Fear of Quitting Smoking

My doctor gave me a month to get my blood pressure down.

She asked me to lose 5 pounds and go on a low-sodium diet.

I’ve lost 4.2 pounds and I cut salt from my diet, but my blood pressure is still high.

Qardio

And the reason it’s high is because I’m smoking.

It’s amazing and embarrassing to admit that I smoke, in 2020. I don’t know anyone who smokes, and I keep it secret from all of my friends.

I only started up again about a year ago, after having quit for 11 years.

About 4 months ago, I made several concerted efforts to stop, but the feeling was too overwhelming.

When I research the process of quitting smoking, I see people—mainly health professionals—describe quitting as “extremely difficult,” which it is, but I don’t see many realistic or nuanced descriptions of what quitting feels like for me, and I wonder if it feels similarly for everyone.

Quitting smoking is painful. It’s physically painful and emotionally painful.

I don’t know if the pain I experience when I try to quit is more pronounced because of the way Fibromyalgia seems to make all pain more pronounced, but the sensation is flu-like for me.

If it was just flu-like, I could handle it, but for some reason, when I feel that wave of physical and psychological pain, I start to panic, and my cognition and anxiety really spirals downward.

I often get into the totally baffling headspace where I start to think that I’m putting myself in danger by NOT smoking, because the physical discomfort becomes so distressing.

I typically make it about 4 hours when I try to quit, although I can go 12-16 hours without smoking if I’m not under pressure to abstain.

Since my high blood pressure and high heart rate are actually serious, I am going to need to fess up to my doctor at my appointment in 4 days, and I know the chain of events that are going to unfold from there.

She’s going to insist I stop, of course. It’s going to be serious.

And since I trust her and we work well together, I’m going to have to do it.

Maybe she’ll prescribe Chantix or something, and maybe those will help.

I could say what I’m “supposed” to say and be like: well, this is so positive!! I’ll have motivation to add one more productive dimension to my body journey towards health, and I’m already proving to myself that I’m more than strong enough to do this.

These are true, but I’m not giving these Shaq x JCPenney vibes at all.

I’m terrified.

I feel out of control because I’m about to be held accountable for something I’m genuinely not sure I can do, even though I’ve done it before in the past.

I’m scared that I’m going to lose my grip on myself and feel sick and tired and crazy for a few weeks.

One completely amazing level, I have to admit, is that I’ve come to a level of maturity where I can see that I must face facts and be honest with my doctor. I’m pretty impressed with myself that I’m not even calling to put the appointment off for a few weeks.

I’m not a happy camper today, but my little chihuahua just crawled into my lap as I’m writing this, and maybe if I can’t motivate myself to feel good about doing it for myself at this point, I could do it for the little guy. He’s only 2, and chihuahuas live a million years, so he needs me around.

Week 1 Weight Loss: 3.6 lbs!

From the Runcobo scale & app

According to Weight Watchers, I’m supposed to aim to lose 1-2 pounds a week, but I think it’s pretty common for people to lose a little more in their first week due to what’s probably usually a big lifestyle change.

For me, those changes have been:

  1. Avoiding processed foods
  2. Joining Weight Watchers (but barely tracking anything!)
  3. Exercising every day (which is a really big deal since I’ve been sedentary for about a decade)
  4. Eating primarily whole foods plant-based, with a little dairy like yogurt (& a fish-oil supplement)
  5. Starting Persona vitamins (I think these make a huge difference in my energy and clarity)
  6. Taking a nap every day (I know this sounds weird, but I think it’s helping me sleep better at night and keeping me from being fussy enough to get hangry)
  7. Taking Rosebud CBD oil twice a day (Same reason as the nap: less anxiety = better results for me)
  8. Thinking about a low-sodium diet (I’m not to the point where I’m perfectly tracking my sodium, but I’m not adding salt to what I’m eating, and real talk: it’s no fun, but gotta do it)

I’m not exactly feeling skinny at about 160 pounds and only 5’0”, but I’m definitely feeling tighter and stronger from my workouts.

