I met Brad in 2004 when we were studying abroad in Alicante, Spain. Although we went to Mizzou together we didn’t meet until we were thousands of miles away during the most amazing semester of my life.
Gosh, there are so many things I could tell you about Brad. Starting with the obvious, he’s tall – always making a grand entrance into a room. He’s got such a calm, positive demeanor and is one of the funniest people I know. There has never been one time with Brad when I have not laughed. Even when I get his emails, his wit and sarcasm shine through. He’s smart (check out his web design company called Second Atlas!) He’s one of those people I just feel comfortable with. He didn’t even judge me when I ordered pizza from one location while pregnant and ordered dessert pizza (two kinds) from another place the same night! That’s a friend.
One other thing you should know about Brad is that he is a Wellness Warrior. After smoking for more than 13 years, Brad made an amazing decision for his health and quit in April 2015. Brad is my first of many Wellness Warriors. From time to time, I’ll share stories of others who have made healthy decisions for themselves or for others, who have overcome obstacles, etc. If you are a Wellness Warrior (or know someone who is) and want to share that story, please message me!
Wellness Warrior Q&A
Amy:When did you start smoking?
Brad: I started smoking my freshman year of college when I was 18, because I was really cool (obviously).
A: Do you remember why you started smoking?
B: You know how we were always told not to smoke? Well, that made me REALLY curious what I was missing out on.
A: When did you decide to quit and why?
B: I quit smoking in April of 2015, when I was 30. So, I had smoked for almost 13 years. I quit for my health. 100%. I feel like a new person, mentally and physically. I can’t even believe that I smoked for almost 13 years.
A: How did you stop and what was the hardest part?
B: I quit smoking cold turkey. In fact, I call it “smart turkey” because I quit through education and by practicing will power and discipline. I used a website called whyquit.com that has a lot of information: obvious health issues from tobacco use, anecdotes, recovery timelines, and relapse prevention. The website also has a decent chuck of scientific stuff that really breaks down the nicotine addiction so it is less intimidating as your body goes through the withdrawal process. Another tool I used during this time was the x-effect, or 49 days. I used this for a few things in my life to practice discipline, including exercise and quitting smoking. The tag-line for the site and the basic idea is “If you can stick with your daily goal for 49 consecutive days, you have probably formed a permanent habit.” It is an amazing way to challenge yourself, practice discipline, and become a better person. The hardest part was one week of clearing my body of nicotine. Physically, it was stressful and I was easily irritated for a few days. The majority of the work is mental though. Smoking cigarettes always made me feel very conflicted. I knew it was bad for me. I didn’t want to be a smoker. It was an embarrassing and disgusting habit. At the same time, I really didn’t think I could do anything without smoking. Cigarettes were for when I was having fun, bored, going to work, leaving work, taking a break, having a coffee, drinking a beer, driving, waking up, getting ready for bed. All of these things were so closely associated with smoking that I could not imagine what I would do without cigarettes.
A: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about quitting smoking or another harmful activity?
B: Quit now. It is the best thing I have ever done for my body and mind. There is nothing I miss about using tobacco, and I smoked a pack a day for 13 years. I never missed a day except for one day I tried to quit.
There is no magic product to buy, no special day that will work for any one person. It takes a little willpower and a change of attitude.
A: Anything else you’d like to share or tips for others?
B: When I decided to quit smoking, I made a big overhaul to other aspects of my life. I gave up soda for awhile, alcohol for a little bit, started eating a diet very high in vegetables and drank way more water. These changes really helped my body start to recover from the damage that I had done, and it made the transition much easier. In addition to an improved diet, I decided to really commit to weight-lifting and running during my quit. I have always played sports and gone to the gym, but was lacking discipline. So, I did the 49 days program for 3 separate things during this time: No smoking. Exercise. No soda. This was almost a year and a half ago, and my exercise and non-smoking streaks are still amazing. I have a soda on the weekends now. It is a pretty cool way to teach an old dog new tricks. My favorite healthy foods are vegetables and whole, unprocessed meals. My go-to meal is a big vegetable stir-fry over a bed of quinoa. Also, I do a bean of the week. Get a bag of dry beans, cook a ton on Sunday. Repeat next week with a different bean. BAM. Bean of the week.