Maintaining the Quit

The following post was sponsored by Quitter's Circle as part of a guest blogger series. All thoughts, opinions and stories expressed in this post are purely those of Abby Land. This post also appears on Back at Square Zero. Time to be honest, none of us are perfect. The truth is that we all have good days, but we also all have bad days. Sometimes the bad days can really get us down and if we don't do something about it they can be very upsetting. I am a huge believer in not only physical health, but also maintaining a healthy outlook. I know that it is so very important to take care of yourself when you're having a tough day or even a tough week. The sooner you make yourself a priority, and take time to take care of yourself, the sooner you may start to feel better. But how do you take care of yourself? Here are 11 ways to love yourself when the going gets tough, from time-honored activities to some great newbies you may not have thought about before.  11 Ways to Love Yourself When the Going Gets Tough 1. Call a Friend Reaching out to a close friend can do wonders for your spirit. Just having someone to talk to or even someone to listen while you vent lets you know that you aren't alone and there are people who care. *Bonus Points - Schedule a get together with that friend so you'll have something to look forward to on your calendar.  2. Read a Book Reading a book is a great way to be good to yourself when things get tough. It allows you time to relax, unwind and take your mind off whatever is going on. Part of the magic of books is that they can transport us from our everyday lives into the world the author has created.  *Bonus Points - Grab a cup of coffee or hot tea, and wander around a bookstore to find a new book. 3. Go for a Walk or Run Going for a walk or run is a great way to be good to yourself for two reasons. First, getting in some physical activity is great for your body and your physical health. Second, many people find that walking or running gives them time to think and clear their head. *Bonus Points - Take it outside instead of hitting the treadmill or gym as fresh air and sunshine may work wonders.  4. Take a Step to Make a Positive Health Choice Show yourself love by doing something good for your health. If you’re a smoker, choosing to take steps to quit smoking is a positive choice you can make not only for your health, but also the health of those around you. A great way to start the process of quitting smoking is by reaching out to your friends, family and doctors to let them know that you want to quit. A doctor’s advice and support, which includes counseling and medication, can help double your chances of quitting smoking successfully. You can also find more resources about how to quit smoking at Quitter's Circle.  5. Take a Bath Soaking in a hot bath can help to melt your stress away. So draw a hot bath, leave your phone outside of the bathroom (and on silent), dim the lights, add some mellow music, and just enjoy the feel of the warm water on your body. *Bonus Points - Add Epsom salts for sore muscles or a fun bath bomb for bubbly fragrance and color.   6. Schedule a Massage While a massage is one of the more expensive options on this list, it can be an amazing way to show love to yourself when you are having a tough time. Massages are meant to help remove your stress and tension, and your body and mind will thank you too.    *Bonus Points - Two words: Hot Stone. 7. Cook a Favorite Healthy Meal Take the time to find that favorite, healthy recipe, go to the store, get all the ingredients, and enjoy cooking your favorite healthy meal. Cooking can be both fun and therapeutic, plus you get to enjoy a delicious dinner afterward. *Bonus Points - Double the recipe so you'll have leftovers ready for those busy days in your schedule.  8. Write in a Journal Journaling is an amazing activity for getting everything out of your head and onto paper. It helps release your thoughts and in turn lifts a bit of the burdens you are carrying. Journaling is a fabulous way to be kind to yourself and your emotions.  *Bonus Points - Google bullet journaling - it is the newest craze.  9. Watch Your Favorite Movie Pop a bowl of popcorn, grab a nice snuggly blanket and curl up on the coach with your favorite movie (or TV binge). Take your mind off of what is bothering you by letting it dive into your film. *Bonus Points - Make it a double feature. 10. Take a Nap Why we refused to nap as children is beyond me. Sleep is the body’s time to rest, recover and rebuild, so taking a nap can really help on those tough days when you are feeling drained.  A good nap can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to go. *Bonus Points - If you are truly exhausted don't set an alarm, just go for it. 11. Grab an Adult Coloring Book Adult coloring books are all the rage for a reason - coloring is a great stress reliever. By focusing on coloring (stay in those lines) you are taking your mind off of everything else for a bit and allowing it to focus just on the page in front of you.  *Bonus Points - Order a new coloring book so you have more than 1 option. PP-CHM-USA-1604
