This article will focus on the work of eliminating all forms of nicotine from our diet while using physical exercise as a form of positive habit replacement therapy. To be sure, ending nicotine usage involves much more than just, say, stopping smoking and starting to exercise. The actual quit day comes only after an extensive educational and psychological preparation process. One of the most effective methods for quitting smoking is described in detail in Allen Carr’s book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” (see article photo).
Personal testimony: The easy way…
A little personal testimony is called for here. This author smoked cigarettes from age 12 to age 52 – that’s 40 years. By the time I quit, I was smoking 2 ½ packs (50 cigarettes) or more per day and had been ingesting nicotine at that rate for at least 15 years. I was convinced during my 40 year relationship with this poison that quitting smoking ranged from extremely difficult to impossible. I tried to quit twice without success. When I finished reading Allen Carr’s book at the end of August in 2008, I put down nicotine for the third and last time without the aid of any ‘nicotine replacement therapies’ (NRTs like nicotine gum, the patch, etc.). Although at the same time I did use varenicline (aka “Chantix”) as directed, my personal perception was that it did nothing and that Allen Carr’s book did everything – but perceptions can be misleading – maybe the Chantix made an imperceptible difference.
In any case, I have been a nicotine-free non-smoker for 2 years, 3 months, and 22 days as of this writing. The book is powerful. I strongly recommend Mr. Carr’s book and any information and strategies you may find on the website. Although I simply read and applied the ideas in the book, there are also money back guarantee clinics available worldwide based on this method.
Let’s look briefly at some of the facts regarding the harm done by tobacco consumption. It will be a brief review since these facts are fairly well-known. The intention is not to generate fear. Fear of the consequences of tobacco ingestion is famous for being almost totally useless (even counter-productive) when it comes to being motivated to quit. Fear does not work but facts can help. Let’s take a page directly from the US Center for Disease Control website.
- More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
- Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars increases the risk of dying from cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, and oral cavity.
- Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer. In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias) and, as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.
- Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year.
- Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:
- 443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
- 49,400 deaths per year from secondhand smoke exposure
According to the CDC, the following diseases are considered to be smoking and/or second hand smoking related. Cancer of the lips, oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, larynx, trachea, lung, bronchus, cervix uteri, kidney and renal pelvis, bladder, and acute myeloid leukemia. Also, smoking is often involved in heart disease, artherosclerosis, aortic aneurism, pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
So, there are many good health reasons to quit smoking.
Beginning the process
You have to start somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ is always a thought. Unfortunately, in the case of nicotine addicts, the thought of quitting is usually about as far as anyone ever gets. As soon as the thought of quitting arises, the powerful belief system that IS nicotine addiction arises with it and effectively destroys the healthy quitting thought. It is difficult even to form an attitude against your own smoking. This is the first challenge to surmount. Surmounting it is essentially educational and willingness is the key to all education. Become willing to learn everything you can about the benefits of quitting. This will be followed by the development of willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve freedom from your nicotine addiction.
Whatever it takes: A few tricks
Please understand that, although quitting smoking is not as difficult as our addictive belief system would have us believe, it definitely requires determination, focus, and commitment. You may think you are ready to quit and you may be right about that – but ‘the proof is in the pudding’ as they say. When you are truly ready to quit, you actually do quit. Perhaps in the past when you felt ready, your readiness was not complete (since you didn’t actually quit). So don’t actually quit – yet.
Establish a quit day at least 30 days in the future.Then, holding on to the thought of quitting, begin to educate yourself, and, begin to develop the quality of willingness. Become interested in the truth about smoking and commence to learn – as you continue to smoke. Research, read, and learn as much as possible about methods of quitting. You are preparing to quit. Become willing to do whatever it takes – to employ whatever method will actually work for you. Do not attempt to quit smoking until your established quit day. Premature quit attempts are one of the ways your addictive belief system sabotages your quitting process.
