My Struggle To Quit Smoking with Rachel Pader: Inspired Health Journey

Jonathan Hunsaker: Welcome everyone, to another episode of Inspired Health Journeys. I’m joined by my cohost, TeriAnn Trevenen.

TeriAnn Trevenen: Hey, everyone.

Jonathan: We have a very special guest, Rachel Pader. Rachel, thank you for joining us today.

Rachel Pader: Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

TeriAnn: We are excited to have Rachel here today. Rachel is 33 years old. She is from Wisconsin, where she is currently a home appraiser. I met Rachel through a mastermind that I’m a part of, and she actually reached out to me about Organixx products. And at that time we talked more and I learned more about her story and her health journey which is why she is here with us today.

TeriAnn: Tell us a little bit about your healthy journey and how you came to be where you are right now in your health journey. Go back a few years and tell us what your life looked like as far as your health goes just a few years ago.

Rachel: Sure. A few years ago it was filled with drinking, smoking, eating really bad food, waking up with a hangover, and then drinking more to get rid of the hangover. I used to be a full-time bartender, and as grateful as I am for all the things I learned in that patch of my life, I’m super happy I’ve moved on and not surrounded by that environment any longer.

I started smoking when I was 16 and then I moved to college at 18. That’s when the freedom came. Then you can smoke whenever, no parents, don’t have to hide your pack of cigarettes. Then that just, unfortunately, disraveled into the rest of my life until my early thirties, until I started making some changes.

TeriAnn: How did you feel as far as your health goes when that was all going on? Were you conscious about how it made you feel and how it impacted you, or did you just not think about it? Were you just going through life and going through the motions?

Rachel: It didn’t start impacting me, I would say until 28 or 29. I was just living a really fast-paced life through college, after college. Then as I started approaching my thirties I started to see it in my skin, I started to see it with exercising. It literally got to the point where I would go up one flight of stairs and I couldn’t breathe, I felt suffocated.

TeriAnn: Got it.

Jonathan: Yeah. I can relate a lot. I started smoking when I was 15. I smoked for 20 years. This July will be five years of not smoking. I drank a whole lot.

Rachel: [crosstalk 00:03:43].

Jonathan: Thank you. Yeah, it’s interesting. As former smokers, especially through our twenties, we don’t feel like it’s really affecting us. Whatever, we’ll just smoke. Then all of a sudden it hits or life changes or we grow up and it’s time to make a change. What was the big thing for you, the ah-ha moment; it’s time to make a change?

Rachel: I would say the suffocation. Like I said, I would be going up a flight of stairs and I couldn’t breathe. I was sick of missing things. Let’s just say I had a family dinner and I would be like okay, I can smoke on my way there … because I never smoked in front of my family. I could smoke on my way there. Then two hours, and then maybe I can quick sneak out, and then I can smoke again. That’s just the way I processed every single day. I was over that.

Rachel: Between not being able to breathe and it literally controlling every action and movement in my life, that was it for me.

Jonathan: I think it happens a lot with addiction. Many people that are listening to this, when you’re addicted to food or you’re addicted to other things, they can relate to the constantly needing to plan out the time you’re getting your next fix. I remember as a smoker and I would fly, I wouldn’t take any carryon stuff, so that I could get out of the airport during my layovers, go have a cigarette, run back through security without stuff and get on my next flight. It’s brutal how much that stuff rules our life.

Jonathan: Feeling the suffocation, feeling you can’t breathe, knowing that it’s time to change, what were the first things that you changed? What was the first thing you did?

Rachel: A couple of years back I tried acupuncture. It didn’t work for me. It probably works for many others. It just wasn’t for me. That was the first initial, baby step I took. Then I started to flirt with the idea of quitting. Then I would be like oh my God, that’s so scary, nope, not doing it. Then my mom happened to see an ad on TV for a quit study. It’s through our university here. She just sent me the number and said, “Do what you want with it.” I held onto the number for quite some time. I said, “All right, I’m just going to call.” I called. I got signed up. That was it. That was my leap. I don’t know if you want me to go into the whole process of the quit study, but it’s quite simple.

Rachel: I got into the study. They gave me a medicine that helps you quit smoking. That medicine, it didn’t work for me either. I was on it for a week. I cannot describe to you the feelings that I had. I had the most severe depression. I didn’t even feel like myself. I said to my boyfriend, I was like, “This is it. I can’t do it with medicine. I’m going to do it the natural way and just do it.” That’s just how it went.

