When smokers quit!
Look how quickly your body begins to heal after you quit smoking!
20 minutes after quitting: your blood pressure drops to a level close to normal; the temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.
8 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
24 hours after quitting: your chance of heart attack begins to decrease.
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: your circulation improves; your lung function increases up to 30%.
1 to 9 months after quitting: your coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease; cilia regain normal function in the lungs, increasing your lungs' ability to handle mucus, cleans themselves and reduce the risk of lung infections.
1 year after quitting: your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smokers.
5 years after quitting: your risk of stroke begins to diminish to that of a nonsmokers.
10 years after quitting: your risk of death due to lung cancer will be about half that of a smokers; your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas is greatly diminished.
15 years after quitting: your risk of coronary heart disease is about that of a nonsmokers.
Information provided by the American Cancer Society
"I've tried everything to lose weight but nothing works!"
Recently a lady called our department inquiring about our recommendations concerning a liquid protein diet program for weight control. We explained that for any kind of permanent weight control program to be successful, a sensible approach which can be maintained after reaching an ideal weight is required. Otherwise, the person is likely to adopt their old pattern which resulted in being overweight in the first place. Liquid protein diets are potentially dangerous and are not conducive to permanent weight loss. We suggested that she enroll in a sensible weight control program. She replied, "I tried them all, they are a rip-off and a fraud! I didn't lose any weight at all!" She proceeded to ask what approach we recommend. We suggested a sensible diet and exercise program. "Exercise", she expressed with disgust. "Who has time to exercise?" It was becoming apparent why her past attempts at weight control had failed so miserably. It was not a weakness in the program, but rather in her own conviction in losing weight. She wanted to be thinner, but heaven forbid she should have to work at it.
In order to be successful in any lifestyle change, a person must first decide how important benefits from the change are to them. If the benefits are important enough, the individual can make a sincere commitment and have a good chance of being successful. Weight control is an important topic because so many ex-smokers do gain weight after first giving up cigarettes.
Upon cessation of smoking, food may smell and taste better, and many ex-smokers find they do have an increased appetite. Many feel a real need to substitute food for the oral gratification they claim to have derived from cigarette smoking. Some feel that since they quit smoking, they ought to be able to treat themselves as a reward for their great accomplishment. While it may seem like a rational idea at the time, there may be severe ramifications. Even after the initial quitting process is over and the urge for cigarettes diminishes, a new eating pattern is now being established. This pattern includes consuming more calories than are burned off in normal daily activities. The end result is extra fat and extra weight.
Giving up cigarettes is a great accomplishment, but it does not necessitate consuming vast quantities of extra calories. Eating cakes, cookies, ice cream, extra main courses, or drinking extra alcohol all causes real weight gain. Calories add up quickly. While many people may get discouraged by this added weight, they do not always take positive steps to correct the situation. They persist with their new habit of continuous gluttony. What does it take to encourage these people to initiate a positive change?
When they get sick and tired enough of being overweight, they can do something about it. That is how they first quit smoking. It came to a point where they knew it was time to quit. In the beginning it was not easy to give up cigarettes. Not only did they have to break a strongly ingrained habit but also a potent addiction. They experienced real drug withdrawals. But their conviction was strong. In a short time they were nicotine free. It became relatively easy not to smoke. Food can take a similar route. At first it may be hard to refuse the extra dessert. It may not be easy to go out for that first walk around the block. But soon, smaller portions of food become sufficient to quench culinary desires. You may even begin to look forward to your walk. And you will begin to look and feel better. That's the real pay-off.
If you are concerned about your weight, do something about it. Start to modify your diet. Take up exercise. Some past participants find it helpful to attend our smoking clinic when they first start their diet. Listening to the great difficulty that the participants are experiencing giving up cigarettes and remembering how they overcame the same problem, can establish a strong sense of confidence. They begin to realize that if they could quit smoking, they could do anything. Some people not only lose the extra weight they gained since they quit smoking, but continue to make positive changes in diet and exercise, even to the point of weighing less than when they were smokers.
Work on staying healthier and happier. Be sensible with your diet. Push yourself to keep active. Most important, always keep in practiceNEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
Minimize the Weight Gained from Quitting Smoking
You may have heard that you cant deal with weight control issues at the same time as quitting smoking. It may be fine for some people to gorge themselves while quitting smoking and deal with the weight at a later time. The health implication of a minor weight gain is negligible in comparison to the health risks posed by smoking. The average smoker would have to gain over 75 to 100 pounds to put the additional workload on the heart that is experienced by smoking, and this is not saying anything about the smoking cancer risk.
But for esthetic and emotional reasons, allowing uncontrolled eating and the inevitable weight gain is a mistake that will often undermine the quitting process. Discouragement over appearance can cause some to return to smoking. Then the smoker has the additional problem of the extra weight combined with smoking. Sometimes the weight does not automatically disappear by simply relapsing back to smoking.
