Recently, a friend emailed me and asked me to write a blog about how to stop smoking using weight loss techniques. She mentioned the stigma of smoking and said there’s such shame surrounding smoking now that no one talks about it anymore. She’s tried everything—lots of nicotine replacement treatments, acupuncture and hypnotism—but has yet to break the cycle of starting and stopping. She wants to stop without drugs and replacements, and wondered if there are weight loss techniques to quit smoking once and for all. Since all of my blogs are about achieving a healthier lifestyle, quitting smoking is definitely something I advocate. You really can use some of the same strategies for losing weight to give up cigarettes for good.
If you want to quit smoking, where do you begin? I often encourage people who want to lose weight to determine their why for wanting weight loss. For example, do you want to lose weight to look great in clothes again? Live longer? Avoid chronic diseases? Your WHY is your reason for wanting to achieve something; it’s your motivation. If you lose weight, how will it benefit your life? When your WHY is big enough, you can achieve anything.
So first, ask yourself: Why do I want to quit smoking?
Like losing weight, you probably want to give up cigarettes to live longer and have a better quality of life. But when you come up with your why, make sure it’s real and meaningful to you. Maybe the reality for you is that you want to quit smoking because it’s too expensive of a habit. If that’s what motivates you, write it down. Now write the money you will save if you quit smoking—or set your sights on something you can buy with all the money you will save when you become a non-smoker! If you are scared of getting cancer, and that motivates you to quit, make it your why. Make a list of all the health benefits you will reap from quitting smoking. When you are connected emotionally to why you want to achieve something, it can be all the motivation you need to achieve your goal.
Since the dangers of smoking are now well known and scientifically proven, use real data to motivate you to quit. These facts from DoSomething.org are not intended to shame people who smoke, only to give you the wake-up call you may need to quit for good.
- A single cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals, and 60 carcinogens.
- Smoking causes 15 different types of cancer, including cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat and bladder.
- Smoking increases your risk of getting lung diseases like pneumonia, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks than non-smokers.
- Women over 35 who smoke and use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots of the legs.
- The Centers for Disease Control estimates that adult male smokers lose an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lose 14.5 years of life because of smoking. It also can steal your quality of life long before you die.
- Smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States.
- Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death.
Come up with solutions for your triggers. Remember, smoking is a habit and an addiction so you have to tackle both. You may need outside help to quit permanently. But be prepared for the physiological triggers—those times during your day that always prompt you to smoke. What are your triggers? Is it having a glass of wine or following a meal? Maybe it’s when you drive to work or have your morning coffee. Come up with a replacement habit that’s healthier so you won’t get triggered to pick up that cigarette. Chew a piece of gum, drink a cup of green tea, go for a walk or call a friend who has agreed to be your accountability partner. Just like people who overeat when they are stressed out, you need to have solutions ready before you are triggered.
Establish an exercise plan. One of the main reasons people smoke is to keep weight off. Some people don’t quit because they are afraid they will overeat to cope with quitting and end up gaining weight. If you launch a new exercise plan at the same time you attempt to quit, you can avoid those extra pounds and distract yourself with your new, healthy outlet.
Think of the time you get back. Smoking wastes time. So many places don’t allow smoking so in order to have a cigarette you have to leave your office, walk out of the restaurant, or exit the building and it takes time. Keep track of how much time you waste each day smoking and what you could do otherwise. Just think, the time you spend smoking could be spent exercising—adding years to your life instead of taking years away.
Talk about it. If you have quit smoking, share your story. Your success could help someone else quit. Just because smoking is now less socially acceptable in our society doesn’t mean we should stop talking about it. Taking smoking out of the shadows and openly discussing the challenges of quitting will only support people on their journey to live healthier lives.
Have you tried any of these techniques? What has worked and hasn’t worked for you? Share below!