Today’s the Day: Great American Smokeout

Today is the 33rd Great American Smokeout, a day to commit to being tobacco free in hopes of kicking the habit forever. Though I’ve touched upon some smoking cessation tips this week, I’ve neglected to mention one critical component: SUPPORT. If you’re participating in this year’s Smokeout, be sure to share this information with the special people in your life; remember, besides you, no one wants you to kick the cigarette habit more than those who love you.

Share your Great American Smokeout success story – I’d love to hear from you.


Blow Away Negativity: Positive Thinking for a Smoke-Free Life

Whether you’re losing weight, studying to advance your career, or kicking the cigarette habit, positive self-talk will serve as a stepping stone for the positive action needed to achieve any goal. Negative self-talk promotes limitation; after all, if you tell yourself, “I’ll never be able to do this” then chances are you won’t be able to. When you’re a victim of negative self-talk, you stop looking for solutions and set yourself up for failure.

When quitting smoking, it’s imperative that you put the kibosh on negative self-talk. Restructure your thoughts into positive terms that will help you achieve your smoke-free goal. Let’s take a positive spin on a few of the negative scenarios you may encounter:

•“It’s not fair; all of my friends still get to smoke, why can’t I?”

Counteract feelings of self-pity, and remind yourself that your friends don’t “get” to smoke – they have to because they’re addicted to nicotine. Smoking is not a treat. Replace these negative thoughts with:

“I remember the vicious cycle of wanting to quit smoking every time I lit up; now, I’m free of those feelings of desparation. My friends wish they could quit smoking like I have.”

•“Life without cigarettes is empty and boring.”

Look forward to filling your “empty” life with a new hobby or spending quality time with friends and family. At 10 minutes smoking time per cigarette, a pack-a-day smoker wastes 3 ½ hours every day on smoking – it’s no wonder you feel like there’s a void in your life! Nip these negative thoughts with:

“At a pack a day, I used to smoke away nearly 4 hours every day. It will be great to spend time with the kids and actually get something accomplished during the day.”

• “I know that I’ll be miserable at the party because I can’t smoke.”

Counteract the message of self-depravation and shift your language to:

“Being smoke-free tonight will be a challenge, but I’ll get the practice I need to learn how to live my life without having cigarettes woven into every activity. I know that any discomfort I may encounter is just a temporary stage in the healing process. I’m growing stronger with every smoke-free day.”

Replacing negative thoughts with a positive internal dialogue is empowering. Change the way you think and feel about smoking, and let your positive thoughts guide you to a new set of beliefs – and a smoke-free life.

So, how are you talking it up?

Related Posts: Pulling the Trigger on Tobacco: Why Do You Light Up?

Pulling the Trigger on Tobacco: Why Do You Light Up?

If you’re a smoker, chances are you taught yourself to weave smoking into just about every activity in your life. Now that you’ve decided to give up tobacco, you’ll have to reprogram the events that trigger the urge to smoke by inserting healthier habits into your daily routines. Yes, this will be a challenge – but then again, learning to smoke was a challenge too, wasn’t it? The good news is that when you arm yourself with knowledge and have a plan in place ahead of time, you’ll be well on your way toward conquering any reprogramming challenges you may face.

So, what triggers your urge to light up? Are there certain foods, drinks, people, or situations in your life that are interwoven with cigarettes? Make a list of these triggers and alternative activities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Switch coffee brands for a few weeks, or try flavored coffees, flavored creamers, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate instead. Drink your morning coffee in a different place, and if you always drink your morning coffee from the same mug, switch to another beverage container. Treat yourself to an elegant china cup and saucer or snazzy new travel mug. (While it’s best to avoid caffeine, trying to tackle too much at once can set you up for failure; remember, the emphasis for now is kicking the smokes.)

During Breaks at Work: Avoid going to the smoking area during break. Seek out the company of non-smoking coworkers and spend your break with them. Whenever you have the chance, take a short walk, read a snippet from the latest bestseller, or enjoy working a crossword or Soduku puzzle.

After Meals: Avoid the urge to smoke by going for a short walk or brushing your teeth immediately after eating. Have a travel-sized toothbrush with you to use after lunch at work or at restaurants.

While Driving:
Remove the cigarette lighter and ashtray. Give your car a thorough cleaning that leaves it smelling fresh, and remove all traces of tar and nicotine from the windshield. Do not allow others to smoke in your vehicle. Keep a travel bottle of water with you while driving, and sip instead of grabbing for a cigarette.

Each smoke-free day is a testament to your new, healthy lifestyle. The more practice you get, the less the urge to light up will plague you. Soon, you’ll have the chance to clear most of the events and routines in your life that you associate with smoking.

So, what are your triggers? What healthy replacements will you be making in your routines? Drop me a line or share your comments – I’d love to share in your smoke-free success!

Related Posts: What’s Your Reason to Quit?, Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout

What’s Your Reason to Quit?

