Sunday, February 03, 2008


Well, I made a big milestone today. That is, if I last another 15 minutes or so.

Two years ago today, at 2:15 in the afternoon, after over 30 years of smoking, I QUIT. I haven't had a cigarette since.

I'd been wanting to quit, and had tried several times without lasting success. This time, however, I had the _____ scared out of me, when I couldn't breathe and the doctors all thought I was having heart trouble. YIKES! I'd been miserable all that previous week, and had really cut back on smoking, but this was enough to make me STOP. For the first time, I clearly saw/felt/KNEW that the pain far outweighed the pleasure. (That's the key to changing any habit, by the way -- pain vs. pleasure -- and if you want to know more about THAT, I suggest that check into this guy's stuff. )

I did it cold turkey, too. No patches, no nicotine gum, no nothing but willpower. I still have my half a pack of cigarettes in the drawer, by the way -- and I can start back any time I want to, but I have to start with THOSE cigarettes. Needless to say, they are pretty stale and nasty by now. I hadn't smoked in the house for many years, so I didn't have the problems of adjusting my habits by the computer or in front of the TV too much. My hardest time was in the evenings, around 8 p.m. -- I figured out that what I really missed was the hot bitter taste of smoking then, so I would make a strong pot of decaf coffee and take it out into the garage, sit down in my "smoking chair", and get my hot-bitter fix. It worked for me.

Other than remembering how TERRIBLE it felt to not be able to breathe, day by day I reminded myself that EVERY day I didn't smoke really did make a difference in my health. I kept these kind of facts in mind:

  • Within 8 hours of your last cigarette, your carbon monoxide levels drop to normal and oxygen levels in the blood increase to normal.

  • Within 24 hours of your last cigarette, your risk of heart attack decreases.

  • Within 48 hours of your last cigarette, your nerve endings begin to regenerate, and your ability to smell and taste is enhanced.

  • Within 72 hours of your last cigarette, bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Lung capacity starts increasing.

  • Within 2 weeks to 2 months your circulation improves, and walking becomes easier

  • Within 1 to 9 months, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath all decrease. The cilia RE-GROW in your lungs, which increases your ability to handle mucus, clean your lungs, and reduces the chance of infection.

  • Within 3-5 years your risk of dying from a heart attack decreases to that of a non-smoker.

  • Within 10 years your risk of dying from lung cancer decreases to that of a non-smoker. Precancerous cells are replaced with healthy cells. Other cancer occurrences, such as cancer of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas all decrease.

Pretty impressive, huh?

I did gain weight. So what. I knew I would, because the actual effects of nicotine on your body cause it to work harder and burn more calories. It's like you suddenly aren't burning the calories you once were. Eating wasn't a big deal -- I made sure that I didn't substitute mints and gum for the cigarettes -- I substituted nothing but my evening coffee! I increased my water intake, increased my healthy foods, decreased my processed foods. I was more interested in generally getting healthy than in whether or not I stayed skinny. Plus I had this mysterious breathing-but-not-and-heart-but-not whatever going on, and it made strenous exercise difficult. Actually, about that time, I would have said that strenous exercise was IMPOSSIBLE for me. Something was going on and I was exhausted down beyond my reserves. It was just a matter of rest and recouperate. *

Now I'm no longer the skinny girl. I'm the chunky one. I'm feeling much better though, and am ready to kick it up a notch! Remember my goal of losing 10 pounds by the end of April? Well, I've lost 2 so far. Not bad, considering that, due to really nasty weather and a fairly annoying knee problem, I haven't been able to meet my exercise goals of walking 3 times a week and doing yoga 3 times a week. Still, I'm determined, and am really blessed with a hubby who likes me the way I am, whichever way I am, but is super supportive of healthy lifestyle changes. So, in support of good health, we bought an elliptical machine this weekend (a nice chunk of change, thank you honey for the early birthday present!) and I'm ammending my goals to using it daily, also walking the 1-2 miles whenever the weather allows, and getting the doc to take a look at my knee so I can get back into yoga without modifying most of the poses and squealing "ouch" a lot.

And, I've managed to type the 15 minutes away -- so, as of right this minute -- I have been TWO YEARS -- smoke free.


(* I now think it was a case of mixed stuff -- chest wall pain, a sprained sternocostal joint, hormonal changes, and adrenal fatigue. It took a lot of research to figure all that out, and I had to do some arguing with my doc to NOT be on a bunch of medications that I know now I wouldn't have needed. Sometimes you NEED to rest, and I still believe that I was right.)


E-J said...


