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’ Update 13th March 2014

namHi again everyone. Naomi, Health Strategy Manager here at LloydsPharmacy, back with you again for the second week of Lent. I’m finally starting to feel really, really healthy.  The recent sunshine has of course helped me with that but it’s also down to being able to catch a breath while exerting myself in any way whatsoever!

Here is me with a bike.  Yes, a bike.  And I realise I’m merely standing beside it in this picture but I promise you I also cycle it nowadays.  Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I cycled from Donnybrook to Sandycove and back.  He’s really, really fit so I was nervous I would be a panting, sweaty mess before I made it up the first hill but I wasn’t; I kept up with him.  What’s more, I actually enjoyed it! Anyone who knows me will tell you that me enjoying physical activity outdoors is quite the shocker.  It’s such a change for me to be feeling healthy and fit and I actually WANT to get out there and be active.  This would not have been how the smoker version of Naomi behaved, I assure you.

People have been constantly asking how I’m getting on throughout the course of this blog.  And I’ve been saying since the beginning how it gets easier every week.  And it truly does.  But I’ll be honest; it’s only these last two weeks that I’m genuinely certain this is it for me.  It was really hard not to revert to normal behaviour.  My skin went through a huge change, with acne and dryness, and I have put on a good bit of weight – I am ALWAYS hungry!  (I think that’s because I can finally taste properly though!)  It seemed at times to be so unfair that something so good for my health was making me feel and look so much worse.  But that just shows you what effect smoking has on your body.  The changes I’ve been going through have made me realise that I was harming myself in so many different ways.  Now, I’m more determined than ever to stay smoke-free and to get fit and healthy and to enjoy this coming summer.

It’s not going to be easy, be under no illusions.  And you’ll feel like it’s not worth the enormous effort.  But I promise you that coming out the other end IS worth it.  I have more energy than ever, I’m sleeping better, and I’m in a much better mood!  Don’t delay…

That’s enough from me.  Let’s check in with one of our past bloggers…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Quit Date: 13th January

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

Last Despatch!

daveHello again folks,

January is long gone and most of those earnest New Year’s Resolutions are distant memories. The long weekend is on the way and for a lot of people – hopefully me included – a trip to the pub with friends and family is on the cards. Will I be with the crowds heading outside to smoke and chat?

No way! Not all resolutions have been kept, but getting off cigarettes is one that I’m delighted to have stuck with. My reasons for staying off them are still the same. It’s expensive, causes both short-term and long-term illnesses, affects fitness and has been a part of my life for too long. These are all reasons that continue to motivate me.

On top of this I am finding that smokers are rapidly gaining pariah status so it is the norm for people not to smoke. This means there’s less temptation. All of my friends and family have been totally supportive and have given loads of encouragement. This is a huge help and not one that I had considered when I decided to quit. My girlfriend has also quit (and done much better than I have!) and now is disgusted by the smell of them so would know if I had a sneaky smoke.

I haven’t had one since I slipped up in January and smoked a few cigarettes one night whilst having wine with friends. The Nicorette Inhaler is great when out in a pub as you’ve something to keep your hands busy. The taste is a little sour so it’s not something you want to be attacking all evening and pretty soon you forget about wanting a cigarette and stop fiddling with it. The patches are absolutely great for everyday situations.

Being open about it is a good idea as everyone knows that you’re supposed to be off them. They’ll be very quick to tell you off if you appear with a cigarette. I’m loving quitting smoking and can’t see myself ever taking up the habit again.

Thanks everyone!

David.’

Thanks David! Great to hear you’re still doing so well.  Congratulations 🙂

David referred to support in his update and that’s something that’s come up time and time again while we’ve been working on this blog.  Your friends and family HAVE to be behind you in your efforts to quit.  There’s no point codding yourself into thinking that living with a smoker will make this any easier, or keeping ashtrays around or going out with a gang of smoker friends.  You can’t do this on your own.  And remember, you are 4 times more likely to be successful with 1-2-1 coaching and support. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice.

