Quit smoking feedback loop
July 19, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

What are some feedback loops that would help me quit smoking?

I've been struggling with quitting smoking. After reading this article in Wired, I feel as though some sort of feedback loop would help me in my cause.

Has anyone had any success or have any ideas on how to create a feedback loop that would feed me information to help with quitting?

I'm on my computer (Win7) and phone (Android) near constantly. Any cool programs or widgets that could pop up and give me feedback? Number of days without smoking? Progress towards a goal (ie 2 months without a cigarette)? Stats on my improving health (ie you now have x better circulation)? It would be helpful if I did not have to start an app.

I had the Quitter app on an iPhone last time I quit, it was helpful but it required me to actually launch the app. It was too easy to just ignore it, not start it, and go have a smoke. I need something in my face, always. . .

Any other outside the box ideas not depedant on technology? I think if I had something, in my face, telling me how I'm doing, it would help my cause.
posted by patrad to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry this isn't a direct answer to your question (and mods, please feel free to delete if this is too much of a derail), but on the assumption that you're open to other ideas too, you might want to look at this old AskMetafilter thread about Allen Carr's book. A lot of Mefites adamantly said his method really worked for them or their friends. (From the first comment: "I know someone who read it on a cross-Atlantic flight, and hasn't smoked since.") Good luck.
posted by John Cohen at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seriously, don't focus on your progress or how long it's been since your last cigarette.

Just focus on not having a cigarette right now. And when you get the craving for one and your brain throws up a little thought ("Well a cigarette is exactly what I need right now!"), just focus on not having a cigarette right now, for this moment.

And then keep doing that.

Just focus on now, not how long it's been. Realize that those random smoking thoughts are the result of your addiction, not an actual need.
posted by ged at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

My dad still talks about his method - he quit smoking more than thirty years ago. He wrote down every time he had a cigarette and kept the chart with him. Then, every day, he'd dross off one of those times (say, "10am smoke break" or "after lunch.") The combination of gradual quitting and aggressive pattern-watching seemed to work for him. It would be really easy to do this with any sort of calendar program.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:31 AM on July 19, 2011

I quit cold turkey on Dec. 31st. Well, it helped that I was in the hospital for a week and was too sick to pay attention to the first week's withdrawal symptoms, but once I got out, I was pretty determined to continue not smoking. So I stuck one of those countdown apps on my Iphone, and took a picture of my black and blue arms with 3 IVs in them. Every day I watched the number of days I was smoke free tick by next to the picture of my bloody arms, and it kept me going. For you, that might be something equally disgusting - could be a picture of a cancerous lung, for example.

Another thing that really helped was something my sister said that was so true - every craving is a wave. A wave that lasts for a few seconds to about a minute. Ride that wave, and it'll be over. And keep riding every wave until the waves slow down. The waves still happen, but they are more like lapping waves instead of crashing waves. The cravings have become twinges for me.

Six months later I'm still smoke-free. And I just had a friend from Ireland come visit me for 3 weeks - he smoked about a pack a day, and I certainly had to ride a few waves while he was here, but I never picked up a cigarette.

Good luck - you can do it.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:35 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am one of those people who tried the method in Allen Carr's book after reading about it on AskMetafilter. It worked for me. At the end of his book he has a check list of 7 instructions for quitting smoking. I printed out a copy and set an image of the list as my desktop background. I don't carry a cell phone so I put the printed copy in my wallet. That way I had a copy to look at whenever I had a craving. Having the list to look at when a craving hit really helped me.
posted by calumet43 at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2011

Nthing Allen Carr's book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I smoked about a pack a day for 5 years, read the book in November of 2010 and haven't smoked since. I really can't recommend it enough (both the book, and quitting smoking). You absolutely can do it.
posted by slicesoftree at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I stopped over 10 years ago and whilst I agree fully with the fact that you need to "ride the wave" and deal with the craving as and when it happens, one little trick I used was to say to myself "OK, you've not had one for 5 days. If you have one now you have to wait another 5 days to be back at this point but if you don't have one just now, in 5 days you'll have gone 10 days."

