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You quit smoking several years ago. What led you to that decision and what advice do you have for quitters—especially about the weight gain that always seems to come with putting down the pack? —Jedd Beaudoin, Wichita, Kan.
I remember the day I quit smoking: Thanksgiving 1997. I have no clear answer as to why I quit. I woke up in a panic, and for no specific reason. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, as I normally did each morning for 20-plus years, I jumped out of bed and went for a long walk. I often wonder what caused me to quit that day. Unlike quitting drinking, which was precipitated by a clear vision, smoking just stopped.
Yes, there is the potential for weight gain. I was aware of the fact that at 6 p.m. each day, I hit an emotional wall and started feeling loose anger on every surface of my being. That was the signal for me to take a nice long walk. Five or six miles of brisk walking managed to keep me from gaining too much weight.
My suggestion to those who want to quit: Prepare yourself for a battle. I don’t know if patches or gum actually work; “dosing down” is not quitting but weaning. I simply refused myself the drug, in any dosage. If you truly want to quit, you have to go through it. It’s going to suck, and for the foreseeable future, you might unravel at the drop of a pin. Eventually, you start to realize why you started, and if you feel your way through those psychological components, you can make it to the other side. If you can’t handle it, you’ll return to smoking. The pain of quitting was enough to keep me from going back to nicotine; I would never want to go through that withdrawal again.