Stop Smoking: Make It More Than a New Year’s Resolution

breaking a cigaretteUnfortunately, we can’t live in our parent’s blissful ignorance anymore. And it’s  not news that smoking is bad for your health.

If you are a smoker, quitting isn’t as easy as cutting out sugar or making a commitment to walk three times a week.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of realistic ways to stop smoking. We aren’t talking quitting as a New Year’s resolution. We mean making an actual lifestyle change. So if you wake up on February 2and decide that is the day to quit, don’t let the fact that the New Year has passed stop you from making this change in your life.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Quitting smoking can be overwhelming because nicotine is incredibly addictive. Being able to wean yourself off nicotine, without the harmful effects from carcinogens, can help raise your chances of not giving up on day one. Using patches or gum helps you fight cravings by getting a measured amount of nicotine. Both nicotine replacements have different dosages, so you can slowly cut back the amount of nicotine intake.

Prescription Drugs

There are many prescription drugs that can help you quit smoking. Some of the prescriptions are used along with nicotine replacement therapy, while others you need to start taking before “Quit Day.” These drugs help counteract certain chemicals in the brain to help ease cravings. As with all prescription medications, make sure you consult your doctor and are aware of any potential side effects.

Write It Down

Write down all of the reasons you want to quit smoking on notecards or on your phone. Is it for your children or to stop having to hide your habit? Anytime you’re feeling particularly weak, bring that list out. Remind yourself there is a good reason why you’re doing this, and that in time it will get easier.


You may know that acupuncture is often used to relieve medical ailments, but did you know it also might help you kick the habit? Treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability, and restlessness—all symptoms that commonly plague people who are trying to cease smoking.

Make a Plan

Do you know when you’re most likely to smoke? Make a plan to do something else during the times you would usually light up. Is it after dinner? Try making a hot cup of green tea instead. Is it after work? Go for a walk. Is it with a cup of coffee? Take a cup of coffee with you on a walk. Other methods that may help are to keep your mouth busy: chew gum, snack on sunflower seeds, always have a drink like flavored water or tea.

Read more about how smoking may increase breast cancer risk.


Stop Smoking: How to Avoid Weight Gain Once You Quit

stop smokingNo matter which type of breast surgery you may need, we always recommend that you quit smoking to help speed healing. Many smokers, especially women, fear gaining weight when they quit. While some former smokers do gain a little weight, it is typically no more than a few pounds, and even this gain can largely be avoided with a little planning.

Know that you will be hungrier at first.

According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking reduces your appetite and may increase your metabolism, so when you quit, you’re likely to feel hungrier at first. Keep plenty of healthy snacks around, such as berries, vegetables, cheese, and nuts. The latter two are higher in calories than the others, but they will keep you full longer.

Avoid sugary or high-carbohydrate snacks, such as candy, cookies, chips, and the like. They won’t help you avoid weight gain, and they offer little to no nutritional value.

Watch what you drink.

Soda and fruit juices are loaded with sugar, and even diet soda is not a good idea when you’re trying to lose weight.  Drink water. It will help you detox from the cigarettes, help avoid water retention, and avoid weight gain.

If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, add lemon or lime juice—if you like sparkling water and add lemon and lime juice, it’s almost like drinking a soda without the calories or artificial sweeteners.

Reduce portion sizes at meals.

Eating smaller portions will help you keep your weight under control. Try cutting down your portions by one quarter. If you’re still hungry, have some vegetables or fruit for dessert. Be careful with fruit, as it is high in natural sugars.

Get up and move.

Not only will moving or exercising help you keep your weight down, but it will also help your cravings. Get outside and walk the dog, or take a dance class such as country-western dance or Zumba. You’ll burn calories and help keep your weight where you want it to be.

To keep weight gain down, monitor your weight. You don’t necessarily have to jump on the scale every day; your clothes will tell you how you’re doing. Don’t allow yourself to gain more than two or three pounds before taking action. If you’re watching what you eat and drink and getting more exercise, weight gain after quitting smoking and breast surgery will be a non-issue.



