Up in Smoke: Changing Bad Habits

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I quit smoking. Providing the incentive was a comment by amyjo on my last post, in which she said that she’d stopped smoking after 62 years. If she can stop smoking after 62 years, I can stop after…oh, however long I’ve been smoking. This time. I kind of stop smoking, then, several months or years later, I think I can “just have one,” and the cycle starts all over again.

As a result of quitting, my routines are all messed up. Take waking up, for example. My wake-up routine used to begin with going into the kitchen first thing and hitting the button on the coffee maker. By the time the coffee had brewed, I’d brushed my teeth and washed my hands and face and all that stuff. I then poured a large mug of coffee, grabbed my cigarettes, and headed for the front porch to sit, sip, and have a smoke or two. I was then ready to come in, read the paper, work the crossword, and get to work.

To get myself out of that habit, I now make myself a large mug of tea instead and go to the porch only to get the paper to bring inside.

It doesn’t quite wake me up.

I also miss having a smoke while I work the crossword.

And my post-meal cigarette.

And the one I have while I’m thinking.

Sucking on a nicotine lozenge and toying with a cinnamon stick doesn’t quite get it, although the lozenge does help curb the nicotine craving. It’s changing my habits that’s the real issue.

Isn’t that the case, however, whenever we attempt to forgo a bad habit in favor of one that’s better for us? No matter how pleasurable it is to smoke…or to be a couch potato, or to subsist on unhealthy foods…it just isn’t good for us.

I don’t know about you, but I had to train myself to monitor my blood glucose. It wasn’t something I’d grown up doing, and it wasn’t something I even wanted to do. But it was necessary if I was to get my blood glucose levels under some semblance of control. It took me a full week to get up the nerve to stick my finger the first time. Now, checking my “BGs” when I get up, before I eat, and at other times is normal. It’s a part of my routine.

Food had been something I just ate. It wasn’t something to be measured, weighed, or counted. Memories of my beginning days of attempting this include bursting into tears in a restaurant while having lunch with friends because I couldn’t figure out what I “could” eat. And yelling “I can’t do this!” at home one day when trying to put together 60 grams of carbohydrate for a meal became too much to handle. (My husband, bless him, put together a meal for me and brought it to me on a tray.)

Now, I can look at a familiar food and pretty much automatically calculate carbohydrates, fat, and portion size without even thinking about it. The unfamiliar ones still cause me some problems, but I’ve learned to “practice until I get it right” and go from there.

When I stopped working in an office, I even had to train myself not to charge out of bed in the mornings, shower, dress, and run out the door to beat the clock. Although I will admit that changing that habit wasn’t too difficult.

Just a little bit longer and I should be able to go back to having coffee—sans cigarette—on the porch in the mornings to wake myself up. In the meantime, where’s my tea and please give me the brainpower to fill in that one last block on the crossword puzzle.

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