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How to Prepare to Quit Smoking (And Keep It Up)

I am a certified yoga instructor and self-taught artist. I finally quit smoking after eight failed attempts.


Eight Failed Attempts

This article is a guide that spells out the steps I took to quit smoking cigarettes. Please know this was after eight attempts of trying to quit using conventional means.

I had tried laser therapy, acupuncture, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, smokeless cigarettes, tea tree oil chewing sticks, cough drops, quitting cold turkey, and simply cutting down. None of these methods worked for me.

Six Steps I Took Before I Quit

I finally came to the realization that I needed to quit in a way that was designed for me and my specific needs. In this article, I will share what worked for me—and maybe you can use some of these ideas when creating your own plan. Just the fact that you are reading this article shows that you are well on your way to being smoke-free; it's just a matter of sorting out the puzzle.

Step #1: I Cleaned My Mind (Instead of My Environment)

Most smoking cessation websites or groups tell you to clean your house and get rid of your cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia before you quit. I didn’t follow this criterion because in the past it didn’t work for me. If I broke down and all my cigarettes were in the trash, I would just go down to the store and buy a new pack; real simple. I knew I needed something more, I needed to figure out why I even smoked, to begin with.

Instead of cleaning my apartment, I cleaned out my mind. I began to face my demons, and go within. I had to look at why I began smoking right in the eyes. Plus, save the cleaning for after you quit. Do you know how much crazy energy you’ll have when you quit?! You need to channel it into something or many things (read further for more tips on this).

Step #2: I Changed my Attitude Toward Smoking

I had to understand the cycle of my habit. I read The Easy Way to Quit Smoking, by Alan Carr, and this completely changed my perspective on smoking cigarettes in general. I started recognizing my triggers. I realized I was stuck and I didn't even like cigarettes.

Some people can quit immediately after reading this book. Not me, however, it made me realize I was in a “trap," as Carr called it, and I saw I was very addicted. The one thing this book didn't address for me was the reason for my emotional connection to this habit; which takes me to…

Step #3: I Faced My Demons

The biggest challenge was the mental fear of letting go of my crutch. I was afraid and knew I needed help wrapping my head around this reason for fear. Why was I so afraid?

I read another book (yeah I know, but hopefully if you are reading this post you like to read, too) called Lighting Up, by Susan Shapiro. This book is hilarious! While reading it epiphanies started pouring out of me! I was smoking to cope with traumatic events that took place in my youth (I’ll save the details for my memoir). The moment I acknowledged these ideas and was honest with myself I felt a sense of relief. I finally saw myself for the first time and dealt with emotions I had been suppressing for years with the help of cigarettes.

Step #4: I Went Food Shopping

Tip: To help avoid smoking triggers change up your food habits: If you drink coffee switch to green tea or if you always get the same lunch try something new on the menu. This way you psyche yourself out to avoid any unnecessary high-impact withdrawals.

I bought a huge bag of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, carrots, and celery. Get a lunch box and bring your healthy snacks with you everywhere! Drink a ton of water!

I got the Nurtibullet for Christmas and decided I was going to eat clean to help myself detox quicker- it worked! I bought kale, spinach, watercress, parsley, avocado, lemon, lime, grapefruit, berries, mango, and pineapple. I got my fridge ready the Sunday before I quit so I was prepared in advance. I did not want to gain the quit smoking 40. No way! Not me.

Step #5: I Scheduled Healthy Activities

For the first three days after my quit date, I made sure I scheduled personal training each night after work. This way I would remain occupied from the moment I woke up until the moment I slept. I did not give myself the opportunity to stop moving.

Step #6: I Planned My Reward

I scheduled a yoga retreat for myself exactly a month after my quit date. This was really a great motivator! Not only is this retreat a smoke-free campus but they have amazing Ayurvedic treatments to assist with detoxing and promote relaxation.

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Eight Steps I Took After I Quit

On New Year’s Day I smoked out the rest of my pack (I think I had four cigarettes left over), and I was ready to begin the process. I knew it was going to suck, but I also knew I was giving myself a gift.

Step #1: I Avoided My Friends Who Smoke

I did not hang out with any of my friends who smoked for the first week or two. With all the social networking they didn't even realize that I was avoiding them. Okay, maybe one did, but if they didn't get why once explained, then they’re not my real friend anyway.

Step #2: I Drank Like a Fish

Yes, I will say it again! Drink a ton of water. I brought water with me everywhere. I was always drinking water to help flush all the toxins out of my body and help me get passed the first 48. Detox teas are a terrific idea, too!

Step #3: I Substituted My Morning Hot Drink

I drank coffee every morning with my cigarette so instead, I switched to green tea. Trust me, it made a difference. I didn't start drinking coffee again until about two weeks after my quit date.

