Finally non-smoker: how i got away from cigarettes

After 22 years, author Nicole quit smoking. And this for a special reason, which should be however relevant for many smokers.

Nicole Benke

Dear smokers, this text is for those of you who would like to be non-smokers. An encouragement text for the new year quasi. No one who raises the moral finger (I smoked too much and too long for that) or in which I tell you how much healthier it would be not to smoke (you know that yourself). This is my personal smoking story, which came to a happy end almost half a year ago. And maybe inspires one or the other of you to try (again) quitting as well. Because I have noticed that it is quite easy. I would never have thought that. I’m really not a very disciplined person and yet: no nervousness, no bad moods. I had more cravings for sweets (more on that later) – otherwise there were no side effects. Easy, really.

Free time seemed less valuable without a cigarette. Already crass.

Nicole Benke, BeatYesterday author

Vacation without a cigarette? Can I do it?

If you’re thinking "Oh, let her talk, she probably smoked three cigarettes a night and has no idea anyway" – that’s not true. It was a pack a day, every day. Sometimes more at the weekend. I started with 16 (in the open air swimming pool – the classic!), then just kept going, smoked more and more and at some point: smoked for real. From morning till night. It went on for 22 years and now I quit since last summer. Finally? Only time will tell, but it feels like it. Probably no one seriously believed that I would ever really quit. Least of all myself. In my mind, it was always a huge hurdle that I didn’t have the confidence to overcome. Others might manage, but I? No. I linked so many moments with cigarettes: Waiting for the bus. Coffee. Wine. Sun on the balcony. Have a good evening. Having a bad night. You know this for sure. And I liked to smoke. It went so far that I couldn’t even imagine going on vacation as a non-smoker. What do you do in the evening at a sundowner if you don’t smoke?? Free time seemed less valuable without a cigarette. Already crass.

Woman holding cigarette

Author Nicole was rarely seen without a cigarette in the last 22 years. | ©

I quit smoking because I wanted to be free

I have tried to quit twice in the last few years. It never worked. Why? Because I wanted to quit for the wrong reasons for me. This time it’s different: I didn’t quit because smoking is unhealthy. I didn’t quit because smoking is expensive. And I didn’t quit because someone else wanted me to either. I quit because I wanted to be free.

Yes, that sounds like esoteric nonsense. But that’s the way it is. I didn’t want to worry about cigarettes anymore. Do I still have enough or do I need to buy some more? Where can I find a cigarette vending machine? Is it allowed to smoke where we meet? Can I have a quick smoke before we go in?? Let’s not even talk about long-distance flights. Smoking took away a lot of my freedom. And that felt very wrong at some point.

Smoking became more and more unpleasant

Besides, the image of the smoker didn’t fit with my life for quite some time. I eat healthy, buy organic vegetables (because they contain less pesticides, haha)!), do sports – and then smoke a pack a day. Find the mistake. I became increasingly uncomfortable with smoking, in front of others, but also in front of myself. And I think this is where my personal key to success lies: instead of a reason, I suddenly had an emotional motivation to quit smoking: I wanted to feel different. Straighten out my self-image.

Two things helped me in the beginning: whenever I would have actually smoked, I would do 20 squats.

Nicole Benke, has quit smoking after 22 years

Don’t forget Breathing is life

I took my time. Quitting was a process. I thought about it for a long time, sometimes more, sometimes less intensely. In total, I’m sure it’s been almost a year of looking for the right moment and listening closely to other success stories. I wondered if I really wanted to. And why. My family doctor once said, "Breathing is life, don’t forget that."I still think about that sentence a lot today, maybe it was the one that finally gave me the push to become a non-smoker. Breathing is life. In February 2017, I decided that it should be over by fall at the latest. Why I did not let it go directly? I was very stressed at work at that time. And I didn’t want to put myself through that. Psychologists confirm: Timing is crucial when making good resolutions. Then in late summer a fat cold laid me flat, I couldn’t smoke for three days, took the chance and didn’t start again afterwards.

Special non-smoking apps show you your successes and motivate you. | © Nicole Benke

Stop smoking app: success always in front of my eyes

The disease was a blessing for me, but otherwise I could have imagined to try acupuncture as well. Think about what could help you. Everyone ticks differently, there is no one way for everyone. By the way, I never had a real craving. Sure, I had (and still have) a desire for cigarettes from time to time. But it goes away in ten seconds. And I haven’t changed any of my old habits, I still drink my coffee, I still go to the smokers’ bar around the corner and I still go out with the smokers at a party. I feel wonderful (and don’t stink anymore)!). Two things helped me in the beginning: whenever I would have actually smoked, I did 20 squats. And an app (there are many, I use Rauchfrei Pro) has shown me my successes every day: How long have I lasted?? How many cigarettes have I not smoked?? How much money saved? How has my health changed since then? That motivates.

Not smoking was totally easy for me, but I couldn’t pass by a chocolate croissant, even though I knew that it was poison for my figure right now.

Nicole Benke, had an increased craving for sweets in the first few weeks

No more smoking: the thing with the figure

But there is one more thing. The weight. Many women in particular don’t stop because they don’t want to gain weight. Honestly, that was one of the reasons for me to keep smoking for a long time. Until the urge for freedom won out. And yes: I have gained weight. Four kilos so far. I also know what that is. I had – especially in the first weeks – a crazy desire for sweets, which I did not know at all. And the one I couldn’t resist. Crazy. Not smoking was totally easy for me, but I couldn’t pass up a chocolate croissant, even though I knew it was poison for my figure right now. Psychology calls this "nerve food", because it has been proven that our body needs more glucose when we have a lot of discipline for something. So I can tell you: you have to try very hard not to gain weight at all. I had imagined that would be much easier.

The desire for sweets was bigger than I thought. | © krkojzla

Cut yourself some slack after quitting smoking

I decided to cut myself some slack, treat myself once in a while, and set my "pain threshold" at plus five kilos. You can get it down again. Now in January, for example, I train my discipline and do without alcohol, sugar and fast carbohydrates, that works wonderfully. So I can only encourage you: Try it too! It feels good. Really liberating. The bottom line is that you can only win. And if I make it, then your chances are pretty good too. Namaste!

My conclusion

As an avid smoker, I’m amazed at how easy it was to quit. You can do it too! Think about your personal motivation. What are you doing it for? Half-heartedness makes no sense. To quit, choose a time when you are not stressed and tell friends and family about your plans. They will support you! Be proud of every day that you make it and bear with yourself if discipline is lacking in other areas (I’m just talking about sweets …). With a long-term healthy diet and exercise, you’ll eventually get those extra smoker kilos back under control. Health first!

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