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.
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!!!
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.