Meera Shah, Boots pharmacist
‘Beat smoking once and for all with our help!’
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After ditching her 30-year cigarette habit, Maggie Hoyland, 50, found love and a new career…
‘Growing up, all my family smoked – I used to watch my parents Magda and Bryan puff on cigarette after cigarette, so it always seemed completely normal to me. And as a teenager I’d spend my evenings in the pub with friends drinking and smoking, frittering away my money and my health.
Yes, there were times I felt embarrassed about my £70-a-week habit, and deep down I knew life would be better if I could stop. After all, I hated smelling of stale smoke and hadn’t tasted food properly in years. Worse still, the cigarettes were giving me wrinkles and staining my fingers yellow. All of these side-effects really started to affect my self-esteem, too – despite the fact I was unhappy in my office job, I just didn’t have the confidence to move on.
Then, in January 2013, my mother – who was still a heavy smoker – passed away. She was in her seventies and had suffered several strokes. My daughter Emily, now 21, was terrified that it might happen to me if I carried on smoking. I knew I couldn’t put her through the same heartbreak – it was the final push I needed to set a “quit date”.
A fortnight later and it was time to smoke my last cigarette – but I was so determined that I didn’t even want it! There are various treatments and support options out there, but in the end I chose to rely on willpower alone to get me through. The pride I felt at not reaching for a cigarette, along with Emily’s unfailing encouragement, really helped me manage the bad days when the cravings were overwhelming.
Realising I was the only one who could change things was the kick I needed to live the life I deserve
Within a few weeks, I began to feel the benefits – my sense of smell and taste returned, I wasn’t wheezing any more, my skin started to look brighter again and I didn’t smell of smoke. All that, combined with the added boost of finally conquering my addiction, meant that I really started to get my mojo back.
In an effort to stay as busy as possible and keep my mind off cigarettes, I joined a local gym and embraced a healthy new diet. Working out five days a week, I dropped from a size 16 to a 12. My body-confidence soared – so much so, I started dating again, and was delighted when I met my wonderful partner, Pete.
Thanks to Pete and Emily, I’ve realised life is too short not to try new things, so in January last year I quit the job I hated and became a lettings negotiator – four months later I was promoted to lettings manager!
To celebrate my 50th birthday and Emily’s 21st, I took us all to Turkey, funded in part by the money I had saved from not smoking. We had a wonderful time. I felt great and knew I looked good, too. It took me a long time to quit, but realising I was the only one who could change things was the kick I needed to live the life I knew I deserved.’
Interview Fiona Ford Photography Helen Marsden Hair and make-up Liz Kitchiner Styling Angela Barnard