The good…
At about 12:00 noon on December 23, 2022, while driving home from Long & McQuade music store, I lit up the last cigarette in my pack. I tossed the empty packet into my car’s litter bag, noting that I needed to stop and buy another. A few moments later though, I instead pulled into the pharmacy parking lot, went in, and bought a package of Nicotine patches. I put one on and went about my day. Went home, did stuff around the house, then headed to Sasktel Centre to perform a gig in the Founder’s Lounge.

Two things I did NOT do that day: I did not mention the patch to anyone. And I didn’t have another smoke.

I continued that way for the entire month of December – not smoking and not telling anyone I wasn’t smoking. After failing so many times, I was not going to again announce I was quitting, only to embarrassingly fail yet again. As long as I kept NOT smoking, my family and friends would eventually notice on their own. Only on New Year’s Eve – after four weeks of no smoking – did I acknowledge that yes, I had quit smoking.

By the end of January, I had stopped even wearing the nicotine patches, and I still did not smoke. Now today – 191 days, 22 hours, and 36 minutes later – I am celebrating over 6 months free of cigarettes. After 40 years of smoking a pack a day or more, I am finally and permanently free.

The bad…
For the better part of 40 years, I used to get up 25 or more times every day from whatever I was doing to step outside and smoke. With cigarettes no longer an option, I, like so many others, have made the mistake of substituting snacking for smoking. Especially if I stay up late watching movies or noodling on the guitar, a craving for a cigarette instead finds me at the fridge or pantry door filling my mouth with food instead of smoke.

The ugly.
The ugly? That would be me. For my entire life, I have struggled with my weight. And subsequently, for my entire life, I have struggled with issues of severely low self-esteem and extreme body dysmorphia.

It’s kinda funny – when my wife and I first moved in together, I was able to drop off several pounds without even trying. It was a combination of just being more active in order to keep up both with her athleticism and with our new baby boy’s energy; together with eating more healthy food options by virtue of moving in with a clean-eating vegetarian. So when I look back now to photos from the first few years of our marriage, I am shocked to see how actually not fat I had become for a few years. Yet I still felt fat, still felt fat and ugly.

Today though, the undeniable reality is that I tip the scales at the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. My fucking clothes no longer fit. I’m so fucking fat that I am ashamed to step up on stage and be seen by an audience. Hell, even just to be seen in public at all is soul-crushingly embarrassing for me. My self-hatred is stronger than at almost anytime in my life, certainly in over 15 years anyway

And of course, the simple reality of life is that stresses never stop. Whether it’s family stress, work stress, social pressures, or financial stress… life keeps coming at you. For 40 years, my way of dealing with stress was always to stop and light up a cigarette to calm myself, then get back on that horse and face the challenge.

Now what do I do? Fucking binge eat “comfort” foods. To quote Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers films: “I eat because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because I eat.”

Well then…
I quit smoking goddammit! I broke a 40-year addiction to one of the most addictive things on earth – as addictive as fucking heroin they say. So I know I can apply self-discipline if I really commit.

Therefore, I have bought a shiny new stationary recumbent bike with integrated resistance bands for arm/chest exercises while riding. It arrived last Friday and it’s now assembled and parked in front of the basement’s PS5 TV. I’ve begun doing two 10-minute rides daily, The plan is to work myself up to 20-minute “rides”, thrice daily.

Concurrently, I’ve stopped buying snacky sweet and/or fatty snacks, and have instead begun trying some sensible meal planning to try to reduce my calorie intake to around 2,000 per day.

Most reputable articles say losing around two pounds per week is a realistic & healthy weight loss rate. So with 25 weeks left in 2023, I can realistically lose around 50 lbs safely by New Year’s 2024 if I am sensible and stay committed. Assuming I am successful, I may then choose to target an additional 15 to 20 lbs off for springtime.

I succeeded at quitting cigs so I can do this too. I have to.