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Your Heart is in Your Own Hands

A lifestyle that includes smoking is the most destructive type of lifestyle you can choose. It not only affects you but it hurts those close to you. Nearly 50,000 people die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke, 46,000 from heart disease (according to the CDC). These aren’t just the people trapped in a work environment where smoking is allowed it includes family members and friends. Not only is the health of your own heart in your hands but the heart of those you come into contact with.

Nearly 400,000 deaths each year are caused by cigarette smoking, 20 percent will die from heart disease. Smoking can triple your chances of dying from heart disease in relation to people who don’t smoke. Do you know the risks?

According to the CDC, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in adult smoking Americans. More than 61 million people suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease and more than 2,600 die every day because of cardiovascular diseases.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High LDL Cholesterol and Low HDL Cholesterol
  • Being Overweight
  • Being Physically Inactive
  • Chronic Uncontrolled Stress
  • Age
  • Race

Obviously if you are a smoker you should consider talking with your doctor to understand the risks and options available. Of course the best advice he/she is going to provide is to stop smoking, get physically active, eat right and find healthier ways to manage day-to-day stress.

You may think it won’t happen to you. Maybe you know someone that lived until they were 80 smoking a pack a day for 40 years. I guess there are always exceptions to the rule but statistics show that smokers, on average, die 14 years sooner.

Personally, I don’t want to play those odds and the quality of life I have experienced since quitting has improved dramatically. I have time to enjoy new things not to mention the closeness I get when with my family. If you are considering stopping smoking I encourage you to keep considering it. If you are struggling to stay quit one more day just remember that heart disease is one more reason to not smoke.

Foods that Fight Cancer after Stopping Smoking

The odds are pretty good that if you smoke long enough you will die of cancer.

It was a wakeup call as I watched someone close to me die from lung cancer caused by smoking. I never wanted my family to have to experience what I saw but I knew that if I were to continue smoking chances would be pretty good that I would die from a smoking related illness such as cancer.

I haven’t smoked for several years and studies have shown that your body will repair itself after stopping but it can take a long time. Plus you never know how much damage was caused during the ‘smoking years’. If there are things that I can do to improve my healing and fight cancer I tend to try them. Luckily, there are some pretty easy steps that can help fight cancer, one of which is eating the right type of foods – foods that fight cancer.

Foods that Fight Cancer

Legumes – such as beans, peanuts, peas, soybeans and lentils have a healthy dose of folate and fiber both of which can help lower your risk of cancer.

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables – such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, chicory and romaine lettuce are good sources of folate, fiber and carotenoids. Some laboratory tests show eating these types of foods can lower the risk of certain types of cancers such as breast, stomach and lung cancer.

Cruciferous Vegetables – I’ve never heard the word ‘cruciferous’ with vegetables before but if you are like me and are uncertain to what it means you can simply refer to them as non-starchy vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These are good sources of fiber, folate and carotenoids. Diets high in cruciferous vegetables have shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.

Green Tea – green teas are known for their antioxidant effects because they contain flavonoids. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent the development of certain types of cancer cells.

Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do to prevent cancer. After 10 years of not smoking your risk of developing many types of cancers drop dramatically. If you aren’t used to eating healthy it can be difficult to change your eating habits. The best thing is to work new foods into your diet slowly. Making small changes can go a long way. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help protect you against cancer. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise and breathing techniques you can speed the healing process and improve the quality of your life. Learn more about Lung Detox!

Why We Do What We Do

When I first started smoking I really didn’t give it much thought and I definitely didn’t think I would do it on a regular basis. I remember not liking it at all; the taste was gross, it burned my lungs, it smelled and even 25 years ago I did not think cigarettes were cheap. But I had friends that were smoking and it seemed to be the thing to do when out drinking. Over time I decided that I would smoke throughout the week and BAM! I was addicted.

It did not take long to become accustom to having nicotine in my blood. I started building the habit of smoking every chance I could; before school, on breaks, during lunch and after school. The idea of going without was foreign to me and I really didn’t understand the constant desire to smoke. After turning 18 and being able to legally buy a pack of smokes was almost like a rite of passage.

We do what we do because of the decisions we make, past and present. They are mixed with bad and good but for some reason it’s the bad ones that are the hardest to change. Fast forward to present and we understand that smoking is killing us. We understand it is bad for society and the environment yet we struggle to kick the habit. Years of conditioning, telling ourselves that we “NEED” it has entrenched the habit deep within.

