Kicking bad habits

Reasons to give up smoking
It’s coming up to the 10th anniversary of when I decided to give up smoking and try to recuperate my previous good health and active lifestyle. I was going to wait until August to publish this but as I have several clients who are currently considering giving up the evil weed, I wanted to share this now.

After several years of complete inactivity and smoking a packet a day I decided I was going to give up for good and that the best way to do it would be to attempt a one mile run and be motivated by my suffering. It worked. Although if I’m honest, I had spent the previous couple of months gradually preparing my subconscious for the change ahead by reading up about what my habit was doing to me, making me less able to carry on deceiving myself about it not really being that bad.

It also helped that at the time, I was living in an apartment block in Barcelona whose bathrooms and bedrooms all had windows which opened onto the interior core of the building. This meant that every morning I was woken up by my chain-smoking neighbours performing their morning ritual of hacking up all the phlegm in their lungs.

I wasn’t short of reasons to kick the habit. I just had to make the final decision (inspired by a painful run) and make a list of all the reasons I had in my head about why I should give up so it was harder for me to argue against. The list helped in moments of weakness because I couldn’t just put my blinkers on and ignore all the warning signals when they were there written down in front of me.

I found the original list a few weeks ago and have published it in it’s entirety below (minus the expletives – it was a stressful time!):


1. The after effects of a whole one mile run on 30/08/02, aged 28:
Lungs hurting
Coughing up loads of phlegm
Back hurting
Legs tired
Whole body f*****, unable to go on
Feeling sick due to exhaustion and quantity of phlegm in my lungs

2. Most of the time I do it for the sake of it, not because I enjoy it

3. Have been repeatedly ill because of it – remember what Dr.Morrell said to me a few years ago [that me and smoking didn’t go together]

4. I avoid exercise because I smoke – it would be better if it was the other way round

5. I do it as part of a ritual, not because I really want it or need it e.g. internet, having a rest, after eating, waking up with coffee

6. It’s messing my teeth up

7. Difficulty sleeping because don’t breathe as easily

8. It’s expensive, even in Spain

9. It doesn’t even taste nice

10. It irritates my nose – more phlegm

11. I end up drinking loads of sweet drinks to disguise the s*** taste and stop my throat drying up

12. Causes me a lot of stress because I know it’s f***** me up but I carry on doing it anyway

13. Looking at / listening to all the old people in Barcelona who have smoked all their lives is a reminder of what it is doing to me

14. I could afford private medical insurance with money saved

15. Effects in later life (and in general): cancer, breathing problems, impotency, coronary heart disease, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive lung disease, emphysema – breathlessness gets worse when half a lung is destroyed, cilia in lungs destroyed, become more susceptible to bacteria and viruses in the air. Smokers more likely to store fat around the waist – higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, gall bladder problems, fertility problems.

16. I’ll be able to actually taste food properly

17. It might be an effort not smoking for a while but at least I won’t be a slave to nicotine and always thinking about the next cigarette