Unexpected Perks of Quitting Smoking

Ex-smokers share the unexpected rewards of giving up cigarettes.

Lori Murray
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Perks of Quitting Smoking, Ex-smokers, quit smoking

Yes, you’re well aware that kicking tobacco is the best health move you can make. But check out these other rewards of quitting smoking—if it happened for these women, it can happen for you, too!         

Katie Love, 49, of Whittier, CA
Quit date: July 29, 2013

Reasons for quitting smoking: “I felt like smoking was controlling me, even though I’m a super-confident person—I run a large [hospital] medical staff! I was tired of always coughing, searching for a place to smoke. I hated avoiding social situations because of it. And now my first grandbaby is coming.”

How she did it: “I used the [nicotine] patch for a week. I started making rules: No smoking at work, no smoking on the patio—that was my smoking zone. When I had cravings, I exercised. I’d think, Instead of lighting a cigarette you’re going to do 20 sit-ups; you’re going to walk around the block."

Quit-smoking benefits within 3 weeks:

  • I felt empowered: “The sense of control I felt immediately—I was surprised how profoundly I felt that. It goes back to deciding whether to participate in activities and not having to leave or wonder, When can I get out of here?”
  • My skin was healthier: “I can really tell the difference; toxins started coming out right away. I pampered my skin with a lovely massage.”
  • I went on a great first date! “He’s someone I’ve known for years, but he wouldn’t date a smoker. The first week I showed him my arm and joked, ‘Look, I have the patch.’ The tone of our interactions changed immediately. We recently went out for ice cream, and before I would’ve thought, I’m really enjoying this, but wish I could get away to smoke. I love knowing I don’t have to do that!”

Jennifer Palmer, 41, of Fredericksburg, VA
Quit date: Jan. 8, 2013

Reasons for quitting smoking: “I’m a preschool teacher—of course I know how bad it looks! Honestly, I just got tired of feeling really bad living on coffee and nicotine…being the outsider, standing by myself in the snow. I thought, This is really getting in the way of my life.”

How she did it: “I set a quit date and got through one craving at a time, reminding myself, You haven’t smoked in 3 hours...12 hours...5 days. I also have a friend who runs and got into it about a month after I quit. She said I traded one addiction for another and it’s true!”

Quit-smoking benefits within 8 months

  • I became a jock—and got skinnier! “In May I ran my first 5K [3.2-mile race], and now I’ve done three of them plus a 5-miler. I’ve lost 15 pounds, and I signed up for a half marathon! I’m not going to smoke and ruin how far I’ve come with my running.”
  • I bought fun stuff and still saved money: I was a pack-a-day smoker and spent about $2,000 a year. My new ‘addiction’ doesn’t cost me nearly that much. I spend it on race fees and great running shoes. Signing up for the half marathon was $60—that’s two weeks’ worth of cigarettes.
  • My “numbers” dropped: “My blood pressure went down, my cholesterol went down and I was able to lower my [dose of] meds a lot. I’m also eating better, drinking less coffee and more water—as they say, one healthy decision leads to another.”

Need help quitting smoking?
Try calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669), or go online for support. Both Katie and Jennifer credit the positive “lifestyle makeover” philosophy at Smokefree Women (women.smokefree.gov/makeover) with helping them stay off tobacco. Also, talk with your doctor; there may be prescription medication or over-the-counter products that can help you resist cravings.

December 2013