what were once vices, are now habits

My partner Ken, is a dedicated exerciser. Right now he’s training for some triathlons this summer, so he’s doing it all – biking, running and swimming. He trains almost every day and I am very proud of him and his dedication to his overall physical health.

Me, on the other hand – well, let’s just say I like to enjoy the good life – which doesn’t involve undo physical torture. I actually quit smoking for over two years and had managed to get myself to a place where I could smoke a couple of cigarettes when drinking and not get rehooked. Plus, I was exercising every day and had managed to lose some weight, although losing weight for me is like trying to tame a wild animal – lots of teeny tiny accomplishments followed by a total loss of control on a regular basis. Not the best analogy, but you get the picture. Last summer, after a whirlwind weekend of parties and much too much smoking on my part, I started buying cigarettes and smoking on a full-time basis again. Needless to say, I also quite exercising. Which led to weight gain. Which led to lower self esteem, leading to more smoking and eating, leading to weight gain, leading to lower self esteem, etc, etc, etc.

I know I have to jump out of this cycle eventually, and I know the only way to do that is to quit smoking. No smoking means I can exercise, which means I’ll quit gaining weight, which will lead to higher self esteem, etc, etc, etc. A much better cycle to be on.

Ken is the most non-judgemental person I’ve ever met. Or maybe he knows better than to ruffle my feathers. Whatever the reason, he has never nagged me about my slothful ways, although I know he isn’t totally OK with them. This is why I love him. About once a week, though, he’ll come home from work and nonchalantly, but hopefully ask “Did you walk today?” The answer is always no. No. I did not walk today. After work I pursued my literary interests instead of physically challenging my body. After work I read and tidied up the house and thought about our dinner plans. After work I spent some time petting the animals and looking at the flower beds to see what was coming up.

I did not exercise today after work.

I feel much worse about starting smoking again than I do about not exercising. It’s something I’ve been doing for way too many years and it drives my nonsmoking loved ones nuts. But I LOVE the camaraderie that we smokers have here at work. I love going out to dinner with my friends Charlie and Andi and lighting up outside afterwards with Charlie. It’s easier to deflect the unspoken criticism of others if you have a buddy. Smoking buddies understand each other. We are bonded together, in our hazy cloud of noxious smoke, against society’s ostracization of our habit – relegated to shivering in the cold or sweating in the heat just to satisfy our very personal addiction to nicotine.

When one of our own kind kicks the habit, it’s a bittersweet loss. We’re grudgingly happy they’ve crossed over, and secretly envious of the fact they’ve proved themselves stronger than the rest of us who remain in the cloud of smoke. But I know it’s getting close to the time for me to cross over to the other side of the smoking line. I want to be able to come home from work without feeling the need to immediately wash the smell of cigarettes off me. I want to be able to breathe better. I’m ready to stop feeling that gnawing need to smoke.

But most of all, I’d like to avoid hearing Ken say what he said to me yesterday when he came home from work:

“Hey honey, today I heard that 5 minutes of walking is just as effective as one piece of Nicorette gum!.”



2 Responses to “what were once vices, are now habits”

  1. 1 Blue Athena March 15, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Do you have a dog? I don’t do any other real exercise, but dog walking has me out for about an hour and a quarter a day. Then lifting a few weights in front of some trashy TV takes care of the rest of my exercise guilt.

  2. 2 Blue Athena March 15, 2007 at 10:27 am

    And when I lived in a place with a dog park the dogs were the vice and provided significant camaraderie. Of course, you don’t get as much exercise standing around chatting dogs in the park. But it is fun, and some dog parks are pretty huge.

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