Rachel: Fortunately, through this quit study, even though I wasn’t taking their medication, they still offered me support and meetings. I got to talk to a mentor once a week, which was extremely helpful.

TeriAnn: Awesome. Tell me about your emotional… because a lot of people don’t realize the emotional aspect of our lives impacts our health as well. You talked a little bit about when you were smoking it was like I can do this before I get here and this before I get there. That’s the physical side of it and feeling that need to do that. Talk about the emotional side of your health and how you felt. Then before and after you quit smoking, how did you feel emotionally on both side of events?

Rachel: While I was smoking, I attributed that time to me-time. That’s when I would go on my phone and send my emails, send my text messages, talk on the phone. I never associated it with a bad thing until it started really impacting my health. Now when I quit smoking, I literally felt like I lost my best friend and I was mourning my best friend’s death. I still mourn that death, as crazy as that sounds. I still mourn it every day and I still think about that best friend every single day. I’ve moved on from it, but I still miss that friend.

TeriAnn: Yeah, well it’s interesting too because I like that you said that and I think a lot of people look at it that way, with something like smoking, or drug addiction, or alcohol. We all have addictions in one way or another that impact our health and our emotional well-being, whether we want to admit it or not. If each of us sat down and took the time to say, “What is my friend? What is my go-to that I go to, to feel better about things?” We all have it. Breaking out of that is such a hard thing. Whether it’s we numb ourselves out of life by doing X, Y, or Z. It doesn’t even have to be alcohol, or smoking, or drugs. There are other things we use to numb out.

TeriAnn: I think getting really present in your life through your health and your body boils down sometimes to what am I using to make excuses or what am I using to numb out of life so I don’t have to focus on the more important things in life. It’s a struggle for everyone, so I love that you said that, and I think a lot of people can relate to what’s my best friend. Yeah, a lot of people say that’s smoking or drinking. There are other things as well. I think that’s important for people to hear.

Jonathan: That and I’m just going to cut in for a second, because it’s not just drugs and alcohol. It’s food. People use that, food is their best friend or worst friend. It’s like when things are great let’s celebrate with cake. When things are bad let’s mourn with ice cream.

TeriAnn: Yeah.

Jonathan: They do that with television. We turn on the TV to numb out. We find all these things. I think a lot of people … I talk about smoking a lot. I know you talk about smoking, Rachel, because that’s a big addiction for us. There’s so many addictions out there that people are addicted to. It is mourning that best friend. They’re there during the best times, they’re there during the worst times. You have to have that funeral for them, if you want to get rid of that [crosstalk 00:09:54].

TeriAnn: I like having these flashbacks of watching TV at night and eating big bowls of cereal, which I never do anymore. When you were talking about that I was like I miss eating cereal at night, when you were talking about it. I think we all have those weird things that we do, to sit down and be like I need to relax and detox from the day. It’s interesting. At the end of the day, you change your patterns to like now I’m excited at the end of the day but I’m in a different place in my life. Let’s talk about that for you, Rachel. Fast forward to now. You’ve made all these huge changes in your life. How do you feel physically and emotionally right now in your life, because of some of the changes you’ve made? Then we’ll talk a little bit more about the changes.

Rachel: Sure. I would say I feel pretty fantastic right now. I still struggle every day with wanting to just release everything that I’ve worked on and smoke, and maybe go out and have a ton of drinks and just party. I really think about that. Then I just bring myself back and say, “No, I’m in a really good spot right now. My mental health is great. I just cope differently.” If I get in an argument with someone I would always used to go for a cigarette. Now I just breathe, I think about it. Maybe have a conversation with that person and move forward.

Rachel: Overall, my mental health is great. My physical health, I can run stairs you guys all day. It is wonderful. Yeah. I’m pushing hard into fitness. That’s a great aspect of my life. I walk every day. Life is good, it’s really good.

TeriAnn: Awesome.

Jonathan: Rachel, let me ask, did you take on everything at once? Because I talked a lot in previous podcasts and videos, like don’t try to tackle the world at once. When you’re trying to make a change, don’t go out there and quit smoking, quit drinking, start going to the gym, start eating healthy. You take on all these things and your chance of failure is super high. Was the first thing for you, and just share with me, was the first thing just quitting smoking and that was step one and then it led to more things, or did you take on more things all at once, and find a way to make that work for you?

