your body. Initially you get kind of a kick;
it increases the heart rate. But to do
physical work was very difficult.”
To cope with withdrawal fidgets, she
chewed Hubba Bubba gum. “You can
blow really good bubbles with it, and it
would last about as long as a cigarette,”
Gough says. “Sometimes, I still chew
Tobacco free for nine years, Gough
says: “Being around it makes my lungs
hurt now.” What’s more, she credits
quitting tobacco with putting her on
the podium numerous times—including
Dec. 17, 2011, when she won the World
Cup in Winterberg, Germany. “It’s really
hard to let go of something you’re com-
fortable with and that you feel you
need, but it is possible,” Gough says.
“And life is so much better without it.”
Now 36, Gough’s journey illustrates
many truths about the slippery slope to
tobacco addiction—and the uphill battle
friends I had at that time were smokers.”
The social side of smoking had attracted
Gough since age 14, when she would
sneak cigarettes from a girlfriend’s mom,
determined to be “cool.” In college,
with two half-pack-a-day roommates,
she smoked to be sociable, or so she
thought. Then one day it dawned on
her that she was hooked.
“I woke up in the morning and all
I craved was a cigarette,” she says.
“That scared me.” Ever since elementary
school, when a smutty lung was used
to show what smoking does to a body,
she had known the consequences.
Like most smokers she tried to quit,
again and again.
The clincher came a year into Gough’s
skeleton career, when she started
seriously pursuing faster times. “I never
was one of those absolutely stellar
athletes so I had to work really hard,
and smoking definitely inhibited that,”
she says. “It’s shocking what it does to
The will to quit and to win
Amy Gough quit smoking as part of
a total life shift, going from inactive
and unhappy to fit and focused.
It all started at Calgary’s bobsleigh,
luge and skeleton track. One run down
the frozen track—face down, head first
and inches from the ice—propelled her
from terrified to smitten. She wanted
more of that rush.
A year later, and after failing to make
skeleton’s Canadian development team,
Gough took stock of her lifestyle: she was
working 12-hour days as a hotel manager
and smoking heavily and drinking nightly
to unwind. She decided to get healthy.
She ditched her high-stress job, stopped
drinking cold turkey, lost 35 pounds
( 16 kilograms) and made the team in
the next year. But giving up cigarettes
“It was hard to quit because it was such
a social thing to do,” Gough says, “and the
FOR MANY PEOPLE, GIVING UP TOBACCO IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
BUT LASTING SUCCESS IS POSSIBLE. THREE FORMER SMOKERS TALK ABOUT HOW
THEY FOUND THE STRENGTH AND DETERMINATION TO (FINALLY) BREAK FREE