I DID IT!!!!!!! Today (May 15th, 2017) marks ONE YEAR since I smoked my last cigarette! Shortly after waking today, I walked into the living room, & I saw a trophy that my dear husband, Lorenzo got me to celebrate this achievement. The trophy reads, “Kara Aragon ~ One Year Smoke-Free ~ Champion Of The World”. I started crying happy / proud tears right away, then I realized, OMG I actually made it, & the happy / proud tears continued, then I saw that I had received the “One Year” badge on my “Smoke Free” app, & I cried even more. I am by far the most proud of myself that I’ve ever been in my entire life! Today I’m going to share a little bit of background on my smoking past, why I decided to quit, how I quit, my trails & tribulations, & how I feel today as a non-smoker!
MY SMOKING BACKGROUND:
I smoked my very first cigarette in 7th grade. The boy I had a crush on & all of his friends smoked, I thought smoking was “cool”, so I decided to try it. I smoked a cigarette here & there. I hated it. It smelled gross, it tasted nasty, it made me want to choke, but for a short while, I did it anyways. Two years later, age 14, I was doing a lot of bad things that I shouldn’t, & I ended up trying cigarettes again. They soon became a part of my every day routine, I smoked more & more until I was addicted. For 12 years (I quit at age 26), smoking was my life. It sounds so pathetic, & it was/is, but it’s true. My life revolved around smoking. I smoked before & after everything. Wake up? Smoke. Eat? Smoke. Go to the gym? Smoke. Walk the dogs? Smoke. Have sex? Smoke. Take a shower? Smoke. etc… I couldn’t even get through many things without smoking. For example, I would literally leave dinner, or a movie to go smoke – how messed up is that!? It was a habit between everything, but equally it was my stress reliever. I’ve always been extremely high-stressed. The only way I ever knew how to manage my stress was through smoking. If something upset me, made me really mad, if I felt overwhelmed, uneasy, or any negative feeling at all really, then I would smoke. On really bad days I would sit outside & smoke one cigarette after the other. For the majority of my smoking years I was smoking 18-22 cigarettes daily, aka on average one pack a day.
WHY I DECIDED TO QUIT:
I’ve obviously always known that smoking was bad for ones health, but I never thought it would really affect me personally. I started smoking so young, & I always said I would quit “soon”. Years, & years went by. I’d try to cut down here & there, but I always failed. It was hard, but I think I mostly failed because I was never 100% “in”. I loved cigarettes so much. They were such a part of my life. I didn’t want to give them up, no matter the cost. UNTIL they started affecting my life & my health more & more. Just over a year ago I was really feeling the negative effects of cigarette smoking. My resting heart-rate was always a minimum of 92 bpm (beats per min), my heart literally ached, I would feel like I was having a heart attack pretty much every single day. My lungs would hurt upon inhalation, I was short of breath. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I was cancelling jobs, I was paying for flights I would never get on because I was so messed up from anxiety from literally feeling like I was going to die. I HAD to quit smoking. I had two choices; 01. Do it NOW. FOR REAL THIS TIME or 02. Let it eventually kill me.
