‘I looked and felt better’

Share this article

Eimear McCurdie’s story,

I’m a Youth Worker in Banbridge; I manage a busy youth project in the town. I’m actively involved in the Banbridge area with my job and feel personally, it’s a great place to work.

My hobbies since quitting smoking include climbing mountains, running, cooking, fashion and going out with friends.

I actually started smoking at about 14 years of age with friends.

I still can remember my first cigarette really well. It was awful I felt sick, faint and couldn’t stop coughing. Now I find it actually shocking that I persevered with it!

During the week I would have been smoking up to 12–15 a day and probably more at the weekend.

I did really enjoy smoking, I would have loved getting in to the car and lighting up a cigarette after a hard day’s work.

I just couldn’t it get out of my head how fed up I was smoking, how it nearly ruled my life. I was worried about my health and what I was doing to my body. This may sound really vain as well, but I really didn’t want to look old before my time. This was impressed on me when I doing a programme, encouraging them to stop smoking. We got to see pictures of the damage smoking was doing to our skin with an age progression software programme, showing us ourselves up to 70 years old. I looked like Simba the Lion! I just really wanted a CHANGE!

This led me to set myself a quit date. The quit date was December 1, 2011, and my goal was to register to run the Belfast City Marathon on May 6, 2012.

I started the 12 Week Stopping Smoking Programme with Boots Pharmacy, and I opted for the Nicotine Chewing Gum.

The motivation for me to stop smoking and stay stopped was how well I felt after a few weeks of quitting. I looked and felt better. Also the pressure of signing up to a full marathon really motivated me not to smoke. I chose, ‘Action Cancer’ for my nominated charity, which seemed like the ideal charity to support after quitting.

Stopping smoking has not only changed me physically but also mentally. I feel so much more positive about everything, and have a real ‘can do’ attitude now.

My family and friends have been very supportive. My mum quit smoking in August 2011 and she was great motivation. Also, with running the marathon people just can’t get over the transformation of smoker to runner.

The 12 week programme really helped me quit and stay quit. I kept using the Nicotine gum until I felt really ready not to use anything. At the moment something has really clicked in my head - I do not want to smoke again. The things that I have achieved in life since stopping smoking have been unbelievable! Also, as a youth worker I want to inspire young people to be the best that they can be, and I really didn’t want to be a hypocrite anymore.

My new hobby since quitting initially was buying clothes as I couldn’t believe how much money I had. Now that phase has calmed down, and I plan to buy my own home in the Banbridge area.

I really don’t feel that I would have been able to achieve this spending £35-£40 a week on cigarettes. Also, my running is so important to me now. It’s something I never thought I would be able to do, let alone run 26.2 miles.