Quitters’ Update 19th March 2014

hatIt’s the 3rd week of Lent!  And welcome back to our Smoking Control Quitters’ Blog.  And guess what happened by accident?!  I thought it was more than enough for me to have quit smoking and so didn’t give up anything else for Lent.  And I’ve just realised I haven’t actually eaten any chocolate (I’m almost sure anyway) since Ash Wednesday.  So go me!  Well one my way to optimal health and well-being.

Today’s picture is me with a hat.  Sadly, it’s not my hat as I’m pretty fond of it now.

(Okay, where’s she going with this?!)

You may remember that I decided to take up knitting in order to keep my hands busy and my mind distracted in an effort to break some of my evening-time smoking habits.  Well, behold my first ever knitted thing that’s not a scarf!  It’s a present for my boyfriend though I may re-think that as I’m pretty attached…

Knitting really has been a great help.  You have to think about it while you’re doing it and you need both hands. Previous evening-time activities were easily done while smoking; watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on the phone.  I’m addicted now and am taking orders from friends and family.

My point here is (apart from promoting my new craft business!) that you really do need to think of something else to do.  It sounds obvious but it’s so important.    Break the habits and change your routine so that the activities and times you associate with smoking become associated with something else.

I’m still in the warm a fuzzy self-righteous glow of being a new non-smoker so it may be hard to take advice from me.  So this week, I’ve asked one of my colleagues, a long-time non-smoker, to tell us a little about how she feels about things now…

Noeleen, LloydsPharmacy, The Mill S.C. Clondalkin

 

Quit Date: 3 years ago

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

20140106_141627Hi guys,

Anyone out there trying to give up the cigarettes, hang in there, believe me it will get better. I was there myself and it will be worth it.  The ‘freedom’, as I called it at the time, was like I was released from something.

The best advice I would give is to do something with the money that you would normally spend on cigarettes, that is if you could afford to smoke in the first place. I got myself a loan and I knew then that the money was spoken for. I got my first car and paid back the loan within a year, I was so proud of that little Micra.

Apart from my car and back to the more serious side, my health was my main reason for giving them up. I got bronchitis every year and I have never had it since I gave them up. All the other little things like tasting my food again, my house smelling good and having loads of energy were a bonus. So if you’re trying to kick the habit at the moment, keep going and set yourself a goal, maybe a nice holiday or a spa weekend when you have reached your 3 or 6 month goal.

 Noeleen’

 

Thank you Noeleen!

 

I love Noeleen’s tactic of getting that loan.  It’s not unusual for a smoker to spend €300 in a month on cigarettes.  That’s the repayment on the loan for a very nice car.  But health is obviously the more important aspect.  Giving up smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health.  And as I hope you can see from our blog, it’s not impossible; it’s not always easy of course but not impossible…

We’ll be back next week with an update from one of our favourite bloggers and amazing pharmacy managers, Lyndsey, to see how she’s been getting on since we heard from her last.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

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Quitters’ Weekend Update: Week 4

boozeHere we go again!! Today’s picture features me with my greatest temptation – the booze. It’s the weekend and that means a drink or two (I really need to consider staying in a bit more!) and a drink or two usually means Naomi gasping for a cigarette. This is my fourth weekend as a non-smoker and here’s hoping I eventually start forgetting cigarettes, or indeed stop dreading the thoughts of visiting the pub quite so much.

Tonight, I’ve a date with my boyfriend who is also in the midst of quitting. There’ll be no one else there to distract us, no other quitters or non-smokers about to act as our conscience. This will be a real test for us both. If any of you sees me about the capital tonight, please do feel free to give me a nod of encouragement or a friendly high-five!

Before we hear from the lovely Lyndsey again, something I read today shocked me. See below a link to an article about smoking trends amongst pregnant women in Ireland. Before now, I always thought that if I ever got pregnant, that would be the one thing that would make me give up immediately and permanently.

(Please don’t panic friends & family – I’m well aware I can barely mind myself so no immediate maternity plans!)

I think most smokers would be of the same opinion. Shockingly though, Ireland has a higher rate of smoking during pregnancy than the US, with between 18 and 21 per cent of women unable (or opting not) to quit the habit while carrying a baby. I spoke in an earlier blog about finding your motivation… I can’t think of one more compelling! Indeed our own Lyndsey is doing her best to become a non-smoker before she thinks about having more children.

journal

http://www.thejournal.ie/smoking-pregnant-ireland-1176546-Nov2013/

Reading this got me thinking about how lucky I’ve been in that this quitting has been a mostly positive experience for me. It hasn’t been that difficult, once I had made the decision to go through with it. But it must be so much more difficult for others, particularly those women who do not give up during pregnancy.