Weight gain following smoking cessation can be due to several factors. Smoking can have an effect on a persons metabolism and thus quitting can account for a small weight gain in some individuals. Gains of 5 to 10 pounds over a number of months can be attributed to metabolic alterations in some individuals. But once weight gain exceeds 10 pounds, other factors are more probably responsible.
Snacking between meals or increasing the overall size of meals, can easily result in the consuming of several hundred extra calories per day. Eating just an additional 100 calories a day will result in a one pound fat gain in just over a month, 10.4 pounds in one year, and an extra 104 pounds in ten years. 104 pounds of fat from drinking the equivalent of one extra soft drink per day. This is why you often hear, "I didnt eat that much more but gained excessive amounts of weight!" True, they may not have eaten that much more daily, but they did it everyday, and the cumulative effect can easily account for the "mysterious" weight gain.
Some ex-smokers eat more because they are just hungrier. They find themselves snacking between meals or needing to eat at times that were never necessary before. If they wait to eat too late in the day or there is too much time between meals, they may start to experience symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness or lack of energy. This can be a real side effect of smoking cessation.
The reason for the new sense of hunger is due to the fact that nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Smoking between meals seems to eradicate the need for the snacking behaviors experienced by many ex-smokers. Nicotine does this by elevating the blood sugar and blood fat levels, basically tricking the body into thinking that it has eaten more than it actually has. While that may help to control weight, it does so at a risk. Cigarettes used as an appetite suppressant can cause cancer, heart disease, strokes and a host of other illnesses.
The ex-smoker is no longer constantly administering an appetite suppressant. This does not mean he or she needs to increase caloric intake. It may be a matter of redistributing food normally eaten at single sittings at large meals into numerous smaller meals spaced throughout the day. This can allow for the snacking between meals ex-smokers are notorious for without increasing overall caloric intake. As an example, if breakfast consists of cereal, muffin, eggs, and a glass of juice, instead of eating all that food in one sitting, it can be dispersed over two or three times keeping a more even distribution of blood sugar throughout the morning hours. The same rule can apply to lunch and dinner, allowing for numerous snacking times throughout the day.
A more insidious mechanism of increased caloric intake can be experienced by unwittingly eating more at the end of meals. The smoking of a cigarette used to signify the end of a meal. With no cigarette to serve as a cue, the ex-smoker may continue to consume extra food after every meal whether or not he or she is hungry. The ex-smoker may not even know that they have eaten more in the process.
One solution to this behavior can be planning the meal out in advance. Calculate and prepare the amount of food you used to consume while smoking and acknowledge to yourself that you have finished. Another way is leave the table immediately upon completion of the meal. If you must stay at the table have a glass of cold water or a non-caloric beverage present. Dont leave a plate with scraps or desserts in easy reach.
Another very good solution is getting up and brushing your teeth. This can become the new cue for the end of the meal as well as improve dental hygiene. The clean feeling in your mouth may be a new pleasurable experience for an ex-smoker. While smoking, brushing of the teeth was often followed by a cigarette, compromising the overall cleansing process.
Besides controlling consumption, exercise is another tool to help with weight control efforts after quitting smoking. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise done every other day can offset the metabolic alteration accompanied by smoking cessation. If you are eating "a little more," then more exercise can help offset that, too. But be realistic. You have to do a lot of activity to burn off a relatively small amount of food. That is not to say it is a waste of time to exercise to lose weight; just dont eat food with a shovel and go for a short walk and expect to work off the difference.
Successful weight control while quitting smoking can be accomplished with a little extra effort and planning. If weight gain is experienced during smoking cessation, steps should be implemented as soon as possible to reverse the process. Then to maintain a healthy lifestyle, watch your food consumption, exercise regularly, and most importantly, never take another puff!
I would rather be a little overweight and not smoking than underweight and dead."
This thought provoking sentiment was one panelist's opinion of the 10 pounds she gained when giving up cigarettes. While it is not inevitable, many people do gain weight when quitting smoking. The reason is quite easy to explain, they eat more.
People eat more when quitting smoking for a variety of reasons. Food is often enjoyed more since the improved senses in ex-smokers make it smell and taste better. For some, cigarettes decrease the appetite. Others use cigarettes as their cue that the meal has ended. Take away the cigarette and they don't know it is time to stop eating. Social situations with food used to be easy as a smoker. When a smoker is done with his food, he can sit and smoke while conversing with others at the table. Without cigarettes, he feels awkward just sitting, so he often orders extra coffee and dessert to last the duration of the conversation. All of these different behaviors add up to one result, extra calories eaten which result in gaining weight.
Weight gain can be extremely dangerous to an ex-smoker. But this is not because of the strain on the heart. An average ex-smoker would have to gain 75 to 100 pounds to put a strain on her heart equal to the extra risk associated with smoking a pack a day. And then, the extra weight would not cause the lung destruction, cancer risk and many other conditions caused by smoking. The real danger of the extra weight is that many ex-smokers use it as an excuse to go back to smoking. They think that if they smoke again they will automatically lose weight. To their unpleasant surprise, many return to smoking and keep on the added pounds.
