pounds partly because I had to take responsibility for what was happening to my body. I can’t blame anyone but myself. I was eating too much, drinking too much alcohol and not moving. That’s a sure way to gain weight.

However, I’m no longer a smoker and that’s been the best gift I could have given my body. I cant’ tell you how terrible smoking is for you. Just one cigarette does soooo much damage to your body. Once you give it up you can finally smell the world around you (for better or worse), and breathe with more ease. Also I don’t smell of nicotine all the time, and I’m a little embarrassed to think about all the times I’d return to my work desk after a smoke break and force that awful odour onto my colleagues.

Also, I replaced my cigarette smoking with meditation. Fifteen minutes a day I lay on my bed and I breathe in and out deeply and try to release the stress accumulated throughout the day from my body. It clears my head, improves my mood and I never regret taking that time for me.

Ten months ago.

I have to say, quitting smoking is one of my proudest achievements.

Do you want to quit smoking? Do you have any questions for me that might be helpful? If so please leave a comment and I’d be more than happy to answer.

Cheers!

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