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It just hit me this morning – it has been exactly five years since I quit smoking!  Honestly, I am so removed from who I was then, it seems weird to me that I ever smoked.  But I did, and I used to love it.  In all, I smoked from 16 to 26, although I started out very casually and tried quitting twice in between, so I probably had a habit of smoking (one pack per day) for about seven years.

It was hell quitting.  H-E-L-L.  I pretty much had permanent indentations in the palms of my hands from digging my fingernails in whenever I had a bad craving.  Still, I was determined.  I envied those who could smoke one or two cigarettes every few months at a party, but I was not one of those people.  It was all or nothing for me.

Eric had been pushing me to quit for a long time, and he was a big factor in my decision, although he alone could not have made me do it.  Nobody could have.  I had to make the decision for myself.  So, what finally got me to quit?  I wish I could say it was concern for my health or money or that I didn’t want to contribute to something so environmentally damaging, but that isn’t true.

No – it was vanity.  Pure vanity.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the (very unforgiving) car mirror one day, and saw my first lines.  *gasp*  I was shocked.  I was only 26!  How could that be?!  In that moment I saw what smoking was doing to my body and, more importantly, what it would continue to do to me (knowing it was probably far worse on the inside).

So, I bought myself one more pack and relished every single minute of it.  Then I bought several boxes of Nicorette and started digging my fingernails into my palms.  The Nicorette did help – I think mainly because I needed that instant gratification.  I used it for about five months before going it alone.  Yeah, it was expensive, but I knew I would save money in the long run.*

Of course, that is just my experience.  Quitting is very personal, and what works for (or motivates) one person may not be what works for another.  I can say that I was totally addicted and it wasn’t easy – so if I can do it anyone can.  Really.  And once I got over the first six months it got a little easier, then even easier after a year, and so on.  Now, the thought of it honestly grosses me out.

This morning, after realizing it had been five years, I decided to take the Real Age test – once as I was at 26 (15 lbs heavier, pretty sedentary, and a smoker), and once as I am now at 31.

Here was my Real Age at 26:

And here it is at 31:

In the last five years, I have actually gotten five years younger!  🙂

* I did a quick calculation of what I would have spent on cigarettes if I hadn’t quit.  Are you ready for this?  $6,000!!!!!!!!!  And that is not accounting for inflation.  Hmmmm … maybe I should buy myself a five year anniversary gift!