Quitters’ Update 2nd April 2014

rigaHi again everyone and welcome to our last Quitters’ Blog! Fitting perhaps as this week marks the 10th anniversary of the Smoking Ban in Ireland. As it’s our last update, I suppose a summary of my quitting experience is in order. First things first though – some self-praise!

Pictured this week you’ll see my beautiful non-smoker friends in Riga. You may remember my first purchase with my smoking savings was a trip to the Latvian Capital and we are just back. This was my last big milestone I think. Smokers, you’ll know what it’s like preparing to get on a plane for 2 and ½ hours! I was really dreading walking by all those smokers before you enter the airport.

Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch (relapse). Mind you, I did forget my Nicorette Inhaler and had trouble getting one in Riga so I opted for a temporary e-cigarette. While it did the job, I much prefer the inhaler as it’s far less rough on your throat and indeed, you know what you’re getting with something you buy in the pharmacy. In any event, whether it was due to my extra-sensitivity to smokers or true to fact, it seemed to me that smoking was far more popular and ‘in-your-face’ in Riga. There is a smoking ban but there seemed to be more people than you’d see here outside shops, restaurants and pubs sneaking in a quick cigarette. This did present the temptation to smoke again, I’ll be honest. But my fabulous friends were there for encouragement so I remain smoke-free.

So how would I summarise this journey? I made the decision to quit in January, mainly for health reasons and for my friends & family. Without doubt, the publicity that came with writing this blog made it possible; I don’t think I would have been successful without it. But it was also in the preparation. See below; this is a check-list for giving up smoking and I highly recommend you do the same before you quit.

quit

You really have to have a plan for the tempting situations you know you’ll find yourself in – the pub, a crisis in work, bad news… And you also need a method of distraction for the evening time – mine was knitting and this genuinely helped me keep my mind and my hands occupied. And DEFINITELY, pick yourself a new exercise. Putting on weight is commons so ensure you tackle it to avoid demotivation.

The most important aspect of the whole quitting thing is SUPPORT. I was very lucky to have the full support of all my colleagues and social network. None of my smoker pals smoke in front of me or offer me a cigarette. I continuously get praise for my efforts from those around me at home and in work (and I AM a glutton for this!). And comments from our blog readers also keep you going. Quitting with my boyfriend was a huge benefit so we could support each other. It was also incredibly motivating to read the updates from my fellow Bloggers as they continued to battle the cravings. Thanks so much to David, Alison, Ciara and Lyndsey for volunteering to share their journeys with you all. I really hope we helped either keep you motivated or gave you some encouragement to consider quitting.

nmaoSo there you have it, I’m a non-smoker. And have been since the 13th of January. Never thought I’d see the day! Last picture is me with a map of Malta… Yes, you guessed it! I only went and booked another holiday. And no, they’re not paying me too much here but this trip is also being paid for with the money I’ve saved from smoking. Myself and my lovely boyfriend are off in two weeks for some well-deserved non-smoking fun after all this good work quitting.

Thanks to everyone who read and shared this blog and here’s hoping my fellow bloggers and I will be back in touch with you next year, still smoke-free and still full of the joys of health!

Best of luck to any of you trying to quit. Check out http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/SmokingControl, www.quit.ie or speak to your pharmacist if you need support.

All the best,

Naomi…

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Quitters’ Update 25th March 2014

Hi again everyone!  Week 4 of Lent is upon us.  I’m no longer chocolate-free but thankfully I am still smoke-free!  We’re going to learn how one of our past bloggers has been getting on since we saw her in February but first, there are a couple of things to get through first…

#nomakeupselfie – did you do it?!  There’s a boy version and even a dog version.  And what a wonderful example of how a social media craze can help a charity raise much-needed funds, with the Irish Cancer Society currently clocking up over €600,000 in donations.

What struck me first about the resulting Facebook posts was how amazing all my friends look with no make-up on.  Seriously – it’s crazy that they bother with any at all.  I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauties!  What also struck me was how (relatively) young we still seem to look without the slap on.  Again, very lucky.  My own #nomakeupselfie showed how much healthier my skin is since quitting.  All good news and all very motivating.  It got me thinking though about the effects smoking has on your skin and I came upon a rather scary SmartPhone app (Android and Apple links below the image).

