Recently a lady called our department inquiring about our recommendations concerning a liquid protein diet program for weight control. We explained that for any kind of permanent weight control program to be successful, a sensible approach which can be maintained after reaching an ideal weight is required. Otherwise, the person is likely to adopt their old pattern, which resulted in being overweight in the first place. Liquid protein diets are potentially dangerous and are not conducive to permanent weight loss. We suggested that she enroll in a sensible weight control program. She replied, “I tried them all, they are a rip-off and a fraud! I didn’t lose any weight at all!” She proceeded to ask what approach we recommend. We suggested a sensible diet and exercise program. “Exercise,” she expressed with disgust, “who has time to exercise?” It was becoming apparent why her past attempts at weight control had failed so miserably. It was not a weakness in the program, but rather in her own conviction in losing weight. She wanted to be thinner, but heaven forbid she should have to work at it.
In order to be successful in any lifestyle change, a person must first decide how important benefits from the change are to them. If the benefits are important enough, the individual can make a sincere commitment and have a good chance of being successful. Weight control is an important topic because so many ex-smokers do gain weight after first giving up cigarettes.
Upon cessation of smoking, food may smell and taste better and many ex-smokers find they do have an increased appetite. Many feel a real need to substitute food for the oral gratification they claim to have derived from cigarette smoking. Some feel that since they quit smoking, they ought to be able to treat themselves as a reward for their great accomplishment. While it may seem like a rational idea at the time, there may be severe ramifications. Even after the initial quitting process is over and the urge for cigarettes diminishes, a new eating pattern is now being established. This pattern includes consuming more calories than are burned off in normal daily activities. The end result is extra fat and extra weight.
Giving up cigarettes is a great accomplishment, but it does not necessitate consuming vast quantities of extra calories. Eating cakes, cookies, ice cream, extra main courses, or drinking extra alcohol all causes real weight gain. Calories add up quickly. While many people may get discouraged by this added weight, they do not always take positive steps to correct the situation. They persist with their new habit of continuous gluttony. What does it take to encourage these people to initiate a positive change?
When they get sick and tired enough of being overweight, they can do something about it. That is how they first quit smoking. It came to a point where they knew it was time to quit. In the beginning it was not easy to give up cigarettes. Not only did they have to break the strongly ingrained conditioning associated with their dependency, but the underlying addiction too. They experienced real drug withdrawals. But their conviction was strong. In a short time they were nicotine free. It became relatively easy not to smoke. Food can take a similar route. At first it may be hard to refuse the extra dessert. It may not be easy to go out for that first walk around the block. But soon, smaller portions of food become sufficient to quench culinary desires. You may even begin to look forward to your walk. And you will begin to look and feel better. That’s the real pay-off.
If you are concerned about your weight, do something about it. Start to modify your diet. Take up exercise. Some past participants find it helpful to attend our smoking clinic when they first start their diet. Listening to the great difficulty that the participants are experiencing giving up cigarettes and remembering how they overcame the same problem, can establish a strong sense of confidence. They begin to realize that if they could quit smoking, they could do anything. Some people not only lose the extra weight they gained since they quit smoking, but continue to make positive changes in diet and exercise, even to the point of weighing less than when they were smokers.
Work on staying healthier and happier. Be sensible with your diet. Push yourself to keep active. Most important, always keep in practice – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
© Joel Spitzer 1989