Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Hello, I'm Bill. I kicked the tobacco habit quite a while ago and was able to pass my approach on to others who were successful quitters. I make no claim other than it
worked for us so I pass it on for your consideration. I hope you find it helpful and I welcome your feedback at To navigate to the next section just click on "older post" at the bottom of the page

I enjoyed smoking. Memory goes back to the days when Red Cross Workers used to dole out little 5 packs of smokes to to us flood fighters along with the hot soup and coffee. As a kid doing my paper route I'd hide my glowing cigarette up the sleeve of my parka and burn holes in the nylon lining.
As smoking adults my wife and I wouldn't hesitate to fill the car with smoke and cure our kids like Smithfield Hams. I could go on but the point is, that for a long time, 36 years, I was a heavy smoker. Back in the day smoking was condoned. A silver cigarette case and matching lighter sat on the coffee table and the solid "click' of a Zippo was music to the ears.
When you give up smoking, you give up something that's taken up a good chunk of your time. And when you give up something that's given you some pleasure it can leave an empty space. The fitQuit process gives you a way to fill the gap by letting you focus on the very sensations you used to eliminate by lighting up.
Take some time between the moments when you are actively confronting the call to smoke to reflect on the pleasant times you enjoyed as a smoker. And after you've done reflecting , say "good bye' to smoking as you would an old friend.

I tried to quit. I went to a smoking addiction clinic where they made us wrap our packs in elastic bands and hide them on the top shelves of our cupboards to make tobacco less accessible.
I tried behaviour modification at the suggestion in a magazine. This involved wearing a rubber band on my wrist and snapping it when the urge to smoke came along. Instead of punishing myself with that torture I tried substituting actions, push up s and sit-ups or eating a piece of fruit or candy or Nicotine loaded gum. I tried Elavil in the hope that it would calm the urge. That failed because I was so sedated I didn't give a damn. Prayer worked for about a day and a half. I lost two weeks pay in a bet with a co-worker. I gave hypnosis a pass. I feel that it is an invasive technique which has not been shown to yield any significant results. The patch came into play a few years after I quit smoking.

When I finally packed in the smoking thing I'd just finished a season on the local ski hill and had a couple of weeks until my summer work started. I decided to dedicate that time to ending my nicotine addiction.

I had the house to myself. I knew that I didn't know how long my cravings for nicotine lasted. As soon as I felt a craving I lit up or was able to jump in the car and hit the corner store in a matter of minutes. I got up, had breakfast and was just finishing my coffee when I felt the urge.I happened to look up at the kitchen clock. Then I concentrated on the craving itself and tried to assess the discomfort level. Was it as bad as a toothache? No. A leg cramp? No. A cold sore? Worse. A bad cold? Yeah, about as bad as a bad cold.

I was just trying to decide if I could handle discomfort equivalent to a bad cold or flu for a couple of weeks or more when the strangest thing happened. The discomfort stopped. Just went away! A looked at the clock. two minutes hadn't even passed. " Jeez!' I said, "that's strange." This begged the next question. "When will the craving come back?

The answer came in about 20 minutes. by then I had my watch with me and timed the second craving at 90 seconds. And so my day progressed with household chores and yard work interrupted every 20 minutes while I focussed on the sensations that emerged when the signal, or craving, came to top up the nicotine tank. I ruled off a sheet of legal-sized paper noting the Frequency, the Intensity of the craving and the Time. The regularity astounded me. I continued the process for about a week and a half but know for certain that I had it licked by Day Four.

In my next post I'll talk about why fitQuit works as opposed to solutions that are based on distraction, slow withdrawal or measured doses of the poison you're working to rid your body of.

Here''s a funny thing. THE STRONGER YOUR CRAVING ,THE EASIER IT IS TO TRACK YOUR SUCCESS. Make friends with it.



We trained ourselves to smoke aided by the addictive power of nicotine.Training meant feeling the signal that our body sent us and then responding by lighting up.We trained ourselves to different usage levels and we respond to different cues to light up. Responses to the craving will vary in intensity duration and time between cravings from person to person but not by much. Our responses to training or to de-training as humans are pretty similar.

Most other smoke cessation programs rely on distraction devices- patches ,gum, high-tec cigarette holders , electronic cigarettes- or a substitute get past the craving. The problem with those approaches is that they don't allow us to get to the root of the problem with any real understanding.

When I quit and came up with the method, I gave myself permission to clear the decks and not allow distractions of work or play to interfere with what I felt was an important step in life. I prepared myself mentally for a level of discomfort that Dante might have included in Purgatory.I expected, based on past attempts at quitting, tortures of the damned and got the surprise of my life!

