Not enough can be said about the wonderful properties of water! Drinking water is healthy for your entire system, and helps you keep the quit! The human body is up to 70% water, and yet many people do not drink enough of it throughout the day. The American lifestyle itself can be dehydrating given our frequent consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and high sodium meals. Mild dehydration can cause water retention, bloat, constipation and other symptoms including:
• Dry skin
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
Are you drinking enough water? Moderate to severe dehydration can be dangerous; even fatal. Drinking enough water can help your body in many ways. The ‘8 glasses per day’ conventional wisdom is not carved in stone (or substantiated by research) so how much water you need to drink per day varies. The more you sweat or exercise, the more water you need to replace. If you consume dehydrating foods and beverages, you will need to drink more. Fruits, vegetables, tea, soup and other diet choices contain water, so you can allow for some of the water content in your diet to count towards your overall daily water intake. Try aiming for 6 glasses a day to help get your water drinking habit moving forward. This can easily be accomplished by substituting a glass of water for every soda, sugar laden juice or junk food snack you would normally reach for. Water actually makes you want to drink more, so after a few days of drinking 6 glasses per day, you will actually feel thirsty. It is that easy!
Here are a few of the many benefits of drinking enough water per day:
• Helps you KTQ! Water is great for ‘hand to mouth’ triggers, reduces physical cravings, distracts from smoking urges and takes up empty time previous spent smoking.
• Helps clear toxins. Your kidneys use water to help break down, process and clear toxins from your system.
• Aids your digestive system. Your intestines use water to keep things moving smoothly! If you don’t drink enough water, your colon pulls water to maintain hydration and constipation is a likely result.
• Helps your blood and bones. Water is used by your body to make healthy new bone and muscle cells.
• Prevents puffiness. Water has a diuretic affect in your body. Inother words, drinking lots of water will increase the excretion of water from your body. Your body holds water to preserve it. If you drink enough water, you will not retain water (unless you have a medical condition).
• Helps your metabolism. Water contributes to weight loss by stimulating your metabolism, killing hunger pangs and filling you up.
• Helps your comfort level. Water is involved in balancing your body temperature.
• Saves your joints. Water lubricates your joints and may reduce pain.
• Gives your face a healthy glow. Water improves your skin through internal hydration.
• Saves You. Water may help prevent a heart attack! Drinking a glass of water before bed or a hot bath/shower may reduce your chance of a heart attack.
• Saves money. Water is cheaper than other beverages (or free).
• Improves your smile. Water has a slight alkalizing affect which helps reduce acidity and is good for your teeth and overall mouth health.
Drinking enough water is very good for all of you! You can add lemon, lime or a splash of juice to add flavor. Try ice, a straw and your favorite glass to make drinking water a pleasant part of your day. Next week we will talk about ways to kill your cravings with certain foods.
Drink up, and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
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A healthy diet can be an effective quit tool to help reduce cravings, mood swings, withdrawal symptoms and weight gain. Fear of weight gain is a common barrier to quitting smoking, as well as a primary relapse trigger. Following a healthy diet can put you in charge of your weight and wellbeing. Myths surrounding diet and exercise create justifications for weight gain, continued smoking, and relapse. Many people assume the following:
- If I keep smoking, I won’t gain weight. Did you know many quitters are over their ideal weight, so smoking hasn't helped prevent weight gain?
- If I relapse, I will lose the weight I gained during this quit. Did you know most people do not lose weight when they go back to smoking, and that quitting is not usually the cause of weight gain?
- I can’t afford to gain any more weight; it is bad for my health. Did you know that the stress on your heart from a pack a day habit is equal to an extra 90lbs of body weight?
The Awesome Truth About Weight Gain
Weight gain does not happen overnight. To gain 5lbs of actual body fat, you'd need to consume 17,500 calories more than what is required to maintain your current weight! This means you are in control of weight gain - it does not attack you against your willl.
Weight gain is almost always a result of overeating. many people eat too much or eat foods high in sugar and fat. When this is done consistently without exercising, you take in more than you can burn off -- and you gain weight. Eating within individual caloric requirements prevents weight gain.
