Smoking quantified self…

In 2007 I had happened upon the realization that at 28, I had literally been smoking cigarettes for half of my life. By the time I was 16 I was at a pack a day, Marlboro Reds, around $1.50 – $2.50 a pop.

Not long prior to that, my grandfather had died of lung cancer – it was really one of the hardest things I had to watch happen. He was my father when I didn’t have one, and that happened a few times in my younger years (dad and I are solid now 😊). A good friend was also going through some dire difficulties with Cystic Fibrosis. During the time I had made the final decision, he was to undergo surgery for a COMPLETE lung transplant. He told me once flat out “people take their lungs for granted”. It stuck with me, it still does. I remember being horrified with myself noting all the times I had smoked in front of him (before I knew he had CF) and just feeling like a complete asshole. Remembering my grandfather’s pain, knowing what my friend was going through, and the challenge her had in front of him – few days later I stopped – cold turkey. Done.

The first 6 months were hell. Fuck cocaine, tobacco w/ nicotine is a hell of a drug. To this day I still get cravings that pull at the muscles in my jaw line looking for a deep drag when stress levels got too high.

I didn’t win all those battles. To this day, I’ve cheated less than 5 times (If you smoke and you are reading this – DO NOT let your fall backs define your possible outcome. You get back on the trail, and you keep going forward!). But I as I sit here at 3am (when else does one feel compelled to write?), I certainly feel I won the war. The factors of victory weren’t all power of will. While there were significant amounts of it, there were unsuspecting helping hands I had realized as time went on, that if not present, my moments of weakness may have ended up in failure.

The first was this very Image I found during the ol Digg days that laid out on an hourly, daily, monthly, yearly basis – showing what happens to the body after you stop smoking in terms of healing.


The second was something I accidentally found; an application that ran in the system tray of my Windows machine that would passively tally how many cigarettes I didn’t smoke, how much money I was saving, and how much life it estimated I was buying back for myself. I could not believe how much this helped – even while it was helping me. I didn’t question it, I began to rely on it heavily almost as much as cigarettes themselves.

It was my first glimpse of something that that would be later coined as “Quantified Self” The practice of “incorporating technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs“. Not 3 years ago, this same methodology got me from my heaviest @ 330lb, to my lowest 265 with the help of technology like a Fitbit, a Wifi enabled scale and a calorie counter.

Now, in 2017, even with unavoidable setbacks, health developments, car accident etc – I still feel I am the healthiest I’ve ever been in my entire life, not 100% where I want to be, but still on that trail! And it’s very literally because of technology. When I sat back and thought about this before I crashed out a while ago, this just about defines what I believed Cerebralhack to be. Technology that changes people’s lives for the better. If it wasn’t for the tools I’ve mentioned, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.

And for that, today I am most grateful.