I got up that morning, poured a cup of coffee but eliminated the spoonful of sugar.My wife had left for work. I was alone with my anxiety. The first craving of the day came when I was halfway into the cup.I put it down and steeled myself for the worst. I focussed on the discomfort itself. This came as a tightening around my chest, butterflies and an anxious feeling I can only describe as 'edginess.'The combination was uncomfortable and unpleasant and I asked myself "how uncomfortable is this, really?" I tried to locate it on a scale of relative discomfort.

Was it as bad as dental work with a 'local?" As recovery from my Christmas Eve hernia operation.Leg cramps? No. To all the above.

Was it as bad as poison ivy? No. A spider bite? A mosquito bite? Yeah, more than that. And while I was trying to pin down my level of discomfort a funny thing happened. The craving disappeared. Now, if you're focusing your attention elsewhere you're going to miss this. Distraction and displacement activity remove the most powerful tool we have for ending smoking , the craving itself. And this is why the success rates for 'cure' that depend on distraction and substitutions are low. 

I hadn't even nailed down the hardship level and the object of my study was gone. I glanced at the clock it was about ten minutes to nine. What the heck! I finished the coffee, poured another cup and began to think about what,had ,or rather ,hadn't happened.

I had some questions.It was short, but how short? When would it return? And I really hadn't pined down the discomfort level.Keep in mind that I had smoked for thirty-five years and was good for twenty-five to thirty cigarettes daily.

One question was answered at about ten after nine. Twenty minutes, give or take after the last one. I now watched the clock to see how long this craving lasted. Would it stay for the day or would it go away? This was my second surprise of the morning; it went after about ninety seconds and I was able to rate the intensity somewhere around the level of a bad head cold although the sensation was different.This was when I grabbed some paper and a pencil and began to chart what was going on. I had promised myself that I'd give myself the all the time I needed to quit smoking so I sat back and let the process unfold.

I noticed that when the craving passed that I felt a strong sense of relief and and some exhilaration.It was apparent that I didn't need to 'quit smoking' for a a year, a month or a week. I just needed to do it every twenty minutes and as a bonus get to experience success every time the craving past.

I rewarded myself with a glass of ice water and took a walk. In the middle of the walk another craving came along and I handled it like the two previous ones. I continued to monitor the Frequency of the cravings, their Intensity and the Time it took for each one to disappear. Frequency. Intensity. Time. fitQuit !


How Much Do You Smoke?

The signal to top up your nicotine tank varies in intensity and the more you smoke the stronger the signal, or craving will be. Although it's counter-intuitive this fact can actually help you through the fitQuit process with greater confidence. The stronger the craving, the easier it is to recognize and focus upon. People who have smoked for some decades and who have a pack a day or more habit will not find it significantly tougher to beat the addiction than a light smoker.

What Do You Enjoy About Smoking?

In my first blog I reflected a bit about the pleasure I got from smoking. After all the feeling of relief when the nicotine hits your circulatory system is the point of the exercise.It just plain feels good.
In "The Debt to Pleasure," John Lanchester has his hero say, " There is no more powerful emotion." This can be disputed but there's no doubt that the rush of relief exceeds the tactile, taste and olfactory pleasure that accompany the busy-ness of smoking.Take some time to reflect on your enjoyment and pleasure because we'll need to reflect on it later.

What Do You Dislike About Smoking?

You'll have to come up with some answers for this one. For me it was the difference between the the lifestyle of my more active friends and my diminished capacity to run, bike or swim without having to fight for each lungful of air. I was annoyed with myself for spending money that could have been spent more pleasurably elsewhere. I was also getting tired of being shooed out of doors to indulge myself in solitude. 

Why Do You Think You Should Quit?

I was concerned with the health implications. These are too well known for me to repeat here. Mostly I wanted to participate in a range of physical activities rather than spend my life as a volunteer or a spectator on the sidelines. Your reasons for wanting to end your addiction may be different but it's a good idea to set some expectations for yourself beyond just the absence of tobacco in your life.

What Worries You About Quitting?

Lots of smokers fear that the time that was dedicated to the act of smoking will weigh heavily on them. I know it did with me on my earlier attempts and I looked for distractions. The problem was that the substitutes gum, candy, a bag of chips don't give you the rush of relief that you get from the 'nic' hit. FitQuit gives you this sense of relief when the craving disappears and gives it to you at the same regular rate. It's the same sense of relief after all and appears for the same reason. The craving is satisfied for the time being.