The key to breaking any addiction and stop smoking is to “NOT NEED” it. When you erase this lie from your mind you are taking control of your future. It can be difficult to undo what has been done but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. It has taken many years to develop the level of dependence you currently have, therefore, it will take a few weeks to break the hold smoking has on you. In the face of temptation continually remind yourself YOU DON’T NEED IT!

Stop Smoking Pep Talk

People don’t pursue things that they don’t believe are possible. One person’s view can be quite different from another’s. Think of the criticism Einstein or Jefferson used to get from those that did not believe as they did yet today we depend and take for granted their accomplishments and contributions to our society.

It is likely that you want to stop smoking and it’s either a little voice in your head or a fellow friend, smoker, that saying, “You can’t do it.” Unlike Einstein or Jefferson you are not on the front lines, it may feel like it, but millions of people have quit and led happier healthier lives. You know the damage smoking is doing to your body and the bodies of those close to you. It is a drain on your finances and in this day and age it can be a bit embarrassing. Many smokers need to huddle around an ashtray on the other-side of the parking lot at work in order to get their fix. Seems kind of foolish, don’t you think?

You may feel like you are alone but you aren’t. There are countless people, right now, feeling exactly what you are going through. Whether you are still contemplating stopping, on your first day, first week or even your first year there are people that have been there and that are there right now. Don’t isolate yourself or be tricked into smoking, not even just one. Use the resources available to help you succeed. Call the quit line, a supportive friend or go to a support group in your area. Seconds not smoking add up to minutes which add up to hours which lead to days – take it one second at a time and with ‘NO’ as your motto you will be a full blown non-smoker in no time.

There is Always Room for Change

With the new year quickly approaching people are considering areas of change. For some reason the new year brings new resolutions. People see the need for change and the 1st of January is as good a day as any to start. There is a break in the holidays and it is a good time to lose some weight, stop smoking or pursue a new career. Whatever your goals are in life there is always room for change and you can initiate the change any time.

The basic motivators in life are pain and pleasure; drumming up enough will power to stop smoking at the new year may prove difficult unless there is enough pain involved. Just to clarify – pain covers, emotional, physical and spiritual torment. People that want to stop smoking desire it because they feel the negative effects of smoking. Their lungs hurt, their teeth are gray, everything they own stinks, it hurts the people closest to them, guilt, etc. When you pile these effects upon one another the choice to smoke or not smoke becomes easy. The pleasure (perceived pleasure) of smoking is almost non-existent and the decision to quit is easy.

The pain/pleasure motivators affect all areas of our lives. That is why habits are so easy to start because of the perceived pleasure one gets in the beginning. As the negative effects start to take shape we rationalize our choice to continue even though we know change is needed. The pain of changing hasn’t outweighed the pain of continuing down the same path. However, unless death takes you first, eventually the time will come when most smokers will try to quit.

Most smokers, when faced with the thought of stopping, won’t jump up and kick their heels, instead they are likely biting their lip contemplating how unpleasant the first few days will be. Fear of failure will keep many from taking steps toward quitting as well as not knowing how to cope with stress. Right out of the gate you are going to need to believe in yourself if you want to succeed. Fears can be overcome and often we fear things that truly don’t have any control over us so don’t give them control by fearing them.

Whether your goal is to enter the new year smoke free or stop at a later date you should consider it a major lifestyle change (for the better). Gather resources to help you gain insight on managing stress, cravings, withdrawals and improving your health. You can successfully quit and experience new pleasures in life.

Holiday Temptations – Stop Smoking Tip

There are plenty of things that can tempt us during the holiday season; over spending, over eating, drinking too much wine and (yes) even smoking. The stress of the holidays has a way of tricking people into thinking that smoking is what they need to cope. If that isn’t enough we all remember what it was like to have a cigarette after a big meal and the perceived satisfaction it gave us. The problem is believing there is any sort of benefit in smoking. Anything we got out of smoking we can get from healthier cheaper alternatives.

The key to making it through any holiday season is to follow the KISS acronym.

  • K – keep
  • I – it
  • S – simple
  • S – stupid

Okay, you really aren’t stupid but I did not come up with the acronym either. So here you go; the number one reason people relapse is because of stress and I don’t know of any time of the year that is more stressful than the holidays. Here are some tips to help manage holiday stress without smoking.

