Great American Smokeout: 30 Ways To Stop Smoking
Smoking is the number-one cause of preventable death in the U.S. It hurts almost every organ in the body, and results in more than 393,000 deaths per year, according to the American Lung Association. But you already know all that, right? And you want to quit, but damn: It's hard.
The Great American Smokeout is coming up (it takes place on the third Thursday in November each year). Are you thinking of trying to give up cigarettes on the big day? If so, you can start preparing right now. After all, you wouldn't just go out and run a marathon, would you? No. You would start training in advance. With that in mind, here are 30 ways you can boost your willpower and help yourself lose the desire to light up.
1. Google-image "smokers lungs." 'Nuff said.
2. Avoid friends who smoke. Other people's habits -- healthy or unhealthy -- can rub off on you. So spend more time with friends who never step outside for smoke breaks.
3. Pucker up. More time spent smooching means less time spent puffing cigs -- and kissing has other health benefits, too. Bonus: It will motivate you to keep your mouth tasting good (instead of ashtray-esque).
4. Reward yourself regularly. Every time you go 24 hours without a cigarette, allow yourself to indulge in an extra-special treat -- whether that means dessert or an extra hour of TV.
5. Go "om." You can boost your willpower and strengthen your spirit by developing a daily three-minute meditation habit. Here's how.
6. Go hand-to-mouth. Make a healthy, storable snack like Chilled Cucumbers with Dill Sauce. Eat some each time a cigarette craving strikes. (Carrot or celery sticks are a cigarette-shaped alternative to cucumber wedges...)
7. Switch up your nicotine source. Can't swing going cold turkey? Try chewing nicotine gum or using a nicotine patch. Either can ward off withdrawal symptoms as you wean yourself off smokes.
8. Take up knitting. Or woodworking. Or watch repair. Anything to keep your fingers occupied, so they won't be itching to hold a cancer stick. (Heck, you could even keep your hands busy in the bedroom).
9. Get punchy. Lots of nonsmokers swear that acupuncture helped them kick the habit. Try it -- you might end up being one of them.
10. Do the math. Seriously: Calculate the cost of smoking. (We're talking actual dollars and cents here.) Most pack-a-day smokers shell out more than $2,100 a year on cigarettes. How much are you spending? And what else you could do with that dough? Eh? Eh?
11. List it. Write "No cigarettes" on your to-do list each day. Having it there as a reminder -- and being able to check it off at the end of each smoke-free day -- can help you keep your eye on the prize.
12. Lose the booze. At least temporarily. Alcohol can increase the urge to smoke; if you cut down on the cocktails while you're trying to kick the habit, you'll be less tempted to light up.
14. Be suggestive. Hypnosis is one approach for breaking nicotine addition. Why not make an appointment with a certified hypnotist in your area, and give it a try?
15. Do four minutes of cardio. Interval workouts like Tabata will have you gasping for air in no time flat -- and that feeling of breathlessness might inspire you cut back on the cigs.
16. Beat the bloat. Still smoking because you're worried you'll look heavier once you quit? Learn how to reduce belly bloat. Who knows? Your pants may actually fit better after you ditch the cigs.
17. Face the truth. Take a good look in the mirror and check out your wrinkles. Chances are, smoking helped cause them. You'd like to nip premature wrinkling in the bud, wouldn't you? Thought so. (Click here to find out about foods that minimize wrinkles.)
18. Curb your craving. Miss taking smoke breaks at work? You can still go outside: This curb workout gives you a much healthier reason to walk out the door.
19. Plant yourself. Use smoking to get your through your midafternoon slump? Perk up by putting a plant or flowers on your desk instead.
20. Change things up. Varying your daily activities a little -- or a lot (hello, calming retreat!) -- will remove some smoking triggers from your life.
21. Be flexible. Smoking to deal with stress? That's kind of like like eating margarine to improve your heart health. Try a more positive approach: Yoga for stress reduction.
22. Smell your own morning breath. After a night of smoking, lick the back of your hand, let it dry, then take a big whiff. Smoking pretty much guarantees you'll have dragon breath -- all the more reason to quit.
24. Pop it up. You know what sort of feels like a cigarette? An ice pop. Address your oral fixation in a delicious way: Make your own fruity treats in five simple steps.
25. Hand it over. Stained, smelly hands are a hallmark of smoking. Try the moves in the Quick Upper Body Martial Arts workout, which bring your hands up in front of your nose (so you'll appreciate your clean, nice-smelling digits). Each time you want a cigarette, fight the craving with a jab or block.
26. Get outta town. Why not plan a long flight? Your first 12-plus hours of being smokefree will feel a lot better if you're on your way to an exotic locale...
27. Start a smoke log. Keeping a food log can help you lose weight, so why not try the same tactic with smoking? Each time you have a cigarette (or want one really, really bad), write it down. It will help you identify -- and empower you to control -- your smoking triggers.
28. Find a quitting partner. As the saying goes, misery loves company there's strength in numbers. Having a buddy to share your successes and setbacks with will keep you honest and help you stay on track. Afraid you'll talk about smoking nonstop? Become exercise buddies, too!
29. Light it up. Not a cig -- your backyard grill. Make a cozy flame and busy yourself by cooking a big piece of grilled salmon. You'll stay cigarette-free and boost your intake of healthy nutrients.
30. Get the story. Read the true account of a devoted smoker who began lighting up at age 13 -- and was eventually able to quit cold turkey. Whatever someone else has done, you can do.