Patches. Gum. Hypnotism. Medication. Cold Turkey. All of these are common methods used to quit smoking, and many people will contest that these are all methods…that simply don’t work. We all know that smoking isn’t good for you. There are no health benefits to smoking and introducing a foreign substance to the body can quickly lead to an addiction (just like people can become addicted to alcohol, drugs, caffeine, even sugar and salt). Addictions can have both a mental and physical effect which can make it ten times more difficult to break the bad habit. I’m not a smoker, nor have I ever been one. So to answer the question, “How do you quit smoking?” I went to an expert on the subject… my dad, who happens to be an ex-smoker. Dad was a smoker for almost 30 years. He has seriously tried to quit a handful of times, trying everything from Chantix to hypnotism. It wasn’t until he decided to take his own path for him to successfully kick the habit for good.
Start with one change at a time. Dad knew that there were several things in his life that made him unhealthy:
1) he didn’t exercise regularly
2) he didn’t have the world’s greatest diet and
3) he smoked. Instead of making all these changes at once and become overwhelmed with his new lifestyle, he decided to tackle one thing at a time.
Clean up your eating habits first. Dad was certainly a meat and potatoes guy… with a big sweet tooth. Since there were many areas in his diet that needed improving, he decided to focus on one thing at a time versus making large drastic changes. First, he changed the kind of milk he was drinking. Then, he started to prepare more chicken and fish for meals instead of red meat. Finally, he stopped buying chocolate to keep at home and reserved sweet treats to special occasions only. Some of these changes occurred over a week while others took a couple months.
Make fitness a priority. Once he was able to maintain his improved eating habits, he started to focus on physical activity. Dad lived only a little over a mile from work, yet he still drove every day. He decided to start walking to work . Additionally, he began to go for walks in the evenings. I’ll never forget the day that he called me to tell me he had joined a gym and was walking on the treadmill at a 15% incline.
Change your environment. This was a tough one for Dad. He states that smokers always have “places” where they smoke or at least where they associate with smoking. Slowly, Dad started to avoid these places that previously provided opportune times to have a cigarette. Instead of driving his car to work, he drove his girlfriend’s car. That way he couldn’t “hide” a quick smoke in her car since he knew she would be able to smell it. After a long day at work, it was his habit to come home and sit in the garage in his La-Z- Boy chair and have a cigarette. When he finally mustered up the courage, he took the chair to the dumpster so he no longer had anything in the garage he associated with smoking.
Pick a date and stick to it. Throughout this process, Dad had slowly been weaning himself down on how many cigarettes he smoked each day. He had a hiking trip planned in Roosevelt Park in Georgia. This was his ultimate test. The hike would take 2-3 days and there wouldn’t be any places to buy cigarettes throughout the hike. He chose this as his Day 1…his first day without smoking. When he completed his hike three days later, he had gone three days without smoking and hasn’t turned back since.
It has to come from within. Dad said that the more people told him to quit smoking, the more he became resistant to the idea. He could not have pursued this fully until he decided that he was going to do it for himself…not because someone else told him to do it. Having a plan of action really helped too. With each new healthy change he incorporated into his life, he gained more and more confidence that he could do this for the long run. Four years later, Dad still remains smoke-free and believe me, if Dad can do it…then you can do it too