Avoid Weight Gain

Why do so many people not want to stop smoking, in spite of how badly they should know that smoking is hurting their health? Nicotine and smoking creates a psychological dependency and a perception of benefits from smoking, and these false beliefs negate the health concerns that they should have. Primary amongst these is that smoking is an appetite suppressant helping you control or lose weight, and if you quit you will gain weight and even become fat.

Most people don’t eat a healthy diet to begin with, smokers may get away with their food choices because they don’t eat as much. Of course you are going to gain weight if you are eating poorly and eating more. So make a good diet part of the life style changes that you make when you stop smoking. And what about exercise, are you getting enough of that? Another change to include, and now that you stop smoking and your lungs are going to start healing, you can get rid of all that ‘huffing and puffing’ and exercise will be easier to do.

Stop smoking, start eating a proper diet, start exercising – not only do you not need to gain that 5-8 pounds, you may find that you can actually lose weight. Why not anticipate and visualize these things and a total health make over, instead of the fear and anticipation of smoking and your weight and what will happen if you quit – that is all negative visualization that is not real, and that does not have to happen.

A healthy diet and exercise program will make a huge difference to your life, especially when you stop smoking. For myself it wasn’t about smoking, but I do have my own story. I grew up as an athlete, and remained so until my early 40s, when I hurt my lower back. I had to quit active sport, but I didn’t have to quit exercise including low intensity cardio – but I convinced myself that I couldn’t do that, because I really didn’t want to. I ate pretty well, but I ate a lot and also had a huge sweet tooth. But it didn’t matter, because I was burning so many calories I never had to worry about weight.

But all that changed. No more physical activity and the same diet, and it was inevitable that I was going to gain weight and I did; I went from 185 pounds to 225 pounds. Fast forward 13 more years, and one morning I had to go to the hospital in an ambulance – when the EMTs got to the house my heart was beating around 195 times per minute and elephants were stomping on my chest. It turned out that I had atrial fibrillation and not a heart attack – they finally got my heart to convert and it went back to normal.

While I was in the hospital, I also had a catheterization, where they found 3 arteries that were 30% blocked. Again, I was lucky, it was borderline but the doctor decided that I didn’t need to have stents put in my arteries. BUT I was read the riot act – I was told that I was clinically obese and in horrible physical condition, and if I didn’t do something about it very quickly the next time likely wasn’t going to turn out so well.

I listened, and changed everything. I went on a heart healthy-low calorie diet, and I started exercising lifting weights with increased frequency as my endurance improved an allowed it. And go figure, my back problems that had started this whole cycle because I decided that I couldn’t exercise at all, actually improved as a result. My cholesterol went from a statin controlled 210 to 145. And I lost 50 pounds and went to 175 which is less than I weighed when I got hurt; I have kept it off for 2.5 years now.

I tell you this story for some motivation, but more importantly to discuss what the mind can do when we start anticipating and visualize what might happen as if it was real. These things cause fear and they cause us to act in certain ways because of it – what we anticipate almost is never as bad as we perceived, until of course we end up making those fears come true. You can stop smoking, and it can be the greatest decision that you have ever made – don’t let smoking and your weight and fears about things you can control keep this from happening.