Join in this Stoptober – it could change your life
ISN'T it amazing how your life's path can change so dramatically when you make a big decision.
Three years ago on October 1, 2010, I put out my last cigarette and since then I've done some quite extraordinary things that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing prior to that. In fact, writing this health and fitness column for you Target readers is one of those things.
A highlight though of the past three years happened only a couple of weekends ago when I had the great pleasure of meeting Alistair Brownlee, Olympic Gold Medalist and his brother Jonny, Olympic Bronze Medalist and World Triathlon Champion 2012. I was absolutely thrilled, having a chat with them in the transition area, also getting their book Swim Bike Run signed and I was only there because three years previous I'd decided to stop smoking and improve my health.
This month is the NHS Stoptober and as the campaign says, 'It's like October but without cigarettes'. Last year the Stoptober campaign helped 160,000 people quit smoking! So if you're a smoker and you want to quit then head over to their website for more info and a free Stoptober pack.
Smoking without doubt is very addictive and this is down to nicotine which is one, if not the most, addictive drug on the planet. I wouldn't have classed myself as a heavy smoker but before wanting to quit, I was smoking between 20-40 a day.
Once I began thinking about wanting to quit, I did reduce down to 10-20 a day. I have to admit that it did take me about five years of stopping and then starting up again, with one non-smoking period being as long as 18 months, before I finally quit for good. Throughout those five years, somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept saying that I could have a cigarette if I wanted and so after I had stopped for a while, sometimes only a few weeks and sometimes months, I then thought that I was safe to just have the 'odd one' and I wouldn't become a 'full-time' smoker again.
Unfortunately, each time, that 'odd one' did exactly that and just kicked started my habit. I now realise, whichever way you cut it, whether it be 1 a day or 100 a day, smoking is smoking.
I look back now and realise that even though I failed numerous times to quit, each time I learned something, each time it became a little easier and each 'failure' was just a step to my eventual success.
Stopping smoking can be very easy and I did it the hard way. I made the mistake that when I put what I thought was my last cigarette out, I was then in the process of 'stopping' and kept telling myself I could have another if I wanted, so as not to feel deprived.
All this does is keep you in a smokers mindset and you will always be wondering when you will be free from cigarettes. What I should have done and what I eventually did, was instead of going through the process of 'stopping', I realised that I had actually 'stopped' and that I couldn't have another cigarette. Now this may sound to a smoker like you are going to be seriously deprived but what it actually does is put you immediately into a non-smoker, healthier mindset, which is what you wanted to achieve from quitting.
The other good bit of news is that after finishing your last cigarette, the nicotine and all the other 4,000 or so chemicals begin to leave your body immediately, because your body naturally and continually de-toxifies. Within three days, all of the nicotine will be gone and in 28 days you are five times more likely not to go back. It also doesn't matter an ounce, how much you smoke, it doesn't make it any less harder or easier, so please don't use the excuse that you smoke 100 day and it would be impossible to quit.
If you are serious and committed to stopping then you will and I know you'll find it easier than what you initially think. The great news is that your health will benefit a thousand fold, you will feel more alert, have more energy, taste and smell will improve, lungs, heart and in fact every cell in your body will just work more efficiently and effectively.
Hey, who knows, in a few years time you'll look back and see all the amazing things you've done since quitting and you may even meet your heroes, like I have.
Until next month, breath easy.
Stoptober website - https://stop tober.smokefree.nhs.uk