In this blog entry, I will not bore you with statistics on how many people have died because of smoking, nor will I tell you the negative effects of this unhealthy habit because I’m sure you already know them pretty well through the thousands of anti-smoking ad campaigns present everywhere. I will however tell you my story on how I quit smoking and decided to live healthier.
I started smoking back in second year high school. At first it was just a few trial drags from thin cigarette sticks which I was told were “lady” cigarettes. I wouldn’t deny that peer pressure was one of the major reasons I started smoking, although I will never ever let anyone blame my friends for making me develop such an awful habit. I was new in school, so I had to try and do anything to make friends and that included hanging out after school and doing supposedly cool things with them. I remember being told by my adviser back then that I had the potential if only I’d focus more on my studies.
In college, smoking started to become a habit. It started when I had to sneak out from my friends because I didn’t want them to know I smoke. The idea of them seeing me smoke terrified me. I smoked because I was stressed out with academics and extra curricular. I was very involved into theater and it occupied most of my time in my first two years in college. I was more comfortable smoking with my orgmates because smoking is more acceptable to them than with my friends. Then it started to become worse. I couldn’t last a day without finishing a stick or two and sometimes, when we go out drinking, I would finish a pack. I would hangout at a nearby sari sari store to kill time by smoking with friends. At times, I would go to school a few hours early just to smoke a few sticks before class. I used to joke with my friends that I couldn’t breathe without smoking, which was somehow true because smoking was my way to remind myself to breathe easy. It has become a way for me to be able to take breaks all to myself. I found it more of a necessity than a luxury, a sure fire sign that I have developed a dependence to smoking.
To be honest, Blade was the one who encouraged me to stop smoking. He was very lenient at first knowing that it is not a habit I could immediately quit. I gradually tried to let go of it by having a stick a day, to three sticks a week, to none at all.
Initially I found it difficult to quit. Blade became strict when it comes to helping me quit. We even had an argument at one point when I tried to sneak puffing a stick while he was still asleep. I felt that it was a right Blade had taken away from me. I didn’t want to be within the vicinity of anyone smoking because I know I would be tempted to ask for a puff. There were even tears involved when I tried to beg Blade to allow me to smoke because I was too stressed out with the death of one of our cats. Smoking remained as something that will always be at the back of my head. At times, I would think of ways on how I could sneak in a puff or two, but then I would realize that doing so would only take me back to square one. The idea going back to my bad habit lingered in my mind for a while. It was when we tried hiking that made me realize how awfully weak my lungs were.
We set out to climb Mt. Pico de Loro in Batangas with Blade’s parkour team. At first I thought it would be just like a walk in the park because initially, the trail available only required walking. After a while it slowly progressed to steep rocks where we had to push ourselves up in order to overcome them. I was literally the last person from the group to reach the peak. They had to wait up for me and Blade had to stay behind taking short stops for me to catch my breathe. We reached the peak with me looking so pale and out of breathe, they even thought I would pass out any time soon. It was embarrassing, add to that the fact that I was also panicking due to my deathly fear of heights. That was when I promised myself that I would stop torturing my body with awful things and completely forget about smoking.
I can’t deny that I had grown bigger because of quitting. You see, smoking is a form of oral fixation, so instead of lighting a stick of cigarette, I would stuff myself with sweets or any food I could lay my hands on. Looking back, I saw how my heroin addict body built slowly became plump and rounded. Some of my friends were surprised by my weight gain because they have never pictured me chubby despite the fact that I eat like a construction worker. Naturally, my parents were happy about me quitting.
Now, I am trying to get back in shape. I’m not trying to achieve the unhealthy thin built I had before. Instead, I’m trying to attain a much stronger body and a promising endurance. I’m not against anyone smoking, but I would rather not be beside people when they smoke. The fumes from the cigarette had started to annoy me little by little and I could proudly say that I can confidently decline any offer of smoking. It’s never too late for improvement.
Some tips to help you quit:
- Don’t force yourself to stop, but have the discipline to actually stick to your decision of quitting.
- Start gradually, like what I did. Limit yourself to a stick per day to 5 sticks a week, and so on. I personally used to treat smoking as a reward, something to look forward to at one point of the day, but NEVER deviate from your goal.
- It is important to get some support from other people. In my case, Blade helped me with self discipline by monitoring my cravings.
- Trying out some exercises could help. Mind you, it would be extremely tough at first to the point that you would want to quit, but exercising actually helps you release some of the toxins in your body that has been accumulated from smoking. Start with light workout routines you could do at home until you are confident enough to be able to push yourself to your limit. This will also make you realize how much your lungs are weak and would eventually encourage you to smoke less and less
- Stay away from people who smoke. I don’t have anything against smokers. I still have friends who have no intentions of quitting and I respect that, but as much as possible I try to stay away from them when they smoke. Initially, it would be because it would serve as temptation for you to go back to your unhealthy habit, but as time goes by, it would be because you wouldn’t want to inhale second hand smoke (which would be worse than smoking).
- Stay motivated. Set short term goals like limiting the number of sticks you consume in a day, a week, or a month. Apps like LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach and Quit Smoking could help you manage your nicotine intake, but don’t rely too much on them because self discipline is the most important thing that you need to develop in order to stop smoking
If you are a quitter reading this story, congratulations to us! May we live a long and healthy life. If you’re a smoker who plans on quitting, don’t be so hard on yourself. It would be very hard at first but once you get the hang of it, you will be so happy and proud about this life achievement. Good luck!