Information & Advice
Welcome to my stop smoking blog...
I'm Kajel, and welcome to my blog!
Over the next month, I look forward to sharing my experiences of trying to quit smoking (the good, the bad and the downright right ugly!). I'm hoping you'll be able to follow my progress, and that I might in some way inspire others to kick the habit too.
I'll be blogging on a weekly basis, and I promise not to cheat. So...if I have any slip ups, I'll hold my hands up and admit it – as I'm sure those of you that have tried to quit before know how easy it is to have that 'one cheeky cigarette', and fall back into the trap.
Hopefully though, there won't be many of those, as I'm determined to give smoking the boot once and for all this time!
I'm 29, and currently working for a media agency in Central London. I've been a smoker for about 8 years – starting from having just half a cigarette a day to an average of 10 a day now.
My brand of choice is Silk Cut Silver, as I've managed to convince myself that these are less harmful than some of the more 'hardcore' brands on the market (a common misconception!). Working in a high pressure environment gives me plenty of excuses to smoke, but I've finally come to the realisation that pressures are a normal part of life, and that I don't want to rely on cigarettes to get me through.
I've tried and tested many methods in the past – from nicotine patches, gum, attending a 'Stop Smoking Clinic' and the infamous Allan Carr book. Funnily enough, the notion of the 'little green monster sitting on your shoulder' that was mentioned throughout the book did actually work, and I managed to quit for a month...until I went on a boozey night out with the girls!
With 2010 (and my 30th birthday) looming, I've now decided to stop dilly dallying around and give this a proper shot. This is why I decided to take the Boots challenge – in the hope of publicly starting my journey to a life free of cigarettes!
Hmmm...something tells me this is going to be easier said than done! Log on next week to see how my first few days as a 'non smoker' have been.
Bye for now!
My challenge to quit smoking officially began on January 1st, and so far it's proving to be the only New Year's resolution I've stuck to! Having said this, the lead up to my quit date was a bit of a double-edged sword, and by no means easy. On the plus side, it was nice to know that my days as a smoker were numbered. At the same time, reflecting on the last 8 years made me feel a little sad at the thought of never being able to rely on them again.
Nevertheless, I had set myself a challenge and I was determined to stick to it! So, at 11:55pm on December 31st, I lit my last cigarette just before the countdown to welcome in 2010. Admittedly, by this point I had smoked so many that I was actually relieved not to be 'allowed' another!
To my surprise, even the next day was easy. 'New Year, New Start' is what I kept telling myself, and it worked. Part of me now thinks that this was because I had a hangover (as every smoker knows, the first cigarette after a heavy night out is almost always one that you regret having!).
It was only a couple of days into the challenge that I think it really hit me. It was not so much a habitual thing... it was still the holidays, and I was out of my daily routine anyway. The hardest moment for me was when I went out for a few drinks over the weekend and had to resist popping out for a smoke. Somehow, drinking just wasn't as much fun without the accompanying cigarette!
So I think my biggest challenge over the next few weeks will be to try and enjoy social occasions without having to smoke. I know it's possible – I see non-smokers having fun all the time. If anything, they'll probably have more energy to see the night through and enjoy the smoke free taste of a good cocktail. Mine's a Lychee Martini...!
For now, I'll leave it on that 'happy' note. Back next week with another update.
Happy New Year Kajel and congratulations on being smoke free for 2010! Continue that positive thinking by calling yourself a 'non-smoker'. You don't need to wait 3 months down the line before you can call yourself that! Your body will have already cleansed itself of carbon monoxide and your blood pressure and pulse rate will have returned to normal so you are already reaping the benefits of being a non-smoker.
Patients often tell me that the social cigarette is often the hardest one to give up so it is definitely a trigger situation to get prepared for. Some people find it extremely helpful to have some NRT on hand to use when a bad craving comes along, something like the gum, lozenge or even inhalator can give you the extra support. Some people just like holding the inhalator in their hand to stop them reaching for a cigarette.
Sometimes trying a different "tipple" can help to cut that association of smoking with your usual drink. Also, you have the weather on your side as it is bitterly cold to stand outside and smoke.
Drink plenty of water and try not to get too tipsy as you really need all your willpower and senses during the first 8 weeks (which can be the hardest!) to beat the cravings.
Don't forget that your Boots pharmacist can help support you with the NHS Stop Smoking programme which involves regular catch-ups and supply of NRT to suit you, it has been proven that this makes you FOUR times more likely to quit for good, so you are never alone on this journey.
One more thing to be aware of, your appetite may start to come back with a vengeance as your taste buds are coming back to life. It is easy to replace cigarettes with food so make sure you shop-smart and snack-smart to avoid sudden weight gain.