This just emphasises the importance of SUPPORT, MOTIVATION and MEDICATION.  You have to make it easier on yourself.  If you’re finding it difficult, please ask about Smoking Control in your local LloydsPharmacy, or a similar service in another pharmacy, or indeed check out www.quit.ie for online support.  Your family will thank you.

Okay… ready for a smile?!  Lyndsey never lets us down…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

piggy bankHi again everyone!

Meet SMOKE-Y Bacon my savings piggy, who is getting nice and full lately 🙂

So still smoke-free and really enjoying it. I’m not going to say ‘loving it’ as I am still missing them. However I keep telling myself I’m only one drag to being back at the very start. (I’m not going there again).

Okay so I’m not a big drinker and I don’t go out weekends so I don’t have that temptation to smoke with drink or anything like that. But my temptation is definitely put to the test when I’m in my car and by God did it reach its peak this week……..

The weather the last couple of days has been pants. Which means an EXTRA early start for me to try beat the traffic. So I’m driving to work in the mental weather, having a fight with the steering wheel cos of the wind and the window wipers are on full with the rain. Next I just see break lights on the motorway. Yep just as I dreaded, I hit traffic. So I’m grand for the first couple of minutes just listening away to the radio. I look out the window to the car beside me and there was a man having a smoke out his window. Now all I can think about is….. I’d LOVE a smoke right now, like I’d REALLY love a smoke right now. I’m nearly willing for a pop-up garage to appear on the motorway, just so I could buy a pack and end this horrible feeling of temptation.

But nope that didn’t work.  although I did feel like rolling down my window and giving the man a piece of my mind for smoking next to my car cos now all I want is a smoke and I was fine till before I seen him acting all cool with his stupid smokes ha ha!!  (Oh as you can guess by this little story, I’m sooooo not a morning person!)

I was thinking about what Naomi was saying in her blog about needing a distraction and it’s so true but I just don’t think I’ve found mine quite yet. If I was to take up knitting my kids would end up with a sleeping bag instead of just a hat, ha ha!! So I think I need to get my thinking cap on and find my Distraction.  I’ll let you know J

Blog you all soon!

Smoke-Free,

Lyndsey…’

As usual Lyndsey, fair auld play to you x

Distraction and Motivation – what it’s all about it seems.  And making it EASIER…

Do you really want to quit?  What are you going to do to make it easier to do so?  How will your life/the life of your family be better if you’re successful?  What will you do instead of smoking?

There is no point embarking on this unless you have good answers for these questions and sturdy plans in place.  Here’s hoping my own plans last the weekend!

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

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’ Update Tuesday: Week 4

Hi again everyone.  Naomi here with our first update of Week 4. I’m delighted to be reporting yet another smoke-free weekend for me, despite two social events.  Someone give me a star!

One night over the weekend was particularly tough.  I was at a birthday party with a lot of social smokers and I was more tempted than ever to go out and join them.  What stopped me wasn’t actually my amazing will power (I know!), but the smell…  My sense of smell really has improved so much.  And the wave of smoke that entered the room each time the patio door opened was astounding, not to mention a little bit sickening.  I just can’t believe I used to smell so bad.  I really don’t know how my non-smoker friends stuck it.  No smell from my Nicorette inhaler!

Speaking of my non-smoker friends, I spoke at the beginning of the blog about how they and my family were my motivation in breaking the habit in the first place.  I think it’s very important that you understand exactly why you want to quit, REALLY, and if you really do want it enough.  We bloggers are doing well for the most part, with less and less slip-ups along the way as we progress.  But in order to keep that going, we all need to want to be non-smokers for the long-haul.  I’m talking to a lot of people who are self-proclaimed quitters but who still smoke when they socialise (i.e. when they drink).  What is a non-smoker exactly?  And do you think you can really kick a habit if you allow yourself to indulge in the habit just some of the time?  I suppose it depends on your motivation, doesn’t it?  If it’s your health and your family, I don’t think being a ‘social smoker’ is going to cut it.  I intend working really hard to forget about cigarettes completely.

I spoke about Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking a couple of blogs ago.  To be honest, I found myself being afraid to finish it.  I don’t know why exactly so this week, I’m determined to get through it and let you know how I find it.  With that and the knitting, there’ll be no stopping me!

naomi book

Let’s see how Alison has been doing since last week…

Alison, Manager LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Aged 31

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

alison cropHi everyone!

Well I’m still off them…3 weeks so far and it’s getting a lot easier.  I think about them for a few seconds when I first wake up but they don’t cross my mind for the rest of the day/evening. The less I talk about them the easier it is!

I feel much better, even though I’m on antibiotics for a chest infection! My body doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that I have given up because I’m on inhalers and I haven’t been on one since I was a child!! Hopefully it won’t last long and I’ll be fit as a fiddle in no time!! I’m sleeping much better than I had been in the first week on the patches… no more freaky dreams!

