The third Thursday in November marks the Great American Smokeout, a day encouraging smokers to quit for a day, or better yet — attempt to quit for good.
As a health and fitness professional, I’m proud to help spread the word about the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. I strongly encourage you to commit or recommit to a healthy, tobacco-free life – not just for a day, but for good.
Most of us know all too well the devastating impact tobacco can have on people’s health. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Yet, 40 million American adults still smoke. The most important thing smokers can do to improve their health is to quit cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco.
At the same time, we know tobacco is one of the strongest addictions one can have. We used to encourage smokers to quit cold turkey on a single day. We now know that quitting is a process. It starts with a plan, often takes time and requires a lot of support. Staff of the American Cancer Society are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support. To find out more, visit cancer.org/smokeout or call 1-800-227-2345.
How to quit smoking without gaining weight
If you’ve avoided trying to quit smoking because you’re afraid of packing on the pounds, consider this: On average, people gain about 5 pounds after they quit and most people gain fewer than 10. Some don’t gain weight at all. But all of them gain a healthier body and outlook. If you’re worried about gaining weight, try these tips from the Cleveland Clinic:
Eat regular meals and healthy snacks. Nicotine causes spikes in excess sugar and tricks the body into thinking it has eaten. When you kick the nicotine habit, your body feels hungrier than ever, so keep it full the right way. If you’re hungry between meals, snack on fresh veggies, fresh fruit or popcorn, and complement your snack with a large glass of water.
Walk or exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Nicotine increases your body’s metabolic rate temporarily. Once you quit, it returns to normal. Boost your metabolism by engaging in physical activity. Starting (or maintaining) an exercise plan is just as important as any other piece of the smoking cessation process.
Start a new post-meal ritual. Many smokers have a cigarette after a meal, which signals your body that the meal is over. You may need to create a new “signal” that tells your body it’s OK to stop eating. Try walking around the block, meditating for five minutes or even brushing your teeth.
Keep your mouth busy. Ex-smokers often say they miss having something to do with their mouths and hands. After quitting tobacco, the need for oral gratification can be replaced too easily with food, so develop a positive substitute instead. Chew on baby carrots or celery. Or keep your mouth busy while getting a dental boost by using dental picks. As a bonus, you’ll remove the hard-to-reach plaque between your teeth.
Don’t get discouraged. Even if you do gain a few pounds, the health benefits of quitting tobacco will outweigh them. Plus, once you’re off nicotine, you can better focus your attention on making other positive lifestyle changes such as portion control and exercising daily, which will help you meet your weight goals.
You don’t have to go it alone!
When it comes to incorporating exercise and a healthier diet into your life, you don’t have to struggle on your own any longer. I’m here to help you every step of the way!
As a certified personal trainer and a healthy lifestyle coach, I will create a personalized plan based on your needs, wants and goals.
I work with clients locally in North Carolina, and everywhere online. Find out more here.