Friday, January 7, 2011

I miss you...

Wow, it's been 5 months and 7 days since I quit smoking.  I believe this is the longest I have ever gone.

I smoked my first cigarette when I was 12, well I didn't 'smoke' it, I took a few drags and tried hard not to throw up. I wanted desperately to be cool and belong and from my viewpoint of the world smoking was my ticket. Considering how sick that first cigarette made me it's a wonder I kept at it but my desire to belong was strong, so what if I threw up.

By the time I was 14 I was buying my own packs of cigarettes with my allowance. I would hide them in my jacket pocket or stuff the pack in my sock as I made my way past my mom and dad, completely sure that they didn't know what I was up to. This isn't a post about how stupid I was back then, but suffice it to say, I was pretty stupid at 14 years old. Both my parents smoked, my sister smoked and I distinctly remember my grandmother having a single Cameo menthol cigarette every morning with her coffee. I would occasionally steal her smokes as well, thinking she wouldn't catch on either. Yes, I was dumb ok.

My sister could get me to do just about anything she wanted and pay me with smokes, or drags of smokes. She was 3 years older and than me and could smoke in the house, but I wasn't allowed to. Thankfully we spent most of our time in the basement so I could smoke pretty much anytime downstairs although hiding in my sisters room, smoking her cigarettes and listening to Peter Gabriel on her stereo was my favourite thing to do. If she wasn't home I pretty much lived in her room, she had the coolest records and it was the late 70's so there was alot of great music to listen to.

By 15 my mom had given up and let me smoke in the house. I had a part time job as a clerk at Consumers Distributing so I could afford to buy my own packs. I was free, no longer a slave to stealing/borrowing other peoples smokes or my sister's slave labour. From that time on cigarettes were always a part of my life, my best friend, a part of me. They were another limb, an appendage I was never EVER without. I loved my cigarettes. I loved the packs and how they smelled when you opened a fresh pack, how that first drag tasted and smelled. A cigarette with a coffee? Bliss! A cigarette with an alcoholic beverage, absolute heaven. I remember how panicked I would feel if I was running low on smokes and started buying them by the carton.

Over the years I tried to quit, but never really wanted to quit, hell I still don't want to be 'quit'. I quit once for about 4 months but all it took was a single drag while out drinking with friends and I was on the slippery slope. I KNEW I was on it and figured, screw it I may as well start again and so I did, really I spent months just looking for a good excuse. I was back to it, as bad or worse than before I had quit. My breathing was horribly laboured, I couldn't walk up stairs or down the street without my lungs burning. Still, I did not want to quit.  A part of me just assumed I would simply keel over one day from smoking. I thought about what my funeral would be like and hoped someone would remember to put a pack of smokes in my coffin so I could smoke in Heaven or wherever I ended up.  I also wanted my ipod buried with me too.

I did not die, obviously, and in 2007 I started working out on a more regular basis. I can promise you it's not easy to do a 60 minutes session with a trainer, bootcamp style and then run/walk on the treadmill or stepmill but I perservered. Even when I started this whole triathlon business I was still smoking. Of course my training was very laboured and the whole time I knew I would have to quit smoking but I put it off another day, another week. My race was in Sept and by May I knew that I needed to do something. It was too late to make any substantial training gains but maybe the 'burning lung' syndrome would go away or at least feel less painful. I would do 2 laps in the pool and my lungs were literally on FIRE. Normally when I make a deal with myself my follow through sucks, I just don't have any. I am a great joiner but I suck at follow through HOWEVER, I decided that I would quit on 'Monday' and if I started smoking again I would quit again on the following Monday and I would keep at this until I literally got sick of quitting and guess what..

It worked!!

Let's just say it took quite a few Mondays, some weeks I'd make it til noon on Monday and other weeks I'd go 6 days and start again on Sunday. By July 27 (which ironically enough is a Tuesday), I had had enough so my last cigarette was that Tuesday and I haven't picked it back up since then. This is not to say I've been perfect. I did smoke that 'woman's cigar' at the Kona party and I had a drag of a smoke two weeks ago but I have effectively been a non-smoker for 5 months, 7 days and some hours. I don't want to say I will never smoke again because that is likely not true but I really hope I don't. I still have incredibly intense cravings, today has been a bad day which is likely why I am writing about this right now, but thankfully the cravings come less often. About 6 times a day I think I might die if I don't smoke a cigarette immediately but I just try to ignore it and move on and then I don't think about it until the next craving hits.

I'm not sure why I've had success this time, this is the longest I have been quit since I started smoking regularly but I think training and wanting to be better has a lot to do with it. I know all of you at some point or another have offered support and kind words my way which help immensely. I still struggle, I have trouble being around smokers, not because I judge them but because I'm afraid I may tackle them for their smokes but overall this experience has been better. I am sad to say I was really looking forward to 'hocking up a puck or two of pghlem (sp?)' and feeling like I have more air when I'm training but there have been no pucks, no easy breathing. Don’t get me wrong, things are definitely better but I have been waiting for an epic difference in my breathing and so far, no epic. 

