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Prep & Lead Up

09/17/2000

Last year (1999) I said I was going to quit smoking at the turn of the century. Ha! Just another smoker's lie. Then I said I was going to quit March 1st. Another lie.

However, something happened to me in March...I have no idea what it was, but I started a radical and thorough personal transformation. I woke up to the fact that I was grossly overweight (280 lbs.+/-, when a normal weight for me would be 160-180 lbs.), totally out of shape and generally felt like shit all the time. My blood pressure was through the roof and I spent all day sitting on my ass in front of a computer. I was dying, and didn't need a doctor to tell me so...

I started a diet. After spending a couple of weeks cheating like crazy, I started to take it seriously. In 3 months I managed to lose about 40 lbs. I totally cut sugar out of my life for the first time ever.

At the beginning of July, I joined a gym. And got serious about it. Now I work out 7 days a week, mostly with a pal (the fabulous Rochelle, which makes a huge difference in motivation). We split a great personal trainer once a week (the way-too-cheerful-in-the-early-morning Carl King), and that also makes a big difference in motivation.

As of today, I've lost another 25+ lbs. for a total of 65 lbs. +/-. I feel better than I have in 30 years. My blood pressure is down, and although not great, at least I'm not a walking stroke.

In April I started telling people I was going to quit smoking on or before my birthday: October 2nd. Sometime in July I started to believe it myself, helped along by my pathetic endurance level at the gym.

At the beginning of this month (September), I joined QuitNet.org, which has helped me tremendously with planning to quit. It's full of both information and seems like an excellent support community. My pal Paula, an inveterate long-time smoker, credits QuitNet with her continuing success in quitting. I'll report on how it helps me with my quit.

I'm going to use the patch. I have the first box ready to go.

I signed up for the Free and Clear Program, based on their success rate (a dismal 25-30%, which is [sadly] really high for quit smoking programs). Their written materials are excellent. I wish I could say the same for their phone-based program...it seems like I could easily have saved the $175. The program is free for Group Health members (a Seattle-based HMO), and I got the feeling when signing up that people rarely pay the $175. The brave new world of health care...

As of mid-week last week, I declared both my house and car non-smoking zones. The house is easy, the car is very hard. I loved smoking and driving. I had one horrifyingly unconscious slip in the car last Wednesday. I found myself smoking and I swear I have no memory whatsoever of getting a cigarette and lighting it.

So, two weeks from today is my quit date. More to come; I'm going to use this page as a diary of the prep time until my quit date, so there will be frequent additions below. I'm beginning to get a little anxious. Wish me luck here.

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09/28/00 - 9:35 PM

Ah...the anxiety increases by leaps and bounds. Let's see, I have, as I'm typing this, exactly 2 Days, 2 hours and 25 minutes left as a smoker. I've always been a smoker. It's going to be very interesting to see what I'm like as an ex-smoker.

What's new in the last 11 days? I started on Zyban (Wellbutrin) a little over a week ago. As it kicks in I'm reminded of how much I dislike anti-depressants. The side effects (numerous & I get them all to one extent or another) are miserable. But, and it's a huge BUT, if it assists me in quitting smoking I'll take all of them twice over.

I am rethinking using the patch in addition to Wellbutrin. I've received some savvy educated advice from a couple of successful quitsters to the tune that it may be better to deal with a few days of amped up hell in exchange for the several stages of nicotine withdrawal that one goes through while weaning from the patch.

I am practicing gazing with pity (tempered by disgust) at the huddled crowds smoking in office and building doorways. Pretty sad. Pretty pathetic.

Driving without smoking in the car has become notably easier. I have not, however, attempted any extended trips. And I still smoke on the way to and from the car, sadly and pathetically.

Tonight I introduced myself in a couple of forums at QuitNet.org. Within minutes there were over a dozen serious and heartfelt welcomes, offers of support and messages of encouragement. I was both stunned at the speed and deeply touched. (Trust me, if you don't know it already, I am not the easiest person to "deeply touch"...to say the least.)

More to come...

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09/30/00

Welcome to High Anxiety: Central Division. Today is my last day as a smoker. With every cigarette I have today I say goodbye to smoking at that time and place. Silly? Yep. Necessary? Maybe.

I can't really think of anything else to do to get ready for this quit. I've done plenty of thinking about it, plenty of appropriate self-talk, have all the tools I'll need at my disposal.

This will be my last entry for this Prep and Lead Up page. Tomorrow I'll start the actual WebLog...look to the left for clickable links.

Up above somewhere I asked you to wish me luck. My attitude has changed in the meantime, partly from reading about other struggles on QuitNet.org, partly from this timely Mark Morford column. I'll make my own luck, but you can wish me strength here.

Until tomorrow...

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