A lot of smokers are attracted to heavily sauced and salted foods. According to the author of " French Women Don't Get Fat"," Smoking wreaks havoc on the olfactory mucous membranes and these are slow to repair themselves after we quit. Since aromas are more soluble in fatty dishes, smokers taste buds naturally find such fare more satisfying when the smelling component of taste has been a a bit incapacitated." One trick is to cut back on fatty foods which can sometimes act as a trigger for the habitual part of your addiction. Cook with spices, reduce your salt and ketchup intake and look forward to the day when the real flavor of food can be enjoyed.

Do You Have A Couple of Days To Dedicate Exclusively To The Process?
Quiting with the fitQuit method is a short term process but you need to give this serious, life-changing work the time and attention it deserves. " Attention is the number one tool we have for improving the quality of our lives" says psychologist Mihaly Czickszentmihalyi in "Flow." 

If you try to end your tobacco addiction while trying to meet the demands of the work place or other high stressors you're making the task more difficult than it needs to be and not giving it the time and full attention it deserves.

My successful encounter with the method took place during two weeks between work assignments when I made the decision to dedicate a week to ending smoking.It didn't seem like much of a sacrifice given that I'd spent thirty-five years training myself to be a hard core smoker. In my case I could see by mid-afternoon on the day I gave up tobacco that the method I'd stumbled upon was really working. Four days later I was absolutely certain that I was kicking the habit with ease and I was right.

Negotiate with yourself and those close to you for the time and space to work the technique.


So you've checked out your schedule and picked a convenient time to begin free from major stress and distraction. This doesn't mean you'll have to go into the "isolation chamber" or become a hermit of sorts. You'll need to focus you attention on your craving for six or seven minutes out of each hour for the first day or two; less as you progress through the week. A weekend should get you firmly on track.

As long as you pay attention when it's called for you'll find your body will the heavy lifting- just stay out of the way! You'll experience success from the beginning and you find the small task that the craving sets for you won't get in the way of a relaxed and normal day.

The evening before I quit I went out in the backyard and had a cigarette. I thought about the times that a smoke had accompanied pleasure.The hours in maternity wards awaiting the birth of my sons. Breakfast in bed with coffee and cigarettes followed by eggs over easy fried in the fat from crisp bacon. Black Balkan Sobranie cigarettes.Rum and Coke and smokes by a campfire under the Northern Lights. Then I took the time to say "good-bye" to my old friend Tobacco.

Take some time to reflect on the good times then make your farewell. Don't make a bigger deal out of this than you need to but something quite close to you is on its way out of your life and, I must add, out of your body. As result of your action your life will change for the better in ways you can't foresee. A parting gesture or small ritual might, or might not, be appropriate for you.

You may, or may not, experience a sense of loss. If so, be aware that it can show up as:
Anger-" This a bunch of bogus crap!".
Denial-"I've never been able to quit. Lot's of smokers live to a ripe old age. I've had a rough day, I deserve a smoke."
Bargaining- "I can just cut back to a couple a day. Just have a couple at a party."
Sadness- " I really miss a smoke with my morning coffee."
Acceptance-" I've said 'good-bye' and now I need to get on with the process and my life."

It's very human way of coping with loss. It's natural and only indirectly related to the de-tox process at work in your body. Recognize this basic psychological ration to leaving tobacco behind. Honour it but you don't need to anything more than recognize it for what it is and get on with the job.

You may find,in the first few days, that you misplace things more than usual or find yourself standing in a room wondering what brought you there. Chalk it up to the temporary short-term loss that's part of the mental reaction to leaving tobacco behind. This is ok. Medicating with nicotine is not an acceptable response. Your mental sharpness will be more acute when you've rid your body of nicotine but this is another reason to begin the process at a time and in a place where there are no big demands on your brainpower.

These symptoms of the loss cycle can be eased and balanced with some exercise. The increased oxygen uptake will speed de-tox as will lots of water and a healthy diet that avoids over-salted and over-saturated foods. It's interesting to note that this advice is same as that given by Critical Incident Counselors to folks who've experienced severe trauma.

Let family and friends know what you're doing and cue them to those moments when you'll be "on task."


With fitQuit we don't quit smoking as much as we put the best conditions in place to let nicotine to 'quit' us. Nicotine is a poison, a toxin and de-tox will take about seven to ten days.

In the weeks leading up to quitting I found it helpful to take a daily walk of about three miles (5 kilometers) or an hour duration. Walking after work and before dinner let me ease into the actual quitting process by having an exercise component already in place. Basic walking during the de-tox phase helps to expel toxins more quickly. Walking before a meal suppresses the appetite

The fitQuit process relies on water to flush out the toxins. Increased demand for water from your internal organs can often result in dehydrating other parts of your system. This often results in headaches for some folks. Keep a supply of water on hand and check with your doctor to see if asprin or some other analgesic is right for you.

