Month One of the New Life

So… do you think that I’ve managed to live without smoking?

The answer is… YES! I have not had a cigarette since 4 November at 9 PM. That means that I’ve entered week six in my life sans nicotine. While I feel like I’ve been a little off for the last thirty-five days, I have survived. I have faced a number of challenges along the way, confronting the roadblocks that I’ve faced in the past and persevering. I have successfully drank without falling victim to the craving, I have eaten everything in sight and not ran to the gas station for the appetite suppresant, and I have driven halfway across the country and not picked up a pack to keep me company. I’ve faced my fair share of stress in the last few weeks, and I still didn’t turn back to Joe Camel to get me through the situation. I’ve just learned to take a step back and breathe, and it’s working for the most part.

This has definitely been a ride, and it’s still going. I still have to fight the temptation to break down and smoke. I have developed a keen sense of smell for secondhand smoke and feel like I pick up a whiff at every turn. I realize that I’ll probably never lose that, and that’s OK. I guess that I’ll just have to learn the hard way when I smoke a cigarette and instantly get sick. That’ll teach me.

This little experiment with asking for donations has been the motivating force behind quitting and holding to it. Whenever I do get the crazy idea to bum a cigarette from someone or even worse, buy an entire pack, I think about all of the people that have contributed to my cause. Your support, whether it was financial or emotional, has been what has made this life transition that much easier. For that, I thank you.

However, you’ll notice that I’m still eighty dollars short of my goal. If you need another incentive to donate, then consider this the icing on the cake. I have someone that has come forward to match all donations, up to $750. That’s right – your donation will now be worth twice as much. Together, we now have the potential to raise $1500 for the Katie Memorial Foundation. That means that Quitting for Katie will fund half of a Katie Evans Memorial Scholarship or three KMF Leadership Grants. That’s pretty awesome, right?

So what do you say? Help me out? Make sure that I stay smoke-free.

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Week One of the New Life

The first of the month came, and I was prepared to take on life without cigarettes. I began the new life getting ready to head to Milwaukee for a conference for the week. I got through Tuesday pretty easily – I made sure that I kept myself busy. I constantly had the next task in mind for what I finished the current one. That day shall go down in history as the first day since I started smoking that I went the entire day without a cigarette.

Unfortunately, 2 November was not the second day that I went the entire day. I hit one of my roadblocks, and I hit it real hard. Wednesday was the night of happy hours and open houses, which meant that there was alcohol… in abundance. When you find yourself drinking at a bar, you know that you’re going to run into some smokers. And I did. I fell off the wagon and had two cigarettes that night. I got back on for Thursday, and I thought that I was in the clear.

I came home on Friday afternoon, and after a large lunch, I made a beeline for my nightstand drawer that hid the last pack that I bought. I smoked one, and sadly/gladly, didn’t get much out of it. I then proceeded to weigh myself [I did a LOT of eating in MKE], cried a little, and packed my bag for the gym. After a shitty workout that didn’t feel great, I proceeded to smoke another cigarette. Now, before you all freak out, I did something that I’ve never done in previous times when trying to quit. I threw away the pack, which had more than half of the cigarettes remaining. See? That’s progress.

I got through the weekend without too many issues – a minor panic attack here and there, but nothing major. I survived the stress of the video card blowing up on my laptop and the subsequent mob of people at the Apple store. I survived the weigh-in and subsequent workout [it went better this time]. I survived sitting at the reference desk for three and a half hours with no questions and the subsequent ‘I just need one source’ question at ten minutes until closing. That’s right, I survived.

So I’ve managed to go two full days without a cigarette [for the record, I haven’t done that in a while]. However, I fully realize that I’m not out of this – I knew that it wouldn’t be a cake walk. You know what’s been awesome? The support, both words of encouragement and the donations to KMF, has really made the difference. No lie – the fact that I’ve raised over $600 on this little cause of mine has given me more strength that I could receive from the patch or gum.

While I now call myself a non-smoker, I could still use your help. I’ve got a little bit more money to raise, and I’d love your assistance in reaching my goals. Thanks in advance.

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Race to the Quit Date

Well, kids. It’s almost 1 November. That means that *this guy* is about to go cold turkey in TWO days. I’ve got some strategies to hopefully distract me from the reality that is withdrawal, which, up until now, hasn’t been all that bad. Unfortunately, the reason that it hasn’t been that bad is that I’ve just told myself that it’s just a few hours until the next cigarette. That little crutch is about to go away.

However, one thing that I have been reminding myself: this isn’t just about me. I have received donations a number of people and raised almost $600 to go towards the Katie Memorial Foundation [muchas gracias to those have donated!]. I have many more people behind me that have offered their support in kicking this. The well wishes that I’ve gotten have meant the world to me. Those heartfelt donations and words of encouragement and will replace the promise of nicotine at the end of the day.

You’ll also notice that I have a goal of raising $750. That amount of money would fund at least one and a half KMF Leadership Grants or one-fourth of a Katie Evans Memorial Scholarship award. If you have considered contributing to my cause, remember that you’re also providing support for an amazing organization.

Help me meet my fundraising goal AND quit smoking. We’ll both feel better that you did.

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Week Eight of Cutting Back: Almost There

The last week and a half has been alright in terms of the smoking. I went to New York for five days, which meant that I had cigarettes on me all the time. I bought two packs before the trip, hoping that they would last me, and they really almost did. I made it until Monday afternoon and broke down to buy a pack. That purchase was a harsh punishment for not doing a good job at regulating myself, with a fine of $12.50 for Camel Lights in the city.