My nose runs more often.. Weird..

That's all I got...


Jason said...

Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on being a quitter. That is great news.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts of lapsing. I am not a smoker and never have been but have been around it and lost a parent because of it and will do anything to keep those close to me from picking up the habit. Even if it is just reading a long or short email you can count on me.

Again, congrats on being a quitter.

Still Running said...

Way to go. I gave up a long time ago, but still feel the urge whenever I go to McDonalds (the big smoking hangout from my teen years.)

Consumers Distributing! My mother loved it. Catalogue shopping in person. Too funny.

JohnP said...

I think back to smoking when I was a kid...
No wait, I never smoked - I just sucked in an absolute ton of second hand smoke cuz mom was one hell of a chimney. I remember liking the second hand smoke. It reminded me of her.
So now that I know better, I think if I ever developed lung cancer or something related I would track that bitch down and kill her.
Wait did I say that out loud? Sorry but it disgusts me what people do to their innocent kids.

I am so proud of you. Quitting makes Ironman look like a walk in the park. Ironman is 6 months of hard commitment, but quit smoking is a lifelong battle no doubt. You are an Iron-chick in my eyes ;)

On that note, if I ever hear you had a cigarette I'll track you down and whoop your butt. I'm not worried about this cuz you are surrounded by alot of people that love you and would definitely do the same so I'm certain the fear of letting those people down and the consequences will scare you straight :)

We luv ya - stay strong!

Disclaimer: Admitedly I have the odd cigar. Yeh call me a hippocrite ;)

Detroit Runner said...

Never smoked, never will but I can understand your struggle because I had a similar thing with food and have gotten my eating habits back in order. I know it's not exactly the same but good luck and keep it up!

MandyB said...

I am going on 4 years on January 28th. I know what you mean about not really wanting to "quit" but knowing you should and finally the time just comes. I too have had a few drags here and there but I know I will never be a full-on smoker again.

Hang in there, tomorrow you will wake up and the urge to smoke will be long gone!

Bryan Payne said...

A, congrats. Lots of baby wins every time you fight the urge and they are adding up, I'd say you're now in a big win catagory.

If you're lucky, you may experience what I did when I finally quit. I'd go back and smoke, and quit and go back. Then I got in shape and the next time I tried it, it tasted like sh*t, like I was licking an ashtray and have NEVER had an urge to smoke a cigarette ever again. Even when I'm drunk

I smoke cigars without inhaling instead when I get drunk. haha.

Keep up the good work. You're not it's bitch anymore.


FranP said...

I’m so proud of you girl for resisting these urges. I have never smoked so I cannot relate to the need but your story truly embodies the struggle.
You have so much support and all these posts are evidence. We are here for you! xoxo

Julie said...

Way to go on quitting! I was a smoker for 20+ years before I quite about 10 years ago. You will not regret it!!! I do admit to smoking once in awhile, usually only when I'm with other smokers which is pretty rare. You just keep up the great work and take it day by day, you will notice a difference, it just might not be overnight. :)

Anonymous said...

I've never criticized anyone for smoking, but I've congratulated more than a few for quitting it. That's saying a lot for somebody from "tobacco road". You smokers help support our tax base down here, after all.

Congratulations on your continued success. It's not easy (I don't smoke, so I can only imagine), but you are doing yourself a world of good every moment you don't light one up.

She said I need a goal said...

Jason thank you so much, if I ever want to smoke I will send a note your way but I'm sure remembering your kind words here will work pretty quick.

StillRunning, remember when you could smoke INside? YUCK. Congrats on your quit, I hear it gets easier but never quite goes away.

John, thanks buddy. I am lucky to have such great friends like you and the Mrs. And you aren't a hypocrite for the cigar.

DetroitRunner, nice job on the food and thank you for the kind words. I might hit you up for some weight loss tips soon.

Mandy, you are AWESOME. I can hardly believe it's been 4 years for you. When are we going for a coffee?

B, thanks for the comment. I still can't believe you smoked! When I took that one drag a few weeks ago I was drunk and it made me sick and I put it down which I have never done before.

Fran, thank you! I am so lucky to have a friend like you.

Julie, thank you. It's so encouraging to see former smokers succeeding at their fitness goals, you are such an inspiration!

deebeecee thank you so much for your kind words.

Caratunk Girl said...

Awesome that you quit smoking! That is so good, I lost 2 grandparents to smoking caused illnesses. I have not ever smoked, but I know it is so hard to quit. Hugs to you, keep it up!

Laurie said...

I am an ex-smoker too (smoked off and on for 15 years and have been smoke free for 17 years now). To this day, I have cravings. The few times I have had a cigarette, I have gotten very ill so that is a super deterrent for me :-).
Hang in there and keep training. Your endorphins will overtake your cravings!

She said I need a goal said...

Laurie thank you for the kind words and support. 17 years is spectacular!!