  • Plan ahead when shopping – One of the biggest hassles is getting stuck somewhere because you did not plan ahead. Of course there are those people that love to shop the sales on Black Friday but I much rather prefer Cyber Monday where I can get all my shopping done at Amazon.com and have everything delivered to my door. Either way have a plan on where you are going to go and what you are going to buy.
  • Know your limitations – If crowds and slow moving lines aren’t your thing don’t put yourself in those types of situations. Go shopping during the less busy times or prepare yourself before leaving the house and tell yourself, “today is going to be a challenging day” and pack some gum, headphones and a smile.
  • Visiting the in-laws isn’t always the most exciting thing to do but it is important to your spouse. Small sacrifices are important for the person you love and you will be home before you know it.
  • Smoking is never an option. Never EVER forget why you stopped smoking. No trial, temptation or problem should rob you of your health and new smoke-free life.
  • Stock up your vehicle. You will likely experience traffic delays. Manage them by stocking up on sunflower seeds, music and a book on CD. It never fails – the radio knows when it has you captive and with either play the lamest music of smother you with commercials. Be prepared with a CD and if you want to catch up some reading, check out a book on CD from the library. You will be amazed at how fast it goes and you may sit in your car a couple minutes longer when you finally reach your destination just to hear what happens.
  • Don’t get too tired. It is easy to start burning the candle at both ends but try not to. Get plenty of rest.
  • Pie anyone? OMG! There is no shortage of all the things that add 20 pounds to the waist during the holidays. Don’t force yourself to go without but also don’t devour a whole cherry pie yourself. Practice self-control, have fun and fill up on celery and carrots minus the ranch dressing.
  • Exercise anyone? Bleh! The holidays have a way of knocking people off their routines and one of the first things to fall to the way-side is exercising. Try to not let this happen. It will help control your stress, cravings and the extra calories you are taking in.

With some planning and self-control you can make it through the holidays without smoking. Don’t throw away your hard work because you think it will help you manage stress, eat less and kill your boredom. Plan ahead, have fun and remember all the good reasons you’re quit smoking.

Stop Smoking Stages

The risks of our actions aren’t always obvious in the beginning stages however, there isn’t a shortage of professionals, friends, co-workers, policy makers, media and family that will point out the dangers. When I started smoking I didn’t give much thought to the future. All I cared about was fitting in at the time and the “buzz” it gave me. At this stage I was unable, unaware or unwilling to change and give up smoking. It took several years before I begun to have doubts about my actions, thus moving me from the pre-contemplation stage to the contemplation stage.

Pre-Contemplation Stage

At this stage people basically are unwilling to change. They argue, interrupt, deny and ignore those that may be trying to help them recognize they have a problem. People won’t change their ways during this stage.

Contemplation Stage

Change always starts with contemplation, to change or not to change? That is the question. You may be uncertain you want to stop smoking but you are considering the possibility. You begin to look at the pros and cons of quitting and determine if moving to the next stage is what you truly want to do, preparation.

Preparation Stage

Preparing to stop smoking is a critical stage in the whole process. This is where you put together your action plan on how and when you are going to stop. Here is short list of questions to help get you started:

  • How has smoking kept you from doing some of the things you enjoy?
  • What specific reasons do you have for wanting to quit?
  • What are you going to do when cravings hit?
  • What kind of support mechanisms are you going to set up?
  • Are you going to quit cold turkey or use an OTC nicotine replacement product?
  • Are you going to quit alone or join forces with a friend, family member or co-worker?
  • How are you going to stay motivated?
  • What types of situations, actions or people may pose risks?
  • What are you going to do when/if you slip?
  • How are you going to manage withdrawals?
  • What are you going to do with the extra $150 a month you save by not buying cigarettes?

You get the point. There are a number of important questions that need answered before moving to the next step.

Action Stage

You guessed it, this is the day your plan to quit gets put into play – this is your quit day and subsequent days. Unless you never take this step you won’t stop smoking. Taking action requires every bit of will power, self-discipline and determination that you can put into play. The final stage is maintenance.

Maintenance Stage

Now that you have stopped smoking you need to stay motivated, you need to keep pressing on. One moment of weakness can send you back to square one. As a side note many people who quit require several attempts but don’t use that as an excuse. I stopped and started countless times over a two year period and it affected my self-esteem, health and financial situation. Avoid people, places and things that trigger the craving to smoke until you are stronger. Stay empowered by going over your goals and the reasons why you quit in the first place. Use coping strategies to overcome sudden urges and managing stress.
Stopping smoking is obviously one of the best things you can do for your health and the health of others. Don’t let fear, denial or false beliefs stand in your way of achieving any and all goals you have for a better life.