All I’m doing for exercise is:

  • Richard Simmons Sweatin to the Oldies “videos”! Search around on YouTube for a bunch of gems. I love this one.
  • Walking my teeny chihuahua for about 30 minutes.
  • Sex (duh)
  • Yoga, especially Yoga with Adriene. A lot of her stuff is perfect for beginners like me. I’ve been scared to get back to yoga with my arthritis and abdominal surgeries, but I’m loving these videos.
scootin’

The most important thing for me was to just get started. I’m glad I lost a good amount in the first week, but I’m really impressed with myself that I’m actually making this life change!

This is Week 1 of 52 weeks. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Heck, maybe I’ll be able to run a marathon by the end of this “marathon.” I’m not impatient; I’m just absolutely determined to see myself with a healthy BMI (which means losing 35.8 pounds and getting to 125 lbs) before a year goes by. I’m absolutely determined to put my autoimmune disease into remission and have some freedom from the intense fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia. It WILL happen.

Nothing about this first week of my transformation has been perfect, but the point is: I’m moving forward each day, and it’s about PROGRESS not PERFECTION.

One transformative year starts today

Turning forty: fat, fabulous, fatigued, fibromyalgic, and fine with it all (at first…)

I turned 40 about 6 weeks ago. It was a pretty pleasant experience, in spite of the fact that we were 6 months into a global pandemic and in the middle of major civil unrest in the U.S.

I was “comfortable” enough with my pleasantly plump frame, my creaky autoimmune joints, my achy fibromyalgia muscles, my fatigue, and the fact that I hadn’t exercised at all in nearly a decade.

And then I went in for my annual physical. High blood pressure, high sugar, high cholesterol. Last year, these levels were all fine and all I had to worry about was keeping my Ulcerative Colitis in check, and that was going pretty well.

Now my doctor wants me to lose 5 pounds, cut sugar, limit carbs, follow a low-sodium diet, and exercise EVERY DAY.

This is a LOT of changes to make, and she wants to see me back in one month to check my blood pressure, and then three months for the “pre-diabetic” glucose levels, so this is a LOT of changes to make IMMEDIATELY.

Luckily (I guess), I’ve been fussing around with the Clean Food Dirty Girl Meal Plan, as a pandemic-boredom project, for the past season. Though, full disclosure: the best I’ve done with that so far is occasionally buying, like, 30 pounds of produce, promptly getting too tired to batch cook everything, and then gnawing on piles of veggies at random for a week, between boiling up some frozen pierogis.

In terms of exercise, (a) I hate it, but (b) I had spent a huge section of July 2020 lying in bed binge watching early-90s nostalgia TV on YouTube, and stumbled upon the awesomeness that is RICHARD SIMMONS Sweatin’ to the Oldies. If this sounds too kitschy for words to you, you’re darn right, and just wait for my reviews of these vids, coming soon.

Polarizing question: Who doesn’t ❤️ Richard Simmons?

But then I was just innocently washing the dishes when some kind of switch flipped in me… a skinny switch?

I suddenly realized:

I have spent the past c. 25 years of my life imagining that I have no way to control whether I’m fat or thin. Do you know what I mean? Something in the back (or front) of my mind has always been telling me I’m destined to fail, and should instead vehemently pretend to embrace my curves, whether I truly love them or not. But, what if I have always been in complete control of what size my body is? And what if exercising that control is actually something I’m already good at, despite what I’ve always believed?

I know that statement sounds both stupidly obvious and frustratingly impossible, in terms of how most of us feel about actually losing weight. But, what I’m trying to describe is a shift in my mindset. I can all of a sudden imagine what I will look like and feel like at 125 pounds, even though I haven’t been that weight since I was in 10th Grade. I can imagine becoming completely comfortable with daily exercise and feeling like it’s totally natural to eat healthy plants in reasonable portions.

This is a new feeling, so it’s going to take me time to sit with it and understand it, and the purpose of this blog is to explore the various parts of this process in order to see it through.

So, I finally batched up some whole foods plant-based meals for this week, and I’m cuing up Sweatin’ to the Oldies 3, and there are 364 days to go until I’m transformed.