By Charles Bausman
Before diving into my own self-pity, I want to sincerely thank those who emailed me with notes of encouragement and recommendations on how to best kick the habit.
When Rob “asked” me to write about why I’m quitting chewing tobacco and its effect, I didn’t think a single person would care enough to read it, let alone take the time to contact me, a total stranger. I’m blown away by the level of support. It can’t be emphasized enough on how appreciative I am by the gestures.
For the record: You know who your true friends are when they send you a video via text grabbing a big, fat pinch and stuffing it in their lower lip.
On to the follow-up….
The second week of no tobacco was easier in comparison to week one. On the miserable scale, it hit an 8 instead of the previous week’s 10. We call that progress.
My stress and irritability decreased significantly, and I could think clearly again through the fog. I consider it a major success that I didn’t snap or strike a single person, and the day dreams of doing so have mostly returned to normal levels.
The nicotine cravings are amazing in what they can do to you. It’s as if the mind becomes hyper-focused on attaining one thing… the nicotine fix. I can only imagine what the withdrawal symptoms are like for those quitting more serious addictions. Kudos to those who have beat those.
I found getting up and walking around took my mind off of the craving until it subsided. Physical activity is the best tool for me to forget the craving. I’m still using a healthy dose of nicotine gum and regular chewing gum to kill off the cravings, but nothing beats getting up and running around for a bit.
The desire to have something in my lip is still strong, especially during my former routine “dip” activities. I won’t get into my truck or finish a cup of coffee without a stick of gum nearby. My jaw twitches and I find myself grinding my teeth a bit without realizing it. This has begun to subside, but it’s certainly still there.
Several of the folks who emailed me recommended a non-tobacco dip that can help with the oral fixation that many experience. I think I’m through the absolute worst of it, so I’m holding back for the time being.
What made this past week especially challenging was due to cutting weight for my first jiu-jitsu tournament. One of the side effects of quitting is that you may experience weight gain due to blood sugar swings, which increase your desire to eat. Because of poor planning on my part, I was taking away the healing power of food from my arsenal for several days in order to cut around 7 lbs, from my normal weight of 205+ to under 199.
Generally that small of a weight cut wouldn’t be too big of an issue, but I was absolutely feeling the pain. Strict calorie restriction had me eating a protein bars, a apple, and a piece of fish and veggies for about five days.
I jumped on the scale two days before the tournament and my weight hadn’t moved. I was dumbfounded.
Then I realized that I had been eating about a bag of sunflower seeds a day, full of sodium and retaining every drop of water in my body. Away with another one of my coping tools.
With the seeds gone, I dropped the water weight and weighed in at 196 lbs the night before the official weigh ins. Success.
Despite a four hour drive one way to the tournament hungry and thirsty, I resisted the temptation to pick up a can when we stopped at the gas station. At the weigh-ins, I was down to 195 lbs and ready to roll the following day.
I’m pleased that I’ve made it to this point and remain dedicated to being done with tobacco. The first week was horrible, but it’s getting consistently easier. According to the experts, sometime in week 3-4 is when the next big wave of cravings will hit. Get past that obstacle, and you’re mostly in the clear.
To be continued….
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