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#MyQuitStory
By Dorothy K
December 22, 2017

#MyQuitStory

My Quit Story Part 1: I Started Quitting Smoking at 15

November 17, 2017

I began smoking for one simple reason: everyone around me did it.

Both my parents were heavy smokers. I started smoking at 15, sneaking cigarettes from them when they weren’t looking. I wasn’t alone, and as the youngest of five, all of my brothers and sisters picked it up. At one point, everyone in the house smoked. When I was 17, my parents started sending me to the store with a note saying that I had permission to buy cigarettes for myself and for the rest of the family.

Other adults I knew growing up and many of my classmates also smoked. My friends and I often smoked on our way home from school, walking along the riverbed so we didn’t get caught. But even if we did, it wasn’t a big deal. Smoking was just what everyone did.

Over the years, smoking became less of something I did on occasion and more of an addiction. I got married at the age of 22 to a man who was also a smoker, and so smoking continued to be a part of my life. By my early 30s, I was smoking about a pack a day and smoking was intertwined into my daily routine. Wake up, have a cigarette. Eat breakfast, have a cigarette. After lunch, after dinner, cigarette.

How much I smoked was often related to my levels of stress. When I was between jobs, I smoked more than when I was working. Once, after I had been laid off, I was up to two packs a day.

Over time, many people around me quit smoking. Both of my parents and most of my siblings became smokefree. I, too, tried to quit smoking a couple of times. A few years ago, I noticed that my health was declining and it was harder for me to keep up with my two grandchildren, who desperately wanted me to quit. I could go three weeks without a cigarette, and then my husband would walk by smelling like a cigarette and I’d light up again. Or something stressful would happen and I’d need a cigarette to calm my nerves.

The timing wasn’t right before, but it is now. Smoking has always been there, a constant in my life, but that’s about to change. At the age of 56, I am finally ready to try to quit smoking for good.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “My Quit Story.”  Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #MyQuitStory.

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My Quit Story Part 2: It's Time to Quit Smoking for Good

November 24, 2017

So here’s the truth: this is not my first time quitting smoking.

As a smoker for 42 years, I’ve tried to quit a few times—sometimes for months at a time—but I always found a reason to light up again. My husband is also a smoker, and we often found ourselves on opposite schedules. I’d be trying to quit while he was still smoking, or I was smoking and he was trying to quit. It was easy to slip up with one of us still smoking, and neither of us could stay smokefree for very long.

We’d always known that smoking was bad for our health, but it was just such a part of our lives that quitting was never a huge priority—until our health insurance changed. My husband and I are covered by a plan through his work, and under the new policy, we were told that our premiums would go up $100 a month if we continued smoking. So now, we have to take quitting more seriously.

At first, the insurance change annoyed me because it felt like we were being forced to stop smoking. But, once I sat down and really thought about it, and all the past quit smoking attempts we both had, being able to put down the cigarettes once and for all seemed like a good idea. I don’t like the fact that I have to sit down after walking and I can’t enjoy trips to the zoo or amusement parks with my grandchildren, who have asked me to quit for years. Plus, we are spending a lot of money on cartons of cigarettes each month. I realized by quitting, we could save money and be on paths to healthier lives.

I have a good feeling that this time I will be able to finally break my addiction to smoking. For one, I’m going into this quit smoking attempt with a plan. I’ve been told that I need to set a Quit Date, a day when I finally throw out all of my cigarettes, and start to live smokefree. Before then I need to identify my smoking triggers—the things that make me want a cigarette—and replace them with healthier behaviors, such as going for a walk, drinking water or having a snack on hand. Apparently, the first few weeks are the hardest, so I’m working through what that will feel like and how I’ll stay strong during those intense urges. 

Second, I am not doing this alone. My grandkids are so excited that our house and car won’t smell like smoke anymore. I have a few close friends who smoke, but more who do not who are cheering me on. Mostly, though, my husband and I are quitting together this time—no more opposite schedules. We’ll be each other’s cheerleader and rock when things get tough. Together, we are going to do this.

Previously, Dorothy shared her reasons to quit smoking.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “The Day I Quit.”  Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #TheDayIQuit.

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My Quit Story Part 3: It's Quit Day

December 1, 2017

I was ready to quit smoking even before my Quit Day. Once I convinced myself that I was going to stop smoking, there was no turning back. 

