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How Evan S. Used LIVESTRONG’s MyQuit Coach to Stop Smoking

BY ANN RUSNAK

My Story:
I was a smoker for 17 years. I fooled myself into thinking that nobody knew that I smoked. I realize now that all you had to do was smell me to learn my secret. For the last 10 of those 17 years, I tried to quit almost every day. The first thing in the morning, I would throw my pack of cigarettes away, but by noon, I would be purchasing a new one.

In December 2010, my doctor repeated the words I'd heard from her many times before: "You need to quit smoking." For some reason, this time she shared with me that the health-insurance company paid her $10 for saying those five simple words and labeled it "quit smoking counseling." As an insurance agent, that knowledge made my blood boil. No wonder premiums are so high! Ironically, it was learning about that $10, rather than the money I was spending on cigarettes, that finally motivated me to take lasting action.

I had already been a member of LIVESTRONG.COM since 2009, trying to get healthy and lose weight using the MyPlate calorie tracker. I had noticed an ad for the MyQuit Coach - Dare to Quit Smoking app on the site. I had tried everything else, so why not give it a try?

In the past, I had tried many of the popular ways to quit smoking – Wellbutrin, Zyban, CHANTIX, Nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, quitting cold turkey - nothing had worked for me. Somehow, those five words from my doctor, her "quit smoking counseling," kept lingering in my head. I downloaded the app, bought some nicotine gum, and decided that as soon as the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year's Day I would be smoke free! 

I put my last cigarette out on December 31, 2010 at 11:59 PM, and I have not had a single puff since.

Evan

My life without nicotine is much more active!

My Turning Point:
After I had been smoke-free for around three months, my wife and I decided to file for divorce after 10 years of marriage. My life was falling to pieces, and I knew that smoking would not improve anything. I determined then and there that nothing was more important to me than remaining smoke free! I made it through that tumultuous time without smoking, and I was stronger for it. That is one of my proudest achievements to this day!

My Support System:
I had almost no "real-world" support in my attempt to quit smoking. My marriage was falling apart, and my ex-wife was a chain smoker who had no intention of quitting, ever. My biggest support was the online community I discovered through the MyQuit Coach app. They turned out to be the most understanding, supportive, non-judgmental group of people, and that made all the difference in the world to my long-term success.

My Biggest Challenge:
Being a smoker takes a lot of time. I always had to be thinking about how, when and where I could grab a smoke, and plan accordingly to be sure I could fit that in to my schedule. The biggest challenge for me after I quit was figuring out what to do with all of the extra time I gained, not to mention what to do with my hands, which were used to holding a cigarette. It was important to restructure my daily routines and disrupt those ingrained habits in order to be successful.

My Secret to Success:  
Honestly, the biggest secret to my success was the MyQuit Coach app, which introduced me to the LIVESTRONG.COM Quit Smoking community message board. It was the only variable that had changed in my repeated attempts to quit smoking and it made all the difference for me. This time, I had the Quit Smoking community behind and beside me every step of the way. The bond and support we share exists still to this day.

Like me, many members stick around long after they have successfully quit smoking to pay it forward and support others in their efforts. We all share and understand the everyday struggles in this nicotine battle, and having each other to fall back on for support in that journey is priceless.

My Advice to Others: 
Never quit quitting!! Each failed attempt is a learning experience and gets you one step closer to your final, lifelong quit. It took me 10 years of almost daily attempts to finally win this battle, but it was so worth it! I am here to tell you – it can be done, and it does get easier!
Stay positive, stay busy, and be kind to yourself.  You CAN do it!!

Reader Update - After Evan's doctor expressed concern about the effect his weight was having on his high blood pressure and cholesterol in December of 2013, Evan decided it was time to take control of his health once again.  On New Year's Day 2014 Evan started tracking on LIVESTRONG's MyPlate calorie tracker and successfully lost 40 pounds over the next several months!  Read Evan's story of how LIVESTRONG.COM saved his life for the second time here!    

Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG’s Sr. Community Manager.  Her quest to lose the “baby weight” before the “baby” finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day.  She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend.  Over the years Ann’s desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.

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