It’s called Smoking Time Machine and it’s by the Cumbria NHS in the UK. If this doesn’t convince you to consider quitting, I really don’t know what else will.  Check me out below.  I am NEVER smoking again!!

n1

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.rancon.smokingtimemachinefeb2013

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/smoking-time-machine/id605504270?mt=8

I am going to print out this picture and put on my bathroom mirror.  Motivation enough I think!

Next up:  Social Smokers!  We need to talk.  You are rearing your heads time and time again as I speak to quitters and ex-smokers, and not in a good way, sorry.
n2Almost every single person I know attempting to quit has had slip-ups, of course.  But almost every single one of them has had a slip-up on a night out with a ‘Social Smoker’ pal.  Social Smoking is dangerous (we’ll get to that in a minute) of course, but you guys have the “luxury” of being able to limit your smoking to selected times and return to the life of a non-smoker very easily on Monday morning.  You must remember however that we  full-time smokers can’t.  When we fall off the wagon, it’s much harder for us to get back on and it can be extremely demotivating after all the hard work of quitting. We’ve heard a lot about support throughout the course of this blog and you guys need to help your quitting pals at the weekends.  And quitters, you need to make sure your social circles are aware of your efforts and therefore support you when temptation presents itself.  Don’t let the fact that ‘everyone was smoking’ be a reason you tarnish all your amazing work.  Take control of those situations instead of letting them control you.

I’m not finished with you yet!  Social Smoking is something that I’ve been wondering about a lot.  Is it okay just to smoke at weekends?  No, it is not.  You are tripling, yes TRIPLING, your risk of heart disease even with as little as one cigarette per day.  Check out the article below for more.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/a-20-a-day-smoker-will-rack-up-lifetime-bill-of-200000-260986.html

Okay, I feel like I’m lecturing now.  Let’s check in with one of our previous bloggers and see how she’s been getting on…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

 

Quit Date: 15th January

Still Smoke-Free: YES-ish

 

lyn‘Hey everybody!

So I’m writing this with a little bit of a sad face 😦

After me doing so well off the smokes I cracked and had a smoke….  February is my worst month of the year for personal reasons and I was dreading facing it being off the smokes as this would be where I would’ve smoked the most. 

I had a really bad day and I honestly thought “have a smoke it will make u feel better, it will clear your head”. So I did, but it didn’t do anything of the sort it just made me feel light-headed and gutted that I had given in 😦

But I’m back on track now. I know it didn’t help having a smoke so I’ll remember that when I think it will fix things. However on the positive side of things we have booked our 1st family holiday for August from the savings and now I’ve two very excited kiddies.

So it’s back on with the patches and being back to smoke-free Lyndsey :)’

 

Thank you Lyndsey and congratulations on the holiday!!

Lyndsey is doing wonderfully to have only slipped up once.  And indeed that slip-up made her realise that she is doing the right thing.  EVERYONE I speak to who has given up smoking is glad they gave up smoking and is healthier and wealthier as a result.  What on earth are you waiting for?

Remember, you are 4 times more likely to quit with one-to-one coaching so visit your local LloydsPharmacy and ask how we can help you get Smoking under Control, or ask your local pharmacy what support they have available.  Further support is available at www.quit.ie

Chat soon,

Naomi…

 

 

Quitters’ Update: Ash Wednesday

naomiHi again everyone and Happy National No Smoking Day. It’s been almost a month since you heard from me and my fellow quitters. I promised we’d make an appearance again as Lent kicks off so here we are… well, here I am anyway! We’ll be hearing how our other bloggers have been doing over the coming weeks.

Ash Wednesday as traditionally been a day when smokers decide to attempt to quit and we can certainly see that in our pharmacies today. Do you know, I think giving up chocolate would be much more difficult than quitting – and that’s from someone who’s been smoke-free since January 13th! Yes, I’m still a non-smoker, and am now finished using my Nicorette Inhaler also, though I still carry it with me when socialising. And I feel great!

