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It’s Never Easy, Is It?

18 December 2012

It’s hell getting old.

I recently quit smoking. Well, that’s not entirely true. I quit four months ago, but it’s only recently that I’m OK with saying that I quit — before recently, I wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t backslide. Thing is, I’d tried quitting several times before, sometimes getting as far as a month and a half before going back. The methods I used varied — nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, electronic cigarettes — but they never achieved any sort of lasting results.

This summer, I quit cold-turkey. One day, I just smoked my last cigarette and didn’t buy any more. Then I woke up the next day and didn’t buy cigarettes, and so on, and so on, until I got to where I am today — comfortable with calling myself a non-smoker, not worried I’m about to break at any moment and go buy a pack of Marlboros.

The quitting process is longer than anyone will tell you. In a way, it’s something that you’ll do sort of passively every day for the rest of your life, but it’s never as tough as it is in the first couple of weeks. And if you’re about a pack-a-day smoker, like I was, the mornings are probably the toughest. You’ll find something to fill the void, though — and for most people quitting smoking, it’s food. It certainly was with me.

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So that’s how I found myself where I am now — relatively certain I’ve got the nicotine monkey off my back, but quite a bit heavier than I’d like to be. So, a week ago today, I decided to do something about that, and joined a gym.

There was a time in my youth when I was in the gym all the time, so even with my less-than-ideal weight, it’s a comfortable environment for me. Or it would be, if I hadn’t suddenly aged without warning. My knees and ankles are apparently shot, and my shoulders feel like I stole them from an 80-year-old man. My lower spine is a war zone, and it’s a war that I’m losing. I know 90% of this will go away when I get a bit stronger, but it’s times like these when I wonder if spending my teens and early 20s fighting was perhaps a bit of a misstep in the “Life Choices” category.

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t start smoking? Don’t fight semi-professionally? Nah. While I might regret the smoking part, I don’t really regret the fighting part… and it’s not about regrets anyway. It’s more about doing what you have to do, even if it sucks.

I wanted to quit the first time I went back to the gym. I honestly wanted to quit before I even walked in the door — I pulled into the parking lot and actually thought This is far enough, right? Baby steps, and all. Today, the parking lot. Tomorrow, I go inside and maybe look around. Then I got out of the car, went inside, and worked out for an hour.

Those first steps are always the hardest. The first day without cigarettes was brutal. The first night at the gym wasn’t a cakewalk. But it gets easier with time, and it won’t get easier unless you take that first step. Whether it’s writing the book you’ve always wanted to write, or putting together the film you’ve always wanted to see — go ahead and take the first step.

Also, don’t smoke.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 18 December 2012 0634

    Glad you feel confident in saying you’ve quit for good. My mom quit one morning out of the blue years ago. Another friend woke up one morning and decided to quit…and that was well over a decade ago. So here’s you you quitting! And…getting back to the gym.

    I go to our local rec center, which…for a smallish town, is pretty damn nice. I’ve also been getting out and hiking a bit more, or just taking long walks in the evening, now that the extreme heat and mosquitoes are gone. I wanted to do the little, “Wait til after the holidays,” trick, but for me, it’s best to begin something when it’s in my head. It’s not the easiest time to ease up on the holiday snacking and move my body, lift things, and get back to numbers juggling (which can be a workout), but it’s the right time for me. (I need to work tennis back into the routine.)

    The best thing: when I focus on the harder things, I tend to do more difficult things. It’s easier to sleep well when I move my body and get up early to write. Even if it’s nothing more than walking several miles at night, it pays off in more ways than just feeling better.

    • 18 December 2012 0639

      I almost went with the local rec center, but they were light on weights. I’ll need those if things go to plan.

      Like you, if I don’t do something when I’m thinking of it, the chances of it getting done drop dramatically. November was a month of Mondays on getting back into shape (“I’ll start Monday…”), so this time, I just did it. On a Tuesday.

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