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Twentysomething visualized new, smoke-free way of life

By Jessica Yadegaran
Contra Costa Times Staff Writer
March 8, 2005

cigarette pretzel

She was a lovely freshman. He was a studly senior.

He smoked. Soon enough, so did she.

Jenny Bedor admits she started smoking to impress a guy. Luckily, it was also a guy – the right guy this time – who would help her boot the habit years later.

Bedor’s entire relationship with smoking reflects the changing roles it plays through life’s stages. When she smoked as a 15-year-old in her parents Palos Verdes garage, it was dangerous and rebellious.

But as a business major at Sonoma State University cigarettes were as common as Top Ramen.

“Smoking was accepted,” says Bedor, now 29. “People smoked in coffeehouses. Smoking was a study break.”

Smoking helped her pull all-nighters. Most of all, it was Bedor’s social crutch. Dancing, drinking – partying of any kind – came easier with a cigarette in hand.

One day, when she was 21, Bedor and her roommates vowed to quit cold turkey. They stayed up the night before, chain-smoking in preparation.

“We smoked until we made ourselves sick. It was disgusting,” recalls Bedor, whose paternal grandparents died of smoking-related lung cancer and heart disease.

The nicotine break didn’t last. Bedor also tried the patch, but took it off before parties or weekend trips to Las Vegas.

In 1999, when she graduated and accepted a job in San Ramon, Bedor’s views of smoking, and her peers’ views, shifted again. Bay Area young professionals were healthy, and smoking had become somewhat taboo.

“I wanted to make a good impression, so I tried to hide it,“ she says.

For three years, Bedor’s New Year’s resolution was to quit smoking. In 2001, she met her boyfriend Matt. Smoking turned him off, and that motivated Bedor. She chewed Nicorette gum around him and for the next three years, quit for short periods of time.

Finally, this past December, Matt sat Bedor down for a serious talk.

“He asked me what the attraction was and I couldn’t answer him,” recalls Bedor. “ I just think it was part of my identity. I was a smoker half my life.”

On a co-worker’s recommendation, Bedor made an appointment with Lucy Yaldezian, a San Ramon hypnotherapist and stress management expert.

Hypnotherapy taps into a person’s subconscious energy to help treat a variety of phobias, ailments and addictions. Treatment varies, but some patients, such as Bedor, see results after one session.

At that first appointment, Yaldezian interviewed Bedor and recorded her smoking history and habits.

Using Emotional Freedom Technique, a process of tapping various energy points around the face and body, Yaldezian re-aligned and unblocked the feeling believe to be causing Bedor’s smoking.

EFT also has a verbal component: During tapping, Yaldezian had Bedor hold and smell a cigarette to determine the intensity of her craving.

At the same time, she had her repeat positive, self-affirming statements, such as, “Even though I really want that cigarette, I choose to remain a non-smoker.”

Yaldezian also used visualization, asking Bedor to imagine the part of herself that’s in charge of the smoking decisions walking into the room. She then told her to cut the cord on that tie.

Next, Yaldezian hypnotized Bedor. Bedor reclined in a chair wearing an eye pillow while Yaldezian asked her to count back from 10, taking deep breaths and envisioning a relaxing oasis.

It gets fuzzy after that, Bedor says, but she followed Yaldezian’s instruction, tapping and listening to a cassette recording of the session for several nights. She went back for a follow-up appointment.

Bedor hasn’t touched a cigarette since.

“So far so good,” says Bedor, who has attended a slew of parties in the past four months without craving even a puff. “It’s all about self-control. The subconscious is a powerful thing.”

Bedor recommends hypnotherapy to anyone who’s trying to quit, and suggests approaching the experience with an open mind. You have to want to quit and believe that it will work.

Looking back, Bedor believes that cigarettes appealed to her because she was a nervous person, and it gave her something to do.

Good thing she’s had a wedding to plan. Matt proposed a week after Bedor quit. Their smoke-free life together begins March 26.

*Reprinted with Permission