STOP SMOKING AND STAY SLIM
A RADICAL AND BRILLIANT 3 STEP PROGRAMME FOR THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY HOOKED
“If all we needed to do to give up and stay slim was to slap on a couple of patches, look at pictures of tar-filled lungs and eat sensibly, then we’d all have done it years ago”
The two biggest problems most people face when trying to stop smoking are a fear of weight gain and adjusting to a new lifestyle. You know smoking is bad for you but so is being overweight and anxious. So how do you stop smoking and enjoy your new way of life? Firstly lets have a look at:
Why do people gain weight when they quit smoking?
The answer to this may seem obvious to you if you’ve quit before – you just tend to eat more to ‘fill the gap’ right?. But its a bit more scientific than this.
Smoking increases metabolism slightly:
• Smoking burns up to 200 calories a day in a heavy smoker
• Because smoking burns calories, metabolism is boosted (increased) slightly
• Nicotine is an appetite suppressant
When you quit smoking, a gain of between 5 and 10 pounds during the first few months is considered normal
Why do I want to eat more?
Smoking cessation throws our bodies into shock initially:
Increased appetite is a side effect of quitting tobacco for most people. One or more of the following reasons may be at play:
• Cigarettes as an appetite suppressant – Smokers often avoid between meal snacking by lighting up. Nicotine is a stimulant and may also interfere with the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin controls glucose levels in the blood. When this function is blocked, a person will become slightly hyperglycemic (too much sugar in the blood) and, as a result, the body and brain may slow down the hormones and other signals that trigger the feelings of hunger.
• Food as a replacement for smoking – early on a in a person’s quit, the urge to smoke is frequent and uncomfortable. It’s natural to look for something to ease the discomfort, and food is often used as a replacement. Not only does it fill the void left by the cigarette, food can be an emotional comfort, easing the pain of withdrawal.
Why do I fear losing my identity?
Ever stopped smoking and, even months later, find yourself grieving for the ‘old you’?
The label ‘smoker’ can be an integral part of your image – especially if you started smoking at an early age.
Think of your image as a smoker. You may be surprised at how many of your qualities you associate with smoking, such as being outgoing, outspoken, able to let your hair down or not follow rules. This association of cigarettes and brands with particular qualities has been fuelled by images in the media over the years. In TV shows, films and documentaries, smoking has been associated with all sorts of qualities such as charm, allure, intellect, being slim, rebelliousness, strength and daring. Take a second to think of examples of these characters in the modelling, music or entertainment industries.
When you quit, you have to let go of these perceptions. You may also be letting go of a lifestyle centered around smoking and drinking in social situations (the two often go together).
Nicotine lowers anxiety temporarily
According to a psychologist called Hans Eysenck, Smokers tend to fall into three personality categories: Extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism, with each of these personality traits linked to higher than average stress levels. In effect, smokers ‘self medicate’ with nicotine to bring their anxiety levels down to an acceptable level.
There are also works based on the Sensation Seeking Theory which is concerned with people’s needs for new and varied experiences, and those that follow the theoretical model of the Big Five traits of personality. Additionally, it appears that Type A individuals with high trait anxiety view smoking as a way to stimulate themselves, whereas Type Individuals claim they smoke in order to relax.
Do you recognise yourself in any of the above examples? If so, it is quite likely that giving up without a clear plan of action will result in chronic anxiety, a nagging sense of loss and weight gain.
SOMETIMES WE NEED TO TAKE RADICAL STEPS
THE ANSWER LIES IN
TRAINING FOR A TRIATHLON
Why a Triathlon for heaven’s sake – couldn’t I just take up gentle jogging? I hear you ask
Well, yes, but gentle jogging won’t:
• give you something to directly aim for. It is a well known fact in the world of exercise that no aim = no motivation = give up.
• gentle jogging won’t actually sculpt your body. Running, Swimming and biking (along with some weights) most certainly will.
• most importantly, aiming to complete a triathlon will completely and utterly change your lifestyle from that as a smoker. Sometimes we need to take radical steps. Hopefully, by the time you’ve completed the triathlon – or sometime before – you will have adjusted to, and prefer this lifestyle over the old smoking one. Even if you never attempt another triathlon, chances are you’ll continue to enjoy staying fit and healthy. This in turn could easily open doors that have always been closed due to your lack of fitness/stamina. For example, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, charity runs (a marathon?) or just being able to run about with the kids.