It has not been easy, I’ll be completely honest. I have put on weight due to eating more, and it did take quite a while for my skin to return to normal. There were times when I really wondered whether it was worth it. But today, writing to you before going out for a run, I can tell you it IS worth it. There is no way the old Naomi would have managed a run in the evening without collapsing! And my car and clothes and skin all look and smell so clean!

This is all so much more poignant a topic given the sad passing of Gerry Collins this week, the face of the HSE’s Quit Campaign last December. At the launch of the campaign in December last year, Gerry said the ads were an opportunity to show the dangers of smoking and that he took solace from the fact he would be able to say goodbye to his family unlike those who die suddenly. “I hope to continue in the fight against smoking,” he said in December. For me, it’s a nice legacy to leave behind. “People who are killed in a car crash never get to say goodbye. I’ve an opportunity to say goodbye. As sad and all as it is for the family, they’re very lucky. “If I can get through the day with a bit of peace and contentment every day, that’s good enough for me. If I can spend time with the kids, I’m happy with that.”

Gerry’s words make me happier and prouder still that I’ve managed to stay smoke-free for this long and more determined than ever to see it through.

If you have been thinking of quitting or know someone in your family who wants to, please please speak to your GP, your pharmacist or health care assistant about how to start. You are TWICE as likely to be successful in quitting with 1-2-1 coaching and support so services like our Smoking Control service can really help you. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice on breaking the habit. Quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make for your health. Why wait?!

Chat soon,
Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 4

naomiHi again everyone. Naomi here, still smoke-free and still having to concentrate very hard on staying smoke-free. It’s getting easier to deal with the cravings but I tell you what, it’s hard to keep the focus.

We’ve lost a blogger this week – Ciara is still doing really well with her quitting but she’s finding that writing the blog is making her think about smoking! That’s no good, is it?! Thanks Ciara for sharing your story with us so far. This got me thinking though about focus. It makes sense in January to focus on quitting and saving money and getting healthy after over-indulging over Christmas. But once February comes, it’s harder to keep the momentum going. Nights out start to become more frequent and you have some cash in your pocket again. We can’t keep blogging forever so I’m starting to wonder how long more I will last…

I heard an amazing story last week from one of my colleagues in LloydsPharmacy The Mill, Clondalkin. Noeleen is blogging away over on the Weight Loss Blog (have a read of it, it’s really great!). She gave up smoking 14 years ago and she had a very clever way of keeping her focus. Noeleen was saving hundreds of euro each month so she decided to treat herself to her first every new car. The money she was saving from smoking became her loan repayment – this meant she just couldn’t afford to smoke, even if she wanted to. And she had that loan cleared in a year! I thought this was so inspiring.

It’s also important to keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing to become a successful quitter. For me, it’s ensuring my friends and family don’t let me slip, ensuring I do something with my money, and ensuring I keep using my NRT and keep tracking my progress. 4 weeks in and I feel healthier, cleaner, and far more energetic. I now need to put this energy to good use! Hopefully I’ll have figured out how by the time we finish with this blog…

Time to check in on how our customer David has been getting on since last week…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke-free?  Yes!

Blog 4 – I don’t want trouble!

‘Hi all,

daveSo here I am settling into my weekly blog routine, much the same way as I’ve settled into a routine of not smoking. I’m continuing to use the patches and have found that I never even think about smoking for most of the week. The only time that I get them on my mind, and immediately fold, is during the weekends when socialising.

This weekend though, for the first time since I quit, went very well and was definitely the most successful to date. A social event on one of the nights went fine as I was not drinking and didn’t know any of the smokers so had no reason to sneak outside for one. On top of this I genuinely didn’t feel a desire for one.

On another occasion I was in the pub and having my first pint since December. This used to be an unmanageable temptation when I tried to quit previously. I always had the impression that you have the most craic outside the pub and there was normally a partner in crime to head outside with. This time around though, I didn’t cave in. I was happy to sit in, and chat away to the people with me and never even considered heading for the door.

