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Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Page updated at 11:50 AM

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Scale the Needle without huffing — or puffing

Special to The Seattle Times

I was born in Belgium, where smoking is a rite of passage. At my peak, I smoked a pack a day (my dad smokes three). But the birth of my daughter in April 2004 and then, finally, the smoking ban that went into effect in December, made me realize I had to quit — for real.

In 19 years, I've quit many times. But I discovered this time that after one nicotine-free week, you've done it. Then it's a matter of finding other healthful habits to substitute, like tea, jogging, deep-breathing, yoga ...

Today, Jan. 26, I'm on Day 54, enjoying a little running, some pushups and lots and lots of tea. And, as of today, my savings are $324.

Part of my goal is to never forget how hard those first days of quitting were, and never to go back to Square One.

Then it hit me: I'm a graphic artist, so what I needed was a graphic way to monitor my progress during these early days. What better benchmark to pick than the Space Needle? As of today, I'm 180 feet up the Space Needle, measured in all the cigarettes I didn't smoke, and should be to the top of the flagpole by July 12.

So here's my visual progress, with the money saved thrown in for extra incentive. And the beauty of it is, you can measure your own progress. Just plug in how many days since you last smoked, how many cigarettes you smoked in an average day and, voilą, you can see just how high you've climbed. Keep checking in over the weeks, and you'll see your progress rise.

Hang in there — and see you at the top.

Kriss Chaumont is a graphic designer at The Seattle Times: kchaumont@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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