HOW I QUIT:
As I mentioned above, I would cut down here & there, & even quit for short periods of time, but I’d always start back up again. This time HAD to be different! This time I had more motivation that ever, my life, my desire to live a long life! I decided to quit cold turkey & it really is the best way. I did a lot of research (on non-bias sites / studies) & there are a ton of reasons that quitting cold-turkey has a much higher success rate than cutting down, switching to e-cigs, or whatever. I smoked my last cigarette early in the morning of May 15th 2016, & then I immediately posted a Facebook status about it. I told everyone in the world that I quit smoking that day. I didn’t want everyone to think I was a failure, so I did that to keep myself on track. I also downloaded the app “Smoke-Free”, after a fb friend praised it for her successfully quitting cigarettes herself. The app is great. You enter all of your personal smoking info, like; quit date, how many cigarettes you smoke in a day, how many dollars your cigarettes cost per pack, etc. The app keeps track of many different things. It keeps track of how long it’s been since you quit smoking (in years, months, days, hrs, mins, & even seconds). It keeps track of how much money you have saved. It even has a place for you to create a goal of what to save up for (ex: a new pair of shoes, a mini vacay, whatever you want). It tells you how many cigarette you haven’t smoked. For example, if you usually smoke 22 cigarettes a day, 2.5 days later it would say “Cigarettes not smoked = 55”. That cigarette number is really what kept me on track the most. It was absolutely crazy how quickly that number got so high. I mean look at the example I just shared. That’s my true life example. So at just a wk it was already 154 cigarettes. Can you imagine how the number was at 2 weeks, a month, 2 months, & so forth. I loved seeing the number get higher & higher. It was such a great feeling knowing that I was going strong. The app also keeps track of health improvements, & lets you know when certain ailments should be back to normal, such as; carbon monoxide levels, taste & smell, circulation, risk of heart disease, risk of lung cancer, etc. The “Smoke Free” app is completely free & I obviously highly suggest it!
TRAILS & TRIBULATIONS:
I will not pretend that quitting was easy because it was quite the opposite. The first day I immediately regretted my decision to tell everyone that I was quitting. I desperately wanted a cigarette all day long. The next several days were absolutely miserable. I thought about cigarettes literally 24/7, I couldn’t even sleep. I was so mad that I couldn’t smoke that I was actually enraged. The next wk was less bad, but it was still insane. It was very hard to stay on track. I would seriously think thoughts like, “I don’t even care if I die from lung cancer, at least I’ll die being able to smoke & that will be worth it”… Like WTF how pathetic is that!? Luckily I knew it wasn’t true, hence the fact that I didn’t cave in, but man I almost did. I was fighting w my Husband over everything because I was just pissed off 24/7. (Shoutout to Lorenzo, Thanks for not divorcing me. Love you!) I noticed an increase in my gum circulation, something that happens once you quit for a few wks. It sucked though. All of the sudden I had pain in my gums like I’ve never had before. It would literally hurt to eat. That’s the shitty truth, but don’t let that stop you! It eventually ended & a little bit of gum sensitivity is better than you know, cancer, heart disease, etc. As time went on I would start to think about cigarettes less & less. I had about 6 or 7 packs left in a carton that I bought before quitting. It stayed in the house just in case I decided to give up. The day that I decided to finally throw them out because I knew I wouldn’t need them was such a progressive day!
HOW I FEEL NOW AS A NON-SMOKER:
I still get cravings, almost every day. But it’s almost always just a quick thought & then bam I move on with life. I know that I will NEVER smoke again! I can feel such positive changes in my body. My heartrate went down from a minimum resting rate of 92 bpm to an average of 70 bpm. My heart doesn’t ache all the time. I don’t feel like I’m literally going to have a heart attack anymore. I can take a deep breath in without chest pains. I still have a ton of anxiety because that’s just who I am, but I no longer have the anxiety caused by the constant fast heart rate, fear that I have gum cancer, or some other smoking-related disease. Because of less frequent anxiety, I have been able to get back to getting on planes, traveling, doing adventurous shit, & so on. “Proud” doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling I have knowing that I actually REALLY quit for good this time. No words can annunciate the happiness that I feel knowing that I’ve made such a smart decision & to now hopefully be able to live a much longer, healthier life with my loved ones.
If you are a smoker, I urge you to quit, today! Cold-turkey is THE way to go. I promise! My biggest regret is that I ever started smoking in the first place. My second biggest regret is that I didn’t quit sooner. Don’t let any more time go by. Every cigarette is causing more & more damage to your body. It CAN be reversible, but it CAN get to the point where it’s permanent. It isn’t worth your life. If anyone is interested in quitting & wants more advice, or needs a support system, feel free to contact me & I will gladly do what I can to help!