When I think about how I managed to get through the weekend a few things come to mind. No one else was smoking – they must be a dying breed – so I never even thought about it. For me having a support network of non-smokers is really helpful. All the bad weather makes it miserable to be anywhere close to the wind and rain so this has also encouraged me to stay out of trouble.

Until next week,

David.’

Well done on your first smoke-free weekend David!

Once again in David’s update, we can see how important a support network is in quitting.  For me, I’m almost afraid to let my friends down, never mind my boss! (We can’t have a failed quitter writing this blog!)  What’s going to keep us all going?

Keep the feedback coming.  We’re back on Saturday to check up on Lyndsey’s progress.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Weekend Update Week 3

Happy Weekend everyone!!

knitAnother test for us quitters lies ahead as we nervously await the temptations of dinners out and trips to the pub.  For me, the Nicorette Inhaler has been an absolute must when facing social events.  Even though very few of my friends smoke, I’m still used to the odd trip to the beer garden and feel a bit cheated if I miss it.  Alcohol seems to go hand-in-hand with smoking for me.  I don’t know if that’s habit or need or genuine enjoyment.  Whichever way, the inhaler is helping me not to crack.

Wish us luck!

So, what’s with today’s picture?

Well, myself and my house-mate/fellow quitter have been finding we are really, really BORED in the evenings.  Now it’s not as if we spent all evening smoking beforehand.  We are just acutely aware that something is missing so it feels like there’s time to fill all of a sudden, time we spend thinking about smoking!  So we’ve decided to take up a new hobby, one that gives us something to concentrate on, to aim for and keeps our hands occupied.  She’s learning to crochet and I’m taking up knitting again.  Apparently it’s hip again.  Someone let me know if that’s true; I’ve never quite figured out how to be hip!

A lot of ex-smokers have been talking to me about DISTRACTION.  And I understand exactly what they mean.  When the cravings come, the key is to distract yourself with something else; hopefully for me it will be knitting.

Think about it; if someone in your workplace yelled ‘FIRE’ when you were about to head out on your cigarette break, would you wait and have your cigarette before running to safety?  Of course you wouldn’t.  The craving would be less important than getting out of a burning building; it goes away because something else is more important to you.  Give your brain something else to think about…  It’s working for us anyway!  I know of course that knitting is not quite a fire in the office… but you get me, right?!

Let’s check up on how the lovely Lyndsey has been getting on since last week…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

Hi everyone,

lynI know the withdrawals are getting easier to handle because I haven’t cracked even though I’ve had a mental week. As you can see from the picture I’m literally pulling my hair out!!!  🙂

This week’s positive point for me was…….

With the weather being pants, not having to stand out in the rain and cold for a smoke has been brilliant.

I find my appetite has increased; I feel hungry more often than usual. I’ve tried to be good bringing my healthy lunch to work, saving me being bold in the shop and coming back with a bag of goodies.

Next week I’m going to try drinking more water as everyone is saying it will help suppress hunger. At this point I’ll try anything before I end up like Ten Tonne Tessie.

This week’s killer is the headaches. I never suffer from headaches so I’m blaming giving up smoking for this. It feels like an elephant sitting on my head 😦  At this point the only thing that will help is a sugar rush, but it’s better than a smoke rush.

Oh to end on an awesome note…..  🙂

Earlier on this week I went to the Garage to fill up the car. When I was paying the girl she automatically said to me “twenty John Player blue?” I was like “eh what!!  Yea!!  Oh no thanks”. She looked at me confused.  I told her “I’m off them” she replied “fair play”!

I got back into the car a little shocked that even the girl in the garage knew my routine, but then I thought how good it just felt saying “I’m off them”

So as you can imagine I’m driving to work smiling like a Cheshire cat (he he)!

Bye for now, blog you all soon.

Smoke free,

Lyndsey.’

Well done Lyndsey!!  You’re doing so well x

Lyndsey’s updates always leave a smile on my face!  She’s just so positive and honest.  It’s all the little victories that keep you going – like telling that shop assistant you’ve given up or boasting to your friends and family about your blog (yes, that’d be me…).  But support and encouragement really helps in this effort.  So keep it coming everyone!

