It’s been roughly 365 days and four hours since I had my last cigarette. I’m sitting at a desk furiously chewing a piece of gum and intermittently pausing to squeeze a stress ball that I keep on my left.
But overall, life is good.
I have previously written about my decision to stop smoking. I remember it well. After three days I felt confident in my decision and determined to document it in a blog post - embarking on this newfound journey. I wrote it with a throbbing headache. I kept standing up to walk around and had trouble maintaining a fluid writing pace.
Today, I write roughly four thousand words a day. Life is good.
As time went on, days became weeks and weeks became months. I carefully adopted language that showed my friends and colleagues that I was determined to never pick up another cigarette. I chose words like ‘sobriety’, ‘relapse’, and ‘trigger’, to show them that I was serious.
I was fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most heartfelt and authentic supporters in my life. They remained incredibly patient while I snapped at them over trivial things that would light my shortened fuse. Life was hard, but good.
My decision to quit smoking after 12 years of uninterrupted dedication would set me in motion to completely transform my life. It’s an amazing thing to realise: once you stop putting the worst possible chemical into your body, you actually start to care about what else you consume.
My diet started to improve and I began exercising regularly. I must confess that this new way of life did not come right away. I remember clearly during my first month of tobacco sobriety when I was eating my second bag of cookies. I placed the wrapper next to my empty bag of chips. I loosened my belt and sat back on my chair.
‘That’s right,’ my colleague turned and patted me on the shoulder. ‘Flush it out. Eat that shit now and remove the tobacco. You can lose the weight next time.’
The unsolicited advice was given to me from an unfavourable colleague and it initially struck me with ire. I took a breath and reflected: he was older - maybe 40? - and had recently celebrated his 10-year sobriety of cigarettes, alcohol, and harder substances. I assumed he knew a thing or two.
Time went by and I did lose the weight. I gained and lost 10 pounds in around two months. I took up swimming after work, often adding 30 minutes of cardio to my new lifestyle. I stopped eating carbs past 4pm and I was sleeping better.
Today, I am a different person to who I was 365 days ago.
I generally have more patience and stamina when tackling particularly hard projects at work. I sleep better each night and ‘no longer look grey’ - something that three separate people felt the urge to tell me. My eating habits are better and my attitude is generally a more positive one.
When I stopped one of my biggest vices, it paved the way for me to tackle more habits which were also deemed undesirable. I drank less alcohol, for starters. Cigarettes may be a deeply personal act, but I was also learning how to curb habits that had a more external impact on my life. After all, no one likes a drunk.
My one year anniversary hit me with intense pride and content. If I could do this, I figured I could do anything.
And I can. Life is good.