Shortness of breath and low stamina were the worst, and later I would find out that my gains would have been even greater had I not smoked. But never the less I did end up quitting, for any of you on here who do happen to smoke, even just casually, I urge you to stop.
Here's How I Did It
Find a reason to quit! If it's to save money, look better or smell better, just find a reason. No matter how trivial the reason may be, any reason that will cause you to quit is a good one.
1. Stop Right Now! Don't set a quit date because too many times I've set a quit date and ended up pushing it back to the point where I had smoked another week/month/year and so on. If you want to quit, no time like the present.
2. Get Rid Of All The Cigarettes Around You! If you have a carton or a couple of packs in your house, get rid of them. It's too easy to say, "Well, I'll just smoke this last pack." Then before you know it, you've started smoking again. This may be hard if you live with someone who smokes, in this case they should keep them away from you and be supportive of your needs.
3. Avoid Cues To Smoke! If you always smoke at the bar, don't go there for a while. If you always smoke with a beer or coffee, stay away from those two. I had to give up beer for a while, but sooner or later you'll be able to have a beer without the need for a nicotine fix.
4. Work Out! Hey all of us do this already, so we know about the flood of endorphins we get during exercise. Something we definitely want in absence of our favorite stimulant.
5. Replace Smoking With Another Activity! I chewed gum. Whenever I had a craving, I chewed a piece of REGULAR gum! Those quit smoking gums are nasty! Try to find something that you can do to replace your habit like chewing gum or drinking a glass of water.
6. Think To Yourself, "I will not have a cigarette today" rather than, "I will never have a cigarette ever again." It's easier to take things one day at a time than telling yourself that you will never have something ever again. Pretty soon those days add up and they'll turn into years of smoke-free living.
After I Quit
After I quit, I noticed a difference within a couple of days. My taste buds were back and I could actually smell again (Which is both good and bad). Within a month I had gained an additional 15 pounds, which was good because I had been lifting the whole time, so most of the gains were muscle. I felt a lot stronger in the gym and my stamina was good. Smoking has been known to raise cortisol in some people, thereby depriving them of better muscle gains. Plus, the lack of beer in my diet probably helped out as well.
For a while, I was a social misfit, a hermit of sorts, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Now, I can have a beer and hang out with people who smoke and not be tempted. There are times when I really want to have a cigarette, but those cravings last no longer than a minute. If you do slip up and smoke, get back on the horse and quit again. It took me numerous times of trial and error to actually quit, so don't get discouraged.
As bodybuilders and athletes the effects cigarettes on the body can be extremely counterproductive. Indeed, the greatest thing I ever did to further my progress was to quit smoking. I haven't had a cigarette in a year, not a single one, don't fall into the trap of thinking that "One cigarette won't kill you!" It may not, but the problem is, that one cigarette could turn into a pack every day.
For those of you who don't smoke, I envy you, don't ever start!
Whyquit.com - A free online quit smoking forum offering motivation, education, skills development, counseling and serious group support.
Quitsmoking.about.com - A Guide to one of hundreds of sites about quitting smoking.
Smoking.com - This website contains health facts, tips for quitting, and links to products that can help you quit.