I have heard so many former smokers talk about health problems they have had because of smoking. One woman told me she had constant cases of strep throat, and another man shared with me how he had to be on portable oxygen. Also, my sister-in-law is a smoker and she lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I, too, have started to feel the cigarettes taking over my health; I hate feeling out of breath after a short walk. These stories stick with me, and I know that my health will only get worse if I keep smoking. Quitting and staying smokefree will be critical to improving my health.

Smoking has been part of my everyday life for 42 years—a cigarette in the morning, one after breakfast, one after lunch – you get the point. To eliminate temptations, I removed all the things that reminded me of smoking. I went through our house and removed every ashtray, lighter and cigarette. Though my daughter still smokes, I declared that our house and my car are now smokefree zones. I knew from my previous attempts that having smoke in the home could be a trigger, and I didn’t want to give in this time.

I also came up with a plan of attack for my smoking urges. I used carrots, celery, fruit and other veggies to help me outlast the urges. I knew that being out with friends at bars and restaurants would be the hardest, so I made a plan. The next time that I was at the bar I planned to get up and go outside when they started smoking, hoping the fresh air and walk could help curb the cravings.

And last but not least, I recruited my support system. I have my husband, who is also quitting, but I asked my granddaughter and daughter to help keep me accountable. I told them that I couldn’t do it without them, and they agreed to do all they could to support me through my quit journey.

The weekend before my official Quit Day, I was so motivated to just be done with cigarettes. I had already stopped smoking, thinking that I wouldn’t have another, but then I got stressed and reached for my daughter’s pack. I took two puffs and realized how silly it was. I was over smoking. I didn’t put that cigarette out though, and finished it two days later. It was disgusting, and I didn’t enjoy it, but a friend pointed out that it was one cigarette over two days—that’s nothing! I knew then that I was officially done.

When my Quit Day came on Tuesday, I knew that I had had my last cigarette, and I was pretty proud of myself. This next week smokefree will definitely test me, but I’m feeling confident.

Previously, Dorothy shared her reasons to quit.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “The Day I Quit.”  Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #TheDayIQuit.

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My Quit Story Part 4: The First Week

December 8, 2017

So I’ve officially quit smoking! And the first week of not smoking, well, it’s tough.

Smoking had become such a part of my routine – it was the first thing I did when I woke up in the morning – that I sometimes have to remind myself that I don’t smoke anymore. In those moments, it’s like I’ve forgotten I quit. I’ll even reach for my cigarettes on the table, without thinking about it, only to realize that nothing is there.

The urges are the hardest part. They mostly come when I am stressed about something or when I am bored. To beat them, I’ve been reaching for a snack or I start cleaning, something to keep my hands occupied until the craving is gone. When I have the urge to have a cigarette, I think about how easy it would be to go down the street to the store and just buy a pack. It’s so tempting knowing that this craving could be filled in just a few minutes, but I remember how expensive they are and how terrible it would make me feel. Throwing out my cigarettes before my Quit Day has helped keep me on track.

Not smoking has made me slightly agitated, though I’ve been told it’s only temporary. I tend to snap at my husband, daughter and grandkids without realizing it. They know I don’t mean it and it’s just the desire for a cigarette talking, but still I feel bad and it’s something I’m going to work on.

One thing that has made this much easier is that there is no smoking in my house or car. Since both my husband and I are quitting, we’ve decided to make our living environment smokefree. We don’t smoke in the house anymore and I washed all of the pillows and drapes to remove any leftover smoke. I also made my car a no-smoking zone, which is good because I share it with my 17-year-old granddaughter who has asthma. It’s also great that bars and restaurants are smokefree, because of the Illinois law.

The best part, though, is that I have already started to notice an improvement in my health. I used to have a terrible cough that kept me up at night. Since I quit smoking, my cough has gotten much better. I wake up each morning, and instead of hacking, I can take a deep, easy breath.

My main reason for quitting stays the same: to be healthier. I am already starting to feel it. And, even though the first few days have been tough, I know that quitting is something I must do. I will keep going.

Previously, Dorothy shared how she prepared for Quit Day.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “My Quit Story.”  Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #MyQuitStory.

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My Quit Story Part 5: Replacing Cigarettes with Food

December 15, 2017

The first week I quit smoking, my granddaughter was making treats for her friends and bought an extra package of double-stuffed cookies. I ate the entire thing in a day!