• gentle jogging won’t get that natural high like triathlon training will…
Okay, Okay, for a short period of time, you will be replacing one coping mechanism (nicotine) with another (endorphins)
Fit people are usually in high spirits after lengthy exercise, sometimes to the point of elation or joy. This feeling is associated with the presence of endorphins, which are released by the pituitary gland in the brain
The word “endorphin” is a combination of “endo” and “morphine” – meaning endogenously (self) produced morphine, or internally produced painkiller. It may be that the brain interprets exercise as a form of “pain” or it may be that the rise in fatty acids caused by long, gentle exercise acidifies the blood, which triggers the release of endorphins.
In any case, you can get from exercise a natural high, similar to a drug high, but with none of the bad side effects. People who do long, continuous, gentle exercise enjoy the most effective stress therapy known to man.
How long and how hard do you have to exercise to get the endorphin high?
Most researchers have found that moderate-intensity exercise lasting at least 20 to 30 minutes produces the greatest increase of blood endorphins. So the key is to exercise slowly and aerobically. The biological explanation why you don’t get the endorphin rush from short, fast bursts of exercise is that during high stress situations (running fast from a dangerous situation for example) your body can’t afford to have your brain tripping off into fantasy land.
Slow, aerobic exercise is exactly what you will be doing when you begin your triathlon training
3 STEP PROGRAMME
1. Buy the nicotine replacement gum (NRT)- or losenge/patch – whatever works for you.
You are now armed with all you need to get you comfortably through the first few days of quitting. Throw or give away any remaining cigarettes, tobacco or lighters – you won’t be needing them again. Oh sorry, did I forget to say? You’re now a non-smoker. Please don’t worry – this really is going to be very easy.
Use the gum as prescribed over the next few days. I found it quite useful to have ‘little and often’ – whenever I felt a craving coming on, I would bite off a small piece of gum and congratulate myself for getting through another one. Overdosing on NRT can make you feel sick. Its a good idea to check on the packet, for example, patches are only for the heavier, more regular ex-smokers. Remember, this bit only lasts a few days. But you may wish to continue with the NRT for longer – whatever works for you. I haven’t yet met anyone who became ‘addicted’ to NRT – probably because it tastes so horrible.
2. Dust off or buy some essential items of equipment:
1. A swim-suit and goggles
2. A good pair of running shoes
3. A bicycle and helmet
3. Get on the Internet – find a local Sprint Triathlon taking place in a few months time, sign up and get training
I realise this sounds utterly crazy to you. After all, 5 minutes ago you were a wheezing, unfit smoker (WUS). But what have you got to lose? You don’t have to win the triathlon – I’m just asking that you get yourself fit enough to take part in and, hopefully, finish the race. To become a triathlete in training (TIT).
Below is a simple guide ‘How to get started on your Sprint Triathlon’. For a more detailed information, there are many excellent books on the subject from Amazon.com or visit the excellent website http://www.stopsmokingstayslim.com
Below I have given a brief outline of the level of fitness you will need to attain (and timescales) to complete a Sprint triathlon in comfort. But remember – you only need to be able to take part in and enjoy the race for this Stop Smoking Stay Slim plan to be effective.
The Sprint Triathlon
You can start immediately on this plan if you can already do the following:
1. swim 500m (20 lengths of a 25m pool) without stopping
2. cycle at an easy pace for 45 minutes
3. run for 30 minutes without stopping
If you’re not up to this level – don’t worry, just follow this six-week pre-training programme for absolute beginners:
Six week pre-Sprint training plan
Weeks 1 and 2
• Swim:300m twice a week with a 10-second rest every 25m.
• Bike: 20 minutes at a slow pace twice a week
• Run: 15 minutes jog-walk twice a week (jog for 40 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds, and repeat)
Weeks 3 and 4
• Swim:300m twice a week with 15-second rest every 50m.
• Bike: 30 minutes at a slow pace twice a week
• Run: 20 minutes jog-walk twice a week (jog for 60 seconds, then walk for 60 seconds and repeat)
Weeks 5 and 6
• Swim: 400m twice a week, with a 15-second rest every 100m
• Bike: 40 minutes at a slow/easy pace twice a week
• Run: 25 minutes at jog-walk twice a week (jogging more than walking)
The following week, you should have reached the above 500/45/30 minimum – Well done
For the 10 week Sprint Training Plan, articles, facts, FAQs, Top Tips, competition and great offers, visit http://www.stopsmokingstayslim.com
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