Quitting 2.0: Day Two

So I haven’t been posting because I relapsed. I have been smoking like “normal” for over a month and feeling horribly guilty about it the whole time. I didn’t want to be a smoker again, but it just happened and I couldn’t stop. I was constantly saying to myself “I can quit, I did it before….. maybe I’ll start tmrw.” But then tomorrow would come and I would have another pack of cigarettes in front of me.

Two days ago I smoked my last cigarette while sitting on a park bench and I made the decision to make it my last. I walked directly into a convenience store and bought nicotine gum.

Quitting feels harder this time around. I had the day off from work yesterday, so I locked myself in my apartment in order to protect myself from temptation and to protect others from my tobacco-deprivation rage. The first 24 hours are the worst. You constantly think about smoking and the anxiety about not smoking is super intense. There was a point last night when I was pacing around my apartment convinced that there was a cigarette somewhere that I had forgotten to smoke. I probably looked like a crazy person tearing through all my belongings, desperately trying to find that elusive cigarette. (I never found it… I think I made up the whole idea in my head). I painted my nails 3 times in order to keep myself busy. I tried to watch movies, but kept catching ones with people smoking in them (the worst!! Why is it so hard to watch people smoking in movies??). I went to bed at 10:30pm just to shut my brain off from thinking about smoking.

After experiencing a quit (and a good one! 4.5 months is nothing to ignore!) and then a relapse, I have made some realizations…

1. Stress and anxiety are the main excuses smokers use when explaining why they smoke. This is pure bullshit. Cigarette smoking actually causes stress and anxiety. Ever smoked the last cig in your pack and then immediately start planning when and where you can buy another one? Makes you anxious, right? Having a rough day at work and trying to figure out when you can sneak out for a smoke? Stressful!!

2. ANGER! Ok, I will admit that I have a temper (comes with the red hair). But my temper is a million times worse when I am a smoker. I snap at people constantly. During my 4.5 months of not smoking, I was WAY less angry. Why would I want to be angry all the time?!

3. Cigarette hangovers. I feel like a lot of smokers don’t even realize that this happens because it becomes a “normal” feeling. But going from not smoking to smoking again made it a lot more noticeable for me. Smoking makes me groggy in the mornings. I’m constantly tired and low on energy. And if I have an alcohol-induced hangover, smoking makes it worse! This is not a normal way to feel!!

4. Peace. When I was not smoking, I felt entirely more at peace with myself and everyone else around me. Now maybe this had to do with all the running, yoga, and woo-woo hippie meditation nonsense I was doing. But maybe not. I feel like it’s easier to see the world in a peaceful, happy way when you aren’t looking at it through cigarette smoke.

 

So after thinking about and realizing all these things, I am back on the quit. I am well into my second day without cigarettes and I am proud of myself. (And also extremely agitated. But chewing nicotine gum constantly is helping with that a little.)

Next step, restart the exercise and woo-woo hippie lifestyle I had a few months ago (and which I honestly loved!)

Smokers out there…. Anyone want to be my quitting buddy? Drop me a line!

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How quitting smoking is like going through a bad break-up

So you meet this guy/gal and you’re kind of interested in getting to know him/her. They seem cool and fun. You go out a few times and the first few dates are awkward but you feel good about them. When you go out drinking with your friends, you find yourself wanting to see this new person. And then slowly but surely you just want to see them all the time — everyday. 

This is exactly how smoking cigarettes started out for me. Casual, fun, weird, awkward. And then I was one of those smokers who only smoked when I was drinking. And then suddenly, I was smoking everyday. And then Bam! It was habit. It was that comfortable relationship that you know is bad for you but you just don’t know how to break things off.

As in any bad relationship, shit eventually hits the fan and there is a big glaring red sign in front of you telling you that it’s time to get the hell out. So you break it off and take calculated steps to distance yourself from this toxic person. The freedom is amazing and at the beginning you feel so strong and certain about your decision. Sure, it’s hard. And when you’re alone, you morn the loss of the comfort of the relationship. Everyday it gets easier though. 

When I quit smoking I felt so energized and strong. It was challenging, but I was doing it! I was moving on and getting rid of this awful thing in my life. At the beginning I thought about smoking cigarettes all day. But over time I started to forget and cigarettes rarely crossed my mind.