And, that weight gain alters your muscle to body fat ratio, further slowing your metabolic rate. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabiloc rate. The more fat you have, the slower your metabolic rate. Men generally lose weight faster than women, as they tend to have more muscle. People who are overweight tend to store more fat from the calories they eat than those who are slender. This is why losing weight is harder each time you give it a try. Overweight smokers may already have a reduced metabolic rate as a result of current eating habits, lack of exercise and weight gain. The key to managing weight successfully lies in making different food choices than those that led to weight gain. Adding exercise is a great way to help get a sluggish metabolism going again.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so stopping smoking can potentially affect metabolic rate to a small degree. Reducing calories by just 200 per day can offset any changes in metabolism after quitting. This is the equivalent of bypassing one tall mocha from Starbucks (no whipped cream) or half a ham & cheese sandwich per day. Preventing weight gain realted to quitting smoking requires minimal changes to current lifestyle.
‘Scale Weight’ fluctuates from day to day based on multiple factors, including food consumption, sodium intake, water retention, hormones, medications, amount of sleep and stress levels. Weighing daily is not advised for this reason, as it can needlessly discourage the quitter. Most quitters gain less than 10lbs, which can be managed by making reasonable daily diet choices.
Hormones and Weight Gain
Women who quit may experience symptoms from hormone fluctuations similar to PMS. These symptoms may include increased appetite, bloating, cravings and water retention independent of dietary intake. Women quitting during or after menopause may experience increased fat storage (usually in waist/abdomen area) and reduced metabolism independent of quitting smoking. Hormone levels usually balance out within several months of remaining smoke free.
Some studies show quitters who use nicotine gum, lozenge or bupropion to support their quit may be less likely to gain weight during their quit. However, this effect only lasts while on the meds.
The Best Kept Secret: Fruits and Vegetables!
Research shows that among current smokers, those who ate the most fruit and/or vegetables were more likely to smoke less than a pack a day and wait at least 30 minutes before smoking their first cigarette of the day. This reduced dependence on smoking is huge, and a testament to the importance of dietary choices during your quit. Research shows abstinence rates were higher for quitters that consumed the highest amount of fruits or vegetables, and 3 times higher for those who ate both. (1)
Fruit and vegetable consumption, non-caffeinated beverages and dairy products worsen the perceived taste of cigarettes. On the other hand, meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol were perceived as enhancing the taste of cigarettes. Drinking coffee or a cold beer may increase your cravings, so choose wisely for success.
Fruit comes to the rescue! The sugars in fruit also increase dopamine levels and thus reduce the craving for a cigarette, resulting in fewer cigarettes smoked each day and less nicotine dependence. Fruit contains fiber and many other beneficial nutrients (such as vitamin C) which also interact with the dopamine system. By getting your sugar crave fed with fruit, the newly quit can avoid candy and other junk foods that lead to binging and weight gain.
Daily Diet Tips for Success
Eat small, healthy, frequent meals to keep blood sugar levels steady. This will reduce cravings, fatigue and mood swings while revving up the metabolic rate. This one tip alone may counteract potential metabolic changes from stopping smoking.
1. Eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables! Half of your plate should be filled with F&V.
2. Eat nonfat dairy products, lean protein and whole grains.
3. Drink plenty of water, for both fullness and cleansing.
4. Avoid soda, junk food and excess sugar,fat and sodium.
Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and how often while consuming as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. These steps will ensure you keep both your quit and your waist line. The quit process brings opportunity to reach your weight management goals, as well. Another key component to success is exercise, which will be my next blog topic!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
You don't have to quit alone:
(1) Reference: A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking Jeffrey P. Haibach, M.P.H., Gregory G. Homish, Ph.D., & Gary A. Giovino, Ph.D., M.S., Nicotine Tob Res (2012) doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts130
Quitting smoking is quite an accomplishment! You have braved your way through doubt, cravings, stress, triggers and other smokers, yet remained true to your Quit. Congratulations! You may find that your self confidence has increased since you quit smoking, and that confidence has spilled over to other parts of your life. If you think it hasn't, perhaps you need to step back and really take a look at the new you!
You have become an even better smoke-free version of You! Keeping your quit takes commitment, resolve, problem solving, delayed gratification, a willingness to change, let go and give up your well worn path for the unknown adventure ahead.
While going through the quit process, you also learned a lot about yourself! You learned how to control your response to emotions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, frustration, boredom, craving and irritation. You’ve sat with these emotions and come to accept that they are normal and will pass. You now understand your emotions instead of avoiding them, and have new coping tools so your needs are met. As a result, your emotions do not affect you – or those around you – adversely. By doing this, you've improved your overall well being!