I have put on a little bit of weight but I just want to get through the stop smoking first and then I can worry about getting back in shape!! I’d rather be a fat non-smoker!!

I’m saving so much money it’s scary…I can leave the house without my purse now and not worry about getting cigarettes etc. I used to go to the shop and buy smokes, drink, magazine etc. and spend a fortune every day! I’ll have my new kitchen in no time!!

Hope everyone else is still off them!

Fantastic news Alison, well done!

Alison was compelled by her daughter, her partner and her wallet to give up.  And she obviously really wants to ensure she doesn’t let her family or herself down.  A new kitchen will be more than enough reward I reckon!

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 2

Happy Blood Pressure Awareness Day everyone! Supported by The Irish Heart Foundation, RTE’s Operation Transformation is attempting to generate awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Check out http://www.irishheart.ie for more information and to be in with a chance to win a Blood Pressure Monitor. You can also avail of free blood pressure measuring at any of our branches nationwide.

When I wrote on Tuesday, the buzz was all about Operation Transformation. I hope you all watched as Sarah was faced with some very tough facts about smoking. As I write today, it’s all about the E-Cigarette. Did you watch Monday’s episode of Prime Time? It mirrored debate a lot of us have been having here about this new option to aid quitting smoking. Check out the link below to watch this episode on the RTE Player; the e-cigarette segment starts at 13 minutes in. A lot of our customers wonder why we as a pharmacy don’t stock any of these products. As outlined in the Prime Time segment, these products are as yet unlicensed, unregulated and unproven. We are bound by our regulators to stock only proven and licensed products.

After watching the debate on Monday from my personal perspective, the products do seem like a very healthy alternative to smoking, of course. The trouble for me is I’m trying to free myself of addiction, not create another one! This is why I’m avoiding the    e-cigarette for now.

ecigs

http://www.rte.ie/player/de/show/10244541/

nightoutSo back to the business of quitting… I’m doing really well this week, after having survived 2 nights out as a non smoker. Now, I have been allowing myself to indulge my food cravings (which I think are more out of boredom than real desire) but I’m calling a halt to that next week.  What I’m attempting to do now is Find My Exercise!! And I welcome any suggestions! It’s so important to increase your level of physical activity in conjunction with giving up smoking. Trouble is, I HATE exercising! I’ve committed to a big long walk every weekend with some friends, which I know I will enjoy. And I’m currently researching dance classes and other more exciting things other than running, cycling and walking. Tune in next week to see what I end up trying!

Over now to our brave customer for an update on how he’s been getting on since last week:

David, Teacher, Age 33

Still Smoke-free?   Yes… ish!

Blog # 2 – When Smokers meet the Devil!

daveSo how long did it last? Well… about five days if truth be told. I should have known that a drink would be the undoing of me; and it was! As I blogged last week I’d been enjoying feeling healthy, saving money and taking the high moral ground when talking about smoking. “Smoke? Me? Nope – I’m off them. Feeling great!” Even when meeting up with friends who are smokers, the urge to have a quick smoke with them never entered my mind.

A big challenge was last Friday evening when I went out to a bar with a large group of people that I do not really know. I managed to avoid alcohol and cigarettes, although it was a real struggle and as I was out of my comfort zone it took a real effort to resist. Then on Saturday night the whole clean-living buzz wore off. My girlfriend and I decided to have a tapas cook-off and opened a bottle of wine. After an awesome meal and some great wine, I caved. This was much to the disappointment of my girlfriend who is also (more successfully) kicking the habit. What reason? Well if I’m honest, it was simply because I felt like one and had a bit of badness in me.

‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Cigarettes do kill you and certainly don’t make you stronger so since my slip-up I’ve been conscious that I let myself down and haven’t touched them. I haven’t had any alcohol and haven’t for a second felt an urge to spark up. On Monday, I forgot to put a nicotine patch on before I went to work and by mid-day I realised that I was being unreasonably narky.

It’s funny the way the habit can be broken but your body still tells you that it wants something. This manifests itself in my case through being a grump. All is fine though provided I remain patched-up. It looks like I’m switching addictions from cigarettes to patches. I guess this is ok though as it doesn’t affect your lungs. I believe the key with patches is to wean yourself off them – so that will be my goal over the next few weeks.

Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be better able to control the little devil on my shoulder that whispers “why not??”

Good luck to all the other quitters out there!

Thanks again David!

I really am loving the honesty of these updates.  I hope our readers do too – please let us know.  I keep saying it but it’s so true:  it may take multiple attempts to free yourself from smoking but this can’t discourage you from trying again.  The minute you stop each time, you become a non-smoker again.  Keep the faith!

We’re back on Saturday with more from our bloggers.  Keep the feedback coming!