Rachel: My initial goal was to quit smoking, but I attribute smoking and drinking. If smoking is going drinking is going too. Then for me to get through the mornings, when I first quit smoking because that was my hardest part, was having coffee and smoking, I would start walking. I’d wake up, just get my head right, and start walking. Get ready for the day and then get past that really hard morning part for me. Then that just evolved into going to the gym more. I mean honestly, I guess it all happened at once. It was never planned though. It just happened in that manner, and that’s the only way I could succeed, was not smoking, not drinking, working out, cleaning up my diet.

Jonathan: Absolutely. I was thinking about this this morning, just thinking about my transformation, things that happened, what can we share to inspire others. What was really clear for me, for me of course it was quitting smoking and drinking. They were together for me. After doing that, it feels like we take on all these other things, but they happen naturally. Tackle that one big thing and then the other stuff starts happening naturally because you go rid of that one big hurdle, because for me if it was December 31st and it’s like January 1st no drinking, no smoking, I’m going to the gym, I’m going to start eating healthy, and all these other things, your chance of failure is 90 plus percent, I’m sure.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s just nice to hear you tackled the drinking and smoking. To you it feels like you did everything at once, but really it all just evolves when you get rid of that one big thing.

TeriAnn: Yeah, for sure. You have to win the smaller battles to win the big war. I think that’s pretty common for most people. Let’s talk about your lifestyle of it. Now you’ve touched on it a little bit. You really changed and you’re evolving and you’re learning more about health. Talk a little bit about what your day and your routine looks like now, and some of the biggest changes you’ve made in your life.

Rachel: Okay, so I guess some daily routine, since we’re doing a certain challenge we have to work out in the morning. At least I work out in the morning. Then throughout the day I just drink tons and tons of water. I’m working really hard and I’m bringing in organic foods, nothing that’s modified. I’m going to plant the garden, so I’m really excited about that.

TeriAnn: Awesome.

Rachel: Then I don’t know. The gym in the evenings. I don’t know. It’s all movements. I’m always moving, always going, learning, transforming. It looks so different because now that I have came to a healthier side of life I don’t have time for the things that aren’t healthy.

TeriAnn: Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. I get that 100%. What were some of the biggest ah-ha moments? I know for you, you’ve been studying a lot, reading a lot. What are the top two or three things, as you’ve been studying health more, studying what works for you more, and finding your own journey to health, what have been some of the biggest moments for you, biggest things that you’re like I didn’t know that or this has been a game changer for me?

Rachel: Honestly, I just think and as cliché as this sounds, if you really want to do something you can do it. I look back to see how I even got to where I am. I have no idea. I just took it day by day by day and I slowly just evolved here. I think that was my biggest ah-ha moment. How did I even do this? I don’t know. I knew I had to change one thing in my life, and that one thing changed into five or six things, and it worked out. I know for some people it doesn’t. I don’t know. I guess there’s no easy path. There’s just the path that works for each individual, and you need to find that path.

TeriAnn: Yeah.

Jonathan: The reality is it’s not going to be a smooth, downhill ride when you’re taking on change. You’re going to have issues across the board. What I think happens with a lot of people is when they fall off the wagon, let’s say they fall off the wagon on Tuesday from eating healthy or going to the gym. Then they beat themselves up on Wednesday, they turn to their best friend, whether that’s food or drinking or smoking or whatever that addiction is. Then come Thursday it’s like all right, I’m going to try again on Monday. Then they think all right, the weekend is here and I’m going to get strict on Monday, I better go ahead and gorge and eat all the food or smoke all the cigarettes. I remember before quitting, that night I tried to smoke everything that was in my pack.

Jonathan: It’s the same thing. We do that and then we gorge on the weekend, and then Monday comes around and we go for it, we get it Monday, Tuesday, and then we make it until Thursday and we fall off again. Well, let’s wait until Monday. I think the big takeaway here, if you really want that long-lasting change, is not waiting until Monday. If you fall off the wagon on Tuesday fine. If you eat some ice cream fine. Wake up Wednesday and start back over again. Don’t put it off to another future date to start.

