What did it feel like to win the contest? Well, I'm proud of myself for quitting this long and confident I'll stay smoke free forever. It's been a boon to my confidence. I told my friends, co-workers and family and the social pressure really helped me stick with it. I don't like letting people down, so telling people motivated me. The contest had all the resources I needed, from emails to a dedicated online group that acts as a daily reminder that you aren't alone with your struggle and it's wonderful to have all those people for support. I smell better, my car smells better, I feel good about myself. I got more money to spend and I even gained a little weight. The $2500 dollars goes a long way, but really, you win the moment you quit or cut back!
My life as a smoker looked quite similar to my life now, BUT, there were these shameful pockets. I would run into alleys to hide from my parents and go smoke a cigarette. I didn't want anyone who loved me to see me smoking because I knew I wasn't supporting or honouring myself. That was hard to be honest about.
There was fear going into the contest, I battled with my own perceptions of myself thinking I would look like a dork. Going from this hardened smoker kid to someone who was going into a store asking for Juul pods. The people who gave me crap for it didn't end up mattering though. I had put in this work and made my decision and had the full support of the buddy system that the contest helps foster. My partner became my buddy in the contest and every time I got a contest email, I would check in with them and we'd talk about it and say "Hey, here's how I'm doing with quitting, how are you doing? Is there anything we need to rant about, or talk about all of the times we had to NOT smoke a cigarette when we really wanted to." You come to the realization you aren't doing this alone. I still have the same job, the same friends, but now I don't have those times where I'm trying to run away from my life and the people around me. I can be engaged in all those moments. That's been the biggest gift of this contest.
The contest was the perfect opportunity to give myself a fresh start. I remember going to visit my nieces and nephews, and it only takes 1 time for a five year old to tell you that you smell to want to make a big change in your life. Their reaction combined with the yellow finger stains and I was done.
I'm so proud of my hands now, because I had those stains and now they are all gone. Smoking made me stop wanting to paint my nails and now I'm so happy to show off my polish. Instead of always rushing out to have a cigarette after a meal, I now get to relax, spend more time with friends and family and feel more connected to them. I also replaced cigarettes with brushing my teeth, so now I get the very positive effect of fresh breath instead of cigarette breath.
Sarah Michelle L'Allier
Everyone knows smoking isn't good for you, but I quit because I used to really enjoy yoga, it was a really good thing for me. I found the more I was smoking the less I was able to do yoga, so it was really disappointing. I was having a hard time breathing and going up stairs and my skin looked worse, which you don't really notice until you quit. Now, oh my goodness! As soon as I was down to 3-4 cigarettes a week my skin was just glowing, my under-eyes looked healthier, the wrinkles were less prominent and visible. What a nice bonus to cutting back!
I'm going to look good and eat healthy on my trip to Japan and the prize money is going to help a lot for this adventure.
My main motivation for partying without the smoke was that I'd rather live an active lifestyle without anything holding me back. I decided to enter the contest because I wanted to take my health more seriously. What really triggered it was I booked a trip to Peru where I'm doing a high altitude hike, so I needed to be in top physical shape.
My biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to hold back smoking at parties, but luckily that fear was unfounded, I was able to do it! The moment that stands out the most was the 2nd time I said no at a party. The first could have been a fluke, but the 2nd time sold me on my own ability to succeed. Now I'm hoping to cascade changes in other aspects of my life from the techniques and motivations I learned during the contest. Really though, you have nothing to lose by entering, we know smoking is bad for us, it's something we battle for personal reasons, but it's definitely worth trying to quit, your life will be better for it!
Every time I was out at parties I felt inclined to smoke marijuana with people. It felt impulsive and I wanted to have more self control. My biggest fear was giving in and feeling like I couldn't control my smoking. My fear did come true. I felt uncomfortable, but instead of hanging around with the usual smokers, I found other people at the party interested in other things. I got to have new conversations and meet new people which was really rewarding. It took a couple parties to believe I could succeed, but I got way more comfortable talking to people sober instead of having to be on something. It helped change other people's perspectives of me too and made it more interesting for them knowing I was sober. When you're intoxicated you aren't able to fully hear or pay attention to what people are saying, but this one night during the contest, my friend actually opened up to me about something really important to her that I never would have noticed before if I wasn't partying without the smoke. It really changed our friendship for the better!
The reason why I never smoked was because I was raised in a house where we were taught that smoking isn't really beneficial to your health and there was no positive effects from smoking, so why would you? I'm also in an inter-health related program, and I see all the negative effects that smoking has on people. It just really motivates me to not smoke. I think it is also so difficult to stop once you begin (smoking) as it's an addiction to nicotine, and I've seen first-hand that addiction can be very hard to quit after it takes hold.
I started smoking back in high school 'cause it was "cool" and I had a boyfriend at the time that was smoking and it became a part of my lifestyle. What motivated me to stay smoke free was quitting a few months ago and noticing a huge increase to my health, I used to get sick all the time back when I smoked. I actually quit because I got so sick; this one time I couldn't talk for two weeks and it was awful. As soon as I quit I felt so much better and now I never want to go back to cigarettes.