Here’s one thing you might not have known about Mark Ballas:
Between his dance rehearsals with celebrities and live performances on ABC, the “Dancing with the Stars” pro was taking breaks to smoke cigarettes.
The multi-talented dancer has been a smoker since age 14. “I grew up in Europe, and it was part of the lifestyle over there,” he tells us.
Mark tried to quit at least 30 times, while trying his best to keep his smoking out of the spotlight.
“Being on the show, you’re definitely a role model for younger kids,” he says. “I never want to be photographed and be seen smoking.”
Some of his celebrity partners tried to get him to quickstep past the habit. “There were a couple who would be like you really shouldn’t do that,” he remembers.
His famous students will be happy to know that he took their advice. Mark revealed this week that he has successfully quit smoking for six months and counting. He kicked the habit using Blueprint to Quit, a program that combines two resources for quitting smoking: online behavioral support through QuitNet and nicotine replacement therapy to address the physical dependence on cigarettes.
“As a dancer, as a performer, you need discipline. I repeated the process every day. The online support also helped. It was a regimen,” says Mark, who is now a spokesperson for the brand, which is available at Walmart.
“You get into social situations and your friends or colleagues are smoking and it’s easy to fall back into it,” he says, remembering the times he tried and failed with other methods in the past.
Stress can also be a trigger for cravings. In case you were curious, a much-talked-about moment on “Dancing with the Stars” last season just wasn’t one of those situations for Mark.
When his former dance partner Julianne Hough returned to “Dancing with the Stars” as a guest judge, she made headlines by implying that Mark tends to steal the spotlight from his celebrity partners.
Mark says he wasn’t offended.
“It got blown out of proportion. We have been like brother and sister since we were kids. She was trying to be funny and it wasn’t funny. If we were sitting at the dinner table, it would have blown over,” he said.
And speaking of the dinner table, Mark is ready to take on another resolution after leaving smoking behind in 2013.
“It’s Christmas time and I’m eating whatever I want,” he says. “But by New Year, it will be time to cut out junk food.”