Improved well being, self efficacy and healthy self esteem are the cornerstones of a happy life. They reduce stress, give you a sense of control over your choices, increase your ability to handle day to day life situations and help you work through challenging times successfully.
As a successful quitter, you continue to make ongoing, daily choices that enhance your life. That means you have discipline, courage and tenacity. Along the way, you've learned some new things about yourself, set new goals and acquired effective tools to make your goals a reality. Quitting smoking has an unexpected side effect - it opens the door to a healthier lifestyle on multiple levels.
The truth is, You are amazing! What will you do next with your newly discovered confidence, competence and success? Keep going, keep up the good work and KTQ:)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
No One Has To Quit Alone:
Many people find once they quit smoking, they are inspired to make other healthy lifestyle changes. Almost everyone would like to either lose weight or be in better physical condition, but have no idea how to get started. Read on for some basic suggestions to help you get headed in the right direction!
~*~ Start From Where You Are ~*~
Everyone can lose weight, gain muscle tone, increase lung capacity and feel better. It is normal to want to see results right away. They will come, but only if you take the time to set yourself up to succeed from the beginning. So, make sure your first week is all about Starting From Where You Are.
Why does that matter? If you go on ‘the diet’ and suddenly cut your calories in half, or go from doing nothing to a 5 times per week workout (or even double your current workout while dieting too hard) then your system will shut down. Any perceived overexertion with diminished fuel is like a car running out of gas - you end up going nowhere. Just like that car, your body needs fuel to run and better fuel brings better performance.
Despite common diet myths, you simply can't go from 3,500 calories a day to 1,200 and get good long term results. Your metabolism will slow down at the beginning, leaving you nowhere to go from there. The same goes for starting at zero activity then working out like a contender. You will feel tired, sore, weak, hungry and demotivated. As a result, it is unlikely you will follow through long enough to kick up your metabolic rate and reach your goals.
There is no safe, fast way to lose what has taken many years to find! It takes time. Time to shift your body from fat storage mode to fat burning mode. Time to get your muscles back in shape and your endurance levels up. Time to learn to new eating habits.
Healthy eating is the best way to lose weight and support your exercise efforts. No magic pills or secret methods or food combinations will make it happen any faster. To get started, just clean up your current eating habits by making healthier choices. Drink more water, eat less sugar and limit portion size. Every week, add a new goal to the previous week, such as eating fresh vegetables 2 times day, or reducing soda to 1 times per day, or replacing a serving of red meat with a serving of chicken or fish instead. Be specific! That way, every week you will continue to add new habits while reinforcing the ones from the week before. As time goes by, you will be eating healthier and healthier while losing weight and making permanent lifestyles changes.
These changes will ensure your weight loss is maintained, as this is your new personal best lifestyle and you are no longer in ON the diet/ Off the diet mode. Sound boring? It is Not! You can allow yourself those times when something is splurge worthy. Think of it like a savings account. You save up every day by eating healthy. When something super special comes along, you dip into your savings for it. You only have so much in the bank, so spend it wisely if you want to reach/maintain your goals! For example, you can eat cake anytime you want so just because someone brought it to work does not mean you 'have to have it.' The vending machine will always be there. A bag of chips will always be there. Dessert will always be there. And such things usually make you feel worse for having eaten them anyway. On the other hand, if your favorite food in the world is pizza and a friend is standing at your door holding a steaming hot one with a stack of new release movie rentals, of course you’ll go for it and Enjoy!. Or, if someone takes you out to your favorite steak restaurant ~ Enjoy! Saving ‘treat’ foods for special moments and eating healthy and low calorie the rest of the time is how thin people stay that way. And, that is how you can reach your weight loss goals! Just be sure to get immediately back on track with the healthy lifestyle diet habits you’ve acquired. In other words, 'special meal' does not mean special week!
As far as exercise goes, adding it to your routine can double your weight loss efforts when combined with proper diet. The best tips I can give you for exercise are:
1) Be Consistent
Think Move. Walk faster, take the stairs, park further away – take every opportunity to move more than you do now. Exercise 3 times every week. Week by week, it adds up and it becomes a habit. Choose something you Like To Do. Bike, walk the dog, meet a friend for a walk at the park or get a group together on your lunch hour at work.