Give yourself the gift of journaling your cigarettes.This can be slightly annoying and yet very helpful. It is a small preparatory restraint you are choosing to place upon your smoking habit. You still get to smoke as much as you desire but now you have to write down a little information every time before you light up. Get a small notebook you can carry in a pocket and a pen to go with it. Sometime between the thought of smoking and the finishing of your cigarette, you will write down the date, the time, something about the situation (e.g. waking up, at work, after eating, after getting fired for smoking on the job too much etc.), and whatever your emotional state was when you had the thought to smoke. This helps you learn the details of your habit, and, to grow tired of them. You will learn what triggers you and gain information to use in developing a strategy to deal with those triggers and the situations in which they manifest. See this journaling as a gift you are giving yourself because it is leading you to a new freedom – freedom from nicotine! Continue to smoke, continue to learn, stick to your journaling, and continue to become willing to quit forever.
Involve your community.Your community is comprised of everyone you know whom you could possibly inform that you are about to quit smoking. For example, your partner, family, friends, acquaintances, and business associates. Tell them you are in the process of quitting smoking, tell them your quit day, and ask them to help by holding you accountable to your quitting goals. Inform them of your quit day well in advance. This is a powerful tool. Your addictive belief system would rather you stay isolated and alone in your process. By using this tool you will make much more ‘quit energy’ available which comes to you through the people in your community who care about you. Tell them, involve them, recruit them, make sure they know you mean business.
Roll your own. Since you are still smoking (in this last month of your nicotine enslavement), you may want to try something that really worked well for me. Get a can of additive-free, organically grown tobacco, a bag of filters, a cigarette rolling machine, and a supply of rolling papers the right size for the machine. Your local tobacco dealer will be more than happy to assist you in your selections. Stop buying packs or cartons at hugely inflated prices and roll your own. By doing this I experienced two immediate benefits. First, it automatically and effortlessly cut my smoking in half. Rolling your own cuts out most of the semi-conscious spontaneous smoking. Rolling supplies also cost less than paying to have them rolled. So, if you cut the cost per cigarette and significantly reduce the actual amount smoked, you are looking at a significant savings right away.
Calculate your financial savings from eliminating nicotine. You don’t need my help with this one – just do it. You may be very pleasantly surprised!
Begin your exercise program. You are getting ready to make a major improvement in your dietary intake – to eliminate nicotine ingestion. Before your quit day, with your doctor’s approval, you can begin a light exercise program. Start small and make it do-able. If you can walk, I highly recommend a daily walk as the seed of your future fitness program. Start with a half mile. Soon you will no longer be too out of shape to exercise! And remember – motion IS exercise. Invest in good walking shoes. Just take an easy walk for starters – smoke while walking if you want to – your quit day is coming!
Many smokers have, as part of their addictive belief system, the idea that if they quit smoking they will gain weight. This is a lie. It is therefore necessary to point out the obvious – quitting smoking does not cause weight gain. Taking in more calories than you expend through exercise causes weight gain. There is no other way to add fat to the body. So exercise – and since we are removing a major toxin from our diet, we might as well consider other aspects of our diet as well. How about going sugar-free and low-fat? My personal experience is that when I quit smoking I lost ten pounds. When I eliminated drinks with sugar and went ‘diet’ I lost another ten pounds. One of the best ways to get rid of a nicotine craving is to drink as much water as you can hold and go for a brisk walk while telling yourself that this craving will pass in 5-10 minutes whether you smoke or not.
A little word about ‘nicotine replacement therapies’ or NRTs. These are interventions like nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and nicotine sprays. Let’s face it – these are not ‘replacements’. They are simply different delivery systems for the same addictive, toxic substance. They seem to help you stop smoking but way more often than not (by my own empirical observation) they fail. I know someone who chewed the gum for over two years. Every time she ran out of gum she became as emotionally unstable as if she had run out of cigarettes and had to drop everything to go to the drug store. When she finally went back to smoking she both smoked and used nicotine gum for a while until the cost became prohibitive. As I said, this torture continued at great expense for over two years when the simple fact is that, as one source says,
“Nicotine doesn’t stick around your body for too long. It has a half-life of about 60 minutes, meaning that six hours after a cigarette, only about 0.031 mg of the 1 mg of nicotine you inhaled remains in your body.”
NRTs are a lot like giving an alcoholic alcohol in order to help him quit drinking. What’s wrong with that picture? Quitting nicotine is NOT quitting smoking – it’s quitting nicotine.
Finally, I would like to once again highly recommend Allen Carr’s book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. It told me the truth about nicotine addiction and liberated me from a horribly debilitating 40 year habit.
Carr, A. (2004). The easy way to stop smoking. Revised and updated. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [cited on the CDC website].
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