Have you always fancied yourself a line dancer, painter or stand-up comedian? Now that you've quit smoking, you may feel healthier and encouraged to try something new. And with the time and money you save from buying cigarettes, the possibilities are endless. So go ahead, what will you start once you stop smoking? Visit us on Facebook and Twitter using #QuittersCircle and let us know! Have a four-legged friend? Start dog walking. Put those creative juices to use. Start crafting.  Don't forget your helmet! Start biking.  Get back to nature. Start bird watching.  Time to bust out your gym shorts. Start speed walking Pull on your boots and hit the dance floor.  Start line dancing Discover your green thumb. Start gardening. PP-CHM-USA-0718
The following post was sponsored by Quitter's Circle as part of a guest blogger series. All thoughts, opinions and stories expressed in this post are purely those of Lindsay Livingston. This post also appears on The Lean Green Bean. This recipe for Spicy Ranch Popcorn is a helpful snack to keep on hand if you’re trying to quit smoking and an urge to smoke strikes! Stash some at work or in your purse to get you through a long afternoon! Hi Friends! It's snack time! Remember last week when I introduced you to Quitter's Circle and a new series of posts that would be coming up? I shared some tips for quitting smoking and one of them was to always be prepared when the urge to smoke strikes. This Spicy Ranch Popcorn is just the ticket! Did you know popcorn is a whole grain?! When you air pop it yourself and are smart about your seasonings, it can actually make quite a healthy snack. Plus, it's a volume snack meaning you can eat a lot of it without totally overdoing it on the calories. Snacks like this are great for keeping your hands (and mouth!) busy for a while without totally undoing the healthy lifestyle choices you're trying to make. Last year I shared this Sweet & Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix, which is another favorite of mine, but this time I wanted something a little more on the savory side. I made it extra spicy because spicy tends to mean you eat slower (because your mouth is on fire!). While this is a helpful snack for those trying to quit smoking, it's also great for anyone looking to add another healthy snack to their rotation. You can stash it in your cabinet, desk drawer or even your purse so you always have it on hand. The funny thing is, I'm not even a huge ranch fan ... I was just browsing for some savory spice combinations and the spices typically used in ranch dressing caught my attention. Here's how I made my version. Feel free to adjust the amount of each seasoning to your liking...and like I said, this is SPICY, so you can definitely cut back on the cayenne pepper if you want. You could also toss in a little parmesan cheese if you're feeling fancy! Here’s how you make it: Ingredients: 1/4 cup popcorn kernels (5-6 cups popped) 1 tbsp butter, melted 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp dried parsley 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp dried chives Directions: 1. Place popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch sack. Fold over the top and use the popcorn button on your microwave to pop. (Alternatively, you can pop in a pot on the stove or using an airpopper machine.) 2. In a small dish, combine melted butter and spice. 3. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl. Slowly pour spice mixture over popcorn while stirring. Continue stirring until most kernels are coated in spice mixture. Pretty easy, right?! Just be careful not to burn your popcorn like I did or you'll be smelling it every time you microwave something for the next week! Enjoy! --Lindsay— PP-CHM-USA-1492
Throughout the year, there are so many exciting occasions to throw a party – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and much more. What’s more exciting than the end of a sports season or a championship game? These athletic events are a great reason to get together with friends and loved ones, snack on game-day food, and root for your favorite team. But note: these parties may present pitfalls for those who have recently quit smoking. Between alcohol, old smoking buddies, and unhealthy desserts, there are some aspects of parties that can trigger an urge to smoke. Luckily, there are ways to prepare that may help you score a smokefree evening – no matter what you’re celebrating! Have a Plan Like most aspects of your quitting journey, it’s good to have a plan for specific activities to help avoid urges to smoke. Before you go, make a plan of who you can call or text if you need encouragement, especially if they’re not going to be at the party with you. Bring items like gum, lollipops, healthy snacks like carrot sticks, and stress balls with you to keep your hands and mouth busy if you have an urge. Decide what time you plan to leave, and stick to it. Avoid a Celebratory Drink For some people who are trying to quit smoking, alcohol can be a trigger to smoke. Alcohol can also lower one’s inhibitions, making it harder to stick to your quit plan.  