Sunday, April 26, 2015

Something to chew on

My goal for week two on my path to healthier living is the one I think will be the most difficult for me. I have been using chewing tobacco off and on (more on than off) for the past 20 years. I have "quit" a number of times in the past, but it never stuck....obviously. I have done a lot of thinking about how I want to go about quitting for the last time and I am optimistic about my success this time.

My biggest concern is obviously outright failure, but a close second is figuring out what will take its place. I've heard from a number of sources that giving up one addiction often gets replaced with another. For me, it has always been food. Considering a major part of my health improvement is cutting back on the amount of food I eat, this is a major concern for me. The part that keeps me optimistic is that my reduced portions this past week hasn't been a big deal so far. The other advantage I have this time around is that I am already making a conscious effort to control what I eat. That was not the case in the past. I replaced tobacco with food, but didn't really notice or care because I wasn't focusing on my weight at the time.

One method that has worked for me in the past is nicotine gum. The gum provided me with enough nicotine to get me past the withdrawal issues related to the addiction. It also helped with the habit of having a chew tucked in my lip. The downside is that I would start gnawing on that piece of gum and get a sore jaw. You can laugh at that lame excuse....I know I have. But in all honesty, I didn't care enough about quitting in the past to push through it. I DO care enough this time around.

I keep getting this nagging feeling that the "small steps at a time" method I am using to improve my health feels like I'm not going all in. Since it has been working so far, I am going to stick with it. I only mention this because Phase One of my tobacco quitting goal is actually to change the type of tobacco I'm chewing. It may not mean anything to those of you not dumb enough to chew tobacco in the first place, but I am trying to set myself up for success.

My goal this week is to stop using the regular Kodiak chew that I have used for 20 years and switch to their pouches. (This transition starts tonight because I have used the last of the regular Kodiak.) The pouches are like miniature tea bags filled with tobacco. The reason I'm using this as a transition is because each pouch is less than half the amount of tobacco I would otherwise be putting in my lip with the regular loose tobacco. It will help me step down my use, ease the transition and help break the addiction.

Unlike my other goals, I am setting an actual timeline on this one. My goal is to be completely tobacco free by the end of this week. Once this step is complete, I will switch to the nicotine gum if it's necessary at that point. Since I can't see myself sticking with the gum for all that long, I intend to be done with all tobacco and nicotine in under two weeks. We'll just have to see how well I manage to keep my "withdrawal attitude" in check this week. Until next time....