When I got back, I have found it difficult to get back into any sort of routine. It’s been a little bit of a challenge. I have still held up the no-smoking-at-work, but I had my first breakdown while in Whitewater. On Wednesday, I had a meeting in Wauwatosa after work, which meant that I would have gone a really long time without a cigarette. It was sort of a shitty day there, and I found myself at the gas station buying a pack and a lighter. While the event itself is negative, there’s a positive. The last attempt at quitting lasted only about two weeks before the same thing happened. I was able to keep it up for almost two months this time. See? That’s progress.

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Roadblock: Laziness

For one of the hopefully final posts about the roadblocks of quitting, I’ll be honest. I’ve just been lazy when it comes right down to it. Quitting requires effort, and it’s just been easier to continue to smoke than to challenge myself. I haven’t experienced any major consequences from my actions, yet I realize that I definitely will if I don’t quit now [and I may still in the future]. However, that sort of forward-thinking mentality tends to allude me when it comes to the rush of nicotine through my system in the here and now.

It’s been a long twelve years with this habit. The last couple of months have shown me that it’s possible to cut back, and in a few days, I’ll find out what it’s like to quit.

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Exact Change Is Apparently Overrated

So my call to help me get to a nice and even number worked… a little too well. I had a few people answer with donations ending with forty-one cents, so I’m back to a weird total. However, that’s not to say that it’s not appreciated [my OCD just hates you]. I’m now more than two-thirds to my fundraising goal, and I’ve coming down to crunch time with the quit date twelve days away. I’ve got $221.59 to go, so what do you say – spare a few dollars to help me to kick the habit?

Support two causes with one donation – that’s why I call maximizing your charity giving.

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Week Six [and a Half] of Cutting Back

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. I’m busy with work and life and such, and I haven’t had much time to blog. However, that’s not to say that I haven’t continued on the track of cutting back. I’ve been doing pretty well – still haven’t had a cigarette at work since I started that little venture. I’m pretty proud of that, because when I’ve done that before, it has quickly gone downhill with me sprinting to BP to buy a pack and a lighter. Water, gum, granola bars, and the snack that smiles back get me through the day.

Where I’m still getting in trouble is at home. I have been trying to come up with little projects to keep me busy, and it’s only sort of working. Now that fall is FINALLY here, it feels so good to sit out on the porch with my sweatpants, hoodie, and coffee and enjoy the cool air. Unfortunately, that also includes a cigarette. That will be ending very soon – in just a week and a half.

Thanks to all of your support – it has really made a huge difference. This has been an interesting journey that is not ending on 1 November – it’s only getting started.

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Week Five of Cutting Back

Alright, I’m not going to lie – I was expecting to have a much tougher time with not smoking at work, but it hasn’t been THAT bad. There haven’t been angry posts about needing nicotine. That’s not to say that I haven’t been experiencing withdrawals. I’ve noticed that little things, silly [not stupid – there are no stupid questions] questions or minor inconveniences, tend to set me off, but I’ve just tried to step back and breathe. Maybe I should wear a shirt that broadcasts that I haven’t had a cigarette and that I may be irritable?

Now that I’m not smoking at work, I just have a cigarette before I leave the house and then a few when I get home. That means that I go about eleven to twelve hours. That first one when I get home is pretty awesome and unfortunately reminds me of why I starting smoking in the first place. However, I’m down to about five cigarettes a day. Progress is being made. I’m just going to have to kick it up a notch if I don’t plan on donating the rest of the year’s salary to KMF as a consequence for not quitting.

Don’t worry – it’s happening. It’s going to work this time, and your support makes all the difference.

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Nearing $500 Raised

The last few weeks have been busy as usual, but that hasn’t stopped people from donating. You’ll see that I’m just $8.41 away from reaching two-thirds of my goal. I’ve got just a couple of weeks left until the quit date, so I could really use the support. Don’t be shy – I promise that it’s going towards two awesome causes.

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Roadblock: Weight Gain

For those that have known me a long time know that my weight has taken a roller coaster ride. I was a chubby kid growing up and into college [maybe working at Jimmy John’s WASN’T a good idea]. I studied abroad in Barcelona and when I flew back to the states, I left forty pounds back in Spain. Grad school started out well, but the American portions and fast food came back to bite me in the ass. Moving to the land of cheese wasn’t a good move for the waist line either, as I nearly approached the two-hundred pound mark. Fortunately, I fell in love… with the gym. I’ve managed to keep off those majority of the weight that I gained after returning from Spain.

How, you ask? Do I continue my love affair with Snap Fitness? Sadly, that’s an on-again, off-again fling that has been difficult to maintain over the last few years. No, truth be told – it’s the cigarettes. They truly are an amazing appetite suppressant. One of the reasons that I am TERRIFIED of quitting is gaining weight. Nearly everyone I know that has quit smoking gained weight. I remember when my host mom from Barcelona quit smoking, she was like, JODER! I’ve gained five kilos. That’s what scares me. I’ve already donated all of my ‘fat’ clothes and don’t want to buy new [bigger] clothes.

Counter-argument to this roadblock: I’ll actually be HEALTHIER with a little more weight on me AND I’ll be able to afford clothes with all of the money that I’m saving from not buying cigarettes.

I love arguments with myself – I always win.

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