So, I quit smoking

It was a sunny early Spring day, March 17th and I just visited my dentist for my annual dental cleaning appointment when she commented the following: “You know, your dental discolouration comes primarily from your smoking habit”. And from that moment on, till now, I quit smoking.

Of course the main reason I quit was not the discolouration of my teeth. The main reason was that in 3 days I would turn 40 years old, entering the decade where people get heart attacks and brain strokes — the “he/she died young” age.

I told myself “ok, we had some fun smoking for some time now, now let’s quit.”

I didn’t use any of those widely alternatives to quit smoking, like nicotine patches or e-cigarette. What I used was far more effective than any other withdrawal technique. I used common sense.

Whenever I got the urge lighting up a cigarette, I was thinking that the instant I will inhale the smoke, I will feel sick because my body will react to it’s poisons. That was the prime and only incentive to get through everyday.

The first couple of days were a bit hard, but while you start fighting the urges with your mind you discover taste and smell again. The taste sense increased and so did the appetite. Naturally, I started eating snacks and dried fruits and nuts — which we all know have loads of calories.

The hard part is the first 15 days where I had all the urges that came from the years of smoking habit and the lack of nicotine stimulation. For some time I could not create, design, work on my projects because I thought that the cigarette activated my inspiration. Actually, nicotine was the substance that helped my brain’s vigilance and since I was used to it I felt I was unable to create anything. But it turned out, it was merely an illusion.

Artists, designers and creators in general, have random but rare — thankfully — dry periods of inspiration. It is natural, cause we draw inspiration and creativity from our emotional tank. If that tank is short-circuited, then “Huston we have a problem.”

All those symptoms of withdrawal, along with the almost constant need for nicotine to get through the daily routine, plus the sudden panic attacks and the need to use an alternative to smoking, like alcohol — which calms the nerves and the sudden panic attacks and is even worst than smoking — had a 3 months duration.

After 3 months I was free of any withdrawal effects, I could climb stairs easily, I could walk long distances without panting, I had no cough, no phlegm, I didn’t mind people smoking in the same room as I was — although the residual sent of a cigarette was somehow sickening at the time, still is. I started using only 1/3 of the moisturising cream I was using before quitting, plus my body could cope with the common cold better and faster because my organism could contain the Vitamin C that I got from fruits & vegetables — smoking depletes Vitamin C to half. I felt I was a new person but there was a price to pay still.

I gained some weight. By “some” I mean a lot!

People who actually say to heavy smokers that after quitting you will only gain 3 to 10 kilos and after 6 months you will start loosing them is a damn liar!

Before I quit smocking I was 52 kilos, super thin. A year after I quit, I gained 20 kilos! Of course the first symptom after quitting is the increase of appetite. But after a while this urge eases.

I never needed in all my life dieting and for the first time I had to go on a strict diet along with everyday visits to the gym implementing a hard cardio program.

What people avoid mentioning is that smoking actually makes you thin. It increases your metabolism and without working out, you can burn from 200 Kcal to 400 Kcal according to the amount of daily cigarettes you smoke.

Not “beach-ready” 6 months after quitting.

When I actually quit smoking, my body’s metabolism was starting to sink to a some kind of hibernation. I was afraid that I started having thyroid problems — only I didn’t. That’s why after quitting, the best way to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and the certain weight gain is to go to the gym, get you body to produce endorphins that will help you cope with withdrawal, and start a diet program.

After 6 months of intense everyday cardio routine, plus a pretty simple dietary program consisted by proteins, omega 3 foods, vegetables, salads and fruits carbs my metabolism woke up finally and I lost 15 kilos!

Now I am 2,5 years smoke free.

Rarely, when my friends smoke after dinner I get a bit jealous, but this feeling lasts only for a moment. I still do my cardio every day, I’ve stopped the strict diet program I had for 3 months and came back to our healthy Mediterranean dietary program, since we are Greeks and all. Plus after a while the persisting cellulite I had even when I was thin and smoking 20 cigarettes per day, had reduced tremendously!

Quitting smoking is really hard. At first you think you have full control of yourself abstaining from smoking but after a while you realise that this is not the only little monster you have to fight. There is a series of bad and really big monsters to fight but in the end you become physically and mentally stronger, just like in every life-fight you give.