We’ll be back next week with hopefully more good news about how amazing it is to be a non-smoker!

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 5

Hi again everyone. Naomi back again. Did you miss us?! Well, we’ve decided that we’re going to take a little break from our Quitters’ Blog. We’ve asked a lot from our volunteers so far so we reckon they deserve some respite to enjoy life as non-smokers! We’re going to be back in a few weeks with some new faces we hope, as Lent sparks some new life into our efforts.
For me, I want to start concentrating on other ways to get healthy. While I’m of course delighted to be writing to you now as a non-smoker, I have put on a few pounds and the awful weather has made it unappealing to get outside and get fit. I can’t help but feel a little bit cheated, deflated and unmotivated when I think about having to work again at losing weight…

nm

However, having said that… this picture of me was taken exactly a year ago and it helps to look at it as I’m still over a stone lighter now than I was then.  So, I’m still so much better off than I was a year ago and I need to keep remembering this as I continue to strive to forget about cigarettes for good.

Keep focusing on the positives.  This is the time when complacency starts to creep in.  If you’ve been working on becoming a non-smoker, don’t give up now.  Think of how far you’ve come and how much better off you will be in so many ways a year from now.

For now, David and Lyndsey have been kind enough to give us their final updates.

 

David, Teacher, aged 33

Still Smoke-Free?  Yes!

dave‘Hi again everyone. So here I am at the end of the blog. Is it the end of my time off cigarettes? Now that people aren’t watching will it seem ok to revert back to smoking? No way! I am loving staying off cigarettes and all the benefits that have come with it.

For a start, whilst I didn’t count up exactly how much money I’ve saved, I’ve been able to put the odd tenner or twenty away. Rather than throwing away nine Euro every few two or three days I saved it in a box and am putting it towards a night or two away with my girlfriend. So there’s my financial reward immediately.

On the health side, I guess that it is more gradual. So far this winter I’ve not gotten any coughs, colds or sore-throats. Also I definitely notice how much easier it is to catch my breath when doing exercise.

The biggest test was always going to be during nights out and whilst I have folded once or twice during nights out I have also gotten through just as many without sparking up. This was always going to be a huge challenge and at least now I know I can do it. Also as I previously wrote, most of my social circle don’t smoke anymore so there are less bad influences out there.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up. I’ve a feeling that I will this time.

Best of luck to all the other bloggers and readers, I hope they enjoy being a quitter as much as I do.

David.’

 

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

lyn‘Hey everyone,

This is me with my kids, Ben and Zoey.

I don’t think I really ever thought of the impact of my kids seeing me smoking or known I smoked until we took this picture as Ben turned around and said “Mammy you really are Smoke Free now,  I’m very Proud of you”. It was a real ‘ahhh’ moment. (pure mammy’s boy haha!)

So I can’t believe I’m still off the smokes. This is officially the longest I’ve been off them by choice. (Whooo)  I’ve given them up before but was only during pregnancy.

I’m going to keep going strong with the patches and hopefully reduce the strength bit by bit.

Have to say I’ve really enjoyed the blog. Loved reading how everyone is getting on.

It’s mad to think the impact smokes had on our lives and what we’ve gone through to kick the habit.

It’s not been easy but I’m enjoying my Smoke-free life.

Talk to you all soon,

Lyndsey xxxx’

Thanks guys! We will check in with you in a few weeks to see how you’re getting on x

And thanks too to our other volunteers who were so kind to share their journeys with us.  We’ve been overwhelmed at the positive feedback we’ve been getting from our readers and all the support we’ve had from our colleagues.  It really has helped.    In fact I doubt very much I myself would have been this successful without this blog.  Having all eyes on me in the office every day meant I wouldn’t have gotten away with failing, even if I had wanted to!

So long for now.  We’ll be back soon with more stories and helpful advice (we hope!).  Remember that support is always available from your pharmacist.

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…