Tag Archives: nicotine

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

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If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 months on – The daily fight

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Ten months on from stopping smoking, I don’t feel any fitter or healthier. My body has been through hell, ridding the nicotine and I never want to have to go through it again. Keeping cheerful has been difficult. We get to the coast as much as we can. This is me with my feet in the North Sea two weeks ago.

 

At the beginning, the constant gnawing and craving preoccupied me, but as my hormones began to party without the nicotine hanging on for a ride, my weight gain has become my focus.

That’s me in the purple and black in October 2017, and here’s me in March 2018

If one more slim, yogatastic, enlightened 30 something tells me to embrace this new part of being a woman and be excited about my crone phase, I’ll punch them in the face…not really, but you can hear my frustration. I didn’t ask for this. I thought stopping smoking would make me feel better…I’ve never felt so depressed and anxious.

Smoking held back some, but not all my menopausal symptoms. Everything has been heightened since stopping putting nicotine into my body, so my IBS has been chronic too. I feel like my body is returning to factory reset, shaking everything up along the way, but rather than settling, everything feels off kilter.

I had to stop running, my knees couldn’t cope, partly because I’m running on the road and there isn’t a single flat section anywhere near me, and probably because I already have knee damage and I’m heavier than I should be.

I am not alone. Thousands of women are waking up one morning to find their once taut bodies have softened. I haven’t been this fleshy since I was pregnant and the irony of that is like a stab to the heart…you’re no longer capable of conceiving a child, but your body looks like you’re carrying one. Wicked.

It isn’t all bad news… I’ve stuck to my walking every morning as soon as I get up, and my new morning best is 5.2k steps. I always do at least 2k, and often do 4k. Having said that, I do walk some lunchtimes too, but now the evenings are dark, I’m not walking in the evening. I’m guessing I put on two stone at the beginning of the year with eating a bit more and the change in hormones and have now lost one of those, but I still can’t get my clothes on. In fact, last week I bought bigger jeans. Gutting.

I am a fighter. Every morning when I walk, Dr Dain’s affirmation rings in my ears ‘All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory’. Life is amazing. I have a wonderful partner. My friends and family are dear to me. I live in an amazing house in a fabulous part of the world, with a roof over my head. I’ve started doing a little yoga after my walk, just a few balances and stretches…the plan is to build up to more, making sure my thighs don’t get too bulky with all the extra walking. Loki likes to be carried around on my walks…He is a fidget though

There is other good news. I’ve gone back on my original HRT. I now sleep through most nights. I sweat less during those nights. The day time sweats are occasional.

But every day is a battle, making my steps count and attempting to balance my body. As you may know, my diet is already plant based and I cook most meals from scratch, so how I lose this lump orbiting my middle, I’m not sure. Food and I have battled for most of my life and I’m gutted I’m being forced to re-evaluate again, when I thought I was doing the right thing becoming plant based.

Women need to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t just hormones! Have you any idea how life changing their fluctuation can be?’

I’m re-inventing myself. I may have had to buy bigger jeans but I also bought the cutest pinafore dress, and I’ve booked in for a new tattoo. Support the women around you while they deal with this life changing transformation. No more jokes about menopausal women being grumpy!

 

Toegate continued

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The broken toe is healing…slowly. Today I’m walking my steps for the first time in Wellington boots since the crunch.

(Not sure why I look like I’m hovering over the earth!)

I started a few months ago, getting up around 6am and starting my day with 2k steps for two reasons, both related to me stopping smoking. Firstly, I miss the first cigarette of the day with the same intense craving I’ve woken up with for forty years, so I’m trying a different start to the day. Secondly, I’ve put on weight around my middle and I don’t like it.

Teaching women to bellydance, I encourage them to love their bodies, I know, but this bit around the middle doesn’t belong to me. It has been sent by the Nicotine Monster because I won’t feed him anymore, and I refuse to sign and accept the delivery!

So I’m building up the steps again slowly; 1k in the morning, 1k at lunchtime and another 1k in the evening. Combined with 6 hours of dance each week, I’m hoping to see a difference by 1st September.

Tribal Unity Wales will be performing at the Lampeter Food Festival on 28th July and at the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on 4th August. After that, I’ll return to 2k every morning…why not join me?

 

 

Phoenix without her Fire

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On January 21st 2018, I stopped smoking nicotine. I didn’t use patches or gum or vaping. I believed Allan Carr, that stopping smoking was easy, read the book, made a commitment and more than six weeks on, I’m able to look back and see how Phoenix coped without her fire. I want to say at this point, my partner stopped smoking at the same time but, if you want to know how it was for him, you’ll have to ask him.

So I put out my fire because the addictive poison was dulling my passion for life, my drive, my confidence and my belief in myself and the Universe. The good news is, I’m coming back, flames bursting through the kindling, ready to ignite the logs. The bad news is, it wasn’t and still isn’t, easy.

Without nicotine pumping through my veins, I was possessed not of body but mind. That’s where the nicotine monster was, shacked up all cosy, chain smoking and blowing it right in my face. He tried a plethora of tricks to thwart me but he didn’t succeed for one reason and one reason only…I made a promise to myself that I would no longer smoke nicotine. I’m hot on promises, they work for me.

Reading the book was useful. It confirmed the things I knew and wanted, banged home a few home truths I needed to hear and gave me the framework to give up; smoke while you read this book, follow the instructions, be certain, smoke your last cigarette and make your vow.  But once I stopped smoking, the book and the words in it no longer helped, in fact, they hindered. The ‘stop moping around and get on with your life’ way of thinking didn’t help me at all.

The support of family and friends played a huge part in me keeping my promise. Looking after two new members of our family helped too.

I danced lots and swore, screamed and cried.

After about three weeks, I calmed down. The first sparks were igniting. Freezing, icy, stormy weather focussed my mind on drinking water, wood for our burners and the safety of neighbours and away from smoking. Working hard to finish writing The Flowerpot Witch has been another point of focus. I’ve cooked and baked abundantly, cut back a lot of brambles and chopped a lot of logs

Every day, instead of poison, pure light fills my veins. I’m alive and intend to stay that way for a long time. This Phoenix is back on fire.