Stop the BUTTS - I am a Quitter are you?

This morning I googled resolutions and I found that the in the top 5 resolutions are: Weight, Smoking, Debt, Drinking and Fitness and surprise, surprise!  Today I would like to tackle #2....Smoking! I would like to know if anyone out there enjoyed the first cigarette they smoked or even the second.  Unlike any other addictive substance, it is painful to start smoking.  We cough, we sputter and all to look cool in front of our friends in the smoking area at high school.  I had my first cigarette at Girl Guide Camp, I was a sailing and swimming instructor and I was 17.  I coughed, sputtered and almost threw up, but for some reason I continued to smoke for over 15 years and in the end I was still coughing and sputtering. 

Contrary to what you think, smoking does not help stress, it does not calm your nerves and it truly is an ugly habit.  No one looks cool smoking, it isn't glamorous and it kills.  Smoking next to heroine is one of the toughest addictions to conquer.  So why do we smoke?  It is no longer socially acceptable, in most places in the world you cannot smoke in indoor public facility, and most people I know ask the smokers to smoke outside.  It makes our clothes stink, our teeth yellow, our skin wrinkle, and it is the #1 leading cause of cancer, heart and lung disease.

I am going to share with you what happened just before I quit smoking, what made me quit, how I quit and how I feel today.  I am then going to ask each and every smoker to do me one favour.  To read a book, a very short book but one of the most powerful non-smoking books I found:  "The easy way to stop Smoking"

In the end of my smoking career I was smoking almost a small pack of Canadian cigarettes a day.  My feet were cramping at night, I had to take a shower before I went to bed to get the smoke out of my hair and my teeth and right index finger were a light shade of yellow.  My Mom and Grandmother both died of pancreatic cancer in 2003 as a direct result of smoking and an unhealthy lifestyle.  They died 7 weeks apart my Mom was 62 and my Omi was 88.  I continued to smoke.  I was getting chest colds every other month and I was unable to even walk 2 flights of stairs without being out of breath.  I continued to smoke.  Every time I went to a restaurant, got on a plane or was invited to a friends house for dinner I would become anxious and distracted. I continued to smoke.  As smokers we are always always looking for the next opportunity to light up.  Cigarettes were my best friend or so I thought.  They got me through everything, if I was happy, sad, glad or mad a cigarette always made it better....NOT.

It was the morning after my Mom's 1 year memorial.  I had smoked for a whole year after I buried my matriarchal part of my family.  It was November 9th, 2004.  My eyes opened and I said today is the day.  I am going to try and get through the next hour without a cigarette.  I had tried Zyban, I had bought the patch, chewed nicorrette gum with no success.  I figured nothing but peer pressure lead me to start this stupid addiction, nothing but me and my willingness to become healthy and free will help me to stop.  I got through the morning.  I drank a ton of water, changed the way I took my coffee and snacked on peanuts.  I cried, I yelled, I cried again but I didn't care, I was not going to give in to the nicotine monster.

On day 3,  I was very sad, at 3 weeks I think I could have killed someone.  The time in between was not too bad.  My feelings of white rage were very short lived, and my cravings and nicotine fits started to become few and far between.  I gave myself permission to be cranky and I gave myself permission to throw things if that is what I needed to do.  It is not easy, you will be very difficult to live with, you will be cranky, you may become depressed and you will cough up stuff that will make you go green.  It will pass, I promise it will pass.  If anyone even turns around and offers criticism to the way you are acting, walk away.  They either 1) Have never known what it is like to kick an addiction or 2) Are a smoker themselves and do not want to look at the addiction themselves.

At 3 months I was sitting by the pool in Hawaii.  I was with a friend on a company trip.  She smoked, she made it look so "Hollywood".  I asked her for a cigarette and she said "No Karyn, I am not going to be the one who gives it to you, go buy a pack yourself if you really want to smoke".  I sat there and sulked for over an hour and then the fever broke.  It was at that moment when I felt free.  I had been given a choice and I chose NO.

I can now go into a restaurant and enjoy my meal, I can sit there for hours and not have to sneak outside.  My hair always smells great, I have ran a marathon, my feet no longer cramp, and the money I have saved over the last 5 years has paid for a few very nice vacations.  My teeth are white, my skin feels great and I can run up 5 flights of stairs with no issues.  I gained maybe 6-8lbs during my first year, but then I lost it.  Replacing cigarettes with an activity will make it even easier.  During the first few months keep busy.  Keep your hands occupied. Change your routine.  You may find you will sleep a lot or not at all.  You may have crazy dreams, you may get slight dizzy spells.  This will pass, your addiction is going to try and do everything it can to get you to feed the Nicotine Monster.  Do not give in!

Try a cleanse, drink lots of water, pick up a new sport.  Call a friend, become accountable to someone, it helps.  I would call my sister every time I had a craving, she was extremely instrumental to my recovery.

Smoking kills, it is not cool and it is SELFISH.  Watching my Mom die of cancer was the most traumatic event in my life to date.   If only, yes if only my Mom had quit smoking earlier, if only she had put down the butts, she may have been able to meet her granddaughter (my niece).  If only she had become a quitter, she may have been able to come to Panama and see where her daughter lives and what her daughter has accomplished today.

I love you Mom, this article is for you...xo


*** T-shirts available to anyone that wants to join the non-smoking way of life.  My Dad designed these 2 years ago, we are a family of "Quitters"


Karyn Saunders is a Life Coach who lives in Hacienda Pacifica with her
partner; Allan,  their 2 cats and Nina their Panamanian Puppy.  Karyn has
been on the road to Health and Wellness after she made some crucial life
changes over 12 years ago.  Karyn admits: "I was 50lb overweight, a daily
smoker and I knew something had to change".   Karyn quickly became active.
She has completed a marathon many triathlons, and you will often find her
out on the golf course, tennis courts, running on the beach with  the 6:30am
boot camp crew, or battling the surf with Allan at Playa Serena.  Her
passion to living a an active lifestyle has taken her on some fabulous
adventures.  "My goal is to help our society see the forest through the
trees when it comes to "Health and Wellness",  physically and emotionally. I
have a quality of life that is second to none, and my goal is to help those
that want it too"

Karyn Saunders