Step #4: I Made My Snacks Mobile

I bring my healthy snacks everywhere now. I do not want to fall into the sugar snack trap! I find I am saving money because every time I bought cigarettes I bought a snack, then a drink, and before you know it I spent $18 at the store. If you smoke every day, you do the math for the month.

Step #5: I Didn't (and Still Don't) Eat Meat, Bread, Sugar, or Dairy

I truly believe because I am choosing to eat ovo-vegetarian for the month (which means eggs are on the menu) that I have fewer nicotine cravings, I am detoxing faster, and I have less mental chatter. This diet choice is supporting my transformation. Being this disciplined is really boosting my self-esteem and confidence too.

Step #6: I Got My Ass in Gear

Now you clean your environment! I went H.A.M. I took this step to the next level by organizing every cabinet, closet, drawer and corner of my living space. I donated, recycled, and threw out anything that I didn't use in the past two years or didn't need at all.

Don’t stop moving! Every day after work I ate, walked my dog, then went straight to the appointments I scheduled at the gym. I worked out, used the sauna, the whirlpool, the regular pool, took a shower, and by the time I got home, lights out (well some nights).

Step #7: I Tried Some Sleeping Aids

I was prescribed muscle relaxers for my fibromyalgia and had two left over. I took one the first night because I had the worse knot in my left leg so I slept like a baby. On night two, even after the gym, I realized that quitting smoking gave me insomnia.

On night three I was more prepared. I am not big on taking drugs to aid sleep, especially when the point of all this is to rid myself of the drug nicotine. Instead, I went for a more common sense and natural approach:

  • Dream Water, a liquid relaxation shot or the yang to Red Bulls ying
  • Badger Sleep Balm Lavender & Bergamont. I put this on my temples, throat, and chest. There is something to be said about aromatherapy.
  • Drank a glass of water and kept water next to my bed
  • Wore my favorite socks

Step #8: I Did Not Tell Anyone I Quit

Having a quit-smoking “support system” is absolute BS. A non-smoker came up with this one. When you tell people you quit, every five minutes someone asks you, “How you are doing with quitting smoking?” and all you hear is smoking which causes you to think about a cigarette, triggering a craving, and overall discomfort.

I didn't tell anyone I quit for the first seven days except one person at my job who understood the above because he was an ex-smoker himself. After seven days, I told a few more people and after twelve I told my family. Best choice I ever made.

One Day at a Time. . .

Talk about learning how to stay present. Quitting smoking, I mean really die-hard quitting smoking, makes you zone into each minute of your life. It’s kind of beautiful actually. It’s meditation in motion. Speaking of, yoga really helps, too!

I know I can never ever touch a cigarette again or I will become addicted once more. I know when I have a craving it is a such a short time in my life and it will pass. I remind myself to look at the big picture and remember to breath deep.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


peachy from Home Sweet Home on July 19, 2020:

I am glad that you had managed to quit smoking. My dad had stopped smoking 10 years ago after he had high blood pressure. He started to smoke when he was 19

Mountaincat on October 22, 2018:

Thank you for the great article. Today is 2 weeks cold turkey for me. It is so hard. I don't miss the nicotine. I miss smoking!! I feel like I don't know how to do anything in life without smoking. Will any of the things I thought I enjoyed every be enjoyable again without cigarettes?

CAROL SMOLEK on August 24, 2018:

Living used to be something I did between cigarettes.

Today is the 3 month anniversary of my quit date.

I am living so much more now. Smoked for 60 years!

I am 77. First attempt. Used patch. You can do this!

Niradhari Gambe (author) from Long Island, NY on August 22, 2018:

You're welcome. Remember it's your life, your pace. You can do this. :)

Jill on August 20, 2018:

Thank you for a very common sense article. I am gearing up to quit and your suggestions are things I can do.

Lauren on March 13, 2018:

Great post ! I’m on the verge of quitting and this article provides practical ways to quit that I needed to see.

Pamela on February 15, 2018:

I have quit smoking for years at a time in the past and went back to that foul habit. I stopped smoking over 3 years ago this time. It is as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. I totally changed my perception about cigarettes. I used to feel like I was missing sometime when I saw others smoking, now I feel glad that I am not letting cigs run my life and I actually feel sorry they are still harming their health. The withdrawal is no worse than a flu that you know will eventually subside. Take one day at a time and don't say you are quitting. Just say this day I choose not to smoke and then don't dwell anymore on it. Good luck. Persistence will bring success.

Barb Miller on October 23, 2017:

It seems to me that the easiest way for everyone to quit would be if they just stopped producing them!!! Everyone tells me I should quit but when the poison is readily available in the grocery store it's hard so why have they not been banned!

lmar on January 15, 2017:

This probably the most REALISTIC story I've heard on quitting. Thanks for sharing!