Keep up the good work and please start saving the money you would spend on cigs, if you normally smoke 20 a day, this time next year you should be at least £2000 richer!
Still going strong with the lack of ciggies! I'm actually enjoying not smoking at work – it's nice not having to sneak back to your desk smelling like an ashtray after you've been out for a cheeky one!
I've had a few cravings both before and after stressful situations this week, but I'm resisting any form of stop smoking aid for the moment. Instead, I'm replacing my nicotine cravings with satsumas...and it seems to be working! Guess it gives me something to do with my hands and fills the void that's been left since I stopped taking regular 'fag breaks'...its certainly a healthier alternative if nothing else!
They say the first week is the hardest. If so, I think I've done OK considering. Not sure I'll be as optimistic in my next blog – that'll be a couple of days before I fly to Thailand!! Eeek!
Satsumas are plentiful this time of year and will top-up on vitamin C to support a healthy immune system too.
Wow – check out the weather! I'm officially snowed in today, so working from home. If routine is something I've been wanting to get back to after the festive period, this certainly hasn't helped!
One thing is for sure though, these disruptions seem to be distracting me from smoking and helping me with my challenge. See, my logic is that it feels so long ago that I was in the routine of having a cigarette in the morning, followed by more than a few at work, and one after every meal, that I think my nicotine receptors are confused! I don't seem to be having too many cravings, and when I do, they're usually at the most random times.
Take this weekend as an example. I opened my eyes at 7:30am on Saturday to see it snowing heavily outside. Rather than turn over and go back to sleep, I had the sudden urge to have a cigarette in the snow! Filled with excitement (and probably still a little dazed), I ran downstairs and headed towards the back door. It was then that I remembered I no longer smoke! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little disheartened, and I think this would have been an easy opportunity to lapse if there were any cigarettes lying around the house. Luckily though, there weren't. So I made some hot porridge instead and sat out in the garden with it (getting a little bored of satsumas now!).
Speaking of food, I've noticed that my appetite has increased since I've given up smoking. I'm always hungry, and food seems to taste a lot better now, so I'm tempted to eat more of it! I know this is a common side effect of quitting, and it's one that has often put me off in the past.
I'm off to Thailand in a couple of days, and the last thing I want to do is put on weight before and whilst I'm there. I have a feeling I'll be miserable enough not being able to smoke on holiday...let alone feeling like a beached whale too :-(
Congratulations Kajel, you are doing so well!!
It's great that you have sussed out when you smoke and why, this is half the battle with understanding how to break the routine of smoking. The urge to suddenly go out for a cigarette in the snow must have caught you by surprise, but you were well prepared by not having any "hidden" cigarettes in the house. Sometimes, when people go outside for a smoke, it feels like a "time-out" moment, whether it be from work, stress or just time to lose yourself in your own thoughts. Make sure you still have your "timeout" moments as they are important for your wellbeing and to manage stress. Going for a brisk walk can be invigorating (although it might be a bit tricky given our current weather!). You could also try having a relaxing bath, massaging your feet, painting your nails...even knitting is becoming the celeb-hobby of the moment!
With regards to your appetite, this is very normal. You are right about everything tasting better, this is because your taste buds have come back to life and your sense of taste is no longer distorted by the cigarette smoke. Your appetite will also have increased as it is normal for the brain to swap the urge for a cigarette into an urge to eat. I can see that you are eating fruit, this is full of antioxidants to help your body repair itself but are you drinking enough water? Whether the body is hungry or thirsty the signal is the same, so try drinking a glass of water the next time you get a hunger pang and see if it's water that your body needs. As your metabolism decreases slightly when you stop smoking, it may be easier to put on weight. So crank up for activity levels to compensate for this and try and find an activity that you like and is easy to fit into small chunks. Your up and coming holiday to Thailand is a great opportunity to do lots of walking, exploring, swimming and eat lots of healthy yummy Thai food. By relaxing but staying active, this will help prevent you putting on weight on holiday. You may be surrounded by more people smoking openly around you so be prepared for what you will do instead, and don't be tempted by cheap duty free cigarettes.
What kind of NRT are you using? You may want to try the inhalator, this way you will have something in your hands to distract you while especially when you have social drinks making you less likely to reach for the real McCoy!
Keep up the great work and have a fabulous holiday.
...still going strong! In fact, I'm getting a little concerned. Should it be this easy? It certainly hasn't been in the past!! Granted, I haven't been out drinking yet – but there's been nothing to stop me having a glass of merlot at home in the evenings...especially in this weather!
Not that I'm complaining of course. Maybe it's all about the mind set you're in. Maybe I wasn't 'really' ready when I tried to quit before. It definitely feels different this time round – my willpower has done me proud so far (for once!).
