A Passion for Outdoor Sports and Gradual Changes in Exercise Helped Liz Quit Smoking

"Within a year I naturally drifted into a nonsmoking lifestyle."(LIZ MARR)Liz Marr smoked off and on throughout her 20s and picked it up again in her early 30s. “I didnt smoke all the time,” she says. “Usually, only while socializing with other smokers.”

But then she fell in love with mountain biking and cross-country skiing. After all, Marr lives near Boulder, Colo., and could literally walk out her door to go mountain biking. “Trust me,” she says, “you cant smoke and ride a bike up a mountain!”

Rather than stop cold turkey (“That all-or-nothing mind-set made me want to smoke more,” she says), Liz gradually tapered off by avoiding the situations that made her want to smoke. “For awhile, I actually stopped hanging out with friends who smoked,” she says. Marr built activities into her life where smoking wouldnt fit: exercising, going to smoke-free restaurants, hanging out with her son. “Within a year I naturally drifted into a nonsmoking lifestyle,” she says.

Why it worked
Marrs tactic of cutting back is an effective way to break free of smoking routines and eventually stop altogether, according to a University of Vermont review of 19 studies. The hard part is staying committed. But Marr knows thats doable: She hasnt smoked in 10 years. “I used to love it, but now the smell makes me sick,” she says. “Its not who I am anymore.”

Marrs 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 going—and no one had started smoking again!

What about you? Did you quit? Are you struggling with cigarettes now? Please e-mail us at tellyourhealthstory@health.com (with "Quit Smoking" in the subject line) and share your strategies and struggles. You may help someone else overcome a nicotine dependence.

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