Lopez quit smoking cold turkey on a family trip. He took up running, participating in races ranging in distance from 5K to the half-marathon. He still sometimes struggled with smoking, occasionally lighting up. Once he threw himself into running more seriously and started training for full marathons, Lopez’s desire to smoke completely disappeared. He hasn’t smoked in nearly a decade.
“Running has been a big part of my transformation from a habit standpoint,” he says. “There’s [probably] more I can do to cover every angle of my health, but, at this point I’m probably at the peak of my self-care when it comes to nutrition, healthy habits, sleep, and striking a work-life balance. My family is my biggest motivation in all I do. They’re my ‘why,’ and I want to be here [for them] for as long as I can, in the best shape possible and taking care of myself.”
“I used an app and was motivated by the numbers.”
Katie Meeker, 37, started smoking at age 18 shortly after starting college. Although both her parents were smokers, she had no desire to pick it up until she found herself in social situations where everyone else was smoking.
Meeker tells SELF that she’s always been driven by milestones, so once she started planning her wedding in 2014, she set the goal to quit that year after almost nine years of smoking. “It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to quit smoking by the time I got married,” Meeker says. “But it was one of those milestones of, All right, I’m an adult. I’m growing up, getting my life together. This is the year that I quit smoking.”
After setting that goal and experiencing a particularly rough case of bronchitis where she wasn’t physically able to smoke, Meeker was committed. “That was definitely the catalyst for quitting, that I got sick and couldn’t smoke. [After that] I really needed the motivation to keep going and to not start smoking again,” she says.
A friend turned Meeker on to the QuitNow app, which she downloaded to stay on track. She found that she was very motivated by the gamification of the app, which generates stats like how long it has been since you smoked, how many cigarettes you’ve avoided, and how much money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes. It also estimates the potential health benefits you continue to reap the longer you stay smoke-free.
“Right now, I’ve quit for eight years, 72 days and 10 hours, I’ve avoided almost 30,000 cigarettes [based on entering smoking 20 cigarettes, or a pack a day], I’ve saved $4,400, and I’ve ‘won back’ 124 days of my life, based on World Health Organization data,” Meeker says. According to the app, she adds, “I’m 81% of the way of having my risk of lung cancer fall to about that of half of a smoker, and my risks of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas, as well as coronary heart disease [are decreasing].”