Becoming a non-smoker…again

Being a single parent is a challenge. Being a single parent of a son when you didn’t even have any brothers in the house…a bigger challenge. It’s a daily challenge though that I enjoy waking up to. If I had to choose one challenge to write about, it would be, becoming a non-smoker again.

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I started smoking when I was 18. I loved it. As an introvert, it gave me something to do in social situations and, once smokers were uncermoniously booted outdoors to smoke, it was how I made new friends and networked. Most smokers are awesome people so my smoke breaks were often my favourite part of the day. I smoked 20 a day. It was a lot. Then I became a mom.

I was always conscious of reeking of smoke when holding my baby but it took a while before it really started bothering me. When he was 4, 9 years ago, I eventually started giving it some serious thought. I did some research and Allen Carr’s Easy way to stop smoking sounded like a method that could get results so I bought the book. It sat on my shelf for another month and a half. I just wasn’t ready. I continued to contemplate it and eventually decided that I would never forgive myself if I got cancer while my son was young and I could possibly have prevented it by giving up then. I was also conscious of the fact that every time I lit up, my hard earned money was going up in smoke! It had to stop. So on a Friday afternoon, towards the end of February, I came home from work. I sorted my son out. Then I lit up a cigerette. Then I opened the book.

I was hooked by the end of the 1st chapter. I smoked as I read. I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit. I continued to read and to smoke. Halfway through the book, I stopped reading. It was late and I was tired. I also needed to think through all that I had already read. A lot made sense to me but I still wasn’t ready to commit. I went to bed.

Saturday morning. I can’t wait to start reading further. My poor son had to amuse himself after breakfast while I immersed myself in the book. I could hear ‘clicks’ in my head as I went through it chapter. I wasn’t addicted to smoking I told myself. I was addicted to the nicotine and the cigarette was merely the vehicle. I let these points and a few others marinate in mind while I lit yet another cigarette. By midday I reached the final chapter. I was so nervous. I still didn’t feel ready to commit but I knew I was closer.

I started reading the last chapter. I was encouraged to smoke one more cigarette. It was to be my last. Once I was done I would no longer be a smoker. I was so scared. Before I lit that cigarette, I reasoned through the why’s and how’s of what I was about to commit to. Then I lit the cigarette. I savoured every puff. I finished the book. That was that. It has been almost 9 years to the day and I am still a non-smoker.

The 1st 3-4 days were hard. On the 3rd day I found myself curled up on the couch feeling terribly ill. I asked my munchkin to bear with me that night and he did. I made it through. I kept telling myself that it was nicotine that I was addicted to and not the cigarette and that once the nicotine was out my system I would be ok. It takes Nicotine about 3-4 days to work it’s way out of your blood so I told myself that I just needed to make it through those first few days then the worst would be over.

I have to admit that I still miss my smoking rituals. I enjoyed them. I even investigated nicotine-free electronic cigarettes at one point but there are none that are completely nicotine free. I just wanted to experience the ritual again.

Becoming a non-smoker again was a huge challenge for me and I am very proud that I have achieved it.

Losing weight is harder than giving up smoking

Disagree with me if you must but I promise you I will take up smoking again if it meant losing the weight and then giving it up again.

Yip.  This is coming from a person who loooooved smoking.  My cigarettes were my companion.  They gave me something to do with my hands when I was nervous or angry.  They kept me sane.  I enjoyed my smoking rituals… a cigarette with coffee and my thoughts before the day began and a cigarette after a meal as examples.   I loved smoking. It was a part of me.  When my son came along, it became apparent that my beloved cigarettes had to go. So I made the decision to stop. I bought Allen Carr’s easy way to stop smoking. Read it and, when he said go and smoke your last cigarette, I did. That was 6 years and 11 months ago and I have never smoked another cigarette since. I thought I would die on day 3 but I didn’t and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, The first few weeks were hard and I miss smoking every day but all I had to do was to make a choice to stop lighting up that cigarette and putting to my lips.

I put on 20kg once I stopped smoking due to a medical issue that cropped up and just general over eating to compensate for the lack of smoking. The problem then became, how to lose weight. Now, let’s be frank, losing weight is not a simple thing. It takes making conscious choices every single day to lose the weight and once you succeed to keep it off. It requires walking away from indulging in all your favorite foods that made you fat in the first place. It requires choosing to exercise often enough to make a difference. It takes a completely different mindset about that which you cannot live with out…yes, I mean FOOD!

My doctor and dietitian keep telling me the same thing…you have to plan your meals so that you don’t fall into old patterns. Planning is not one of my strong points and now they want me to plan my meals. I know they are right but gees louise! If I had to plan around giving up smoking I would never have made it. In fact, I still enjoy a moment with my thoughts and a cup of coffee in the morning but I just don’t have a cigarette. I still have coffee after every meal but no cigarette. There was no lifestyle change. Losing weight requires a complete change in lifestyle and that is no easy feat. That takes real commitment!

So, now that I have that off my chest, the experimentation begins on on what that new lifestyle that I want to commit to looks like for me. My doctor has given me times when I can eat so now I need to spend the time to research:

  • What foods I need to avoid and what I can keep.
  • Recipes using these foods that I might enjoy (I have yet to master the art of creating my own concoctions in the kitchen. Thus far all have been disasters 🤦‍♀️)
  • Planning meals for the week. I never know what I want to eat for dinner in particular from day to day as a general rule and now I have to decide for a whole week upfront. This is probably the biggest challenge for me.

Ok. My doctor has set me a goal of losing 10% of my weight by July. Challenge accepted. I also need to improve my fitness levels as he will be putting me on the treadmill at my next check-up. Lawd help me! At least I am aloud the odd cheat day. That should help keep me sane. It’s going to be an interesting 2020 but I am looking forward to being a fitter, healthier and thinner somebody at the end of this year. The bonus will be if I can get my sugar levels down and get my diabetes in remission. This is my ultimate goal. I have got this though. It’s time.

Well, wish me luck as I embark on this journey. Any tips and tricks you have to share are always welcome.

Have an awesome 2020! Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed the read. Bye for now.

Chocolate cake
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