The Devil Within

We are all born with a bad side that clouds our judgment and decision making from time to time. Combine that with a physical and psychological addiction of any kind and you have yourself the makings for a big mess. Stopping smoking is a major challenge for most people wishing to quit but it isn’t impractical or impossible to succeed. If we could only do away with the conflict within things would be so much simpler not to mention easier but unfortunately we have to take the good with the bad.

You know the reasons to stop smoking, your intentions are good and you have a solid plan so why does it seem like the little devil inside, that nagging voice that tempts you by saying, “Just smoke one” is stronger than the part of you that is trying to save your life?

The answer – self-discipline! For years, poor self-discipline has led you to satisfy your urge and desire to smoke without question. It has become second nature and is as much a habit as eating. People don’t typically change until the pain or perceived pleasure outweighs their current situation. By the time you make the decision to stop smoking it has been many years which makes life without smoking hard to imagine. Here’s the good news, everyone is capable of self-discipline even if they have been terrible at it in the past. The more you exercise it the stronger it will become.

Consider more than not lighting up. When you stop smoking you are changing your life in a big way. Self-discipline is going to play an important role in changing the way you eat, what you do with your free time, who you hang out with and keeping a positive mental attitude. Each of these areas will play a major role creating the new you and help you to manage your cravings while staying motivated and focused on quitting.

Exercise your right to say ‘no’ to the things that don’t get you where you want to be. It isn’t always easy but over time it will get easier. Remember everyone has the ability to change their lives for the better, no matter what it is. You can too!

Get Help to Stop Smoking

One of the best and most powerful methods to stop smoking is to get help by joining a support group, but not just any support group will do. The best aid is going to come from a support group that is friendly, genuine, respectful and empathetic with what you are going through.

Effective stop smoking support groups focus on the positive rather than the negative, using empathy more than authority. When another person, or group of people, start pointing the finger and saying, “You are wrong!” It is human nature to get defensive and pull away. But when the support group is able to emphasize it draws people in and builds trust paving the way for change.

We all know the damage smoking is doing to our bodies so the last thing we need is not to constantly be reminded of the obvious nor do we need people telling us we are weak and if we only had more will power we could quit. People generally resist change, even if it is for the better, when the people that are supposed to help only challenge, refute, dispute and use sarcasm to drive the point home it can make us feel bad about ourselves making it more difficult to stop smoking.

No one can make you get help to stop smoking or force you to quit; that’s something you have to do on your own but there are people out there that can encourage you, support you and hold you accountable through tough times. You are solely responsible for successfully stopping smoking and it is up to you to find the answers to nagging questions and prepare a plan that will lead you down the road of success. It may take some trial and error but if you keep trying and never give up you will succeed. Surrounding yourself with a support group that is optimistic, empathetic and experienced is going to increase your chances of quitting.

Action or Excuses – Stop Smoking

Excuses, no matter what they are, will prevent people from acting on their intentions. Whether the intent is to stop smoking, find a better job, meet new people, develop a hobby, whatever it is. People that make excuses typically are prone to do so. They have been doing it throughout their life and have a set of excuses for any situation. I am not smart enough, I am not strong enough, I am ugly, I don’t know how, I don’t have the time, I don’t have enough money; you get the idea.

Sometimes, even as miserable circumstances can be it seems much easier to stay where you are than to take action and run the risk of failing or having to work hard for something you really want. Stopping smoking is an easy decision. Every smoker knows they should quit (at least they should) but for one excuse or another they don’t. Imagine what your life would be like if you no longer made excuses. You would be trying new things, exchanging unhealthy habits for healthy ones and you would firmly believe in yourself and not fear difficult changes in your life. In essence you would be pursuing the life you dream of.

By taking action you are freeing yourself from the past and from the habits that hold you captive. Excuses have a tendency to leave a person with feelings of regret, worry and self-pity. Just imagine how your life would be if you were able to live life on purpose and the first major step would be to quit smoking.

When you rid yourself of the excuses that keep you smoking day-after-day you will be able to focus on the moment. All any of us really have is the here and now; would you rather live in regret and fear or excitement and hope?

You are in control of your future, things may come up from time to time that nudge you off course but ultimately the quality of your life is up to you. Stopping smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you. You are completely capable of quitting if you only stop making excuses and take action!