So, one day shy of exactly one year ago, I posted a quick
article about making it one whole week without any tobacco intake. It was not an easy decision to make to quite smoking cigarettes…for good, and here I sit, over one whole year later, an accomplished man. In that post I pointed out how I was coping with the tension and withdraws: by working out. Weights and cardio all the way. That was my approach. It was health that I was after, so putting the focus on actively doing healthy things instead of the negation of unhealthy things just seemed to make sense to me.
It is easier to change by adding something new, rather than by negation. If the cravings got too bad, go to the bench and push some iron, or jump on the treadmill and run until you can’t. Don’t look back. That’s what I did. I ran so much, and so hard, that I broke a treadmill. That’s right, it collapsed underneath me. I rearranged my apartment to make room for a weight bench, the treadmill, a Nordic track ski machine…I had to diversify to keep myself occupied and to keep myself from getting bored. I’m so glad that I did this. Of all of the approaches that I have tried in the past to quit smoking (most of which are in the aforementioned article), nothing was as effective as this. Nothing. If I got too anxious for a smoke, I would just think of the incredible high that I got from running, and I would remind myself that that high is not possible when you are stunting your lungs with the ignorant deliberate inhalation of smoke. And it worked. I lost weight when I quit smoking, who can say that, huh? When I began I was approximately 265 pounds. My waist was bulging out of size 42 jeans, and I couldn’t walk a flight of stairs without getting winded. Now I need a belt to hold up these 34’s, I need some 32″ jeans, I am down to 204 pounds, and I can..get this…RUN up seven flights of stairs without a problem at all. Yeah Baby! Of course, the P90X system I began in April, just 3 months after quitting, had a lot to do with the weight loss as well. 🙂 I cannot tell you how good I feel about this amazing accomplishment. But I would like to share with you a short list of things I know I have done for myself by quitting:
- Immediately after quitting my
- breath smelled better
- stained teeth got whiter
- bad smelling clothes and hair aired out
- yellow tint in my fingers and fingernails disappeared
- food tasted better
- sense of smell returned to normal
- After 20 minutes the high blood pressure caused by smoking, and the ensuing risk of heart attack was minimized as blood pressure rate became normal.
- After 8 hours nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in my blood were greatly reduced; oxygen levels in the blood returned to normal. The chances of a heart attack started to fall.
- After 10 hours carbon monoxide (CO) level was cut in half. Carbon monoxide is one of the major pollutants that produce bad effects on cognitive skills and health. It also affects the oxygen, which is one of the most vital substances necessary for survival. When the carbon monoxide level is high, it decreases intake of oxygen rich blood from lungs, which can lead to many serious problems. We increase our energy levels by smoothing the passage of oxygen as we restrict the carbon monoxide level by quitting smoking.
- After 72 hours my bronchial tubes began to relax; energy levels increased. Breathing became easier.
- After 2-22 weeks I got rid of bad circulation and (the risk of) numerous other disorders like slow cold feet, decreased skin healing, peripheral vascular disease (PVT), and Raynaud’s disease.
- After 1 to 9 months my cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) began to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Now, after 1 year I reduced the risk of heart attack to half that it was when I smoked.
And this is what I can look forward to:
- In 4 years I will have reduced my risk of stroke in half from what it was when I was smoking.
- In 9 more years I will have cut my risk of developing lung cancer in half, as well as greatly reducing the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, and pancreas.
- And in 14 more years, my risk of coronary heart disease will be the same as a non-smoker’s.
That’s right, it will take me another 14 years before my health and risk levels are back to normal. But I know that by quitting smoking, I greatly increased my chances of actually living that long! In the meantime, I plan on celebrating! Tomorrow is my Yoga day, and after that I’m throwing a party. Hears to health!