The term inspiring is often overused, but Donna McIntyre is certainly somebody the word thoroughly applies to.
After suffering terribly with agoraphobia, Donna was restricted to the confines of her home, unable to leave the house, for nearly four years. Throughout this time her diet spiralled out of control and her smoking habit escalated. At her worst point she was going through around 40 cigarettes each day.
Both of these habits had a drastic impact on her health and confidence but, through having the bravery to seek support and her own strength of character, Donna has managed to regain control.
Now, by going to the gym six times a week, she’s lost seven stone and has almost achieved her target weight. She’s also managed to stop smoking, after 34 years, and only uses e-cigs if she has a craving.
“My desire to quit was always health motivated. I’d lost seven stone in weight and stopping smoking was the icing on the cake,” Donna explained. “I was stuck in the house and stuck in a rut. With nothing going on in my life, all I did was eat and smoke. That’s not the life I have now.”
With support from a Leicester City Council Social Inclusion Officer, called Pat, Donna was able to lower her levels of anxiety and began to get back to leading the life she wanted. The Officer attended the gym with her, when she first started exercising to take control of her weight, and then put her in touch with the Stop Smoking Service to help her give up cigarettes.
After meeting with Leicester Stop Smoking Advisor Syd Mathias on a Monday, Donna decided to set a quit date for the very next day and hasn’t smoked since.
“Syd is so good. He’s an inspiration himself. He explained how he quit, which made me change my habits and the way I thought about smoking,” Donna said. “I now see him once fortnightly, just to have a chat and to help me keep on track. But, even if my anxiety got bad again I wouldn’t turn to cigarettes or food.”
Since quitting, Donna has become a real advocate for leading a well-balance lifestyle and avoiding damaging habits. She’s encouraged one of her sons to move on to e-cigarettes, and has convinced her other two to try to stop smoking: “I’m the worst person for telling anyone smoking the downsides. I actively encourage people to quit. I explain e-cigs and the options available to help them,” Donna said.
For anyone thinking of kicking the habit, Donna’s main piece of advice would be to seek help. From her personal experience, she has seen that with any challenge in life, a strong support network can help you to succeed.
“Seek out a Stop Smoking Service; there will be something local to you. Go in and speak to them and learn your options. Look for support and take any you can. You really do need it. With the back-up of others, you can’t go wrong.”
Reflecting on the progress she’s made, Donna concluded: “I always wanted to be a healthy non-smoker, and now that’s what I am.”
If you want to stop smoking, take Donna’s advice of seeking support and get in touch with the Leicester Stop Smoking Service.
Call 0116 454 4000 to speak to a friendly advisor, who will be able to provide you with more information about its FREE 12-week service and get you on your way.