I’ve been a smoker since I was 19, and I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I used a nebulizer and inhalers, but it was still hard to breathe. I’m 61 now and I was smoking one and a half packs of cigarettes a day. I have three kids and five grandbabies. My kids would ask me to quit and I tried many times, but I was never successful. 

One day last fall I decided I had to stop smoking.

I was hiking at Raccoon State Park with my son, Seth, and his family. As I was climbing a hill I was barely able to breathe. I looked up and saw my grandkids at the top looking down at me struggling. I wanted to be on that hill with them, and the next day I started the Thrive Challenge. I thought I would get the support and accountability I needed to change my habits. 

I read a lot of stories on the Thrive app, which I found incredibly inspiring.

I read about brave people dealing with cancer and obesity, and people who had lost children. They were going through much more difficult things than me and they were thriving. I thought if they can do it, I can too.

Stopping smoking meant I had to change my habits.

Instead of grabbing a cigarette, I’d have a piece of sugarless gum or a mint. Another technique that helps me: right after I eat, when I would normally have craved a cigarette, I get up from the table; I leave the situation that triggers my craving. I’ll grab my bottle of water and go for a walk. And at work, I’ve joined our Thrive support group; we’re always there for each other. 

Breathing Microsteps are really important to me.

Whenever I’m stressed or upset and tempted to light a cigarette, I close my eyes and do a breathing exercise. That helps me gather my thoughts and calm down. I watch Thrive Resets. My favorite is a video of a babbling brook; you can hear the water streaming over the rocks. I’m a country person and it helps me relax, bringing me back to my center.

Keeping my hands busy is another great tool.

I love woodwork, including restoring old furniture. I bought a 1943 cedar chest for $20, stripped it down, stained it, and gave it to my son and his wife for Christmas. It’s beautiful, and I was so proud because it took my mind off smoking and at the same time I was doing something with purpose. 

Affirmations are helping me create a new way of thinking.

I’m constantly telling myself, “Tina, you’re breathing easier, you’re resilient, you can do this.” I used to get out of breath just rolling over in bed. Now I don’t lie in bed hearing myself wheeze.

I’ve had the same wonderful doctor for years and she’s thrilled.

When I told her I finally quit smoking she hugged me. She had tears in her eyes. It gives me goosebumps thinking about that day. I still have COPD, but it’s under control and I can go for walks without getting out of breath. 

I take my 3-year-old grandson, Neal, out on his bike and we play in his sandbox.  

I have six and a half acres, and we’ll walk around the property with his wagon. He’ll pick random flowers, rocks, and pieces of mud to show to mommy and daddy. And I can play on the floor with 1-year-old Zeke. I’ll never be able to run a marathon, but I can climb that hill now — and that’s a big thing. 

My kids are proud of me. 

My son, Seth, walked into the house the other day and said, “Mom, it smells so good and you’re doing so good.” He’s happy he doesn’t hear me cough anymore. I can laugh without coughing now. I haven’t smoked for six months and it makes me cry talking about it because this addiction doesn’t control me anymore. I know I’ll be around for my grandkids.

— Tina Doty, Distribution Center #6028, Crawfordsville, IN; $5K Winner