Name: Mark P.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: NikeEverything (member since 2014)
Number of Years Smoked: 7
Smoke-Free Since: July 28, 2014
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM and quitting smoking?
Smoking life seemed normal: morning coughs, lengthy sicknesses and a generally empty wallet. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, other than the fact that I knew in the back of my mind that if I did not quit smoking it would eventually kill me. I began smoking at the "late" age of 20. One cigarette with a few drinks here and there turned into a pack-and-a-half a day. I remember when my daughter was born in 2006, I had taken a trip downstairs to my car to have a cigarette. I told myself, "After this pack is gone, I'm done." That resolution may have lasted an hour.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
When my daughter was born, life changed for me completely. It sounds like a cliché, but I finally was gifted with something that was more important to me than myself. As we both grew older, so did her desire for me to quit smoking. The more she learned about it, the more my little angel yearned for me to quit.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you quit smoking?
The LIVESTRONG community helped keep me accountable. In any moment of weakness, I was able to reach out for help on the Quit Smoking community message board, which is linked in the MyQuit Coach app. I found that, while I was having my own struggles, I benefited from offering encouragement to others who were also struggling.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
My parents smoke, and my wife smokes as well. I basically had no real-life support system, other than the occasional "wow, nice job" from smokers who asked me why I wasn't smoking. I searched for an app to monitor my quit stats, including cravings and savings. I came across LIVESTRONG's life-saving MyQuit Coach app. I was astonished to find so many people on the community message board who were going through the same feelings of torment that I was, not to mention so many people sharing advice who had already been successful in beating their tobacco addiction. The MyQuit Coach app was a critical component to my success in quitting smoking.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did you strategize for your quit?
Originally, I planned on quitting smoking by gradually cutting back. Two days into my two-week cut-down plan, it hit me that I was poisoning my body and that I needed to stop. I stopped smoking at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday while still in possession of cigarettes. I headed to a local vapor shop and got set up with an apparatus to wean myself off nicotine. As my mind raced, I ate, slept and was pretty miserable, but eventually those feelings faded. Occasionally, I do still have impulses to smoke, but I will not waver. I also found it critically important not to hide from or avoid smokers or cigarettes. People will smoke, and you will see and be around them, so you have to be prepared for that challenge.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
The biggest challenge for me was time. I became very aware of how much time I had been wasting, and I struggled with what to do with all of the newfound time I had on my hands. At first, the time passing seemed like agony. Every second of every minute was symbolizing what I was missing. I ate, I slept and I was miserable, but eventually I gained my life back -- plus the time I had previously been "smoking away." After a couple of months, I found myself spending more time playing games with my children. I also really enjoyed the fresh air and the smell of autumn, which had eluded me for years. It is truly amazing to be able to stop and appreciate life and all of the small pleasures I overlooked while robotically inhaling burning chemical death sticks.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What advice for success do you want to share with others who are just starting out or still struggling in their fight to quit smoking?
You can do it! I always said that I would quit, but deep down I had accepted that I would never actually do it. If I can do it, you can do it. Stay positive, stay busy, stay alive!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Life is much different without smoking. I no longer need to be somewhere as soon as my schedule allows time to smoke a cigarette. I no longer have to brave the subzero New York winter temperatures for a few measly puffs. I no longer tell my children to wait a few minutes while I smoke. I can play with my daughters without being out of breath. The possibilities are limitless, and I plan on exploring all of them.