2) Be There
Intermittent napping on the recumbent bike is Not exercising. Your body may be semi present but the mind is gone! Take the time to really Focus on your exercise, not just complete movements on autopilot. Weight lifters and athletes call it being in the Zone. It is like meditation to some, an adrenaline surge to others. No matter what you call it, when you really focus on your muscles, your breathing, your tempo, each contraction or stretch or stride or sensation you experience as you move, you will get a lot more out of your exercise both physically and mentally. Commit to moving with Intensity.
Whether you are walking the dog, running a mile, vacuuming or training at the gym, watch your posture. Correct posture helps prevent fatigue and injury as well as strengthen your midsection (abdominals) and low back. To increase focus, try to feel your muscles contract. How is your breathing? When should you inhale and exhale? How can you do the movement longer, shorter, faster or slower? Do you feel stronger than last time? Can you keep your abs tight while doing it and maintaining your breathing? Try it right now as you read this! Pull your belly button in to your spine hold. Breathe normally. That is a focused moment feels like.
Doing things with purpose and focus makes them more enjoyable, prevents boredom, increases your skill set and makes you more likely to continue! Are you ready to start from where you are? Was that a YES? Select a few goals that appeal to you from the lettered items in the list below and then pick some of the bulleted action items to help reach them:
A) Pay Closer Attention To My Diet
- Cut out all junk food: cookies, chips, candy, fast food fries, shakes, desserts, etc.
- Drink more water, limit or stop soda, limit alcohol, drink coffee black or sitch to tea.
- Eat at least 4 times per day to keep your metabolism going.
- Eat lean protein: nonfat dairy, fish, egg beaters, skinless chicken or vegan options.
- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit.
B) Commit to Doing More Activity
- Pick 3 days per week that you commit to set aside time to exercise No Matter What.
- Perform movements correctly (DVD, book, class, trainer, pal - whatever works for you).
- Start slow so you can keep going all 3 days consistently
- Try starting with a walking routine 3 x per week; take a good brisk walk 15 minutes up the road, then turn around and come back. Easy, free and fun - bring the dog :)
C) Increase Effectiveness of My Exercise
- Breathe deeply and exhale fully during each movement.
- Add more contraction to each movement (ex: squeeze each calf as you walk).
- Add more focus to each movement.
D) Change Up My Exercise Routine
- Add cardio to your weight workout.
- Add weights to your cardio workout.
- Add a new kind of class or activity.
- Add ab crunches and and stretching.
- Add walking, yoga, spinning, biking, joggin or swimming.
E) Increase Intensity Of My Exercise Routine
- Increase resistance on cardio for 10 minute blocks.
- Increase incline on cardio for 10 minute blocks.
- Increase speed on cardio for 5 minute blocks.
- Add another exercise to your routine.
- Increase reps or sets per exercise or both (ex: do 4 sets of 12 instead of 3 sets of 10).
Be responsible for your health by monitoring your condition and experience. The old battle cry 'No Pain, No Gain' applies to conditioned athletes enduring beyond their pain threshold, not a former couch surfer who's up and moving again. If you feel pain walking briskly or lifting a 15# dumbbell, you are doing too much, too soon or using less than ideal posture while doing it. Always stay within your level of fitness, follow your personal medical guidelines for any medical conditions and individual diet restrictions, pay close attention to physical limitations and old injuries, and of course, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, increasing your current one or changing your diet.
If you start where you are at today, you can – and will be - a Fitter Quitter! Good luck, keep moving and be well :)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
There are many things that might be considered romantic in life. A picnic for two by the lake. Walking along the beach at sunset. A candlelit dinner. Smoking, however, should should not be one of them. And yet, it isn't uncommon for ex-smokers to find themselves reminiscing about the “good old days” of smoking.
- What would it be like to have just one puff again?
- I really loved smoking.
- Things were better when I smoked.
- I miss smoking.
- Smoking isn't really that bad.
- I can always quit again...tomorrow.
Recognize this self-talk for what it is: romancing the cigarette. Romancing the cigarette means that despite all the bad things there is to say about cigarettes (and despite all the reasons you decided to quit in the first place), you find reasons to go back to smoking. There is nothing romantic about smoking. In fact the opposite is true. Smoking should be considered bad romance! Cigarettes will lie to you. Just one won’t hurt. Cigarettes will control you. When is it time for the next smoke break? Cigarettes will lead you to put it above your own comfort and welfare. Time to stand out in the rain/cold for my nicotine fix. And cigarettes will make you do things you normally would not do. I think I will buy the carton of cigarettes over milk and groceries.