Willpower is the key and I am glad it hasn't been too bad for you. Keep on your toes as the mind is a clever thing and may try to trick you into having a cigarette where it can and when you least expect it...
When you have a glass or two, keep focused on keeping your guard up. Again, the inhalator has helped many of my patients get through an evening out. Some use it and some just hold it in their hand as they are so used to having a glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
You are absolutely right to feel proud of yourself; everyday without a cigarette is an amazing success. I do hope you are saving the money that you are no longer spending on cigs – in a couple of months you could treat yourself to a nice handbag or pair of shoes!
Hello from Thailand!
Just arrived in Bangkok and I'm loving the hustle and bustle of Thai life. We're due to travel south in a day or two..which suits me fine, as it's pretty chaotic here!
If you've been reading my previous posts, you'll know that I've done an excellent job in keeping up with my challenge so far (I feel a little self praise is deserved!). I've been good in Thailand too..for the first few days at least.
However, I can no longer boast of having it easy. I'm definitely struggling to distract myself from the thought of smoking (I knew the good spell was too good to last out here!). In fact, on the first day I arrived, I told myself it would be OK to have 'one or two'...just while I'm on holiday – nothing wrong with that, surely?! But then I came to my senses and remembered why I'm doing this in the first place: I don't want to be a smoker anymore.
I know that by smoking just one cigarette I'll fall back into that category. My two weeks of hard work fighting against the cravings and weakening the 'nicotine monster' will have been wasted, and I'll virtually be starting the whole process again from scratch.
The question is: will I be able to resist the urges in a place where smoking seems to be a societal norm, and there are so many opportunities to do it (both indoors and out)? Not to mention the price of these things..less than 50p a packet. Disgusting!! Let's hope the Nicotine Inhalator I picked up from Boots helps me along the way...
Please dont worry if you find it more tricky to stay off the cigarettes while you are away on holiday, there will be more temptation...50p per packet is unbelieveable!!
I am glad you got the inhalator, think of it as a back up plan if you have some bad cravings that won't go away through willpower on its own. You inhale slightly differently on an inhalator, you do not deeply inhale to your lungs like you do when you smoke. Instead, suck air through your teeth and tongue so the majority of the nicotine is being absorbed through the mouth membranes to the bloodstream rather than going down your throat, where it becomes inactive in the stomach – not to mention the possibility of causing sore throat and hiccups! The nicotine is mixed with menthol so you feel the sensation of the nicotine being absorbed in your mouth. One puff on a cigarette is actually 10 times stronger than one puff on an inhalator, so you may need a few puffs to knock a craving on its head.
Have a wonderful holiday, and if you do have a slip up, ignore it and keep your non-smoking journey going – have fun!
I'm half way through now...heading to Koh Samui tomorrow (party town!).
As far as my challenge goes, I knew that this trip would be the ultimate test for me. It's fairly easy to avoid smoking back at home in January...everybody has the post-Xmas blues and nobody has the money to go out. It's a completely different story out here though. 33 degrees of pure happiness (it's amazing what a bit of sunshine can do to people's moods!). As if sitting on a beach all day without having a smoke wasn't bad enough, imagine going out almost every night and having to resist?! Not to mention those 'after dinner fags'...I've really missed those!
Anyway, I guess you'll want to know whether I've succeeded in my challenge. The answer is 'yes' and 'no'. On a personal level, I feel I've made great progress. I did, today, however, manage to haggle a cigarette from a fellow sunbather. Didn't feel too good smoking it, and it's confirmed that I definitely don't want another one again! As this will be my last blog, I'd like to thank you all for reading and following my journey. The thought of having to confess to you all definitely helped me through the hard times!
I hope that some of you have been doing this challenge with me, or have at least thought about giving it a shot. It's really not that bad once you've decided to kick the habit – and if you have a relapse here or there, don't beat yourself up about it! Chin up and carry on...it's a step in the right direction, after all!
We could definitely do with some Thai sunshine in Blighty at the moment!
The fact that you didn't enjoy smoking that cigarette just confirms how differently your mind and body feel about cigarettes now. Remember that one cigarette does not make you a smoker again and I think your determination and positivity to keep on going is a great example to people out there thinking about giving up.
Anyone can give up smoking, it's all about preparation and support! It's also about being kind to yourself during the process and not letting a little blip put you back onto full-time smoking. We are never going to be perfect, just do the best you can and pat yourself on the back for every day of being smoke free.
Kajel, you are an inspiration and I wish you well for the rest of your non-smoking journey!
For anyone else reading this and thinking about quitting, make sure you pop in to see your local Boots pharmacist, who can chat with you and give you the best possible kick-start and support – you definitely don't need to do it alone! :-)
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