Though it might seem that one drink at a party couldn’t hurt, it is a good idea to avoid the use of alcohol during your quit journey, as it can lead to slip-ups. Instead, make yourself a tasty beverage with your favorite juice and sparkling water, or bring a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider to share. Let others know that you can be the designated driver – having this important responsibility may help other party-goers remember not to offer you a drink – helping you maintain your newfound smokefree state. Stick to the Veggies Some smokers fear gaining weight when they quit. The average weight gain is about 4-10 pounds – so you might want to limit excess sweets as you develop your healthy lifestyle. One study suggests that foods like fruits and veggies may make cigarettes taste less desirable for some people – an added bonus to help you on your quit journey. While there may be a lot of unhealthy sweets and baked goods at the party, there’s often also a platter of cut vegetables (also known as crudité, if you want to be fancy.) Try snacking on that, and the fruit salad, instead! Stay Inside and Make New Friends It is possible that there will be other smokers at any party you attend. They might invite you to smoke with them. Before the soiree, practice saying in the mirror or with a friend “No thanks, I’ve quit smoking.” If you notice others going to smoke, stay in a smokefree location, such as inside the house, with other non- and former-smokers. Use the opportunity to meet new non-smoking friends, and see what you have in common. Maybe they’re the missing drummer in your band, or the perfect person to go to an art class with! Bring a Friend Of course, you can also invite a non-smoker or former-smoker friend to join you! If you weren’t invited with a plus one, make sure to contact the party host to check that it’s okay. Be open and honest and let them know how your wingman will help you stay smokefree over the course of the party. Quitting smoking is a challenge – but according to a 2015 survey of 146 adult smokers who were trying to quit, 80% of them reported that support from others was very important to quitting successfully. Let your friend know how best to help you if you’re having an urge at the party. They can help distract you until the urge passes – perhaps by the next time your team has the ball! PP-CHM-USA-1616
It may feel like the holidays are a long and challenging season of not smoking you need to get through. But remember, quitting is all about taking it one hour, one day and one week at a time.  If you have concrete strategies to make it through tough moments, you’ll be able to resist the urge to smoke when it strikes and move on. Let’s talk about the biggest pressures of the holiday season and how you can avoid them. Parties… If you know that attending a certain get-together will make you want to light up, think about skipping it this year. If you must attend, come with a game plan. Urges usually last for three to five minutes, whether you smoke or not. Tools like your Quit Kit and a list of things you can do instead of smoking (like drinking a glass of water or chewing a piece of sugarfree gum) will help distract you until the feeling passes. Ask your host if you can help them serve apps or DJ the tunes — whatever it takes to stay busy! Friends and family who smoke… If you know you’ll see a group of friends and family over the holidays who you’ve smoked with in the past, especially if you’re hosting, you might want to give them a heads-up you’ve quit. If they still pressure you to smoke, know exactly how you’ll say no. It might be, “Nope, I actually quit,” or “No thanks, I’ve had enough of those already!” Practice saying your response out loud in a mirror before you have to say it for real.  Food and drink… ‘Tis the season of an endless supply of cookies. But it’s important that you continue to make healthy choices. Avoid spicy and sugary eats, which may increase urges, and lean in on that veggie platter. Crunchy healthy snacks like nuts and carrot sticks will keep your mouth busy  and give you the energy you might need to handle potential stress.  At parties, stick to low-cal non-alcoholic options, like seltzer with lime.  Keeping hydradted by drinking plenty of water can reduce headaches and help you manage your weight.  Stress… Stresses like having lots of family in town, tons of gifts to buy and hardly any vacation time may cause you to want to light up.  Your preferred relaxation techniques — from deep breathing to pillow punching — will help get you through those hectic holiday moments. Don't be too hard on yourself either. If you don't tackle your whole shopping list or have seconds on dessert, that’s okay. You’re accomplishing so much just by not smoking, like saving money from not buying cigarettes and improving your family’s health by avoiding secondhand smoke.  Stay focused on those victories and before you know it, you’ll be ringing in the New Year smokefree and feeling better than ever! What are your tricks for avoiding holiday smoking pressures? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter! PP-CHM-USA-0624
