A Weekly List of Benefits at 3 Months Smoke-Free

Marah's Story

enjoying the summer
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At three months smoke-free, ex-smoker Marah details some of the improvements she's noticed.

Thanks for sharing, Marah. 

From Marah:

I hope to encourage new ex-smokers by listing some of the benefits I’ve derived from not smoking these past 3 months. I smoked for 27 years, 20 of those years were a pack a day or more. For the last 3 or 4 years, I’d been chewing 5-6 pieces of nicotine gum a day on top of smoking 20 cigarettes, so I had ungodly amounts of nicotine coursing through my bloodstream.

Week 1-2: Improvements to Respiration, Vision and Heart Rate

My vision seems much brighter like a film has been removed from my eyes. My hands are looking better, less gnarled and dry. I can sit at my computer without having to periodically assume that "tripod position" (head and chest bent forward).

Also, when I’m lying in bed, I’m not experiencing shallow breathing and rapid pulse (before, my pulse often was over 100 at rest). I don’t have to worry about the neighbors hating me for making noise opening up my window at all hours of the night to crawl out on the fire escape to smoke.

Week 3: Skin Tone Changes

I notice that the skin tone in my legs is more uniform. Before, it had been a mottled mix of purple, grey, and white; now, it just seems pale.

Week 4: Less Anxiety

Went running for 30 minutes, and it wasn’t too bad. I’m noticing that I haven’t had that painful jaw/facial ache since I quit smoking.

My jaw used to ache so badly. I think it’s because I was so incredibly anxious as a smoker. My paranoia is a lot less. I used to feel like total strangers hated me. Skin definitely looking better, like it’s moisturized from within.

As a smoker, even though I drank a lot of water, my skin was so dehydrated that it had a kind of "tenting" effect; you could pinch a little bit and it would stay in place!

I feel much better about my skin. My hands are really looking tons better; almost an asset now, whereas before they’d been a detriment. Broken blood vessels on my cheeks less prominent. Yellow/white bumps under my eyes are only apparent if I strain to look for them.

Week 5: Starting to Feel Excitement for a Smoke-Free Future

Feel like I’m coming alive. Noticing that I’m taking the scenic route while running errands on foot, something I never would have done before. Laughed long and loud on the phone today; unusual for me. Feel a kind of incredible joy and excitement about what might be.

Week 6: Gains in Physical Endurance

No longer hard to exercise 4x a week (used to be very hard to exercise 3x/week). Took myself off my blood pressure medication (HCTZ) to see what might happen.

Week 7: More Energy and Clearing Sinuses

No longer have that "ticking", pressurized feeling like I’m in the bottom of a swimming pool when I tip my head down, bending over. Haven’t taken a nap on my days off since first week of the quit (used to nap for 4 or 5 hours every time I had a day off).

I’m able to open up my mouth and look inside without feeling fearful. Can breathe out of both nostrils right now (covering up one at a time), which I haven’t been able to do in ages.

Week 8: Dealt with Grief without Smoking

Survived the death of my beloved cat, Sota, age 16 1/2. This was one of the saddest experiences of my life, and I made it through without smoking.

Week 10: Energy and Endurance Continue to Grow

Running 30 minutes is now easy, lung-wise. Biggest change since quitting smoking is in my energy. Getting things done is just not so hard anymore. Last year, the trip to the post office to mail my Christmas packages involved weeks of procrastination and dreading. It just seemed like such an ordeal, and it took all of my energy to drag myself down to the post office. This year, I did it without thinking too much about it – and accomplished several other things that day as well.

Week 11: Exercising Four Times per Week Now

Now running 35 minutes at a time, four or five times a week.

Week 12:

Am getting out of my house more now and am finding it difficult to spend an entire day indoors. It used to be the opposite; I hated to ever leave, for fear of being separated from my cigarettes. I’m not dreading the family wedding in March the way I would have when I was the only smoker. I don’t feel like everyone will be judging me.

Heels of my feet less rough and scaly (due to improved circulation?) No lymph node or ear pain in ages. Have been monitoring my blood pressure regularly since I went off the medication and it’s been terrific. Latest: 116/67! Pulse 59! Can’t wait to tell my doctor!

***

While Marah's experiences are unique to her, most new ex-smokers can expect to notice improvements in how they feel both physically and psychologically during the first few months of smoking cessation.

Headaches, a racing pulse and high blood pressure are a few of the reactions our bodies have to some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke.  We often attribute them to stress or the aging process, because they can develop slowly.  It often comes as a surprise that the physical discomforts we've lived with for so long were actually related to tobacco because they disappeared when we stopped smoking.

Keep your own quit log and detail how you feel day-by-day.  It won't take long for the improvements to start to surface.

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