Category Archives: Fitness

How I Quit Smoking

How I Quit Smoking

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” -Yoda

Learn a New Behavior

As much as I love Yoda the only way to unlearn is brain damage. And even that’s not a guaranteed fix. Not something I would recommend anyway.

New behaviors are gained by forming new pathways in the brain. The old behavior remains. Forgetfulness is not erasure, but lack of recall. It is better to focus on learning something new than to struggle with unlearning.

Motivation

I quit smoking at twenty-eight. When I was twenty-seven my three year old daughter said, “Look daddy!”, as she puffed on a weed stem. Instantly, I became highly motivated. I soon found motivation was not enough. I quit four times over a one year period. The runner up method was acupuncture needles in my ear. I didn’t smoke for three months. Then I went drinking…. I learned through trail and error that quitting smoking would take a multi-layered approach.

A Multi-Layered Approach

Finally a combination of the patch, changing behaviors like not hanging out with smokers or smoking environments like bars, and mental reprogramming by repeating phrases like I am becoming a former smoker and I am former smoker, worked to shift my identity away from that of a smoker. The reprogramming part is thanks to Anthony Robbins. According to Robbins congruency with identity is related to honesty and trustworthiness in our culture. A change in behavior can be perceived as being
incongruent, and therefore, untrustworthy.

My Part Approach to Quitting Smoking:
1. Chemical – The patch
2. Behavioral – Not being around smokers or smoking environments.
3. Mental – Affirming a new identity.

My approach was to establish and reinforce new neurological pathways rather than erase old ones. Those the old neurological pathways that formed my identity as a smoker are still there along with their related physical responses even after twenty-two years. They are a lot less intense. I don’t crave a cigarette when having a drink, but there are times when the idea that a cigarette would be nice comes to mind. When that happens I remember the sick feelings I got while smoking and that is enough to counter the nostalgia.

Unlearning is a nice idea, but the reality is that any behavior change is multitiered. Change is more effective when approached through focusing on learning new behaviors instead of getting rid of old ones. Much of our identity is the result of learning. Reframing identity as something learned, instead of an inherent or inherited trait, makes it easier to change. If you learned to be who you think you are then you could always learn something different.

New learning means growth and growth means an expanded consciousness. Quitting smoking taught me more than just giving up cigarettes. It taught me a new formula for learning something new. Be it quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthy, or anything else you want to learn, I hope my three steps are of help to you too.

Health Tip

Health Tip

I was coming down with something, achy body, sore throat, slight fever, so I asked my Tai Chi teacher to recommend some herbs to fight it. He told me to fill a glass with water and take a drink until I naturally felt like stopping. Repeat every hour.
Is that all?
That’s all, he said.
The man wasn’t just a tai chi guy he was also an electrical engineer so I took his advice on faith.
I felt better from the first day and by the third day all symptoms were gone. I asked him why it worked and he said most people are dehydrated and don’t know it. Drinking to the point you naturally stop is your body’s way of indicating it can’t assimilate more. Often we drink large amounts at a time only to piss it out which adds stress to the system because it’s overloading it. What surprised me was that he learned the technique from a book written by a doctor in a war prison camp (not some ancient Chinese wisdom) who wanted to treat the sick but he only had water to work with. This doctor came up with many remedies based only on water. I wish I got the name of that doctor or book from him, but at least I have this to share. 🙂

Green Drink Recipe

Green Drink Recipe

1 cup water
1 cup oj
1 cup pineapple
Two handfuls kale
Two handfuls spinach
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 stalk celery
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Cheyenne pepper to taste, I put 1/8-1/4 tsp

It’ll almost fill a Vitamix so I suggest cutting down by 1/3 for a single serving, maybe even less for a NutriBullet. Cheyenne pepper may upset your digestion and it might be better for some to go without it.

Kind Resolve

Kind Resolve

It’s ironic the way most New Years resolutions call for action, often extreme action, during a time nature is at rest.  We go against nature and wonder why we quickly lose steam. Resolutions to get in shape, eat better, and drink less alcohol are great, but I think the timing a unrealistic.  It is unrealistic to push change when nature calls for rest and repose.  Using the wisdom of harmony to flow with the quiet laziness of the season it is possible to approach your resolutions with respect and kindness.

Instead of expecting crazy change and lots of activity it is more effective to use the winter season as a time of reflection, contemplation, and reassessment of what has and hasn’t worked for you in the previous year.  Perform nurturing activities like stretching, yoga, tai chi, qigong, strolls, and warm baths.  Journal, diary, meditate, and read books to further reflect and contemplate.  Lay the ground work for the coming months.  Plan to increase the energy of your activities with the seasons.  Work with nature rather than against it.  To have harmony, be in harmony.  Be present and non-resistant to the way thing are and let clarity bring you new awareness and wise choices to act upon.  This is the way to living in the moment is a kind way.