The thought of going through what I'd been through in the previous 5 days all over again just to be back at the same point in 5 days time helped me to put things in perspective and kept my will-power strong. Good luck!
posted by jontyjago at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, there's always Health Month--you can set "don't smoke" as one of your rules, then as you report on each day, it will show you how many days you've been following your rules. That's not going to get you all the info you want, though.

There's another way to think about feedback loops, though. I'm not a smoker or ex-smoker, but I've heard from many of them that their improving health when they quit helped give them the motivation to keep going. For example, if you take a walk or run the day you quit, you'll see the effect that smoking has had on you. If you keep exercising and not smoking, though, your increasing ability to breathe better will motivate you to not smoke. I remember reading a piece by Garrison Keillor on how amazing it was to have his sense of smell return when he stopped smoking; my boyfriend (who smoked for 20 years until he had a stroke at age 40) tells me how nice it is to get up in the morning and not have a 10-minute coughing fit. These sorts of feedback can also help keep you going.

Best of luck to you, patrad.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:06 AM on July 19, 2011

Response by poster: Definatley one of the frustrating things when I've quit in the past is that I don't really feel better. Maybe I'm just telling myself that . . I do notice shotness of breath disapating, and I can jog/run farther and with less effort, but on a day to day basis, I don't notice it that much. That's in part why I was looking for some more feedback to myself.

Thanks everyone.
posted by patrad at 10:15 AM on July 19, 2011

I've heard/read several people who took up yoga say that they were able to stop smoking pretty easily. I think the awareness of your breath that you have in yoga could provide positive feedback to smoking cessation/reduction.
posted by callmejay at 10:30 AM on July 19, 2011

Definatley one of the frustrating things when I've quit in the past is that I don't really feel better.

Each day, put the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar. Buy yourself something awesome at the end of the week (or month, depending on how much you spent on cigs). I guarantee you will feel better.
posted by desjardins at 11:00 AM on July 19, 2011

Nthing Carr's book. It's a blitzkrieg of all the reasons you know you should quit smoking. It worked for me - haven't smoked since I read it in Feb 2010.

Now, re: your actual question: Keeping a running tally of the money you've saved since quitting would be helpful. It adds up quickly.
posted by joshjs at 6:00 PM on July 19, 2011

Best answer: When I quit, I got feedback from one low tech and one high tech solution. The low tech solution was a set of stickers I put in my paper calendar when I decided to quit, leading up to and then following my planned quit date. They may have come from the American Lung Association.I would see the stickers when making other plans, e.g., "Huh. By Martha's wedding it will have been 3 months since I quit smoking." Also I didn't want to mess up the calendar by making the stickers untrue. I never cheated.

The other was a little program that resided in the desktop tray. It kept track of years/months/weeks/days/hours/minutes a) since I quit; b) of additional life earned by quitting. It also logged cigarettes not smoked and money saved. I enjoyed watching the figures rack up.
posted by carmicha at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2011

Response by poster: @carmicha

That's what I'm looking for! Any idea what it was called?
posted by patrad at 4:33 PM on July 20, 2011

It was alot like this tool designed as an iGoogle gadget. I forgot that it also informed you about bodily changes that result from quitting, e.g., after 24 hours all carbon monoxide is eliminated.

What I liked, however, was that the one I had was omni-present and took no work to consult, so I found two that reside in the tray and provide similar tracking information: Silk Quit (PC-compatible through Windows 7, although you have to scroll down to find that out) and the extremely minimalist Quit Time, which allows you to specify how you want it too look in your tray.

Congratulations on your decision!
posted by carmicha at 10:20 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I quit smoking three months ago (cold turkey with no withdrawal symptoms) using Alan Carr's book. I'm never going back. The meter that carmicha is likely referring to is the SilkQuit meter. You can get it here.
posted by Spyder's Game at 4:03 PM on July 21, 2011

Or...what carmicha already said. :)
posted by Spyder's Game at 4:04 PM on July 21, 2011

« Older Help me get random numbers by mental arithmetic.   |   Proofreading at Scholastic NYC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.