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very nearly famous..... (a smokeout story)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

i was contacted by my employer's public relations department and interviewed for a story promoting the great american smokeout. they wanted to write a piece on my smoking cessation and weight loss success to encourage others to take the challenge. the piece went live yesterday. it was published to the company website - going out to 1000s of employees. i've already gotten emails from people who are planning to quit smoking. purpose, MET. emoticon

pasting the piece below. i removed identifying/contact information. if YOU are smoking, check with your employer for a similar program. take advantage!! your health is worth the effort!!! emoticon emoticon


Success Story: How 'Loser' Became Quitter

Staci L smoked off and on for 16 years, but never thought of herself as a smoker.

"I consistently planned for each pack to be my last," she said. "I tried to quit several times, but always returned to the habit."

She came to realize that smoking also linked her to being inactive, having a poor diet and gaining weight.

"Now, I'm proud of what I've done and look forward to what I'll do in the future," said Staci, a Medical Records tech at Medical Center. "I feel like I'm experiencing life instead of letting it pass by."

Staci started smoking as a social outlet when she was 20 years old.

"It was peer pressure in action," she said. "I had always hated smoking, but when all my friends were going outside to smoke -- laughing and chatting -- I felt like I was missing out."

Over the next 16 years, Staci enjoyed smoking at large social gatherings or during intimate conversations. It was something to do when she was bored, to cope with stress or as a reward for completing a task.

"It was a 4-inch crutch - an expensive habit," said Staci. "The longer I did it, the more I realized how self-indulgent and selfish it was. No one was benefiting from me smoking, least of all, me."

Staci became ashamed of smoking, especially after family and friends quit. It was also keeping her from meeting her fitness goals.

"I was sick of myself," she said. "No one pushed me to change, but with every French fry that I ate and every cigarette that I lit, I would feel guilt and shame."

In July 2009, Staci joined the (employer) weight lost challenge, and stepped up her Jazzercise regimen. It helped her to lose 19 pounds over three months, and gave her the confidence to make other changes.

"I wanted to continue my weight loss journey, but smoking was holding me back. It was the final hurdle," she said. "I had been a loser; I was ready to be a quitter."

Staci contacted Quit Aid, a one-on-one support program to help employees quit using tobacco, coordinated by Sandy M, tobacco treatment coordinator.

"The support and encouragement I received from Sandy was invaluable," she said. "The Quit Kit materials helped me work through my reasons for smoking and quitting."

Staci developed a plan for success, which included building an accountability network. She told family and friends of her plans, and encouraged a coworker -- a smoking partner-in-crime -- to also do Quit Aid, which is free to employees.

Since smoking had become part of Staci's daily routine, the hardest part of quitting was finding something to fill that void. It was a mental challenge to distract herself from cravings.

"I had to retrain my mind to know I didn't need a cigarette, that I could cope with stress or anger or boredom through other means," she said.

All tools combined were a winning combination. Staci has been a non-smoker since Dec. 2, 2009. Her co-worker has been smoke-free since Dec. 8, 2009.

Nearly one year later, Staci has lost 57 pounds, dropping from a size 16 to a size 8. She still goes to Jazzercize regularly and has added running to her exercise program, including a recent 5K race.

"I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without being winded as a smoker, now I'm running 3.1 miles in 27 minutes!" Staci said. "I have more energy. I'm trying new things, I'm having fun and I feel fantastic!

If you're a smoker who is willing to "Take the Pledge Today" for the Great American Smokeout Nov. 18th, complete the pledge form or learn more about programs to help you quit smoking.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great article! Way to go! I can totally relate to the feelings of shame and guilt with every cigarette or french fry. I am very proud of how you were able to quit smoking AND lose weight at the same time! It is hard enough to give up one bad/ harmful habit - but 2 at the same time is amazing!

    I quit smoking Feb. 4th 2007, but I replaced cigarettes with food. I had lost 20+ lbs not long before I quit, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem for me - I was in good shape, well within my ideal weight range. 4 years later... I am 40 lbs heavier. Still smoke free, but time to get lighter! Thanks for such an inspirational story!

    emoticon emoticon
    3752 days ago
    I quit smoker today. Forever. I know it will be hard. I know it might make losing weight harder. But I also know I can do it. You do it! So can I. Thank you for sharing!!! You look fantastic!
    3770 days ago
    :) IM SO PROUD OF YOU STAC! I saw the pic of you on the newsletter too. :) I knew you back when you swore by cutting the nic patch in half and saving money lol. I love ya ma~ BTW... i stopped smoking 3 weeks ago and getting my spark back. :)
    3862 days ago
    Awesome!!! Thank you for sharing. emoticon
    3862 days ago
    That's great! So proud of all of your success!!
    3862 days ago
    Almost famous! Very cool! I hadn't realized it's almost your 1 year anniversary! W00T!!!!!!!!!! emoticon
    3862 days ago
    WOO HOO!!!!! emoticon
    3862 days ago
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