Niradhari Gambe on December 15, 2016:

Thank you for the positive feedback everyone! Hope you are doing well on your "quiting smoking journey" and this article helped. Remember if you fall off the wagon, you can always get back on, or find another wagon, lol!



Alexander on December 15, 2016:

A really good article, indeed written really nicely. Agree on all the points, yet it would be nice to know what should be done in case meeting other smokers is inevitable? I feel good, it is my 4th or 5th day, but I was working on my projects at home, water, running and vegetables helps a lot, but soon I have to go to the university which is a damn ashtray and after a while my friends are coming so I'll have to live with smokers almost for 5 days... I am confident about myself when I am alone, but when it comes to a company and someone can lend me a cigarette I instantly think of it as about a cake - something I don't normally eat, but why not once in a while... And there it begins

jlo on December 13, 2016:

one word chantix

if you can gut out the crazy side effects,,this shit will make u HATE the smell of burning tobacco so much, you feel nauseated and never go back

Michellle on November 17, 2016:

I read this post several weeks ago. It just resonated with me. I have done a lot of thinking and getting my mind in the right place. I am now on day three and doing great. Thanks for making this post! It helped me get to the mental place I needed to be to succeed!

soham on February 12, 2016:

Did the exact same way. Very nicely written btw.

Terry Chestnutt from Cleveland, Ohio on January 06, 2016:

Thanks for the comment from the guest readet. Wrsth Warbone,

Marion on January 04, 2016:

I am so glad i found this site. I have tried to quit smoking many times. Now I've got the flu and don't feel like smoking. So I'm quitting again. It is hard. But this site helps out a lot. Thanks for all the tips .

RienPipe on November 15, 2015:

Great post. Hope that you continue to be a non-smoker. In the time since, have you been tempted to have a smoke? What other tips would you have for people who have quit for a week or few, and who are still getting used to the non-smoking life?

We've mixed reactions about whether telling friends and family helps or hurts. Admittedly, a lot of us smoked during times of stress, and not adding to that stress pile by having people constantly inquiring how things are going. At the same time, it helps to have a little support now and then so people know what we are going through. What does everyone else think?

lockly on August 09, 2015:

this is silly you can't change everything at once, you will surely fail that way

Heather Wisdom on July 22, 2015:

I am starting the planning stage, I have been smoking for a very long time and really want to quit for good, though my life is full of stress, I am ready for the challenge. Thank you for these tips!!!

Terry Chestnutt from Cleveland, Ohio on July 12, 2015:

Great, Buddy.I am glad it worked for you and that you teach it here for the benefit of us all. Experience the most credible teacher. Thanks.

Brittany on September 09, 2014:

I read Allen Carr's book too! It really helped, totally put basically everything into perspective. I did happen to tell people but none of them were too pressing to hear about details unless I started talking about them first. I was so skeptical about the book that I went into it thinking it would do no good. I also didn't quit when Mr. Carr tells you to in the book. I finished one night, stupidly woke up the next morning and had a cigarette which was not enjoyable. I proceeded to have another a couple hours later and could not even smoke it. It was disgusting. Like you I had others in my pack so I ran them under water and decided to never turn back. What a disgusting thing people choose to do to themselves. I can no longer be one of them. I refuse. It has not been as hard as I thought it would be but it is only day 3. The title of the book is so cheesy I was so worried I was "too smart" for it, but I was a smoker... there was no such thing. Congrats!

rain in spain on July 29, 2014:

Thank you! Wonderful piece - entertaining, well written.

Your approach totally mirrored mine because I quit the horrible sticks almost exactly as you describe; started a detox diet a week before, read Allen Carr's book, quit, then didn't tell a soul ( so glad I didn't for same reasons you mention), and downed gallons and gallons of water all day long.

Vigorous, aerobic style break-a -sweat exercise for 30 minutes first thing in the morning REALLY HELPED to push out all those toxins through the skin.

Also, I am fortunate enough to live near a beach, so I would go swimming, immerse face in water, snort the sea water up through my nostrils flushing out sinuses, throat , larnyx. Always felt so clean after that little exercise (BTW make sure you do it away from others because it sounds kind of weird)

Me too with coffee and cig first thing in the morning so switched to drinking lemon juice in hot water instead. Did wonders for getting things "moving along".

Thanks again - great to know that someone else out there thinks like me, and sees past all the BS that's being written about quitting. For long-lasting quits, cold turkey is the only way to go - no gradual cut-downs, no patches, schmatches, electronic cigs or other expensive pacifiers.

TVN on January 27, 2014:

I wanna quit bad. I've tried Chantix, The Patches, The Gum, and Eletronic things, and none of them helped me.

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