success

#APOPFNF Profile: Misty Mann

20151216_180659 (1) Name: Misty Mann

Age: 43

Subject: Smoking

Original Goal(s):  To quit smoking.

Today’s Goal(s): To be healthy--mentally and physically; To eat healthier, exercise and discover herself.

Advice: “You only get one shot at this life. So be you; do you. Be happy with your choices and don’t worry about impressing others or conforming. Oh, and manners go a long way.”

Story: Misty started smoking cigarettes when she was a freshman in high school. 15 years old and wanting to hang out with a particular group of kids who just so happened to smoke, she thought, ‘why not?’

“The first time I smoked is super fresh in my mind. My cousin, Dawn, and I stole a pack of kent III cigarettes from my dad and walked a block away from my house. It had just started to snow; everything was dusted in white. Dawn lit hers first and smoked away. She had been doing it longer. I was next. I tried to light it and couldn't so she did it for me. I held it between my fingers like you see in the movies. I thought I was so cool. I inhaled and blew the smoke out. I wasn't inhaling all the way, but it was cold out and the smoke mixed with the cold air so it looked more like smoke. Dawn laughed at me and told me I was doing it wrong and said to pretend my mom was going to catch me. A few moments later I inhaled and she hollered, “Oh crap! Your mom!” She turned and pointed. I had already forgotten she said to pretend and I thought my mom was really there. I accidentally inhaled.  Dawn told me I did good and I felt super excited. It seems stupid now that I look back on it, but at 15 I felt in charge of something. I liked the attention I got from it.”

A pack of cigarettes were just 80 cents from the local vending machine--meaning she didn’t have to flash her ID. When thinking about that time in her life versus now Misty says unsatisfied, “I’m sure the cigarettes had a warning on the pack that smoking was dangerous, but it was not as prevalent as it is today.”

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The battle to quit smoking was a 25 year process for Misty--perhaps if that label had been just a little bit bigger things would be different, but it wasn’t. It was actually quite unnoticable if it was there at all. The first time she tried to quit she was 19 years old; It was 1991 and she had just found out she was pregnant with a beautiful baby girl. The doctor suggested she cut back, not quit. At this point in her life, quitting wasn’t top of mind. As per the doctor’s request, she went from a pack of cigarettes a day to about a half pack (about 10 smokes per day). Of course since there was no self-ingrained urge to quit Misty went back to smoking full packs a day after her daughter was born. Then came along another beautiful baby girl in 2002; once again she tried to quit, but went back to her old habits shortly thereafter.

Misty’s third attempt to quit smoking was in her 30's back in 2006. Around this time, anti-smoking campaigns were going strong. The government and other organizations began the education process on exactly how bad smoking cigarettes can be for the body. Misty recounts that everyone, especially her loved ones, began pressuring her to quit. Although she tried to quit at the time, she remembers being angry and reticent. She started her third journey to imposed improvement by using the nicotine patch. With the nicotine patch it took her several tries over a few months to actually start a streak, but once she had a few days without smokes under her belt she ended up sticking to it for five months. At this point, something went askew--perhaps it was the fact that she didn’t do it for herself in the first place, perhaps it was the tragedy she witnessed while waiting at a red light in Myrtle Beach...a man and a woman riding a motorcycle getting hit by a truck. Either way, she that day she immediately went back to the hotel, bought a pack of cigarettes and headed for the beach...alone. Once again, she began smoking a pack a day again.

The rest of Misty’s 30's quitting was on her mind constantly. She would go to bed every single night and say to herself, “This is it. Tomorrow morning you are done!” but each morning she would find herself grabbing for that cigarette and lighting it. Each morning there would be a new excuse as to why she shouldn’t be quitting that particular day. She enjoyed smoking. It was her escape from meetings, family functions, etc. She could excuse herself from almost any situation with “I need to go smoke.” It was society's acceptable social crutch and she used it, but overtime she began getting upset with herself thinking, ‘Why can’t I just quit?!’ She began to hate the way it smelled, how it made her family and surrounding environment smell; her clothes, car and even presents she gave to people smelled of cigarettes. What’s worse, she noticed she was having trouble breathing; she couldn’t even carry a load of laundry up the steps without sitting on the top step to catch her breath. Towards the end of her 30's she was up to two packs a day. As if the breathing difficulties weren’t enough, the cost of one pack of cigarettes were now over six dollars. Misty talked about how much cigarettes drained her wallet. She used to say that when they hit four dollars she would quit, then five dollars, then six and she still hadn’t quit.”

