Wednesday, June 5, 2013

One Year Tobacco Free Today

After today's post, I know some of you may never view me the same again.  Some will be appalled and grossed out.  Some will think "Hey, that's pretty cool he overcame that!"   And others will be like, "What the heck ... no way ... that guy???"  But one year ago today, June 5th, after about 25 years ... I quit chewing tobacco.

I've never shared this on my blog before because frankly it was pretty disgusting and embarrassing, and it didn't really match up with my healthy lifestyle.  I hid it pretty well.  A lot of my close friends didn't even know.  Like many of you, they see me as an ultra-refined, good-grammar'ed, nice-salaried, friendly, courteous, upscale, clean-cut type, who rarely drinks and is in bed every night by 8:30 or 9:00 ... (well, maybe not all of those things, ha) ... but truth be known, I've got some pretty deep small-town, country music lovin', border line red-neck and white-trash tendencies - which I know is in direct contrast to many of the followers of this blog.  Heck, most of you don't even know who Keith Whitley or Joe Diffie are.  That's a shame.  But I digress.

How it started ...
I've never smoked, but like most of my friends, I started using chewing tobacco when I was in high school sports and especially playing baseball.  Again, gross I know ... but it was just a cool thing to do.  It got worse when I was playing ball in college.  And from there, it just became a part of my life.  I cut way back when my kids were little, and almost stopped a few times then.  But after my divorce about 12 years ago, it really got bad again.  And when I started travelling for a living with my current job, the usage got to an all-time high (or low, I guess).

Why I quit ...
So about a year ago, Michael and I got some additional life insurance.  We both had to take physicals.  Since I chewed tobacco, I was classified ... AS A SMOKER!!!  And it friggin' quadrupled our rate!!!  I was pissed.  I was such a jerk to the poor guy administering my physical when he shared this news with me.  Mr. Arrogant here was like, "Wait a minute ... you mean to tell me that I'm in better shape than everyone in this friggin' building right now, rarely drink, have never broken a bone or done any damage to my body, eat right, and live a healthy life ... and you're gonna qualify ME as a smoker???  Crap man, I run 75 MILES A WEEK ... I'M NOT JOKING ... EFFING 75!!!!!!"  It was such B.S.   But he told me if I was clean for a year I could reapply as a non-smoker after another physical.  I'm not exactly sure how they tell you've been clean for a year, other than nicotine shows up in a blood test for  quite some time.

So that, along with my daughter's wedding around that time, plus Michael's endless ... and friends, I mean ENDLESSSSSSS ... NAGGING about it, I decided to quit.  It was time.  It didn't match up with anything else I was doing in my life, and it just didn't make sense.  Plus, besides the fact it's probably the most disgusting habit ever, it's EXPENSIVE!!!  It was like an immediate pay raise when I quit.

I had actually wrestled with quitting for some time.  I was gradually beginning to feel worse with regular headaches, sore gums, and non-stop drowsiness.   The lower left side of my mouth was getting in pretty bad shape.  Dentist trips were humiliating.  But it was literally the first thing I did every morning before a workout ... seriously, before a workout.  Plus, I remember sitting there in my car many times before a race with a chew in.  Like literally minutes before some marathons.  Disgusting I know.  No wonder my times were never what they should have been.

When I quit, I just quit cold-turkey as they say.  I just stopped.  And I immediately felt better.  The cravings bothered me for a while, mostly on the 3-5 hours drives I have to take for my job.  But I chewed gum instead.  Every once in a while I'll get the urge, like when I'm golfing or sitting doing an expense report at work.  But I haven't ... for a full year now.  And I'm not going back.  I just feel much better and it's great to not have a dependency.  Plus ... I get it ... it's incredibly gross.

So there it is, a pretty embarrassing secret of my life.  Mind you, there are plenty more that I'll probably never share.  Sorry if it's disappointing to anyone or changed your opinion of me, but at least with this one, it's behind me and a part of my past.  Now where's that life insurance guy ... he owes me some money!
... be great today!


  1. "What the heck ... no way ... that guy???"

  2. Good thing you quit or I'd have to boot your redneck self out of my reader.

    But yes, I would have had no idea. Tobacco use certainly doesn't match the healthy image you portray! Yet I know a few runners who smoke, and one of them runs a sub-18 5k. I'm shocked his lungs can handle that!

    I'm glad you quit. Any form of tobacco use is a cancer risk.

  3. I'm so glad you quit!! It's a nasty habit as you know...but I remember seeing a special on tobacco and high school kids. Dick Butkus was running an antitobacco program and he was saying how high school girls on teams use it but they put in places that will soak through the skin to get the same effect as the mouth. Grossed me out.

    But can I say I totally could see the redneck ways... and I totally know who Joe Diffie (even before Jason Aldean song) and Keith Whitley are to... Just keep on being the country way without the tobacco!

  4. Congrats!!! My step-dad chews, has chewed since he was an adolescent, he is 50 now and in failing health for all he is active and his mouth is a disgusting mess. You made a great decision and everybody in your life, especially you, benefit from the decision.

  5. Congratulations on quitting!!! My (ex) boyfriend quit almost a year ago as well. As a former smoker myself (5.5 years quit!) I know how hard it is to stop. I would assume chew would be more difficult since you can do it fairly discreetly no matter where you are.

    Great job, and thanks for sharing with us :D

  6. I still admire your awesome running skills and abilities. We all have our own things we're working on. Good for you to have conquered this one and to put it out there to hopefully help others who may be struggling. I've heard that sugar can be just as addicting but if you asked me to get off it I would probably die.

    Way to be strong!

  7. Certainly a smart move from your side. Great for being clean for a year now! Interesting fact: You don't get chewing tobacco in South Africa. It's just something that doesn't exist here. The black community love their snuff though and there are plenty smokers out there.

