Written by Natassa Zervopoulos, Venterra’s Financial Systems Training & Support Manager
So it seems seven is NOT my lucky number!The day I became a smoker As the expression goes, “When in Rome…” While travelling throughout Europe in 2005, my story as a smoker began. It was cool, it was sexy, it was very “European” and it was my newest addiction (chocolate being the other).I “couldn’t” quit!For any smokers or past smokers out there, seven attempts at quitting will not come as a surprise. Apparently the average smoker takes 5 years and 7 attempts to quit. I’m a Type A so having this little control over a “habit”, “addiction”, “hobby”, whatever you want to call it was infuriating and a constant disappointment. Why did I keep going back? I needed it. The truth is I had an excuse EVERY time I tried to quit, was begged to quit, and even bribed to quit. I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough, I was addicted to nicotine, I was addicted to the habit; I was full of S**T. Seven years’ worth of excuses…
50 reasons (or lbs) to quit
What finally did it for me? It started when my husband Aristoteles (fiancé at the time) committed to losing 50 lbs in exchange for me quitting smoking. Fair enough right? As a non-smoker, he didn’t find the idea of kissing an ashtray appealing. So the agreement began in February 2012. After a few months, May 22nd to be exact, Aristoteles called me saying he had met his 50 pound goal! Now I’m not a bad person and I did want him to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it was too soon; I wasn’t ready to quit! Smoking was ingrained into my daily routine. It was often paired with waking up, drinking coffee, stress, joy, drinking (socially of course), anger, fear, you name it. So I begged (not my finest moment) for an extension on our deal. Considering it was days away from my bridal shower and Aristoteles is such a good guy (*Wink) he gave me an additional week (ohhhh the relief).
Let’s fast forward 4 months to September 2012. Still a smoker and about 8 extensions later, Aristoteles was down 95 pounds and I was STILL a smoker. I was ashamed but not enough to quit. Trust me this was not an easy deal to break. I felt endless guilt but kept shrugging it off convincing myself that I NEEDED to smoke to get through planning a wedding, buying a house, moving, etc… I did try once during this period to quit. I tried the nicotine patch and boy was that an experience. I had a terrible reaction (imagine a drug addict going through withdrawal) so my doctor prescribed Zyban, a smoking-cessation drug…
A month later, I pulled out the prescription which was tucked away in my glove compartment for over a month. I was FINALLY ready, ok fine finally out of excuses (2 weeks after the wedding and fully moved into my house). On September 20th I began the next, non-smoking, chapter of my life. The first week was pretty miserable. They say when you quit you need to replace smoking with something else. I smoked up to 25 cigarettes a day, what in the world could I replace that kind of time with. Let’s just say my gums were very sore from A LOT of gum chewing and COUNTLESS celebratory “snacks”. I deserved it didn’t I?
Could I have quit smoking a long time ago? We all know the answer is yes. But what I did learn is that when I finally made the decision, it worked because it was for ME. Not for my husband, not for my boss, not for my parents, not for anyone but me. I’m not in any way trying to make light of how bad I wanted to be able to quit for all of those people but realistically speaking and FINALLY speaking from experience, there is no other successful way to quit.
Now that I’m officially a non-smoker, I can start looking forward to:
- A healthier future
- Clothes/hair that don’t smell like smoke all the time
- Staying warm indoors during the winter instead of shivering outside for a smoke-break
- Freedom from addiction allowing me to regain full control of myself
- And the Accountant in me can’t ignore the numbers…
- Decreased life insurance premiums
- Up to 850 hours of free time per year for … anything really (7 minutes per smoke, average of 20 smokes per day)
- Up to $3,000 in savings per year to spend on… anything really =)
Moral of the story
It may take months and sometimes even years to quit smoking. It probably won’t happen on your first second, or even third try. It’s not easy but it is possible so hang in there! At the end of the day, you are in control and quitting smoking brings more than accomplishment; it is empowering. I can confidently say that I am a different person now and quitting, although it was tenuous and insane at times, was one of the best things I have ever done. So if you’re considering giving up the smoking for good, it is definitely worth trying and you will have a very long list of things to look forward to and feel good about when you finally do!