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Misty had her turning point at 39, she took her oldest daughter to see a psychic for her October birthday, something both she and her daughter thought would be an exciting adventure for an exciting day. It went smoothly, until the end; Misty, still a little shaken up by what the psychic told her, recounted that when her and her daughter were heading for the door the psychic approached her telling her, “If you dont quit smoking when you are 40, you will be on an oxygen mask by the time you hit 43.” Now, whether the psychic was right or not did not matter. The thought that, at 43 years young, she would be on oxygen terrified her.  A few months after this encounter, in February 2012 Misty turned 40 years old and by May 2012, Misty began having even more difficulty breathing. All she could think was, ‘What if the psychic is right?’ Misty needed to quit and so she did; slowly but surely she cut back one cigarette per day, then a few a week. It was difficult to say the least, but by September 2012 she was ready to completely cut smokes from her life. The first day without a cigarette was horrible. She was sweating and crying; you would have thought Misty was on serious drugs. She called her doctor and her doctor said that some people have severe withdrawal from cigarettes, comparable to heroin withdrawal. She ended up smoking the first day and recounts that she was so disappointed in herself. Three days later she went and bought the nicotine patch and on september 25th she marked a important day in her personal story. She put the patch on and made up her mind--September 25, 2012 would be the first day of the rest of her life, without cigarettes. She knew that she could quit this time and kept reminding herself that an oxygen tank would absolutely not be in her future--she was and still is better than that.

The first week was awful; Misty was beyond cranky, but everyday it got easier and three months in she noticed a huge difference in her life and health. She was breathing better, not to mention smelling better. She eventually stopped craving cigarettes every day and stopped wearing the patch--she no longer needed it.

Now Misty is 43 years old and healthier than ever before. It’s been over three years and three months since she touched a cigarette. Today, she’s basking in her own success and even has a few more tricks up her sleeve she’s using to achieve her next goal--to become mentally and physically fit.


 

Q&A:

C=Carlee Myers, Founder of APOP

M=Misty Mann, Member of APOP since 2015

 

C: Can you elaborate further on how peer pressure to quit smoking made you feel over the years?

M: Peer pressure to quit over the years? Hahaha. It honestly pissed me off. The more my sister or mom said something the more I smoked. I was being stubborn, but it’s like asking to someone overweight when they are going to drop a few pounds. It’s not nice and certainly isn’t good for that person’s mental health. I found it rude and annoying that people would point out my flaw and comment on something that I struggled with everyday.

 

C: Can you talk about the pressure you felt from others to smoke?

M: I actually never felt pressured to smoke by anyone. It was something I wanted to try just because I thought I could hang out with the ‘bad ass kids,’ but they never forced it.

 

C: Can you elaborate further on the day that you went to the psychic with your daughter?

M: The day I went to the psychic was actually pretty boring. I sat in the waiting room and went out on her porch to smoke once or twice while I waited, which I’m sure is one of the reasons she originally told me to quit...but she was so specific about me quitting at the age of 40. She didn't know how old I was, which made me think that maybe she was right. Either way it was the push I had been waiting for; I wanted to quit, but I didn't want to give the satisfaction to my sister or mom that what they said made me quit. I guess I used the psychic as my reason.

 

C: I often hear from people who are trying to quit smoking that drinking triggers the urge to smoke again. Did you experience anything like this?

M: Drinking was never a trigger for me.

 

C: Do you have any advice for avoiding cigarette cravings?

M: Drink lots of water. I also used mint gum, which I’m now addicted to. Haha, but I guess it’s better than smoking.

 

C: Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to quit?

M: The urge to pick up that cigarette always passes. That horrible feeling does get easier. Just ride it out. It’s worth it.

 

C: Why do you think that you succeeded this time, but fell back into the habit in the past?

M: I think I succeeded this time because I was ready. I did it the other times because I was told to quit...because it was unhealthy...blah blah blah. This time it was for me, not them.

 

C: Do you think giving up cigarettes one-by-one is one of the reasons you were successful? Perhaps small goals leading up to a larger goal was important to your success?

M: I think slowly giving up day by day was just an excuse to keep smoking longer. I knew I had to quit at some point so I justified in my mind that slowly doing it was ok, so I didn't have to give it up all at once.  

 

C: How else has giving up cigarettes positively influenced your life?

M: Giving up cigarettes has completely changed my life. First off, I feel so much better. I’m able to do things without being winded. I smell better. On the down side, I have no excuse for bad behavior. I can’t blame being cranky on nicotine withdrawal any longer, but I’m working on my mental health so I hope that won’t be struggle much longer.

