Monday, August 1, 2016

My best friend was not good for me

Hello!

Tomorrow will be three weeks being nicotine free.  It can be difficult to admit to an addiction.  When we do bad things to our bodies we can justify them as long as other people are doing these things as well.  For me, there were people at work that smoked, and a good portion of my friends smoked.  This happened to me over several years as the addiction crept into my life.  As I started tapering down it quickly became evident how much other people smoked.  It was not gross when I went out to smoke every hour, but now I see others leave and come back on this self inflicted schedule and it looks very depressing!  My sense of smell has started to return and my appetite for food is more regular.  I would often confuse the feeling of hunger with a need for nicotine so meals would get delayed and my overall energy level was not what it would have been if I had been giving my body the proper nutrition, and consistency with the time of day that I ate.  The smell of smoke on others is not terrible to me, but it is definitely something I did not think other people would notice if I washed my hands.

Partway through the tapering process I started experimenting with activities that would fill the time typically spent sucking and blowing.  I would go on 10-15 minute walks around the office.  At first they felt pretty silly.  I was just killing time until I could have another ciggie out of my baggie.  I started creating lists of to do items and adding things no matter how big or small.  Lists have become something I am proud to carry around.  Checking them off gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Here are some examples of items I started writing down and checking off:

wash car - when my body is clean things like this have become more important
paint baseboards
mow grass
work out - I already did this but with a very low intensity
grocery shopping - it is hard to find time to cook when you are always smoking
dog walking

For the first time in two years I am able to push my body and actually build some muscle!  Feeling this strength grow inside me makes all the effort of quitting smoking worth it.  After getting down to about 7 smokes a day it was important for me to fill my time wisely and distance myself from others that smoked.  Another important habit became going to sleep on time.  If I were to stay up too late and run out of cigs the temptation to dip into the next days baggie was very intense.  Structure, health, and self improvement were all vital tools in my quitting arsenal.  At this point my time was being spent more wisely and my cravings were not very intense.  I had time to adjust to my new lifestyle and began turning some of these changes into habits.

Amy's and my emotions were a little bit of a roller coaster and we broke up.  Since then we have been supportive of each other quitting and still live together.  She has relapsed about once a week but now that her trip to Machu Picchu is about three weeks away her restraint has grown and I have faith that we will both never have another cigarette again.  I have started drinking more coffee lately so my new focus is to cut down on caffeine and find other ways to maintain energy and focus throughout the day.

Thank you for reading and please post any comments you may have on your success or struggles with quitting!

Regards,
Liam

Thursday, July 28, 2016

To taper, vape, or quit cold turkey. I have a question.

Hello!

My brother used to have a few cigarettes on the weekends when he was drinking, and would sometimes only smoke a couple times a month.  Over the years this social smoking turned into a daily habit.  He would still go the occasional day or two without one but he was definitely hooked.  I was too but being more responsible than he, I always had ciggies on me and rarely went a day without.  Last Christmas he decided he was done with it.  He has a landscaping business to run and neither did he have the time nor the money to waste on something with such little benefit.  After hearing him say that, my girlfriend and I decided we would quit as well.  I wanted to smell nice, recover my endurance, and plan a future around others that wanted satisfaction through accomplishments, not nicotine or gravy.  I have found it very hard to move up in my field being a smoker.  She had quit for extended periods in the past but immediately started smoking again when we met 9 months ago.  Drinking, stress, and new relationship stresses were all triggers.

Her aspirations inspired me.  Anthony Bourdain's picture on the fireplace inspired me.  She was thinking about having a child, and was planning on hiking Machu Picchu.  Really she wants to travel the world.  Seemed like good enough reasons to quit. (She eventually booked a trip to Peru mid August.  Have Fun!)

How were we going to do this?  We both had our own views.  She was going to taper off by vaping and continuously lowering the nicotine level per juice bottle.  I was going to taper off by using zipper baggies full of cigarettes.  Here are how events unfolded.

Her solution was to vape.  She had done it before and this is how she explained it.  She would start off at a high nicotine level and each empty bottle would be followed by a 2mg drop in nicotine, starting at 18mg.  I was supportive the first few days with the vape but soon things got out of hand.  The flavor of juice she had smelled like burnt metal and vanilla.  At first she kept it outside but soon something was wrong.  She was carrying it around in her hand all day and puffing on it everywhere, even the car with the windows up.  Though she would deny it, I think she became more addicted to vaping than smoking white sticks by far.  Once she got down to a 4mg bottle (which was about two months) she started smoking regular cigs when drinking and eventually the vape broke.  I had been cutting back to half a pack a day but with wild mood swings I would backslide anytime I was proud of myself for doing something.  Anything!!  I kept trying to pick a quit date, but am not a good future planner so that scared the *translation needed* out of me.

After about five months of "cutting back" and "vaping" and addictively gaming each other I decided that I would not use Amy as a crutch.  Excuses became weak, and even something as simple as throwing a party or attending a gathering would become an excuse used in the past, but no more.

Now we move to into June.  My brother had brought it up a few times but I hate talking about quitting smoking.  It really bothered me but he was proud of himself and wanted to help me quit by talking about what he had researched.  He kept saying cold turkey was the way to do it, and for him that may have been true.  He had to quit drinking before he could quit smoking.  He no longer drinks because, according to him, it is not as fun without the stimulant effect of nicotine.  Anyways, he comes to me and says "Liam, I quit smoking six months ago."  Holy cow was I stunned.  I was super proud of him for his accomplishment, especially since he had the resolve to do it cold turkey. I quickly realized I had been on this cracker jack roller coaster of quitting for six months!  Time to put all of my lip service into action I told myself.  It embarrassed me that others had found out I was quitting, but would see me smoking daily.  This procrastination train had to get shut down.

My method for tapering down is simple, but let me give you a little background on why my personality needed me to do it this way.

I smoked all the time.  After something funny, after something sad, after a TV show, before work, after work, after dinner, on the way to the store, before bed, before or after anything really.  I also did it when I was bored, or when someone else did it, and omg if the phone rang it was so much easier to have a conversation in 105 degree heat with the satisfying feeling of hot smoke on my throat and lungs.  If I was about to see my parents I would smoke about 5 in a row before getting in the shower.  I would show up feeling sick and then want to leave an hour later when the craving kicked in again.  What a way to live.

I had to taper down because I had no idea what to do with myself during all that free time!  If I quit cold turkey there is no way my day would stay full of things to do.  Idle hands are the devil's playthings and he likes fire, especially smoldering on the end of a rolled up tobacco lollipop.

Now for the meat of my method.

I bought eight packs of cigarettes, a permanent marker, and some zipper baggies.  This made me feel like I had a huge supply of nicotine and kept me from feeling nervous about the process.  Now I have 160 little ciggies and 22 baggies all sitting on the counter.  I labeled each bag with the numbers below, then put that many cigs in each bag:

15
14
13
12
11
10
9
9
8
8
7
7
6
6
5
5
4 - This is when I started lighting and putting them out for later.  At this point a whole one can make you feel sick.
4
3
2
1
1

Each day I would smoke the number of cigs in each bag, and as I tapered down I started writing down my goals and thinking about my future.  A few of the days I borrowed from future baggies and my girlfriend would take them randomly but I made sure to shuffle things around and they were replaced with great speed. I never smoked less than I was allowed, naturally.  Next post I will go a little deeper into the aftermath of this adventure, as well as some of the pitfalls and activities I was able to fill my time with as I approached less than ten a day.

Regards,
Liam

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

About me

Hello!

As the Texas weather has been a lottery the last couple of months, there are at least a few good pills to swallow.  Oil prices have been cheap, flights across the map are available for the price of a hotel room, and my horoscope says the rest of my life will be inspirational.  It is hard to not believe in the zodiac when such positive news makes you feel like the world is full of love.

This blog is being started for one reason.  According to my calendar I quit smoking cigarettes two weeks ago! 7 - 12 - 2016.  I plan on sharing my success with others in hope that my directions will enable at least one other to succeed.  Hopefully the blog will allow me to create a digital calendar of my regular activities.  Some people thought I was really healthy before I quit smoking.  Let me tell you, smoking takes a toll on you no matter how healthy you strive to be.  Quitting smoking is a home run for your entire body.  Better breathing, better skin, better breath, and of course better sex.  Take that to the post office gas station owners!  I even have more money which was a total surprise.  I could buy myself flowers every day if I wanted just for being so awesome.

What time is it?  Time to leave work for the day and play some games with my dogs.  Long walks and even jogging are all becoming a reality for me.  Over the next couple of days I will begin sharing my simple yet effective method for quitting smoking.  Thank you for taking the time to listen and I wish you the best in your effort to quit!

Regards,
Liam