Quitter’s Circle, and the internet as a whole, can be a convenient resource. It can seem like the world is at your fingertips, and in many ways, it is. But once in a while, it’s a good idea to put down your screens, get out of the house, and embrace what the world has to offer. Some state and local fairs and festivals provide a way to spend a smokefree day. The many sights, sounds and smells can help keep your body and mind occupied and off cigarettes. There are resources online and in your local newspaper to find fairs, festivals, and other community events near you. Check out some other perks of these events to enjoy while you’re on your quit journey. Grab a Friend and Get Walking Many smokers fear gaining weight when they quit smoking. This is an understandable concern, but there are steps you can take to help manage weight gain. Adding walks to your exercise routine, along with eating well, can help manage your weight. Call a friend and get them to walk with you! Whether you’re hanging with a fellow quitter or a supporter, a fair or festival is a unique place to catch up while moving. As you walk through the fair, you can enjoy rides, petting zoos, musical performances and more – and maybe even treat yourself to some fresh local fruit or delicious local cuisine from community vendors. Feel the Fresh Air One benefit of quitting smoking is being able to breathe more easily. Within two weeks to three months of quitting smoking, your lung function begins to improve, and within one to nine months of quitting smoking, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Why not experience this while also being outdoors and enjoying some sunshine? Relax! Although quitting can come with some irritability, getting out of the house and into an energy-filled atmosphere could help put a smile back on your face. Attending a fair or festival is a way to enjoy some carefree, fun time with friends and family. Celebrate with some carnival games, and maybe even win a prize! Make sure to capture a picture of your fun, smokefree day. Visit Health Booths Did you know that some health organizations and non-profits have booths at fairs and festivals? These organizations often provide free educational resources, and may have people available to speak to you about different health topics. Be sure to ask about smokefree resources in your own community, such as support groups, American Lung Association resources, or local healthcare providers.  If you’re smokefree, you may even want to find out how you can help inspire others.    PP-CHM-USA-1310
“No more grabbing a cigarette as soon as my feet hit the floor. No more ashes all over my car. No more smelly house, car, clothes, me!” A member of the Quitter’s Circle Facebook community recently posted the above comment describing her life after quitting this January. We couldn’t have said it better. Can you relate to her gratitude in becoming smokefree? We’re so proud of our Facebook community, 150,000+ members and growing.  You hail from around the country, from big cities to small towns, but are connected by the common desire to become smokefree. Many of you have shared your experiences of quitting smoking, and in turn, are motivating others.  As a tribute to the Quitter’s Circle community, we’ve read through your hundreds of Facebook comments and selected a few to turn into inspirational quit smoking art. We understand that quitting smoking takes planning,  practice and persistence, and Quitter’s Circle is here to celebrate your daily victories and support you. To those who are new to Quitter’s Circle, both quitters and supporters, we welcome you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.  Enjoy the artwork below and share with friends, family and fellow quitters. There are numerous benefits to quitting smoking, but how does it really feel to be smokefree? Many of you have shared your experiences. See what the commenters below have said about quitting smoking. From a prettier smile to money saved for a vacation, you’ve praised the many perks of becoming smokefree. You’ve followed some of our useful tips on quitting smoking, and we’re delighted to hear what’s working for you. Many of you have embodied the spirit of Quitter’s Circle by supporting each other along the way. When one quitter recently shared that she was “6 weeks” smokefree, this commenter was quick to praise her accomplishment. You never know when your story may be that inspiring nudge to help someone along their quit journey. So keep the Quitter’s Circle going!   PP-CHM-USA-0967