I'll mention again that overly-salted foods and snacks, while they have no relationship to the craving itself, might be associated with some old habits. Switch tastes. Fresh fruit and veggies helped me break my old routines. Food that I found bland and tasteless became more interesting in a couple of days when my taste and sense of smell began to return. Switch beverages, add or subtract sugar or whiteners to avoid habit triggers.

If you drink alcohol routinely, layoff it during the de-tox process or switch tastes as with other beverages. Alcohol is a solvent and personal resolve has been known to weaken in its presence. Avoid this temptation. 

It's easy to sabotage the program by spending time in places where there are smokers. I know. I did it but got back on the program easily after a week revisiting my addiction.

Think about your schedule when you plan to start and avoid smoke filled rooms and smokers for a week to ten days while you're working the program.

De-tox your clothing. Run your laundry through the wash a couple of times then sanitize your washer by running hot water through it or using "AFRESH' or a similar product. Send your suits or skirts to the cleaners. 

De-tox your environment. While you're still a smoker banish yourself to the great outdoors and call in the carpet and drapery cleaners. Consider having your walls and cupboards washed. It's a small expense when placed against the money you'll be saving.

De-tox your car or have it detailed by specialists. It will no longer be your mobile 'smoke pit'. 

These projects will help eliminate any unintentional distractions when you decide to go ahead with the program.

Paying Attention

You'll have noticed by now that I haven't suggested you actually begin the fitQuit process and it's because you're the only one who can know when it'll be right to start. I'll lay out the four steps in the next blog and you can decide whether or not you want to commit to them.

Lurking in the background of most smoke cessation programs is the idea that the 'craving' for nicotine is a bad thing. This is simply not true! The craving is just a signal from your nervous system telling you to replace the nicotine which has been depleted since you last smoked. Your body rids itself naturally of the poison so all we have to do is not get in the way of a normal body function. With fitQuit, instead of trying to distract or medicate ourselves, we take time to examine the craving. We focus on the craving and NOTHING BUT for as long as it lasts. We pay attention. This is what needs to be done for the moments that the craving lasts.

An experiment once took place in a martial arts dojo or practice hall. The neutral shaded mats which covered the floor were replaced with red mats. This distraction totally messed up the timing and techniques of the students. When distraction is introduced, the ability to think and perform drops. Most jurisdictions have laws banning the use of 'hands-on' cell phones while driving because tests have shown that they create a level of impairment equivalent to a couple of alcoholic drinks. Runners, walkers and cyclists who practice their activities while listening to portable mp3. players are more injury prone and less aware of danger from traffic, animals or predatory humans. Nevertheless, distraction of one sort or another is a multi-billion dollar industry.

It's only by paying attention to our actions and by repeated practice that we learn. You'll have a week or so to learn this lesson at a gut level as you use your craving as a tool for focusing your attention. The feeling that you have when the sensation goes away is not just the reward for paying attention. This feeling is available in other areas of your life as you successfully practice new endeavors.

Frequency. Intensity. Time.

You trained yourself to smoke. Now you'll train yourself to quit without relying on medications, hypnosis, laser treatments, herbs or unwanted distractions. It won't take long. The discomfort you feel as a 'craving' will be your primary tool for the week or so it takes to 'de-tox'. The more you smoked the stronger the signal. The stronger the signal the easier it is to monitor the process.

Quitting is the most important step you can take to improve health, fitness and the quality of your life.Quitting will change your life in ways that you can't foresee. Quitting will open the door to a range of other options and will enrich and enhance your life.

Pick a start time where you won't be distracted for the first couple of days as you work on the process. A long weekend or a vacation break is ideal. Hell, take a couple of 'sick days'!




When you feel a craving note the START time eg. 8:46 AM.

While the craving lasts, under the heading INTENSITY describe your discomfort level. Eg. "A bad cold" - "a mild toothache"

When the craving disappears note the TIME it lasted in minutes and seconds.

When it returns, note the new START time and how long it took to return under FREQUENCY.

That's It! Note the times focus on the intensity free of distractions and let your body flush the drug from your system. It will quickly become apparent that you don't have to set unrealistic quitting goals. You only have to focus on each craving and enjoy the repeated successes that you will experience. It's simple, rational, effective and only requires your commitment for a minute or so at any one time.

De-tox will take about a week but the craving will recur from time to time - often in response to some old familiar habit pattern. Use fitQuit and it won't pose a problem.

I welcome your comments and wish you success. Share your experience freely with others. Go for a walk.