I quit smoking on 01/01/01 and didn't dare start again because that date was too cool! The following year I went on lose 22lbs I had been wanting to get rid of for as long as I can remember. If you can give up smoking, I reckon you can go on to change anything else you want to in your life with relative ease!

Julie Oakley said...

I think chunky and smoke free is much healthier (as someone who gave up smoking 19 years ago, but still needs to master the other problem)

laureline said...

I remember when you quit!!I'm so thrilled that you did, because we in cyberworld need your razor sharp but absurd sense of humor, your guffaws, your fantastic artwork, your warm and supportive comments! Congratulations, the Divine Ms. Linda M!

Diahn said...

I remember when you quit, as well - I am pretty sure it was right after we met in person for the first time, no? YAY YOU!! And, I remember when I quit, too - although I can't pin down the exact day and time like you can!

And you are NOT chunky, my friend. Not ONE BIT.

Teri C said...

Wowser, THAT is something to be proud of!!! You have enough documented evidence to convince anyone to quit.

Yeah, I did it also....25 years ago and now I can't stand the smell anywhere or on anyone.


I am waiting for a celebration painting.

Supe bowl is not over but your man is doing GREAT!!

mARTa said...

I admire anyone who overcomes such addictions. Your art is so beautiful and we need you around for many years to provide it to us! I think my next sangria will be a toast to you!!!!

Linda said...

Woo hoo! Thank you all for the congrats -- and congrats to many of you, too, it seems! There's nothing that feels like a good deep breath of air, is there? Not even the feeling of seeing your team WIN THE SUPERBOWL!!! That had to be one of the most fun superbowl games I've seen in a long time -- no matter who won, it was a good game.

And Diahn -- you're right. We first met on that Monday or Tuesday (I can't remember which) -- I do remember getting into the car and sitting there for a minute, wondering if I was going to be able to drive home -- I'd had a great time but felt TERRIBLE. Then it was that Thursday that I ended up in the horse-pital. Thankfully, I still had my Moleskine and pens in my bag from our outing, so I was able to do plenty of sketching. What would I have done without them???

Lindsay said...

BRAVA!!!!! Congratulations for doing such a hard thing.

Lin said...


Agnes said...

Hearty congratulations on your quitting-anniversary (Quittiversary?). I've never smoked but have lived with a stubborn smoker for 25 years. Believe me, you've accomplished something wonderful, not only for yourself, but for everyone who loves you. I think you're absolutely on the right track in going after a generally healthy lifestyle instead of obsessing over pounds. Good for you!

Jan said...

Yes, I will join in with the much deserved congratulations. I've never smoked either but once discovered I have a low addiction threshold when after an operation I became addicted to the pain killers in only 2 or 3 days. Giving them up is the hardest thing I've ever had to do and they say giving up smoking is much harder than that. So I'm really impressed whenever a smoker gets through and stays there. And yes, we do need you to be around for much much longer. And thanks for your lovely comments on my blog. I really appreciate it. I haven't visited here for a while either. And I'm having a lovely time catching up!

Lelani said...

Wow! Congratulations on quitting smoking successfully. I have a brother I wish would do the same. Can't believe he continues when he watched both our grandfather and father die from emphysema.
Anyway, I tripped on your blog after doing a search on (O)possums and house damage. We have one living under our house and my husband trapped him and I convinced him to let him go because we read they eat rats, which we also have a problem with. Ugh! I've changed my mind after reading your blog entry on your possum problems. Guess we'll be trapping the poor little fella again. I'm gonna miss him. I've enjoyed perusing the rest of your blog. What fun; you have a new fan!

Anonymous said...

I admire you for quitting smoking immensely .

Cigarettes killed my maternal Grandmother in the spring of 1994 .

If only the goverment would legalize ibogane and ,hence, allow it to be given to smokers and people with other addictions ....

We should wish that it were easy to quit smoking . It would be good indeed if someone made it totally easy for people to quit smoking .

We should indeed feel immense sympathy for all those who want to quit but feel the agony of nicotine cravings must be relieved (even by smoke) .

Pray that the day comes soon where it will be then be easy for people who want to quit smoking (even if the want in them is feeble) to do so .

Sincerely ,

Jason Leary

Lost In Wonder said...

Way to go!!! I'm so proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Huge congratulations! Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things I've done, and even now, 32 years later, I'm still sometimes carried away...but just for a the scent of a passing cigarette. At least nowadays smoking is prohibited in most places (at least in California). When I quit you could still smoke at work, in the grocery store, restaurants, bars...anywhere really.