Making Lunch - Musings at 11 Months Smoke-Free

sandwich, apple and orange juice
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About Smoking Cessation Forum member and Ex-smoker Rick shares his thoughts on quitting tobacco from the vantage point of 11 months smoke-free. 

Thanks for sharing Rick, and congratulations on your quit.

From Rick:

Let's see now, the main course, check. The dessert, check. And a drink to wash it all down with, check. And another work day meal is ready as tomorrow is another day of ''the grind.'' Not that I'm complaining, there's something comforting to me in the familiar routine of making lunch.

And I suspect that the same is true for many of you. Whether you choose to make sandwiches, pop a microwaveable bag into the fridge for easy carry-out or prepare more of a full course meal, we all follow the routine we choose.

But sometimes we choose to have routine changes. For me one big change from the past is the fact that in my lunch bag I don't have a pack of cigarettes ready for that after lunch smoke that used to be a major part of my noon time ritual 5 days a week.

Adjusting to a Smoke-Free Life

And for me this change is not a small one. When I quit smoking 11 months ago I, like all quitters, had to endure a series of lifestyle changing adjustments. One of the most surprising for me was how strong, predictable and persistent the after lunch crave proved to be. The desire for a wake up smoke, a go to bed smoke and many others in between the two faded within a few weeks of  beginning this quit.

But not the after lunch smoke. It was such an unwanted recurring feature of my quit that I began to call it ''The 105er'' as my daily schedule required me to be back on the job at 1 pm.By 1:05 pm my inner addict was all too aware that the fix was not coming. And he was not happy about it and he made as much noise within my inner world as he could.

But prevail he never did. And I couldn't be happier about that. For not having to carry that pack of nicotine fixes in my lunch bag is very freeing. I can have lunch with any of my co workers without the embarrassing need to disappear about ten minutes before lunchtime ends to smoke. And that freedom carries over to both the morning and afternoon breaks, as well as the trip to and from work. My car, which I bought during month 4 of this quit, (which is also about when ''the 105er'' started fading out of my life) has never been smoked in. That would never have been possible before quitting tobacco.

Beyond work,  my hard won freedom carries over to all aspects of my life. I never have to worry about how long any activity lasts, because I never have to escape to get a fix. I also feel better than I ever remember feeling in my life. And I mean ever. I can run or walk long distances  without getting winded, I rarely cough anymore and as I've been quit almost a year, all of my clothes, both summer and winter wear, are free of the old stale smoke smell.

One Day at a Time

But there is one catch. And that is the reality that my freedom, and all of its benefits, are only in effect one day at a time. Simply put, I am free to smoke or not to smoke, but only as long as I choose not to smoke do I grasp the gold ring. Because I have quit before for as long as 9 months,  I know from my own past that ''just one puff' would end my ascent to better health and start a quick decline. I never again want to feel the pain and fear that was so much a part of my life just a little over 11 months ago.

So, I choose to keep my lunch bag free of the poison within a pack of cigarettes. The feeling of being controlled, the fear and lack of self-esteem that would follow just one puff is something that I never want to feel again. I always want my lunch time routine to be a matter of free choice.

So, as I put together tomorrow's lunch, aware that I have now 11 months of freedom, I rejoice in my decision to quit smoking. I never have to have cigarettes in my bag again.

 And that is freedom.

Thank you for reading,

Rick

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