 

C: Becoming healthier usually requires a complete lifestyle change, how did you change your day to day life? Have you integrated different things into your daily life to set yourself up for success?

M: Well I gained a ton of weight when I quit smoking...about 50 pounds. Apparently, I ate instead of smoking but didn't realize it until recently. So my day to day for the last three years has been just getting by, not really changing anything. Honestly, this lack of further change has led to issues with depression, but that’s a whole other story. Haha.

 

C: What are your goals for self-improvement today?

M: My goals have drastically changed in the last few months. I want to be healthy, and not just from quitting smoking. I'm trying to eat healthier and exercise. I've lost 10 pounds so far. I'm trying to "discover me" and am combining my physical health with my mental and spiritual health. I’m reading more on adventures for the soul, to become more positive and truly happy...with my relationships, finding a new career, etc. My newest journey might actually be more ‘traumatic’ than cutting cigarettes out of my life. Haha.


 

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#APOPFNF Profile: Max Kohls

IMG_5325Name: Max Kohls

Age: 24 years old

Subject: Weight Loss & Mental Health

Original Goal:  Lose 105 lbs; reach goal weight of 165lb.

Today's Goals:

      • Reevaluate whether my original goal matters considering the following
      • Gain strength and muscle (and therefore weight)
      • Continue to choose happiness and health on a daily basis

Advice: You can’t change what you are, but you can change who you are. It’s up to you to choose the person you want to be everyday and remember to choose who you are wisely.

Story: Max is a 24 year old gender-non-conforming Graphic Designer and the newest member of APOP's Fitness Nerd Family. They started their journey back in the summer of 2013 after graduating from Moore College of Art & Design with a  Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in--you guessed it--Graphic Design. Growing up and going to school in PA, Max decided it wasn't exactly the place they wanted to launch their career. California was where they headed, Los Angeles, where dreams are made.  With a background in Graphic Design, Max was well primed for a job in the television industry, but the dreams they ended up accomplishing in California were different than the plans they had previously set for themselves. Alone and without a job due to the relocation; Max saw Los Angeles as a great opportunity to do some soul-searching--to really figure out who they were as a person and challenge themself, but before we jump into how Max improved their life let me provide you with a little more background.

Upon graduation, Max was 270 lbs and unhappy. College was difficult. Like most of us during college, they got caught up in a little thing called stress. Being an art and design student had proven to be more challenging than anticipated. With six hour classes and a ton of all-nighters doing homework and class projects, it was hard to find time to eat, let alone make a healthy meal from scratch. Don't get them wrong, college wasn't the reason they had become unhealthy and depressed; the stresses of college simply added to their unhappiness.

"I wouldn't say that I have depression, I would say that I was depressed. I was just unhappy and uncomfortable constantly and that's why I was depressed, but now I feel better--I don't feel depressed anymore." - Max Kohls

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Before the stresses of college, Max encountered other hurdles-- growing up with learning differences, body image issues, and trying to find their place in the LGBT community. Max’s mother always loved, supported, and cared for them, but it was very difficult for her to see her child as 'bigger' and unhappy.  Max's mother was always working hard to stay healthy and fit and wanted Max to try new workouts or diets with her. Even though most might see this as supportive, Max felt pressured to be thin which weakened their relationship.

Max wanted to have control over their life--including their body. Max reflects on their thoughts of that time in our interview, "Two boxes of Oreos a week... whatever not a big deal! Who’s telling me what to do? It's my own body!...but now I'm more in control of my body. I go to the gym and make myself eat healthy." They say, "no one can force you to do anything unless your heart is truly in it." Before moving to California, Max always found themself feeling ashamed of eating certain foods and therefore hiding those habits from friends and family. "[My mother] always wanted to encourage me to lose weight and I was always the one who wanted to take back control, so I would eat by myself; I would hide and eat." Max would think to themself, "I'm not going to lose weight for you, I'm going to do what I want." Now, Max understands that for their mother it was difficult to see her child struggling and as it turns out all their mother wanted was for Max to be happy; it turns out their mom was their biggest fan.

"It's hard to feel like people expect things from you and that you might disappoint them...but it really isn't affecting them except for that it makes them happier for you." -Max Kohls

Moving to California was the perfect way for Max to separate themself from the family and friends "Let Down Factor”, their own bad habits, and their negative emotions. Los Angeles is such an encouraging place to begin a mental and physical health journey. The weather is nice, all the fruit is fresh, and the people--well they're beautiful. They never had to worry about their family seeing them workout. They didn’t have to worry that their loved ones would "get their hopes up" just to be disappointed once again. The pressure was lesser in California--if Max failed no would have to know, but if they succeeded they could share their success and feel proud that this time it was their choice...to be happy, to be healthy, to be successful.

