I don’t often write about health here on ‘the spartan penguin’. Recently though I gave up smoking, on the back of a visit to the dentist, and I have been amazed how other, recently developed, healthy habits have supported my cigarette abstinence.
I have tried giving up smoking before however on each occasion I ended up smoking again, and this is something that I really want to avoid this time.
Previously when I started smoking again two factors came into play. The first was the mind (or the addiction) that told me that one cigarette wouldn’t hurt. So I smoked one, and ‘bang’ back on 20 a day. The second was that my lifestyle at the time didn’t have many healthy habits in it: little exercise, lots of junk food etc.
This time it’s different.
I know that if I smoke one cigarette that I will go straight back to full on smoking again. My past experience demonstrates this. So I keep this thought in the forefront on my mind. I am currently practicing not smoking a day at a time. Those days have added up. Today they total 40 days.
I cope with the cravings that come, and believe me they do (even with the patches), by thinking of something that a work colleague said to me. They told me that the cravings only last for about 3 minutes and I know I can ride anything out for 3 minutes, so I do.
I have also found that other healthy habits help bolster my resolve to not smoke. Over the past few years I’ve developed a number of healthy habits, more by accident than design. These healthy habits make the thought of smoking, and being unhealthy, much less palatable.
These are the healthy habits that I’ve developed:
- hiking (with my dad)
- eating organic vegetables
- making and drinking green juices every day
- regular yoga practice
- giving up smoking
The result is that I feel so much better.
Now, just to be clear, I am no health guru and turning around over 40 years of unhealthy living doesn’t happen overnight. I do what I can though.
In particular, my recent discovery of yoga really helped on the smoking front. Yoga is exercise, but yoga is also about breathing. I must admit I struggled in class when everyone was breathing in and out. I found myself short of breath and with that rasping smokers’ breath.
The two things (yoga and smoking) didn’t sit well together.
I also found it really uncomfortable to go to yoga, only to arrive home and spark up a cigarette.
Green juice and a cigarette (at the same time) anyone? That’s crazy right?
I really believe that when the moment is right that the opportunity will arrive. That’s what happened when I went to the dentist and had my tooth out. I had to stop smoking for three days, and I simply kept going.
What is different this time is that my other healthy habits support my smoking abstinence. It feels great now when I practice yoga, I notice the benefits, my breathing has improved. All the lovely anti-oxidants in my daily green juices are free to go and do their work. I fully benefit from the vitamins and minerals in the organic vegetables that I eat, and on those long hikes with my dad I’m not out of breath and exhausted after the first incline.
Each healthy habit supports the other.
Who knows, maybe I’ll develop some more.
What I do know today is that I don’t want to smoke. Giving up is hard, really hard. Smoking is incredibly addictive but the health benefits of giving up are worth their weight in gold.
This whole experience has led me to think about how good habits support other good habits, how positivity supports positivity, and how the converse is true.
So, in all areas of your life try to create small positive changes, practice those changes until they become habits, and then watch as they support other positive changes and habits.
Will I ever smoke again? I hope not. For today though I am cigarette free and that’s good enough for me.