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Death of a good friend – I mean – Breaking the bonds of nicotine addiction – One year out…

January 9, 2014


Well, it has been a year since I made the decision to quit smoking and I am proud to say that for an entire year now, I have been completely nicotine free! I am amazed that I did not back slide, considering all the changes and stresses last year brought – planning and executing an international move, including shipping the dog, the theft of our laptops, no power during the last couple of weeks of our New Zealand tour, visiting with family members who smoke, and readjusting to a new culture at our current posting in Belgium.  Through it all, my family has been extremely supportive and I am incredibly grateful to have them in my life.

So what does a smoke free life feel like after a year?  Well, to be honest, I still really, really want a cigarette!  Crazy, but that desire is still with me just about every day.  Do I want one bad enough to go buy a pack? No.  Do I want one bad enough to undo a whole year’s worth of work?  No.  Do I want to go through that awful withdrawal period ever again?  Absolutely not!  I will, however, breathe in a little second hand smoke now and then when passing smokers out and about.  This surprises me.  I thought I would hate the smell of smoke. But nope – not at all.  I do notice however when someone inside a building is a smoker.  For some reason that smell does bother me and think – Geez! Did I really smell that bad?

Another surprising thing I have noticed is that I have had to retrain my lungs to breathe deeply after quitting smoking.  Like during exercise and meditation.  Ever notice how deep you breathe in when you smoke?  Well, when you quit smoking, you stop doing that for awhile – and your lungs have to be retrained how to do it again.  I’m just about there, but it’s been a little difficult.  My advice is, if you are in the process of quitting now, or are getting ready to, practice deep breathing apart from when you smoke!

So what about the taste of food?  And weight gain?  Well, I did notice that the spicy things I ate with no problem before (and we tend to eat a lot of really spicy food) seemed incredibly spicier all of a sudden.  I actually had to dial it back a notch or five.  I was lucky in the weight gain department – at least initially.  I did start baking a lot, but didn’t start to gain weight until about June.  And then the home leave/post transition circus ensued and that is always a time for weight gain no matter what.  Between the feeding frenzy that happens when we go back to the land of BBQ, awesome greasy cheeseburgers, and Braum’s ice cream, and moving to Belgium with it’s waffles, chocolates, amazing pastries and breads, and heavenly, amazing beer, I have put on about quite a spare tire.  Now that the holidays are over, I am starting to lose it again, but it will take almost as much will power to avoid bread and pastries as it was to quit smoking!

For those of you who are about to take this journey, I wish you the best of luck.  If I can do it after 25 years of smoking (and enjoying it!) anyone can.  Treat it as a goal, not a resolution, and take baby steps if you need to.  Do not beat yourself up if you falter.  Just get back up and try again until you get it right.  And then make the decision everyday after that not to smoke.  Oh, and BREATHE!  DEEPLY!

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