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Making the choice everyday to work towards being healthy has allowed Max to become more connected with their body. Reflecting on this Max says, "I used to pull a blanket up to my head and I used to think, ‘I wish we were all just heads, I wish we didn't have to deal with our bodies’...and I told my therapist that and she said, 'it's clear that you're not connected with the rest of your body.' Once I started exercising and really getting in touch with my body, I began to feel more confident and empowered."

And even after moving back to the east coast they’ve continued to choose to be their “higher-self” on a daily basis--with the full support of their family and girlfriend. Max knew they had finally reached a point where they didn’t have to be ashamed of what they ate in front of their mother. “When I came back from LA after 5 months 35lbs thinner my mom saw that I could take care of myself.”  It was at this point they both knew that Max was in control of their health and would continue to be.

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For the last two years, back in Philadelphia, Max continues to be in control. They go to the gym five days a week, two days of which are spent with a personal trainer. When asked more about their fitness goals in relation to having a personal trainer, Max states, "I'm not just trying to lose weight anymore, I'm trying to gain muscle and heighten my testosterone levels naturally." As an non-binary individual Max is trying to find a comfortable balance between masculine and feminine. With this in mind, Max’s trainer has developed a exercise regime for Max to continue to achieve an androgynous appearance. “Its an amazing feeling to look in the mirror and be pround and happy with my reflection.”

Want to know more about Max? Continue reading the Q&A portion of the profile below.


Additional Q&A:

C: Many people have had a similar parent/child relationship as you and your mother. With this in mind, what would your advice be to parents who want their child(ren) to begin living a healthier lifestyle?

M: I honestly think therapy would be the best choice. I think therapy has a really bad stigma. You don’t have to be clinically depressed or suicidal to talk to a therapist. As someone who was just unhappy, talking to a third-party who wants to support you is wonderful. Her training has been more than helpful with not only weight loss but my relationship with my mother. I have been seeing my therapist for three years and even while I was in California for five months. I called her once a week and we would talk for an hour. It's so freeing to have her in my life. It's too difficult to talk to a parent that's just too close to the situation. I was always encouraged by my mother to make health a priority, but it wasn’t enough. Having a therapist for an objective opinion or point of view, has been extremely helpful in achieving my goal of being the best I can be.

C: You talk a lot about continually choosing your higher-self ; can you elaborate on that?

M: "Willpower is so important in weight loss--willpower and dedication. You have to get up every morning and say, 'This is who I'm going to be today.’ You have to be your higher-self. There is an opportunity to be your lower self: not go to the gym, eat poorly, etc., but you have to choose to be your higher-self. It's a choice. It's all choices. Everyday is a choice." Max later referenced the podcast that they had listened to previously that informed this conversation: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/willpower-works/

C: How do you feel about Jennifer Aditison's quote "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."?

M: That's so not true. First of all, I had had like nine s'mores the other week and all I could think is I'm going to have to workout really hard next week, but then I thought, 'no'...like how often do I really have s'mores...they are so worth it. Second of all, it's not about being skinny, it's about being healthy and your livelihood. It's about feeling good about yourself.

C: How do you manage the stresses of life and remain healthy?

M: "By being selfish sometimes...I always use the word ‘selfish’, but...it's not selfish if it's for your own well-being." I make the choice over and over again to be healthy. I remain healthy because I choose to and because I have a support network that helps me make that choice daily.

C: What does one of your typical workouts look like?

M: 45-60 minutes of cardio. If I’m on the treadmill, I start off running for as long as I can, usually 30 minutes, then I walk--sometimes on an incline. If I’m on the StairMaster, I usually just do 45 minutes while I watch TV shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. After that I do back, triceps, and biceps then head over to the free weights and do 20 hammer curls, 20 squats, you know, different exercises.* I love cables and free weights…I feel bad ass not using the weight machines. When I work out with my trainer Ralph Gilmore at Body Dynamics, I do more challenging exercises. He pushes me to try new things like weighted squats and leg lifts. He loves to remind me, “If you weren’t working out with me you wouldn’t be lifting this heavy,” and it’s true!  He shows how much weight to lift, corrects my form, and reminds me to breath. I am so thankful to have someone so knowledgeable helping me reach my goals.   

*Recommended Resource: Bodybuilding.com's exercise database--it's an exciting and interactive online encyclopedia of exercise how to's and how not to's.