I had no intention of quitting cigarettes at the start of the year. I’d been smoking for so long – almost a decade, in fact – that I felt the damage had already been done. Didn’t see the point.
Despite being aware of the harmful effects of tobacco addiction, smoking had been the single most consistent feature not only as a (bad) habit that stood the test of time in a life where everything else is always fleeting, but also as a thread that weaved seamlessly every memory in my adulthood.
Cigs, as far as I was concerned, got me through varsity.
They were ‘there’ for the good times as much as they were there to pacify anxiety. (I’d later learn that this affectionate language about cigarettes was based on a false internal dialogue that framed tobacco as a ‘friend’)
I’d structured my daily routine around the habit. I’d sooner starve than not have a cigarette somewhere within reach. In short, I was very much addicted. So hooked that the idea of giving up cold turkey never even crossed my mind.
But after eight years of not being able to get through two hours without puffing it up, I had my last cigarette in April this year.
WHY I DECIDED TO QUIT SMOKING
The moment I quit was so sublimely simple and quiet that I can only credit it to God’s grace. It was peaceful; I couldn’t believe such a life-changing decision was a calm moment of clarity.
Here’s what happened on April 23rd, 2018; I stepped outside the office to the smoking area with a friend on a lush Monday afternoon this past Autumn. I then realized I hadn’t brought my cigarettes with me.
“Lord I know I’m playing games with these cigarettes but I rebuke lung cancer in my life.”
Neither had she.
“What now?”, I asked her before signalling to the security guard who’s always good with a stash.
The friend then said something that struck me, and instantly planted the idea that perhaps it was time for me to quit. She said she wanted to be able to just hang out outside and catch some fresh air. That it didn’t always have to be about smoking.
I couldn’t believe how that never occurred to me. For me going outside, taking a break, catching some fresh air, always meant smoking. Somehow that realisation shocked me and I knew I’d be having my last cigarette by that midnight.
6 WAYS MY LIFE HAS CHANGED AFTER I QUIT
My Sense of Smell Is Back
Smoking irritates the nasal passages, which leads to inflammation that can affect a person’s sense of smell, according to Dr Ivan A Hernandez. Years of nicotine inhaling also affects the olfactory nerves that are located at the back of your nose, which dulls your general sense of smell.
I had no idea that smoking had been damaging my sense of smell. It never really crossed my mind for the eight years, which is why my only smoke prayers had centred around just lung cancer. Lord I know I’m playing games with these cigarettes but I rebuke lung cancer in my life.
Turns out there’s so much more than just that.
When I dug around the internet for some tips on quitting the day before I took the plunge, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that an improved sense of smell was amongst the many benefits of giving up nicotine. I couldn’t wait to smell the fresh morning breeze with more intensity, which starts happening around week two.
Two weeks after quitting tobacco I could smell food from a superhuman distance, which didn’t help my rapid weight gain.
Here’s a photo someone recently sent me from a couple of years ago that part of me never wants to see again. The difference in my skin tone and texture between then and now is remarkable, and I haven’t introduced any chemicals or treatments to my skin care routine.
I will keep it around though, since it’s a nice addition to the ‘before and after’ collection of snaps showcasing the many ways my skin, eyes and hair have improved along with the cessation of smoking and refined sugar, amongst other lifestyle changes.
The photographer captured me with a cigarette in my hands, puffing away at a team building retreat. I’m shocked now at how dry my skin looked. I could be dramatic, but you can literally see dead cells on my hands. The fingers were stained, skin tone uneven,
There’s More Energy
I added thirty more minutes to my gym sessions within weeks after quitting. It happened very organically. I found myself with more stamina during my workouts, which began about two and half weeks after my last cig. In contrast, cigarettes were quite tiring. That’s quite interesting, because most smokers would report otherwise.
That’s because tobacco can give you a surge in clarity, energy and a sense of calmness. Nicotine, a stimulant found naturally in tobacco products, enters the bloodstream quickly and starts playing games with your brain, which leaves the smoker feeling more energetic and less stressed, according to Vaping Daily.
While that sounds awesome, that energy spike is temporary.
These short-lived effects are soon replaced by negative physical symptoms of agitation and restless as soon as the smoker ‘crashes’ from the high. In fact, energy and mood levels after the smoke tend to reach levels lower than pre-smoking levels. The smoker must have another one to ‘boost’ their energy, which creates an endless, self-defeating loop.
This is one of those things where you only realise how bad things were after leaving the situation. The money you save afterwards is not only a measure of how much the habit actually cost you, but it also serves as motivation for you to continue in your walk towards better health, despite the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
A fun challenge, if you intend to but haven’t quit yet, is to determine how many packs you buy every week, and then withdraw that money and put it aside for a month. Seeing the hard cash is a thrill on its own!
And then, of course, you can use that money to reward yourself for taking active steps towards an improved life.
Taste Buds Are Working Again!
I read about this one the day before I quit, and I instantly looked forward to being able to enjoy my food more! I did… a little too much. I started to taste food much better around day 7, and of course, it led to me eating more, which led to serious weight gain.
For me though, a bit of weight gain was okay because the intention was to kick a habit that’s not easy to escape by any measure. I went two sizes and kept the weight on until I gave up sugar. After that, the cravings stabilised, so the journey to refined abs resumed! Here’s a recent thirst trap snap I shared of my progress.
The weight loss is taking longer than before because I’m doing it the healthy way, but for me it was all worth it in the end.
I haven’t discussed the actual withdrawal symptoms and severity of cravings in this article because that will be addressed elsewhere in greater detail, but I was pleasantly surprised that insomnia was not on that list.
While I found myself dealing with itchy skin, heartburn, indigestion, chest pains, flu, dizziness, lack of energy, edginess, insatiable hunger pangs and so much more, I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep through even the most severe of the withdrawal symptoms.
A weeks later, I found that my sleeping patterns had improved quite significantly!
I will be sharing many more useful insights on this topic moving forward. But I’m also looking forward to hearing from you and your journey. Get in touch with us in the comments section below!
Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.