I love to go jogging. I don’t do it regularly enough, but when I do I feel better, my mental well-being improves, I become more relaxed and better able to deal with life’s problems, and I learn truths about life and about smoking.
First, let me suggest that you begin an exercise program if you aren’t already involved in one (always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program). I don’t care if you jog or walk or swim or play tennis or ride a bike—just do something. Jogging is my preferred exercise because it works for me. Find an exercise program that works for you. You’ve got to enjoy it or you won’t do it. You are an individual with your own likes and dislikes. Find an exercise or exercises that you enjoy.
This leads me to the first truth I’ve learned while jogging that can help you quit smoking: Everyone is different and should find an exercise program that agrees with them. Likewise, every smoker is different and not everyone will be able to quit using the same methods. Find your own quit smoking method—one that works for you. If one method doesn’t agree with you, try another. Life is about finding your own, individual path. Make your effort to quit smoking a fun journey by allowing your individuality to enter into your quitting method.
After several months of getting very little exercise (it was cold outside—that’s my excuse), I finally began my exercise program again. At first I could not jog very far at all. I expected this and knew getting back in shape would be difficult. Is quitting smoking any different? For most people, probably not. Quitting takes time and effort. Is it worth it? You bet.
As I was saying, when I first started jogging I got tired quickly. I could only jog for about 12 minutes without feeling like I would get sick. That was okay, though. I knew success was just a few jogging sessions away. I usually jog every other day. My body needs time to rest and rebuild. The next time I went jogging I was able to jog a little farther, a little longer. While jogging I wear a watch with a stop-watch so I am able to time my activity. My goal was to jog just a little longer and little farther than my previous jogging session.
I learned a truth about life very quickly: Don’t give success a second thought. Let me explain how I learned this and what it means to you as someone trying to quit smoking.
Each successive jogging trip I took allowed me to set a slightly higher goal for myself, as I got my body into much better physical condition. I knew how many minutes I jogged last time and how far I went because I was taking the same route through the neighbor. One night (I jog at night when it’s cool and when traffic is limited) I was having an especially difficult time. Not every jog is perfect or better than the last. Despite my difficulty I jogged just a little farther than I did two days before, turning around at a particular set of trees, and jogging back home. I was proud of my accomplishment when I finished. My realization of the truth, “don’t give success a second thought” came two nights later when I passed the same set of trees I had struggled to reach, but this time I passed the trees without even realizing I had done so. Without thinking twice about reaching the trees, I had passed the trees, improving on my previous goals. Success at jogging had become an unquestioned edict.
When you quit smoking don’t give it a second thought. “Yeah, sure,” you’re saying. “I think about smoking a hundred times per hour when I quit.” That’s okay. But don’t think twice about QUITTING. See the difference? Think about smoking as much as you want, but don’t think twice about quitting. The question is not IF you will quit, but WHEN you will quit.
When you first begin to quit smoking you’ll probably experience some difficult moments. There’s no denying this fact. Some days will be easier than others, but overall, quitting WILL GET EASIER the longer you go without smoking. You’ll reach yesterday’s trees and pass right by them without thinking twice.
The next truth I learned while jogging is that jogging or other physical activities can distract you from the other problems in your life. Exercise in particular has the calming effect that smokers seek from cigarettes. Exercise helps to clear your mind, and gives you time to think. It simultaneously burns physical energy while creating emotional and mental energy. When you’re straining to reach your physical fitness goals you won’t be thinking about smoking; you’ll be concentrating on your muscles and your lungs and reaching “the finish line.”
If you can’t distract yourself with exercise, be sure to have other distractions prearranged for the tough times when you get a craving.
Another truth I learned while jogging is that all good things require effort and sacrifice. There’s no magic potion or hidden doorway that will allow your body to get in shape overnight. Physical fitness takes the conscious investment of time and effort. Quitting smoking is the same way. You must consciously decide to quit, then work through the cravings, mental and physical and emotional. Jogging builds muscles. Quitting builds character.
As with most things in life, getting started on my jogging routine was the hardest part. I put it off and made lots of excuses. I had to mentally prepare myself for the activity. But once I finally put on my shoes and starting jogging, the toughest part was over. That’s the next truth I learned—starting is the hardest part, but once you’ve begun, the momentum will carry you through to the end. Quitting smoking requires one thing: you must put your cigarettes down for the last time. Once you start quitting, you are halfway home!
This article isn’t really about exercise, although I hope you take up exercise as a means for quitting smoking. This article is about learning the truths that life is constantly teaching us, often from unlikely sources. I hope that you will apply these truths to your own quit smoking plans, and that you will remain aware of truths in other parts of your life. Life is ready to teach you how to do just about anything if only you are ready and willing to listen.