How My Second Week Without Cigarettes Compares to the First

Photo by Lex Guerra on Unsplash

In 2016, I was at the unhealthiest point in my life. I was a heavy drinker, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, I rarely exercised, and I had packed on so much weight that I reached the “obese” category on the BMI chart.

Over the past two years, I’ve slowly but steadily worked to change that. I started by getting sober, then began to exercise and eat better. I’m now over two years sober, my weight has returned to normal, and I’m in the best shape of my life.

During these two years, I’ve also made quite a few attempts to quit smoking, but it’s the one bad habit that keeps coming back.

Cigarettes are the one big thing still standing between me and a physically healthy lifestyle.

Two weeks ago, I decided to quit smoking for good. I spent more time researching quitting than I ever had before, reading both medical resources and personal accounts. I scheduled my quitting to coincide with a slow time at work so I wouldn’t have any excuses. I came up with a plan for how to avoid being around cigarettes and other smokers.

And so far, it’s worked.

About one week ago, I wrote a post about my first week without cigarettes:

At the time, I was still struggling hard with the withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental. Rereading that post today, I’m shocked by how quickly things have gotten better since then.

Quitting is hard, but it quickly gets better.

During my first week without cigarettes, I was in a mental fog every day, from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep.

I remember worrying that I’d never be able to think clearly again. I had the irrational fear that maybe the mental fog was just my normal cigarette-free state. Fortunately, that was not the case.

This past week that foggy feeling has mostly gone away. I still get it occasionally, but only for an hour or so at a time. For the most part, I’m thinking just as clearly as I did when I was a smoker.

During the first week, my cravings for cigarettes felt nearly constant. Now they are still frequent, but they don’t last anywhere near as long, and they’re getting easier to resist.

Last week, I also wrote about trouble sleeping and constipation. Those physical withdrawal symptoms have disappeared completely.

I’m feeling healthier in general too. I’m breathing better, and (of course) running faster and more easily than ever. I’ve got a bit of a cough, which I read is normal when you quit smoking, but it hasn’t been too bad.

Another positive note: the money that I’m saving from not smoking is already starting to add up. At a pack a day, I’ve already saved about $100 and it’s only been two weeks. The money alone should be a good enough reason to stay quit.

Unfortunately, there is one symptom that’s gotten worse over the past week: I’ve still been feeling increased depression. I think cigarettes have definitely been a way for me to self-medicate my mental health issues. Hopefully, my depression will decrease soon, but I’m also working to find ways to tackle it without going back to smoking.

Overall though, even with the depression, not smoking has felt one thousand times easier this past week than it did over the previous one. I’m feeling more optimistic than ever about my ability to stay quit, and I’m excited to see what next week brings.

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at

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