The chemical addiction to cigarettes has a remarkably detrimental effect on your health. Can you stop it?
A report published in the health journal Lancet this week attributes a lack of physical activity to over 5.3 million deaths per year. Statistically speaking, smoking cigarettes kills another 5 million annually according to the Center for Disease Control. With that said, what do you suppose the odds are for a lethargic smoker to live a long and healthy life? If you’re one of the millions of smokers committed to kicking the habit and adopting a healthier lifestyle, this article’s for you.
Combined with the havoc quitting plays on your blood sugar levels, you’re likely to find yourself a lot hungrier throughout the day without nicotine’s appetite suppressing effects, and if you’re not careful, you might end up putting on some unhealthy weight (a perfect excuse for the unprepared to throw in the towel and reach for a pack). Introducing a healthy diet and exercise into your life at the same time that you make the decision to quit is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. The key to success is to approach quitting smartly by understanding your enemy.
Cigarettes have been proven to be more addicting than heroin and cocaine. The good news is that if you can keep yourself disciplined, the nicotine in your body dissipates after about three days of cessation. The bad news is that your brain has been rewired over time to expect a hit from those 4,000+ chemicals you get from a single drag. In order to deal with the physical symptoms of cigarette withdrawal, try these simple tips that go hand in hand with maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS
- Drink plenty of water to deal with the increased hunger that comes with nicotine withdrawal and to keep your body hydrated as you incorporate more physical activity into your life.
- Eat lots of small, healthy meals to stave off cravings, manage your blood sugar levels, and to boost your metabolism.
- Make sure you’re getting your recommended daily doses of vitamins. Not only do certain vitamins help to calm the chemical changes your brain will undergo after you quit, but they are essential for any serious exercise regimen.
Habit differs from addiction because it’s based more on your daily routine than the chemicals pumping through your veins. To put it in exercise terms, although you can become addicted (in a good way) to the rush you get from working out, the routine and schedule you set up for yourself is entirely within your control. Do you smoke after a good meal, following sex, while having a drink, or after a set amount of time, despite not having a craving? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you have already identified some unhealthy habits you can change starting today. Here’s how:
- Identify your smoking habits by keeping a log of when you feel the need to smoke. Realize that feeling like you need a cigarette to offset the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal is different than wanting to smoke out of habit.
- Take a break from the environments in your life where smoking is more prevalent such as bars or workplace smoking spots. Consider talking long walks/jogs or joining a gym instead.
- Create new activities to do after your healthy trigger event. These could include stretching after eating, drinking a big glass of water after sex, or taking a short walk/jog after you’ve finished a stressful project.
The bottom-line is that anyone who is serious about wanting to live healthily must accept that smoking is an incompatible choice. You will never be able to achieve your full potential if your circulatory system and lungs are working at a reduced capacity, and smoking will make any attempt to become fit a lot harder than it needs to be.
The benefits of quitting come fairly quickly after putting out that last butt, and incorporating physical activities into your quit will not only make the experience that much more positive, but will open the door to a much wider range of healthier activities down the road.