Four years ago, Tiffany Hudak of Bishop, Ga., lost her mother, a lifelong smoker, to lung cancer. Pregnant at the time, Hudak knew she couldnt smoke. But after her son was born, she started smoking again. “Its what I used to cope,” she says.
Then last year, unable to bear the thought of not being there for her son, Hudak decided enough was enough. She set a quit date, a technique that experts recommend because it helps you mentally prepare. She would stop on her 35th birthday and gear up by getting healthier. She joined a gym and started eating more fruits and vegetables, and less meat.
The first three weeks after quitting were more difficult than Hudak anticipated. “I had wild mood swings, so my doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, which helped tremendously,” she says.
Shaking up her routines helped, too. She temporarily swore off favorite cigarette accompaniments like coffee and red wine. And because her old “smoke-break spot” was on the front porch, she didnt use her front door for six months.
Since quitting, Hudak, now 37, won the title of Mrs. Georgia United States 2008 and is now dedicated to spreading the word about the dangers of smoking. She is a spokeswoman for the National Lung Cancer Partnership and works to erase the stigma associated with the disease.
Why it worked
Diet and exercise changes can help quitters avoid weight gain, one thing that makes quitting difficult for women, says Erik Augustson, PhD, MPH, a behavioral scientist at the National Cancer Institute. And a recent Duke University study says cutting out caffeine and meat is important because they can make cigarettes taste better. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, on the other hand, dont mask cigarettes nasty taste. Tiffanys lifestyle changes gave her more energy than she could have imagined. “If Id known life would be this good as a nonsmoker,” she says, “I would have quit a lot sooner!”
Hudaks story was first published alongside the profiles of other quitters in the September 2007 issue of Health magazine. We called everyone in July 2008 to see how things were goingand no one had started smoking again!
What about you? Did you quit? Are you struggling with cigarettes now? Please email us at email@example.com (with "Quit Smoking" in the subject line) and share your strategies and struggles. You may help someone else overcome a nicotine dependence.