Romantic notions of smoking are false. Tobacco addiction leads you to believe that all those fond memories--smoking on camping trips, late night chats with friends, mingling at parties, etc.--were due to that cigarette, but they weren't. If you went back through all of your happy memories, you would find that the true joy came from the people you spent time with, the activities you were doing, and the places you were visiting. Cigarettes only served one purpose during these times: to perpetuate the addiction. You may have associated your good times with smoking, but smoking was never the source of your enjoyment.
Re-learning how to enjoy life without cigarettes might be hard to imagine, or even scary at first. You probabably spent several years smoking; becoming an ex-smoker won't happen overnight. And whether you realize it or not, smoking was integrated into every part of your life (from first thing in the morning when you get up to the last thing you do before going to bed) and was used as a coping strategy for anger, sadness, stress, boredom, anxiety and other emotions. Undoing the relationship with cigarettes in your life will take some time and practice. It can be done!
Start with re-visiting your reasons for quitting. If they aren't "compelling" enough, go back and make them more specific and personal to you. So for example, if one of your reasons for quitting smoking was for improved health, a better reason to quit smoking might be to train and run your first 5K. Or to be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting short of breath. Or to have energy to be able to play with your children/grandchildren. Bolster those reasons for quitting by letting others in the community know you are re-committing to your quit!!!
Move away from romancing the cigarettes, by making new memories; ones without cigarettes! Take it one moment at a time. Like any bad relationship, it is normal to wonder, “What if….” Catch yourself when your thoughts go down that road. Quitting is like getting out of a bad relationship. You’ve ended the abuse on your body and your mind. Acknowledge there may have been some things you got out of that relationship with smoking. But that was then; this is now. Move forward with your life, smoke-free.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
A recent flurry of provocative headlines was based on a new Massachusetts population study (1), which concluded that "persons who have quit smoking relapsed at equivalent rates whether or not they used NRT." Aside from the inaccurate press coverage, we believe the study's implications aren't justified, or even appropriate, in light of its limitations. In addition, they contradict a large body of previously well-established research.
In our estimation, these are the primary flaws in the study's methodology:
- It's not a controlled study. A population study is good for gauging behavior of a diverse demographic, but is unable to identify all factors which may skew results -- such as differences in smokers' addiction levels, number of quit attempts, type of NRT selected and/or professional support utilized, and so on. In addition, other population studies which reached different conclusions were apparently not considered by the study's authors.
- The follow-up survey response rates weren't high enough. Only about 1/3 of the original group responded to the final population survey—again, making it difficult to identify factors which could or would have affected overall outcomes.
- The NRT-using group was too small. Only 15% of the recent quitter group actually reported using NRT for the recommended length of time, and no determination was made of whether the NRT was otherwise used as recommended (proper dosage, frequency, etc).
- NRT is not a maintenance or relapse prevention aid. It's a short-term tool to increase chances of quitting in the first six months. Long-term quit integrity really relies on whether (and which) maintenance strategies are employed after the quit -- such as peer and/or professional support -- and this study is light on those details.
- The intent of the study is in question. The authors use their findings to advocate more tobacco control funding for large public health programs, which they describe as competing with individual treatment programs, but this study was not designed to compare the cost effectiveness of these two approaches, and did not do so.
The Centers for Disease Control has already officially responded to the study, pointing out that systematic reviews of clinical trials find cessation medications substantially increase 6-month quit rates--which is what they're intended to do. Counseling and NRT are even more effective when combined, and are especially important in helping smokers weather withdrawal during the first few weeks of their quit.
Unfortunately, controversy about the study's NRT conclusions masks the most important takeaway, for tobacco treatment specialists and ex-smokers alike: No matter how you quit, ongoing support and a quit-maintenance strategy are critical for continued smoke-free living.
Alan S. Peters, MTTS; Ann Wendling, MD, MPH
1. Alpert HR, Connolly GN, Biener L. A prospective cohort study challenging the effectiveness
of population-based medical intervention for smoking cessation. Tob Control . doi:10.
Don't Quit alone: