New Years Resolutions…How to give up smoking!

Ok that title might be somewhat misleading, I do not have some magical technique to help you give up smoking and I myself am currently struggling with this. Actually scratch that I don’t think I am struggling with it I am doing it and I am finding it hard; but importantly I am actually doing it. I have smoked since the age of 14 and I have known for years that I should give up, finally at the ripe old age of 34 I have decided it is the time.

I often ask myself why I haven’t given up yet and honestly I think the answer is that I enjoyed it. To the thousands of non smokers this must just seem stupid and when I think about it I am inclined to agree. How can I enjoy something that is killing me? I think that everyone has their vices and whether it’s fast food, cigarettes or alcohol; we are all guilty of doing something that is not good for us. Unfortunately I enjoy all of the things I just listed; many people believe that I am really healthy and whilst I might be compared to some, I know that I need to sort my shit out and stop a few of my unhealthy habits.

I ride and exercise a lot, I look healthy on the outside though as I am often reminded by those close to me it’s my insides that are taking a beating. Even after being diagnosed with cancer I continued to smoke, stupid I know but even more stupidly was my justification! Here it is; I didn’t have lung cancer and after having chemotherapy and lots of tests then surely the chances of me getting lung cancer were less than someone that hadn’t already had cancer…I know how stupid this sounds but it’s amazing what we can convince ourselves of when we want to.

So this year I finally took the plunge and decided to stop smoking, I have never given up before so was unsure what to expect. I decided that I needed something to occupy my time and that I needed to be constantly doing something otherwise I could slip back into the bad habit. So what was the solution? Simple…ride my bike shit loads, start weight training, and generally fill any spare time with something active. I decided that if I was constantly busy then I would not have the time to smoke, also by remaining active I would be able to see the benefits of not smoking.

It has now been 5 days and I can honestly say that I can already feel the benefits. I really notice the difference when sprinting or climbing hills, these high intensity exercises usually result in my lungs feeling like they are burning and about to explode. I am quite good at riding through pain though if I can’t breathe then this is kind of impossible. I always want to be fitter, stronger and faster and when I feel the need to smoke I remind myself of this. Why should I do something that makes something that I really enjoy harder? Why make myself slower? There are obviously the health implications, I do want to live longer but I find focusing on the now gives me the right motivation.


Photo: John Watson

The past five days haven’t been easy, I have been a right moody fucker sometimes though this really only lasted for the first two days. I think I am now over the hard part and am really enjoying not smoking, I am not going to preach to the smokers out there as if you want to give up thats your call. But if you do here a a few tips.

1. Find something to keep you busy…all the time! I currently spend my time working, riding, running, climbing, more riding, weight training, stretching, eating, baking and cleaning numerous bikes and tinkering with anything I can find.

2. Exercise; this helps you feel the results of not smoking. It is winter and you might not want to go outside but why wait until the month before summer to start getting fit? I know lots of people start exercising in January though this quickly fades…push yourself to do something. Get off the couch, it might be raining but think about the benefits. If you’re running or riding then chances are you won’t be smoking at the same time.

3. Think about it logically; why pay some company loads of money to ruin your fitness and shorten your life? It just seems absurd. The more I think about this the more motivated I become to not smoke!

4. Allow yourself to be stroppy, smoking is an addiction and giving up is not easy. The physical addiction subsides after the second day though the mental addiction is the hard part. When I say have a strop, don’t go and shout at random strangers or your loved ones…I will go and shout in the garden or make odd noises when I want a cigarette. The human mind is a strange and wonderful thing.

I have always been interested in psychology and psychoanalysis and different theories. I won’t bore you with them here but doing something odd or a physical action can help to change behaviour patterns. Cognitive behavioural therapy bases a lot of it’s theory on this, our brains are wired a certain way though this wiring can change. Basically every time you want a cigarette think of the benefits, tap something or have a small stone in your pocket and remove it from one pocket and place into the other. This helps you recognise that you are thinking about cigarettes and could help you tackle the addiction. 

5. Find someone to give up with you; sometimes having a companion helps with addiction. Having worked with alcoholics and drug addicts for years I can genuinely say that this can help. You will feel like you just want to say ‘fuck it all’ and smoke though having someone there to remind you can help in times of need. The downside is that you and your companion might both feel this at the same time. Or you could ask someone that has already given to to help you when you’re struggling.

6. If you do give in and do smoke don’t just give up and start to smoke again. Having a moment of weakness and smoking isn’t a good thing, but it isn’t the end of the world and why ruin all your hard work by just giving up on giving up?

I think that’s about it for my tips. I am not saying these points are gospel and work, they are working for me and maybe they will help you. Good luck and wish me luck!

About Dave Noakes

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