The Great American Smokeout, celebrated annually on the third Thursday of November, encourages those who “dig the cig” to commit to a smoke-free life. Celebrated this year on November 16, the Great American Smokeout is the occasion for smokers to make or start their plan to quit.
TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy, encourages thousands to live healthy lifestyles, including putting your cigarettes out before they put you out.
Most smokers delay quitting because they are afraid of gaining weight. The nicotine in cigarettes speeds up the body’s metabolism, which can help shed pounds. The weight gain that may occur from quitting—which is at most 10 pounds, according to most studies—is temporary, but the long-term effects of smoking are anything but.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States; in fact, one in five deaths in the U.S. is caused by smoking. Smoking can lead to heart disease and cancer, among other illnesses.
As it turns out, the journey to stop smoking (put it out) and to shed pounds (take it off) are similar. Smokers and non-smokers often gain weight because they’re eating more and moving less. The following are some suggestions to keep the weight off while fighting the urge to smoke:
- Exercise regularly: exercise boosts your metabolism, brightens your mood, and helps relieve smoking withdrawal symptoms. Just 10 minutes a day will make a big difference. And, as a bonus, exercise comes easier to non-smokers. Those who have stopped smoking have greater lung capacity and better circulation.
- Choose healthy food: many people who have quit smoking replace smoke breaks with high sugar, high calorie foods; eating keeps their hands busy. Snacking so you’re not reaching for a cigarette is a good habit, but think about snacking on fresh fruit, fat-free yogurt, celery, or carrot sticks instead.
- Think about when and what you eat: you might grab food to keep your hands busy, but are you really hungry? If not, try controlling your urge to smoke by playing with your dog, walking on the treadmill, or calling a friend. You can also try planning out your meals and snacks, making a list, and sticking to that list at the grocery store. This will ensure you have healthy options in front of you.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, consider November 16 as the day to do so. Exercising and choosing healthy food will not only help you stop smoking, but it may also help you lose a few pounds in the process.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded in 1948, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information.
Today there are about 65,000 members, including men, women, and international members who join chapter meetings in-person or online, with thousands of chapters in all 50 states and across Canada. Online resources include news and information from the health and inspirational community, meal planning ideas, workouts, chapter resources, and more.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable, starting at $49 per year in the U.S. and $59 annually in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. Join TOPS, visit tops.org, or call 800-932-8677 to learn more about TOPS and to find a local chapter.