Bryce Freeman and the Great American Smokeout
Bryce Freeman, Sales Operations Director for US Flavor Solutions, started smoking when he was 13 years old. For the next ten years, he continued to smoke, seeing his health and quality of life start to deteriorate. Smoking impacted his energy levels, performance at work and physical fitness – all which prompted his life-changing decision to quit when he was 23 years old. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 38 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Today is the Great American Smokeout which encourages others to join Bryce in quitting smoking for good and staying away from tobacco products.
Giving up his pack a day habit was no easy task. Bryce found himself gaining weight and making other unhealthy decisions. It was the community he found when working in a manufacturing plant environment that encouraged him to make healthy choices, including joining a group of colleagues through a Weight Watchers program. He attributes his initial success, including losing 40 pounds, to the camaraderie he found in those initial steps he took in making healthy changes.
From there, Bryce started running. When his children were born, he made it his goal to be more active and to have more energy to make the most out of the time he has with his kids. He signed up for a 5K, then a 10K and then the Marine Corps Marathon. Flanked by three of his best friends from college, they all took to running marathons together – a tradition which is now in its tenth year with the Philadelphia Marathon later this month.
In encouraging others to make similar decisions about their health, Bryce suggests that collective environments make healthy choices easier. From programs like McCormick’s smoking cessation program, to healthy options present in the new McCormick Market Café and salad bar at the Hunt Valley Plant, to exercises classes in the new Health & Wellness space, the company is simultaneously aiding in this quest to make healthier choices accessible for all employees.
Bryce also stressed that incremental steps lead to big change. Giving up smoking was the first decision which led to so many others that changed his life for the better. When asked what advice he has for others who want to make healthier decisions in their lives, Bryce said, “Start small. Choose one thing to change and focus on that. Then, build up from there.” He seeks to encourage others at the plant here in Hunt Valley and corporate offices to make decisions that lead to long and fulfilling lives with the added energy that comes from exercise and healthy eating.
From raising his own kids and in conversations with coworkers, Bryce says that the best way to prevent an addiction to smoking is to never start. He hopes that fewer and fewer people pick up the habit and that those who wish to quit have the supportive community like the one he had. He remains vigilant about remaining tobacco-free since there are occasional moments when he still craves a cigarette. However, those moments are fleeting and the life he gained – full of energy and his family – is well worth what he gave up when he quit smoking decades ago.