The Great American Smokeout is just around the corner.  Are you – or a loved one – ready to reclaim your health from the clutches of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco? If so, then join millions of Americans on November 19th for the 32nd annual Great American Smokeout, and take the first step on the path of a tobacco free life.

At the heart of every achievement lies desire or a reason that spurs motivation. Think of this desire as the cornerstone for success. Now, sit down with pen and paper and list the reasons behind your desire to quit smoking. Include every single thing you can think of, from the largest, most obvious of reasons to the smallest. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• I want to reduce my chances of lung cancer, heart attack, or stroke
• I want to play with my child without getting short of breath
• I’m tired of waking up with a cough, or coughing so hard that I make myself sick.
• I want more control over my life
• I’ve got better things to spend money on
• I don’t want my tobacco use to affect my child’s/spouse’s health
• I’m tired of the late night trips out for cigarettes, and going out in bad weather to smoke alone.
• I never accomplish what I need to during the day because I waste so much time smoking.
• I’m sick of the overflowing ashtrays, stinking clothes, hair, breath, and car.
• I’m tired of cracking the car window in the pouring rain or freezing cold to smoke.

Have your list at the ready, and add to it when more reasons come to mind – remember, there’s no reason that’s too small or insignificant to include. Carry your list with you, and read through it whenever your resolve starts to ebb. Having your list at your fingertips will help get your priorities back in order, and keep you on the path of success.

So, what are your reasons for quitting? Drop me a line, or share a comment – I’d love to be part of your smoking cessation success!

Related Posts: Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout, What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress

Get Ready for Great American Smokeout

Chances are you’ve never heard someone say, “Wow – I’m really glad that I’m a smoker” or “I really wish that I wouldn’t have quit smoking.” Yet, more than 43.4 million Americans continue to light up.

While 90% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking, tobacco is also linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, bladder, colon, larynx, and esophagus – just to name a few. Cancer, as a result of cigarette smoking, claimed the life of my mother and three beloved aunts; the oldest was only 50 when she passed.

Though we’re all familiar with the link between cigarettes and cancer, the threat looms too far in the future for some to take seriously; for others, smoking and the potential for cancer are a crapshoot. After all, we’ve all heard the stories of so-and-so’s Grandpa Joe who smoked 3 packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and lived to be 101, or the sad tale of the smoker who quit cold turkey only to be killed by a runaway bus while crossing the street, right?

Did either of the above tales strike a chord? If so, let’s take a look at the “here and now” dangers of smoking – especially for those who already have health problems.

Increase in sputum. Though an increase in sputum is disgusting, producing excess mucus is a threat to your health.  From the first puff, irritating gases begin to cause chemical injury to lung and airway tissue, triggering an increase in mucus production. This excess mucus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and increases the susceptibility for colds, flu, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.

Weakens immune system.
Smoking impairs the immune system by slowing antibody response and weakening white blood cells. Smokers have a far more difficult time fighting infections and foreign invaders than non-smokers.

Decreases circulation.
Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces blood flow to the extremities. As blood flow decreases, so does the delivery of white blood cells or lymphocytes to the site of infection, slowing the healing time. In addition to a slower healing time and increased risk of stroke and heart attack, a sluggish circulatory system fails to clean the body efficiently, allowing dead cells and debris to build up in the body.

Hinders digestive system.
Cigarette smoke irritates the digestive tract, hindering the absorption of nutrients and contributes to common health disorders such as heartburn and peptic ulcers. In addition, smoking damages liver function. The liver, responsible for processing and removing drugs, alcohol, and other toxins from the body, loses its ability to function properly when damaged by cigarette smoke. If you do require medication, liver damage severely limits the pharmaceuticals you can ingest, and may stand in the way of you receiving the best medication for your health concern.

Keeps you from getting restful sleep. Did you know that smokers are four times more likely to get non-restorative sleep than non-smokers?  Stimulants found in cigarette smoke make it difficult to fall asleep, while nicotine withdrawal during the night disrupts the body’s natural sleep process. Inadequate and ineffective sleep keeps the body’s immune system from recharging, leading to a slew to of health problems.

The good news? There are immediate benefits to be had from kicking the cigarette habit:

• 8 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal
• 48 hours after quitting: All nicotine ill have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
• 2 weeks after quitting: Your circulation will increase, and will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks
• 3-9 months after quitting: Your lung capacity will have improved by 10%, lessening the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
• 1 year after quitting: Your risk of having a heart attack has dropped by 50%.

Whether you’re a smoker or have a smoker in your life, I hope that I’ve given you something to think about. This year, I urge you to participate in the Great American Smokeout Day on November 19th. This event challenges smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping that their decision to quit will last forever.

As the date approaches, I’ll be in touch with additional friendly reminders. In the meantime, I invite smokers to share their challenges and former smokers to share their quitting tips. Let’s kick the habit together!

Related Posts: What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress