“Giving up smoking and losing weight.” With the new year upon us what better time to take the step towards a healthier, happier you. Lots of people all over the country are preparing to change to new healthy lifestyles in a bid to be fitter, healthier, and at less risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease. If you've been trying to lose weight and think that you couldn't possibly combine kicking the habit with your diet plan, banish those negative thoughts, because you can do it. There are many other benefits to be gained from both kicking the habit and losing weight through diet and exercise, including:
• Breathing more easily
• Increased energy levels
• Healthier looking skin
• Increased chance of conceiving if you want to try for a baby
• Cleaner, fresher clothes, house, car and hair
• Food tastes better
• Increased confidence
• Healthier for all the family
Now, I know what all the pessimists out there are thinking. “Doesn’t giving up smoking make you gain weight?” Not necessarily. An optimist would think of it this way: giving up smoking will mean that your taste buds are sharper, so food will taste better – but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to eat more of it.
For a start, there’s no need to go cold turkey when giving up smoking. With a vast array of both prescription and non-prescription nicotine replacement products available, it needn’t be as bad as those horror stories you’ve heard about the shakes and sweats. So have a chat to your pharmacist about the options that are available to you and choose the one that would suit you best. This is the first step in breaking your addiction to nicotine.
For many smokers, and indeed overeaters, breaking the habit is usually the hardest part. Smoking, like eating, tends to be associated with emotional occasions. Sad, unhappy, bored, stressed, or even happy and relaxed with friends. Cigarettes and food are both likely to have played a part in these situations.
If you are using food and cigarettes as a crutch for times when you are unhappy or stressed, bear in mind that they only provide temporary relief. Unfortunately, after the food is eaten and the cigarette is gone up in smoke, the problem still exists.
To stop smoking and comfort eating at emotional times, it’s important to keep a strong and focused mind. Reminding yourself why you want to give up smoking and lose weight is an excellent way to stay focused and motivated. It’s always easier to do something if you actually know why you are doing it, so take some time out to think about the reasons you want to succeed. The list of benefits above might be a good starting point.
If you are reluctant to give up smoking because it has lead to weight gain when you’ve tried in the past, the key is to be prepared. When people gain weight after kicking the habit, it’s usually due to replacing cigarettes with snacks and sweets. But if you combine giving up smoking with the start of your new healthy eating plan, high fat snacks and sweets needn’t feature at all.
Keeping active will also help to control your weight as well as distracting you from cravings, either for cigarettes or high fat snacks. As outlined in the list below, throwing away the ciggies will help you to breathe easier, which in turn will make exercise easier and more enjoyable. It’s a win-win situation for your general health and wellbeing!
Here are my top 10 tips to help you stop smoking and prevent weight gain
• Make a date for your change of lifestyle and stick to it.
• Get rid of everything that will remind you of smoking and eating unhealthily – throw away your ashtrays and lighters and rid your cupboards of excess unhealthy foods. Donate them to your neighbours or even to charity.
• Change your routine. Avoid the shop where you usually buy cigarettes and draw up a new shopping list. Avoid the pub for a while if you think the temptation to smoke and eat crisps will be too much.
• Get active. Introduce some new activities into your routine, even if it’s only walking round the block at lunchtime. Consider joining a gym or some exercise classes to keep you busy in the evening.
• Treat yourself. Start collecting all the money you are saving by not smoking or eating junk food and treat yourself to something special, like new clothes or a massage, every so often.
• Take up a new hobby that will keep you busy, such as learning a new musical instrument or spend time making healthy meals and think how good it tastes now that you have your taste buds back.
• Carry some fruit, sugar-free gum and a bottle of water with you. Use some or all of these in the event of cravings.
• Write down why you want to succeed at this on some post-it notes and stick them where you’ll see them – in the car, all over the house, the office, even your handbag.
• Think positively. The first couple of weeks will be tough, but once you start seeing the improvements to your health, keep reminding yourself how good it feels to be healthy.
• And finally, no excuses! Don’t use stressful events or celebrations as an excuse for “just the one” because it will never be just one.