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!