In our latest issue, we suggested 20 ways to change your life for the new year. One of them is to finally stop smoking. Yes, please put down that pack of cigarettes. You can do it! Boynton Beach resident Holly Jarboe successfully quit smoking almost a year ago. Here is her story.
When and why did you start smoking?
I first flirted with the idea of being a smoker the summer of ’94. My older cousin and I snatched a few cigarettes from my grandma’s pack (while she wasn’t looking, of course). I was about 9 years old. My cousin was 11. We didn’t really know how to smoke; we just knew the hand motions to mouth from our parents. I think it was more about the dangerous element of it all that sparked our interest– sneaking them from my grandma, attempting to not get caught, trying a right-of-passage that seemed to follow what we could understand of adulthood.
I wasn’t a full-fledged smoker until my freshman year of high school. I knew a store that would sell to me by that time, so I [smoked] a throat-friendly menthol. Of course, we all know that that isn’t nearly the case, especially considering the fiberglass…
I think smoking signified more of an adolescent rebellion from what was expected of me through society and parental authority. I felt as if I was on the cusp of ‘free will’, straddling the event of full choice and the commencement of when my decisions finally didn’t require anyone else’s option, or disapproval. I wanted to be the only gavel of judgment over my wants and haves. Typical for a teenager, I’m sure, but that’s part of the process of growing up.
I have to mention I played sports all throughout my time in school, year round. I quit for the soccer season in my junior year, but shortly re-gathered my impulse afterwards. The habit followed me, with short stints of cutting down and attempts of suppression up, until about 10 months ago.
When did you make the decision to stop smoking?
Beginning on January 1, 2011, I started my ‘Year of the Body’. It was partly a New Year’s resolution, but also a conscious effort to be mindful of what the idea of ‘healthy’ should evoke with my habits. My partner and I had had numerous conversations prior, regarding a move towards a more holistically, healthy-intentioned lifestyle, one that would incorporate the disciplines juicing, raw foods and becoming vegan. We knew that in order to feel better about ourselves, and our lives, we had to start becoming more mindful of what we indulged in. We wanted to be an expression of optimum health and intention. This year was our first step towards the understanding of what wellness really means to the both of us as individuals, as well as how to promote it for each other.
How did you finally stop? Did you use patches? Did you stop cold turkey?
I just stopped recognizing it as an act of relief. I decide to take it at its face value– a hazardous habit. I kept mindful of all the facts, both medically and mentally that they stood for. Just realizing that smoking was a learned behavior and a self-taught crutch to sooth my emotional triggers, I gave myself the power to shut it off. It actually empowered my self-control by actively being aware of it all, instead of passively allowing myself to just follow into the pattern of the habit.
There was no weaning. It was absolutely cold turkey all the way. It was the only way to break out of the routine. I’ve heard different suggestions about slowly minimizing the amount you smoke, or just to smoke outside of your typical pattern of lighting up, but I ultimately feel that allows for your conscious to make exceptions or excuses to deviate from your goal of kicking the habit.
I mean, I can’t lie it wasn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Some days were more difficult than others, especially on those really taxing days at work. But thankfully I have an incredibly supportive partner that quit with me also. We were always open about our cravings, which gave us the opportunity to help each other through them and to reinforce our will power in managing our own.
I honestly believe that element (in addition to welcoming a vegan/raw lifestyle) is what helped the most. Without all those conventional comfort factors of foods and drinks that go synonymously well with smoking, it made it less of an instinct to crave a cigarette.
Also, throughout my times and trials of the previous with quitting, it wasn’t as easy to keep up with when I didn’t have someone to help keep me in check of my commitment. I would definitely recommend the buddy system or surrounding yourself a good line of supportive friends or family.
How do you feel now?
I feel great. Free, actually. I watch other people still slaving after their addiction and it fills me with a real pride in myself for being able to conquer it. When you get to look back at it and evaluate all the times in the day that you’d usually being smoking, you realize just how unnecessarily dependent those days, and you, would cling to a cigarette. It’s really sick, when I think about how much money I used to spend. I might as well have lit my dollar bill on fire. It was basically the same thing.
When I was a smoker I used to get so annoyed by other people who would tell me to quit, and I keep that in mind now when I try to encourage others to let go of the habit. If someone tells me they want to quit, or feel like they can’t, that’s when I take advantage of a situation and offer my opinion.
What advice would you give to a smoker looking to quit?
The first step is, without a doubt, the true desire to quit. If you don’t have that at the heart, you won’t make it. That is something that took me years to learn, because it’s that internal voice of will that is going to ultimately keep driving you to your goal.
I’d also suggest a cleanse during the process. This could be interrupted by any number of things that you’ve previously relied on for comfort, whether it be food, or drink, or habit, or even friends that share the habit with you. Obviously this depends on the lengths anyone is willing to go to help support a successful end to their habit.
Most importantly though, believe in yourself. That seems simple enough, but you really want reassure yourself that you deserve this, to feel better now and into the future. In the end, the only people that benefit from you smoking are the tobacco corporations and the companies selling the their products and/or nicotine replacements.