The relationship has been over for a few months. You’ve moved on and can barely remember what it was like to be with that person. And then you run into him/her. Let’s get coffee and catch up! All of a sudden all the memories of the relationship come rushing back and you remember everything that you have a been missing. You start talking to them on the phone and hanging out every now and then. Then it becomes a regular thing. One night you kiss and suddenly you’re back in the relationship that you were so sure you wanted to leave a few months ago. 

And this is what it was like when I smoked again. First it started off as just one that I bummed from a friend. And then I bummed another. And then I bought one “emergency” pack. I tried not to smoke … but the pack was just sitting there reminding me of what I was missing. So I smoked all of them just like I did when I was a smoker. And then suddenly I am a smoker again.

This relationship is bad for you. You knew it before when you broke up and you know it now even though you find yourself back in the middle of it. It’s unhealthy and it is preventing you from being the amazing person you are capable of being. You broke up once, you can do it again. Just make sure it sticks this time. 

I’m sorry Mister Marlboro, this just isn’t working. We gave it another go round and even though you are an easy habit to slide back into, you just aren’t what I need in my life!


Confession: I bought a pack of cigarettes

Yes, that’s right. I broke down.

I was dreading writing this post. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t want to write it down and make it even more real. I thought that maybe I could just deny that it ever happened. But who am I kidding? As I am typing this, the pack is sitting right next to my computer.

Not only did I buy a pack, but I smoked all the cigarettes. And then I bought another pack.

Of course this all started with me bumming ONE single cigarette one night when I was drinking. All it takes is one. And then you think, oh I can smoke every once and a while. It won’t be as bad as before. And then it is as bad as before. About half way through the first pack I decided I had to get rid of the cigarettes. But instead of just throwing them out, I just smoked more to make them “disappear” faster. And then of course, I had to buy another pack.

I feel bad. I feel like I’m back at square one. But I have to remind myself that I was a non-smoker. I did it! So I can do it again. I’m stronger than this.

I have had some people tell me they are disappointed in me. I don’t need to hear that. I’m disappointed enough in myself and I don’t give a damn about your disappointment. I need your support, not your negativity. (This is a theme here, folks. Please focus on the positive. It does SO much more).

And so…. here we go again!


3 Months of no smoking

So I just passed the three month mark of no smoking. Yeah no biggie.

I mean what?! This is AMAZING! I couldn’t even imagine this moment 2.5 months ago. I knew that the 3 month mark was important…Everyone told me so but I didn’t really understand why. But now I do.

After three months I no longer feel like a smoker. There is no “oh I just quit smoking” response anymore – it has changed to the  “oh I don’t smoke” response without even thinking about it. I can barely remember why I ever liked smoking in the first place.

I’m still eating a healthy diet for the most part, but I’m not as strict about it as I was the first month. Hey, a girl needs a cheeseburger and some deep fried dill pickles every once and awhile.

I am still exercising almost everyday. I love being back in the swimming pool and I’m thinking about joining a masters program so that I can compete again. I still suck at running but I am learning and trying. And I actually really enjoy running — being outside and having the space to think.  My 5k is next month and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to run the entire thing, but I will do my best. I like having goals to work for — something to keep me motivated to continue my active lifestyle.

The most significant thing about these last three months has been then fact that I have been through some extremely emotionally trying situations but I haven’t gone back to smoking. Whenever I talk to people who tried quitting but eventually went back to smoking, it is always because of some drama in their lives. I have made an extra effort to remain strong and it paid off.

I still have a lot of friends and co-workers who smoke. And I really try not to be preachy about how I quit because I always hated that when I was a smoker. I never tell them that they should quit or how they should go about it. It’s a personal decision and everyone has a different method that works for them.  If someone comes to me wanting to know how I did it or wanting advice, then I am more than happy to talk about it. And even more important, I am more than willing to be that extra support that smokers need to quit.

