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Getting Healthier by Changing Bad Habits
I am always inspired by others who make concerted efforts to get healthier. So when Carole, the 52 year old woman who cleans our house each week told me that she was trying to stop her two pack a day smoking habit after 36 years, I sat up and took notice. She now hasn’t had a cigarette in six weeks, so she is making amazing progress. Importantly, I asked her what caused her to quit and what is enabling her to stick with this effort.Carole told me that she has always been embarrassed that she had this dirty and expensive habit, but what triggered the change was her increasingly labored breathing going up and down stairs and “just got tired” of the entire habit. Hence, she finally listened to her body and resolved to kick the habit,cold turkey. Even though she doesn’t know what to do with all her “nervous energy” and still “craves a cigarette every minute of the day,” she is increasingly confident that she just might kick this habit. She constantly chews gum to occupy her oral craving, but she never used any medicines such as a nicotine patch. Remarkably, she has a pack of cigarettes prominently displayed in her apartment which she constantly glances at when home. She says that if it wasn’t there, she would not be able to continue with her abstinence.
After quitting smoking, Carole immediately could breath more fully. That “small win” helped. In addition, she is no longer spending $100 per week on this habit and she is treating herself to special celebrations with this new found wealth. She kept a straw in her mouth and fingers during the first few weeks to provide the comfort of a cigarette in hand, but was embarrassed at how this all looked so no longer does that. Furthermore, her friends are supporting her (however, one of her closest friends smokes three packs a day while urging her on). She has been helped by her prayer life as well, and feels God’s presence in her efforts. Finally, her grandchild who is six years old has commented that he likes her “new smell” and that makes her very happy. She worries about gaining weight due to nervous eating, so I am lending her my scale to assist her in her noble journey.
Although I’ve never smoked, my understanding is that it is one of the hardest habits to quit. I deeply admire what she is doing, and I am inspired to make some changes in my own life due to her example. Even though Carole is a single woman with limited formal education and limited means, she is marching down the path towards better health. What health-limiting habits might you be considering?