Every New Years eve for the last ten years I have made the same resolution. You might think that is a cop-out but it has been one of the most significant resolutions of my life.
2018 sees me turning 40 in mid January, I know! who wants a birthday post-Christmas. I had vague notions of being the fittest I have ever been for my 40th but as always plans don’t always go as you want. So the belly is still there, but I am comfortable in my post baby shape now and have accepted that I will continue to workout when I can, when I have the energy and time. Most importantly I want the twins to have a positive outlook on body image as they grow up and don’t want them to see Mammy obsessing over her weight, or pulling at her stomach in the mirror. They will see me staying fit and working out so I can keep up with them, with their endless energy.
I have always had a negative association with turning 40 and whilst it still does niggle in my mind as I enter a new decade and am officially old and will never be stopped for ID again unfortunately, I am thankful that I am healthy and fully intend that my fortieth year will bring changes. I won’t for the most part do anything that brings me down, dishes will always have to be washed I am afraid and housework will need to be done but I am more aware now of how precious life is. We only have one, I need to do what makes me happy, and so should everyone else.
Tomorrow, The first of January 2018 will mean that I am smoke free for ten years. I have not smoked the 100,000 cigarettes I would have had since the age of 29, had I not given up. I can now say confidentially that my risk of developing heart disease is now the same as that of someone who has never smoked. I still have another five years to go before I can say that I am as much at risk of lung cancer as someone who has never smoked but my risk has halved and in five more years my life expectancy will hopefully be the same.
I remember clearly being in the doctor’s office on a nebulizer, crying with the pain in my chest,struggling to breath. for years I had suffered from chest infections and bronchitis, all smoking related.
I remember knowing people with cystic fibrosis who I imagine look on in horror at people who intentionally draw smoke,tar and chemicals into their lungs . When all they wish for is deep clear breaths. In and out, a simple action most of us never even think about.
I remember I was getting married the next year and didn’t want to be sitting in my beautiful wedding dress with a cigarette in my hand. I didn’t want to stain my dress or my lungs. I didn’t want my new husband to kiss an ashtray as we were pronounced man and wife.
I remember thinking of the family we would hopefully have. I wanted my body to be as fit and healthy as it could to bear a child. When the twins came along a few years later I couldn’t imagine how anyone could smoke when pregnant, as I saw others do in the maternity hospital. I couldn’t imagine staining their premature lungs with smoke. I am thankful I stopped so I can hopefully be in their lives for a very long time. I am thankful that my fitness has improved so I can run after them.
Over the ten years since I quit I have had one chest infection and a few coughs. I am far fitter now than I have ever been and don’t struggle for breath or cry from lack of breath due to sickness. I am sure I have saved money and spent it elsewhere at this stage. I am not a walking ashtray, stale smoke smells don’t linger on my clothes, my fingers aren’t stained yellow from cigarettes nor does my breath retain that horrible taste.
For anyone that knows me they will know that I loved my cigarettes. I smoked over twenty a day and on a night out two packets would be bought. The first thing I did in the morning was light a cigarette and I enjoyed that first one, the other nineteen I actually hated, they never tasted the same and towards the time when I knew this attempt to quit would be the successful one, I can honestly say I was disgusted with myself for smoking.
I knew that one in two smokers will die from lung disease. I knew that they were making me ill. I knew that I wanted to do everything within my control to stay healthy. I know that I am at risk of other medical illnesses out of my control so this one I could grab with my whole being and QUIT.
It saddens me to see so many women and men in their early twenties, out over the Christmas period, in the fancy decorated smoking areas sucking disease into their lungs. It maddens me that smoking areas are sometimes the nicest parts of bars. Now more than ever we are all very aware of the damage smoking can do, why do younger people still decide to smoke? I succumbed to peer pressure in my teen years, I suspect a lot of that still happens today but surely with education now there is less younger people picking up cigarettes or seeing their families smoke, therefore lessening opportunity.
Over 5,600 people die from smoking every year. Over 9,000 people die from cancer every year. Add the two together for a smoker and it is a somber thought.
Ten years cigarette free is something I am hugely proud of . I took it one day at a time, at the beginning, I took it one hour at a time. The first three days were tough but habit was broken and determination kicked in. I’m so happy looking back,that I am stubborn by nature and my willpower has stayed with me, pushing me on to remain smoke free. My next goal is to get to fifteen years ,when I really hope all the damage I did to myself is fully reversed. So if you ask me what my resolution is for 2018 it is to tell my story of being a proud non smoker for ten years and to encourage anyone, lend support or an ear to them and let you know that you can QUIT too.
Happy new year xx