Are you afraid to quit smoking because of weight gain? You’re not alone. I’m scared too.

I just quit smoking. Again. Nearly three weeks ago. While I’ve definitely cut down over the years, going from over a pack a day to less than a half, the idea of truly quitting has always left me feeling anxious. Why? Smoking and I are so close – I’d give my life for smoking! 

Sure, the physical withdrawals are terrible, but I keep telling myself they’re only temporary. This edginess will not last. Patience will return. I will not be so snappy or depressed. Some contend that quitting smoking is as difficult as quitting heroin, but, I’ve never been a heroin addict, so I really can’t comment on that. What I can say is this: quitting smoking is making me gain weight and I’ve got to do something about that!

Pants that fit loosely not a month ago are now feeling the pressure of my quitting. Tops that once revealed a trim torso are now mocking in their display of pudginess. Despite my exercising on a regular basis, I can feel the new weight on my back and arms, across my stomach and thighs. Ugh! Why must ceasing one evil seemingly guarantee another?

According to recent reports, people who quit smoking gained, on average, 10 to 11 pounds within the first year (sigh). Most of that takes place in the first three months after quitting. Because nicotine boosts metabolism, my body has been used to running at a faster pace when compared to a non-smoker. In fact, after smoking, my heart rate would increase by 10 to 20 beats a minute. Take that, fat!

Now that I’ve quit, my metabolism is returning to normal. I don’t like the new normal. The new normal makes me mad (insert picture of pouty Lara here). It makes me wonder if there’s any correlation between rising obesity rates and lowering tobacco usage rates…

I also miss putting things in my mouth. Freud would have a field day with this, but really, putting a smoke in my mouth and lighting it was borderline ritualistic. Sounds sick? You bet – it was. In the absence of a placing a cigarette in my mouth, I’m placing things like cheese cake and frappuccino’s, candy and cookies in there. Many recovering smokers report increases in the desire for sugar. With that said, I need to replace the cheesecake with these low or zero calorie foods:

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Sugar-free hard candies
  • Celery or carrot sticks
  • Sliced sweet peppers

In researching this post, I’ve also read that brushing your teeth multiple times a day can help; a clean, fresh mouth may make wanting a cigarette less appealing. Now, if only I can master the art of driving a manual stick shift while brushing my teeth…

I’m told I should stay busy, keep my expectations realistic, or even talk to my doctor if I need extra help quitting. Sure. All that sounds great. But what’s really getting me through this is knowing that I am adding years to my life and freeing myself from something that’s costly on a financial, physical and emotional level. As I get older, practicality is superseding vanity. I may add a few pounds now, but I’ll have plenty of extra years to work it off!

Photo credit: SuperFantastic

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