I smoked for 41 years and when I decided to quit, those first weeks came with some pretty intense smoking cravings. To beat them, I needed to keep my hands moving and that meant eating. Food became my replacement for smoking. When I got bored and wanted a cigarette, instead of going to find my cigarettes in the kitchen, I reached into the refrigerator and cupboards.

My husband was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, so we made dietary changes in our house and kept more fruits and veggies around. But when I quit smoking, junk food seemed like an easy way to beat a craving. There’d be a bowl of chips and a bowl of grapes on the table, but I kept choosing the chips. In those first few days, I felt like I needed to do whatever I could to get through those few minutes until the urge to smoke was gone.

Salty and sweet snack foods also seemed like a reward. I was already quitting smoking, didn’t I deserve a treat? I figured that I would take one thing at a time and then focus on my eating habits later.

But it wasn’t long before I realized that my pants were fitting a bit too tight. All the cookies, chocolate bon bons and chips had caught up to me. I realized that was I replacing cigarettes with food, and that I needed to start being more thoughtful about what I ate.

When I quit smoking, I threw out all of my cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters, so I did the same with the junk food. This week, I started fresh. When I went to the grocery store, I skipped the junk food aisle so it’s not around when I’m restless and want to smoke. It also helps that my cravings for cigarettes aren’t as intense, and now I use a fidget toy to keep my hands busy or I go into another room and clean for a bit.

Quitting smoking has also given me a whole new sense of taste. I used to think that I liked egg salad, but now that I don’t smoke, I realize I hate it. I also never thought that I liked eggplant, but it turns out that I love it!

It was really easy to fall in the junk food trap, but I realize that I can’t use my quit journey as an excuse to eat whatever I want. Now that I am beyond the first week, when my cravings seemed the strongest, I want to have a better diet. Even if it’s been challenging, I am still smokefree and that’s an incredible accomplishment.

Previously, Dorothy shared how her first week smokefree was going.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “My Quit Story.” Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #MyQuitStory.

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My Quit Story Part 6: Finding Support

December 22, 2017

It feels like I quit smoking years ago, but really it’s been just a few weeks.

Quitting was hard at first, but the urge to smoke got easier to handle day by day. I can now go a full day without wanting a cigarette–which feels like a huge accomplishment. And it’s nice not to have to go outside for a cigarette when it’s raining or hot.

As a new nonsmoker, I realize how much I hate cigarette smoke. I never knew that my house—or I—smelled so bad. The other day a friend who visited had just finished smoking a cigarette before he came into our house. He smelled awful! My granddaughter said, “Well, grandma, that’s what you used to smell like.” I used to follow my friends out on their smoke breaks so I could have a whiff, but now I stay behind. I can’t stand that smell anymore.

There have been times when I thought about giving into the urge to smoke but I was stopped by my amazing support system. I often texted my brother who talked sense into me. “No, you really don’t want that cigarette,” he said. He knew that I would hate having that cigarette, but the craving was so loud that I couldn’t think straight. He was right and I am proud that I haven’t given in.

My friends have also cheered me on, especially when times were tough. One friend has said he’ll treat me to a dinner every month I don’t smoke. I’m looking forward to that next week!

Lastly, my family’s encouragement has been crucial. One of the main reasons I quit was because my grandchildren wanted me to, and they are why I stay off cigarettes. My granddaughter has asthma and I knew I needed to do this for her, along with my grandson. My husband, who quit when I did, has also been a great person to lean on as we’ve gone through the ups and downs together.

I am getting there. I made a goal that if I got to a certain day without smoking a cigarette, I would get a tattoo. I did just that. There is an image of a hummingbird and flower on my left leg that reminds me how far I’ve come on my quit journey and to keep going.

My advice for those who are looking to quit is to set yourself up for success by having a plan. Quitting smoking is hard and it’s really easy to give into the urge to smoke, so you have to have your reasons for quitting, your support system and your perseverance to fall back on. But if I can do it, then anyone can.

My quit journey has just begun. There are times I think, I could have a cigarette right now, but I know that I won’t. I am committed to quitting. If I can make it to a year, I will know that I am done for good, and I hope that I can. I am ready to move past my smoker life.

Previously, Dorothy shared how quitting smoking was affecting other parts of her life – including her diet.

Dorothy K., of Lansing, Illinois, shares her story of quitting smoking in Quitter’s Circle blog series, “My Quit Story.”  Follow Dorothy’s journey at Facebook.com/QuittersCircle and Twitter.com/QuittersCircle with #MyQuitStory.

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