TeriAnn: For sure. I think another important thing is going back to what John said about overcoming the one big thing, like I feel like for you with smoking you’re like everything else is tied to that. I think when you win one really big battle in your health you’re like okay, the rest is doable. I did that. I can do anything else. Then you go through this pattern and this process of like I could take this to the next level, and I can take this to the next level. I think it becomes really powerful when you see that change in yourself. I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to.

TeriAnn: Let me ask you really quickly, and I’m going to share because I know a little bit of your background, you’ve made this huge shift in the last year and it’s changed your eating habits, and no more smoking, no more drinking. Only occasionally. You’re living a totally different lifestyle. Talk about some of your big wins on the physical side of things, because you’ve overcome all of these things in health. What are you working towards with your body right now that you never thought you would be doing in the past?

Rachel: All right. I have gotten pretty big into weightlifting. I used to only work out with my own body weight and nothing else. Maybe little weights but nothing crazy. My boyfriend, he’s always like, “Come work out with me, come work out with me.” I finally did and I love it. It makes me feel so powerful and so amazing and so strong. In September I am doing my first powerlifting competition. I never thought I would do this ever, but here I am. I’m really scared. I’m really nervous. I don’t even care if I place or if I don’t place. I just want to complete it.

TeriAnn: Yeah, just so you did it. It’s so funny too because you just talked about how it used to be suffocating just to walk up the stairs, and now you’ve gotten to this point with your body. It’s a really big testament to people who are listening to how much you can change your body in just a year, and where you can go from point A to point B and be in a totally different place. The long-term effects. I don’t know if you’ve gone through this thought process of where you were a year ago to where you are now, and how your life is going to look for the next 10, 20, 30 years, because you’ve made these changes. Does that feel powerful to you, to think about where you are now and what your life is going to look like for the next 10, 20, 30 years, the rest of your life, because you’ve made these changes?

Rachel: Absolutely, yeah. Especially too, I’m approaching my one-year anniversary of not smoking in July. During that time from then until now, it was like this. I would gain weight. I would fall into small depressions. There were so many mountains I had to climb. In my future, just a few mountains, I am totally cool with it. Absolutely, yeah. I’m super excited for it. I have this app on my phone where it shows me how much life I have regained back. It’s like 46 dates. That’s incredible. [crosstalk 00:19:58].

Jonathan: What’s the name of the app? Do you remember?

Rachel: It’s called Quit Smoking.

Jonathan: Oh, nice.

TeriAnn: Easy.

Rachel: Yeah, so you just type in the date that you quit and it shows you how much money you’ve saved. It’s wonderful.

TeriAnn: That’s really cool. I love that. Yeah, and that’s really powerful to think every day matters so much, every day counts. You think about how much time you’re getting back. That’s a really powerful concept to think about. Whether it’s smoking, like your story, or another change that someone is making in their health, if there was an app for all the changes we made in health, could you even imagine how many days people got back in their lives from changing their health journey? It’s a really powerful thing to think about.

TeriAnn: Rachel, last thing today. If you had one message you could leave with the world about health from where you’ve been on your journey of health, what would you say to people who are trying to change their life and change their health? What would be your one message to them, your one message, super important message that you could say to the entire world about their health?

Rachel: Do it now. Don’t do it tomorrow. Don’t do it next week. Do it today, have a plan, and completely execute.

TeriAnn: Love it.

Jonathan: It’s never too late to start. We can make excuses all day long. Excuses are easy when you’re addicted to things. Oh, I’ll just slow down. I’ll just cut it down. I won’t eat as much ice cream, I won’t smoke as many cigarettes. It never works. You’ve just got to do it. Do it now, don’t wait another week, don’t wait another month, don’t wait another year. Rachel, it was awesome having you on. Thank you for being vulnerable, thank you for sharing. [crosstalk 00:21:33].

Jonathan: For those of you that are listening at home, watching at home, do you want to share your story with us? Do you have an inspired health journey to tell us about? Send us an email, to [email protected], I N S P I R E D TeriAnn, do you have any last words?

TeriAnn: No. Thank you, Rachel, for being with us today. I appreciate it.

Rachel: Thank you.

Jonathan: Thanks, Rachel. Thanks, everyone.

TeriAnn: Have a great day, everyone.

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