One clinic participant told how after three months without smoking she gained 15 pounds. Her doctor told her that she must lose the weight. He said that if she had to, just smoke one or two cigarettes a day to help. If her doctor understood the addictive potential of cigarettes he would never have given her such advice. For, as soon as she took her first few cigarettes, she started smoking in excess of 3 packs per day. Her weight gain did not go away. When her doctor realized that she had returned to smoking, he warned her that it was imperative that she quit. In her condition smoking was extremely dangerous. So not only did she still have to lose 15 pounds, but once again she had to go through the withdrawal process of stopping smoking.
Smokers, ex-smokers or never-smokers can all lose weight the same way. The three ways to lose weight are to decrease the amount of calories one eats, increase ones activities to burn extra calories, or, a combination of both techniques. While dieting may be more difficult for some after smoking cessation, it is possible, and in many ways ex-smokers have major advantages over smokers for controlling their weight.
The most obvious advantage is that not smoking allows a person to do more physical activities, burning off fat in the process. When smoking, exercise is tiresome, painful and for some, impossible. But with the improvement in breathing and cardiovascular fitness accompanying smoking cessation, exercise can become a regular routine in the ex-smokers lifestyle. And while dieting may be difficult at first, ex-smokers should realize that if they had the capability of breaking free from cigarettes, they could also decrease the amount they eat. It is simply a matter of using the same determination initially used to quit smoking.
So, the next time you look in the mirror or step on a scale and feel that you are unhappy with your weight, start taking some sensible steps to deal with it. Become active, eat lower calorie, nutritious foods, and pat yourself on the back for once again taking control of your life. Not only will you lose weight, look and feel better, but you would have done it all without smoking. With that knowledge you should be extra proud. Diet, exercise and NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
1984. Rush North Shore Medical Center. Good Health Program.
After I Lose Weight I Will Quit Smoking
"After I lose some weight I will quit smoking." Many times a smoker will use being overweight as her excuse for continuing to smoke. She may feel that the logical sequence is to lose weight and then quit smoking. But the end result of this approach is usually quite disappointing.
For even if the smoker does lose the weight, the odds are that she will do so by increasing her cigarette consumption. Cigarettes are capable of suppressing the appetite. Then when she tries to quit smoking she will probably eat more in order to curb her urge to smoke. Once again she will gain back the weight, and out of discouragement she will probably relapse back to cigarettes. And then she is in the same position that she was in at the start--overweight and smoking.
If a smoker's goal is to quit and stay off cigarettes and to permanently lose weight, she must achieve success in one without depending on the other as a crutch. This is not to say that the smoker must quit smoking and go onto a diet at the same time. While it is not impossible, dieting is difficult for many smokers during cessation.
Due to a drop in blood sugar levels which accompanies smoking cessation, the urge to snack on sweet foods is constant. Also, without a cigarette to cue the end of a meal, the smoker may continue eating long after dessert is over. But if the smoker wants to control her weight while quitting, she must either control the urge to snack or eat lower calorie alternatives during the initial quitting phase.
But the ex-smoker may feel that it is better to deal with one problem at a time. She may indulge herself with her favorite foods with the full expectation that she will only be doing this for a week or so. Cakes, cookies, potato chips and many other popular snack foods are used. A potentially long term and destructive eating habit may be established. What she thought would last only a few days, becomes weeks and maybe even months. Weight gain will be the inevitable result. The ex-smoker will either relapse to cigarettes out of discouragement or continue gaining until positive steps are taken to break free from the new overeating pattern.
If, on the other hand, the ex-smoker addresses the food issue when first quitting, all the long term weight problems can be avoided. To help curb the urge for sweets, plenty of fruit juices should be consumed for the first three days after quitting. This will help stabilize the drop of blood sugar, hence alleviating some of the common withdrawal symptoms encountered during smoking cessation. Also, the acidity of the juices should help accelerate the excretion rate of nicotine, thus shortening the duration of physical withdrawal symptoms.
Snacking on carrots and celery are also a reasonable alternative for the first few days. These items should be encouraged because they are low in calories and, for the most part, non-habit forming. Within a couple of weeks, the ex-smoker will tire of these vegetables and just give them up. She will have quit smoking without replacement of food as a permanent crutch.
Staying off smoking is a lifelong commitment. The most important step you can make to insure success in this goal is to keep a positive attitude about non-smoking. Don't develop a negative replacement behavior which will result in a secondary problem. This will make a positive attitude toward not-smoking impossible, and the end result will be a relapse to cigarettes.
If you have already gained weight since quitting, take action to rectify the problem. Then you too will feel good about your accomplishments. Not only did you quit smoking, but you will have done so without depending on any other destructive crutches. You really will have taken control of your life. To keep control, watch your diet and NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
1989. Rush North Shore Medical Center. Good Health Program.