The Ultimate Stage – Staying off Hey, are you still with me?? Good. You have made it. The changes you feel: You will find a lot of changes in you. Improvements mostly. You feel more …umm.. let’s say Able. You have more stamina, you can walk faster, you cough less, perhaps your palpitations have stopped, you feel better with yourself…. Medically, there are a thousand ways in which you have helped yourself and others. One laughable change that I noticed was change in my body odor . Funny, try sniffing your armpits and notice the difference. Now What?? Now you have to protect yourself against a relapse. There is nothing much new to this. The keystones are the same as those for Strengthening Your Resolve. There are likely to be some psychological effects e.g. depression, anxiety, mood disorder, increased appetite, maybe weight gain etc. but if you have prepared your grounds well, you will be able to overcome these. If you have consulted a counselor/ friend/ medical worker, continue reporting your progress to them. You will find them co-operative, understanding and encouraging. If you are using any medicines / substitutes, do so under medical supervision and your doctor will wean you off them slowly. What you really need at this tentative stage is the environment. You need to be around people who don’t smoke, who don’ tolerate smoke, who don’t even tolerate the smell of smoke. You need to be in no-smoking zones. Also, this is a very good time to begin some aerobic exercises or better still Yoga. Sounds funny, huh? But the truth is, the worst times to control are the ones when you are by yourself. When you are with others, you can stay off. There are enough excuses as well as your pride to keep you off. But alone is the testing time. This is when you need to occupy yourself with Physical Exercises. The reason – you can reach out to smoke when you are reading or watching TV, but you won’t if you are working out. I never said that quitting is easy. Its hard, very hard. But since you know that by now, you are prepared for it. Also, now you begin to notice the smell of smoke. You will find yourself getting intolerant of cigarette smoke. You will notice how, if someone smokes in your apartment or office, the smell can linger on for DAYS. It is also the time to turn into an evangelist and induce others to stop smoking.