  8. Heck, I live in South East Georgia! You are just a normal guy :)
    Actually was shocked to find out that a very long time close friend of ours was a dipper. We never had any idea until he quit and finally told everyone :)
    Now, I'm gonna have to go on my blog and admit I used to be addicted to Q-tips. Wait! Did I just say that out loud???

  9. Congratulations Jim.

    I dipped Skoal for over 15 years... and of all the vices I have given up.. it was the hardest to kick.

  10. Hey! I can comment again! Anyhow, yep, I'm floored. But I will say that my husband can relate. He started chewing in college and did so until about 12 years ago when we got our life insurance. It helps, that's for sure, and I'm so happy to have him off of it. Well done, Jim!

  11. Major kudos for sharing this Jim. That takes a lot of guts but you have no idea how many people can completely relate. I rarely (read: never) share this but I've dealt with alchoholism on and off all through my early twenties. Never to the point where I was dependent on alchohol but rather when I drank (2-3 sometimes 5-6 times a week) I did so until I passed out. People would be shocked to hear this about me just as I was shocked to see your post today. It is a huge relief to know I'm not the only one who isn't perfect.

    Also happy to say I haven't had a single drink in 3 months. :)

    This is a speedy little dark haired girl from UT btw.

  12. You should be very proud of yourself! I am hoping my husband will soon quit this bad habit.

    I used to be a smoker. When I ran my first marathon (3:46:26) I was still technically a smoker. I finally quit, ran a BQ in 2010 and haven't looked back.

    Kudos to you!!

  13. Chewing tobacco's not something you see over here but I certainly understand about having to break bad habits. I'm so glad you've conquered yours.

  14. Thanks for sharing Jim. I quit smoking after 19 year in September 2009. I went through the same BS you did with being 'clean' for 12 months. I run 75 a week pretty regularly now too which is amazing. Just PR'd a marathon at 3:08 and am signed up for my 5th 100 miles this fall. Quitting was the best thing I ever did for myself. Congrats

  15. Very surprised! Actually the reason I started running was due to life insurance costs. Due to overweight and high cholesterol, I was classified as high risk. I changed and now I'm in the lowest risk. Funny but money was my motivation but as you know I stuck with it. Congrats on quitting!

  16. Congrats! It's hard, I know. You've done well.

    I remember showing an old Army photo to a runner friend of mine who almost fell over when he saw the cigarette in my hand. My reply was that all soldiers smoked back then, and we still ran 5-8 miles every morning. (Quitting time finally came in grad school.)

    So, nothing but a "Congrats!" from me, another 40+ marathoner.

    True, many obsessive runners are shocked when they learn of a past with tobacco, but let those holier-than-thou types cast the first stone. Everyone's got their thing, whatever it is. Kudos for putting yours out there and running beyond it!

  17. I smoked for 18 yrs. I understand the nicotine addiction. I'm 5yrs clean and I still get urges every now and then. Just last yr, we redid our life insurance and I'm finally listed as a non-smoker. Instead of taking the price break, we raised the amount of our life insurance.

    Congrats on quitting. If you can run 26.2 miles, you can do anything!

  18. way to go jim!!!!!
    while it was a little surprising to see, i can still see you as a country boy....i would say redneck,but rednecks dont run unless cops are chasing them!
    im from TN,and i totally know who keith and joe are,and still love to rock out to some good ol fashion haggard,cash and hank sr.....
    again,great job for kicking your habbit!,now get that insurance lowered!

  19. Congratulations. Be very proud of yourself. When I read the title of the blog, I thought that at first you were a smoker.

    In the Army, I worked with soldiers who would run a 7 minute mile, then go light up afterwards - just to show that smoking didn't slow them down. Of course, eventually, that smoking would catch up with them.

    Poor insurance guy.

  20. Good for Michael for nagging you to quit!!!!! And congrats on being tobacco-free for a year. That's a huge accomplishment!

  21. I doubt anyone thinks less of you for admitting that. I find the achievement inspirational. Many who run are running from something. Me, I was addicted to mediocrity, much more deadly than tobacco.

    I used to sell life insurance. That's a huge rate cut going from tobacco to the preferred rate. Looks like you can sign up for more races.

  22. Great job - you should be very proud - HUGE accomplishment!

  23. CONGRATULATIONS! It's really hard to break a habit, and it takes guts sharing one you're embarrassed about. I hope your story inspires others! Great post!

  24. I'm not grossed out. I live in Alaska, we're all red-necks in one sense of another. Pluggin' a chew before a race is kind of funny, in a very not-so-funny sense. So glad you quit, and even more impressed with your honesty.
    Who knows, this post might inspire someone to quite smoking or drinking or stuffing their mouths with junk food. (I think that's called throwing out good karma, no?)

  25. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I think it's great that you quit and don't think any less of you at all. Congratulations for speaking out as well.

    My boss chews tobacco and it's nasty. We have a very small office and he's quiet about it, but it still grosses me out. I wish he was a coworker and not my boss and I'd totally say something. And, I don't think he has the 'midewesterner's' excuse - he's been in SoCal for ages.

  26. I think we all have embarrassing secrets....good for you for quitting and sticking with it.

  27. Awesome to read this!..And I know who Joe Diffie is too!! (There. I've admitted it.)

    It's hard to quit a habit/addiction, but congrats for mastering it and sharing with your readers.

  28. Congrats on your accomplishment. No judgement here. I was an actual smoker for 13 yrs, up until about 2 yrs ago. I feel you on the gross factor, but I'm glad we rock and got over it! I still get the urge sometimes, which is why I don't drink anymore. . . but it's totally worth it!


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