The ultimate app to quit smoking… doesn’t exist, of course

I haven’t smoked for nearly two months. That’s over 800 unlit cigarettes and 170 euros saved. To help me along the way, I tapped into various apps – from specialized quit smoking programs to mindfulness and meditation.

I’m on a quest to lead a healthier, more mindful and fulfilling life, which, to me, means more exercise, more reading, less binge-watching of Friends for the umpteenth time, and, of course, less booze and cigarettes.

Having in mind that perception quite often doesn’t match reality, I tend to tap into data to see whether I’m really making any progress. Inspired by the positive feedback and encouragement I got from friends and colleagues after running a story on how I use Apple Watch to stay fit, I decided to take it one step further and quit smoking.

My journey has been one of highs and lows, where my enthusiasm for fitness goals, including quitting smoking, ebbs and flows. Some days, I effortlessly run five kilometers, while others, I can only think about reaching for a cigarette. I've tried numerous apps, from popular wall pilates to meditation guides, but none have been a magic fix.

While taking up more exercise has actually been an enjoyable experience, and I’ve started seeing the first results already, quitting smoking has proven to be a much more difficult task for me. It’s not really an exciting journey of doing something, but rather a constant focus on not doing. It means missing social gatherings at work, and, eventually, other people start stinking of cigarettes. Plus, the health benefits aren’t immediately apparent, as quitting is a preventative measure rather than an instant cure for something.

To keep myself motivated, I set two ultimate goals. The first is saving money, and for this, I found a useful app that calculates my savings since I quit smoking. Seeing my progress, both in terms of health and finances, has become a rewarding ritual, encouraging me to stay strong.

However, I must admit, while saving money is a practical motivation, it alone might not be enough for everyone. As we grow older and become financially stable, the allure of money saved diminishes, and we need more profound reasons to keep us on track.

Here’s the app I use. It’s nothing fancy but I like checking it every day to see how far I’ve gotten.

Quit smoking achievements

In my quest to find the inner strength to quit smoking, I turned to meditation and mindfulness apps. Although I was initially skeptical about relying on technology for relaxation, these apps taught me some valuable insights. I discovered that my craving for a cigarette was primarily a mental trigger, rather than a physical need. Through mindfulness, I learned to recognize these thoughts and process them, allowing me to cope better with the journey ahead.

Yet, even with this newfound understanding, it still didn't feel like cigarettes posed an immediate threat to my health. I could jog five kilometers after a smoke, which made it difficult to explain to others why I was quitting.

The lack of support from those close to me only added to the challenge. Many people actually kept asking me why I would do that, so at some point I even felt apologetic and made excuses.

I remember this one time when I went to my father-in-law – I was the designated driver and therefore went for alcohol-free drinks. At least three family members asked whether I was pregnant that evening. The “excuse” that I had to drive just wasn’t enough for them to justify my not drinking the wine.

What I’m trying to convey here is that you cannot count on support during a journey like this – similar to motivation, it might be present one day and absent the next.

So I decided to find a way to test how a smoke-free life affects my health. I signed up for a 10-kilometer race in September and started training for it. While the first week without any cigarettes was the most difficult and crucial, as I embraced my running routine, something clicked. Running without smoke was far more enjoyable, proving to me that my efforts were worthwhile.

Of course, as with everything, there are good days and bad, and I have a whole lot of other apps I tapped into to keep my runner’s spirits high. But now it’s become much easier to compare how my body feels when I smoke and when I don’t.

I can finally feel the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. But, again, that’s not just a smoke-free life. It’s a combo of better nutrition and sleep, and higher activity levels. No app is going to help you if you don’t want to do it. But if you do, tech can be a great way to keep track of your progress.

My social media feed is flooded with ads about easy fixes, how to get fit, smart, and quit smoking effortlessly. But since it’s all lies and you actually need to put a lot of effort everywhere, I wanted to share my story with you. It is possible to quit smoking even when you don’t really want to, but you might want to find some other reason than just “I will less likely get cancer.”

Even if money is the only motivator, it’s fine, since in the end, you’ll be healthier anyways.

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