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   Life is too short > Inspiration > Stop Smoking Stay Sl
Stop Smoking Stay Slim - Part One

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 centred 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.

Kate Richardson
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