You smoke. You want to get in shape. You don’t want to gain weight after quitting.
First, smoking is one habit and exercising is another. So, get started on your new exercise habit regardless of your ability to quit smoking!
Second, smoking is not an easy habit to kick. Don’t beat yourself up if you regress or can only reduce your intake at first. That’s ok. You’re taking steps in the right direction. Keep trying!
Likewise, a consistent exercise habit is not easy to maintain at first. You will skip workouts. You won’t feel like it. That’s ok. You’re taking steps in the right direction. Keep trying!
Ok, so what about the fact that “cigarettes help me stay thinner.” Yes, for many that is entirely true. Let’s take all the cigarette-related health issues like emphysema, cancer, reduced immunity and reduced healing out of the picture. Let’s just talk about how you look…
Cigarettes are an appetite suppressant. Yes, the tobacco industry was one of the first to legitimately, if unintentionally, help you eat less! Bravo for them. However, once you quit, you will want to eat more because the chemicals are no longer helping you out and you no longer have the “mouth feel” satisfaction.
If you were eating well enough before, don’t add food. Adding calories to replace the cigarettes makes losing weight an uphill battle. If you must eat more or were eating poorly while smoking, something along the lines of an apple is more than enough as a replacement (apple-flavored candy does not count!). You’ll minimize any calorie increase, start giving your body nutrients to repair the smoke damage and satisfy the urge to take a break and eat without having to “just say no” to the urge.
Cigarettes unnaturally elevate your heart rate. Even when sitting still, your heart is beating faster after smoking. That’s good for calorie burn, but adds miles to your heart without accomplishing anything else. It’s like revving your car’s engine while parked. You’ll wear out the machinery without getting anywhere. Plus, blood clots are no fun.
Adding exercise will replace the calorie burn induced by smoking, but it will have numerous positive side effects, too. Your heart will get a break from the movement of other muscles that assist with blood flow. You’ll get stronger, sleep better and avoid gaining weight.
You may have moments of weakness, but if health is your goal and you want to be there for your loved ones, you’ll find the motivation to keep improving. Slowly reduce your cigarette usage, slowly add exercise and upgrade to healthier foods. Soon, you’ll want to stop smoking. You’ll want to exercise more and there will be a better you around for much longer. That’s what we want!
The secret is: consistency over time.