On the note of being supportive….  Even now that I have quit, I STILL get know-it-all never-smoked-a-goddamn-cigarette-in-my-life types trying to tell me things about smoking and quitting. I have an announcement to all non-smokers (and I’m talking about the ones that have NEVER smoked): You have NO idea what you are talking about. Period. Done. Game over. Stop talking like you know anything and are being helpful. You are NOT. Everything you are saying sounds ignorant and -quite frankly- rude. Please PLEASE please just keep your mouth SHUT. Thanks.

To any smokers looking to quit and wanting to communicate with someone supportive and understanding and who has gone through what you are going through, drop me a line. You can do it, I promise.


Music Happiness: King of Anything

I’ve been neglecting posting. And this post is a semi-copout. Too much shenanigans going on in the real world right now though. So the blogging world will have to wait.

But in the mean time, another clapping song! I’ve been really digging Sara Bareilles lately –even beyond this song. But today we’re sticking with the clapping theme so here it is…

 

King of Anything. Sara Bareilles.

 


It’s All Such a Pain in My KNEE!

Oh, my knees. God bless ’em. They let me know when it’s going to rain or snow. And they definitely let me know when I need to SLOW down.

Now, I know that I am still young…  but my knees seem to think otherwise. I can’t just push myself and push myself like I did when I was a young athlete. I am now older. I am now out of shape. I am no longer an athlete, I am a former-athlete. I need to ease into this. I am not invincible.

But maybe I am. Maybe it’s all mental (like every coach always says). The first few weeks of exercising, I was GOOD. I was sore, but in a healthy way. No pains or injuries. But I was going easy on myself. Maybe that was it.

Or maybe it was when I told a relative that I was starting to jog and the immediate question was, “Oh but how are your knees taking that?” (Oh by the way, I have had three knee surgeries in my life. One on the left, two on the right. Nothing as intense as ACL surgery, but still no fun). When I heard this question I tensed up. I hadn’t even thought about my knees until that very moment. You mean, there are obstacles? Should I worry? Suddenly all the negative things I hadn’t been thinking, popped into my head….

Can you really do this, Kelly? You don’t run. You’ve never run. How can you learn how to run now? You’re in your late 20s, might as well give up! Silly girl. Your knees can’t take this. You don’t want to go through surgery again, PT again, crutches again, pain killers, braces, limping….  ugh. What a pain in the…..

But whatever, my knees have been fine. Until that comment. Two days later, the aching began. I took a few days off. I stretched, I walked, I did yoga. Still aching.

Then I panicked. And I googled my symptoms. Guess what came up? All three knee issues that I have already dealt with. This was surprisingly good news for me, because I know how to deal with it. Yeah it will involve pain killers and ice and stretching and taping. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

What blows my mind the most though, is how much what you think becomes your reality. What if no one had mentioned my knee issues? Would I have felt these shooting pains right now? Something tells me no. Those negative thoughts brought this to me, like an evil magnet (damn those evil magnets). The more I worried about my knee hurting, the more it hurt. I was thinking about what I didn’t want to happen SO much, that it made it MORE likely to happen!

So I’m turning it around. I’ve decided that my knee is fine. I went out to buy athletic tape today so I could tape up my knee — doesn’t matter that the act of taping my knee might be entirely for mental reasons. Now, I actually studied kinesiology for a few years before I switched majors, so I know how to tape (I’m especially good at ankles, if you ever have a sprain 😉 ).  But when I was in the store, the fancy shmancy KT tape caught my eye. This.stuff.is.AWESOME. This is not the athletic tape I’m used to… it’s so much better. it’s stretchy and versatile. (And I swear the company is not paying me to say this.) Oh and it comes in pretty colors.

I got pink KT tape because exercise has made me girly.

So yeah. Knee issues? What knee issues do you speak of? I am wearing this pink tape on my leg as a fashion statement. Looks super hot, right?


Music Happiness: Four Leaf Clover

I figured it’s time for another clapping song.

This time I’m going for the more obscure. (it takes over a minute for the clapping to come in since it’s part of the chorus, so enjoy the sweet lyrics!). Oh and it isn’t a music video. 😦 but I love the song too much not to post it.

Badly Drawn Boy, “Four Leaf Clover”

 

PS I’ve seen Badly Drawn Boy live and it was awesome! (he does curse a lot though in between songs… a warning if you ever go see him.)

 

Don’t forget to check out my previous post about the 5k that I’m participating in!