Have a smoke-free weekend 🙂

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Saturday: Week 2

nn Happy weekend everyone! It’s Naomi back again and welcome to our second weekend of our Smoking Control Blog. This is another picture of me posing in our office, this time with a map of Riga, Latvia, this year’s European Capital of Culture.

(Can you see where I’m going with this?!)

You see, I’ve just booked a trip to Riga with my girlfriends. And guess where I got the money?

(You get me now, right?!)

This 3 night, 4 day trip (flights & accommodation) cost me LESS (yes LESS) than a month’s worth of cigarettes!! I know the health benefits of quitting are so incredibly important but I really am stupidly excited and proud that I’ve essentially bagged myself a free holiday!

Looking at the financial aspect of smoking can be a very useful way to get, or keep, yourself motivated to free yourself from the habit. Check out the table below to see the potential savings you could bring about by quitting based on how much you currently smoke (based on a pack price of €9.40 for 20).

How much could you save each year? What could you buy with it???tb

I hope this helps you.  It really has given me such a boost…

Okay, time to check in and see how Ciara and Lyndsey have been getting on.

Ciara, Sales Assistant LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Aged 25

Still Smoke-free?  Yes… ish!

ciaraHi again everyone!

I’m off the smokes nearly two weeks.  I gave them up 11th January. As I wrote in my first blog I’m still finding it very hard to stay off them but the nicotine inhaler has been a great help for when I’m really craving one!!!!!

I’m still doing more and more healthy things, such eating right foods and going on walks every day – this is really helping.

Last Saturday night I was out for dinner with friends and I regret to say the urge was to great and I did have 1 smoke :((( After it, I honestly felt sick so I am totally determined not to have another one. I haven’t had one since.

I find my sense of taste and smell is far greater since I’m off the smokes; I’m actually enjoying tasting my food. My friends and family have been so supportive. My mum is also off them so we’re helping each other out as best we can.

I’m off on holidays so I won’t be checking in next week but I’ll make sure to let you know how I get on.  Wish me luck though!!  I’m taking this one day at a time 🙂 ‘

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

lynHi again everyone,

This is a picture of me with my family, the MAIN reason for quitting smoking.

The hubby Karl, my son Ben (9) and my daughter Zoey (3).

So I’m still going strong, I’m still a quitter 🙂

I’m 10 days smoke-free and it’s getting a ‘little’ (and I mean a ‘little’) easier.

As you are aware, I am using the Nicorette Patches. They do work for me but for the first couple of days they made my arm feel a bit funny!!!!  It wasn’t painful just an unusual sensation; maybe it was my system getting use to the nicotine going into a different part of the body.  They’ve given me the confidence to venture out on my own and I’ve tried some days without them. The minute I feel that craving coming on I’m straight away reaching for my…………………. patches.

This week has been a bit of a mixture. It’s been Fantastic tasting my food again, like REALLY tasting food. Not to mention saving money for our family holiday.  But with the good comes the bad; feels like I’m going to cough my lungs up; that’s for me the killer part as it can get quite sore and I wanna eat everything in sight 😦

On another plus side, it feels FAN-FAIRY-TASTIC that this is the longest I’ve been able to stay smoke free in years. I’m so proud!  A lot of people are saying ‘well done you’ve great will power’, but I honestly think it’s more stubbornness with me than will power….. I hate to fail!

Blog to you soon1

Smoke Free,

Lyndsey 🙂

Thanks Ciara & Lyndsey!!

Wow, what a way to start the weekend!  I particularly love hearing about Lyndsey’s determination to see this through for her family.  I’m aware how cheesy I may be sounding but being brought along on these journeys is adding to the other positive effects that quitting smoking has been having on me – it’s just so motivating.  We’re having the most amazing feedback from our readers and from our colleagues here in the office.  Thanks so much to all the bloggers and all the people spurring us on.

Have a smoke-free weekend everyone.  We know we will 😉

Naomi