Step 3 in Quitting Smoking: Taking Effective Actions to Stop

quit smokingThe one thing that many people don’t understand when it comes to quitting smoking is that addressing the physical addiction to nicotine is not enough. They must also learn to manage the ingrained habits that led them to smoke. People smoke after meals, while driving, and while under stress, to name just three examples. Those urges do not go away simply because the cigarettes are gone.

Quitters need to have a plan for when the habitual part of smoking raises its ugly head. We discussed that a little in our previous post about the 4Ds, but here are a few more tips to master the mental piece of quitting.

Look at your habits.

When did you have your first cigarette of the day? Was it right when you got up, after your shower, or after breakfast? Breaking that habitual urge can be as simple as changing your routine. If you smoked first thing, try going outside for a quick walk instead, or hop into the shower right away.

If your habits don’t change, your chances of staying quit are dramatically lower than if you consciously alter the path of your day.

Have substitutes handy.

If you can’t stop doing something that triggers you to smoke, keep something handy that you can put in your hand or in your mouth. Driving is a strong smoking trigger for many, and most cannot avoid it. Try putting a straw in your hand or a cinnamon toothpick in your mouth. If you find yourself lighting up at a certain intersection on your way to work, find a new route until you’re more secure in your quit.

Enlist help.

If you live with smokers, see what they are willing to do to help you maintain your quit. Having them smoke outside is ideal, since you were likely to smoke with them as part of your habitual conditioning and it’s easier to have them out of sight, out of mind. If they will not go outside, perhaps they would confine their smoking to one room of the house and keep the door closed.

If those you live with don’t smoke, perhaps they can help you identify your smoking habits and ways to break those habits.

You may need to alter your routine for only a few weeks while you master the initial difficulty of quitting, or you may need to change a few things more or less permanently. The main thing to remember is to never take one drag. This is no different from being addicted to any other drug. You would not suggest that an alcoholic or heroin addict has “just one” . . . and you can’t either.

What are your tips to quitting smoking?

Stop Smoking Series: the 4Ds

stop smokingQuitting smoking can be challenging, but if you know what to do when a craving hits, you’ll be ready to conquer any urge. The 4Ds are a good guideline to follow when you desperately want a cigarette. The order we show them is a general guideline, so modify it to work for you.


The moment the craving hits, tell yourself you can have a cigarette in 10 minutes. Then when the 10 minutes are up, tell yourself what a good job you did and challenge yourself to go 20 minutes. Any craving will go away in a few moments as long as you don’t keep thinking about it. After you delay, the next thing to do is . . .

Drink water.

In fact, get up and get a glass of water as you’re telling yourself to wait 10 minutes. And you want to drink water, not pop, coffee, or alcoholic beverages. First, while you’re quitting, your body is trying to get rid of the toxic materials you’ve inhaled all these years, and it needs water remove the junk from your system. Second, for many women, other drinks are triggers to smoke, especially coffee and alcohol. Third, the water will change the taste in your mouth and help to break the craving.

Please don’t make the excuse that you don’t like water. You can filter it or flavor it with fruit or small amounts of fruit juice. Find what works for you, and do it.

Do something else.

Your success in quitting may be determined by how well you shift your focus when you have an urge to smoke. The more you think about a craving, the worse it will become. After you’ve had your glass of water, find something else to do. If you were watching TV, move to another room and read a book. Take the dog for a walk. You need to break the association with whatever you were doing when you felt the craving.

Try keeping a bag of entertaining distractions with you, which could include puzzle books, books, art projects, or needlepoint. The main thing to remember is that you need to abruptly and quickly change what you’re doing and thinking to survive the craving.

Deep breathing.

This step can be done at any point in time, as many times as necessary. Deep breathing will release endorphins, which will help you feel better. It will also show you how well your respiratory system is healing during your quit. Take at least 10 deep breaths in through your nose—your stomach will move if you’re truly taking deep breaths. Exhale through your mouth with pursed lips, as if you’re kissing someone. Blow out hard, and imagine you are forcing out all the air in your lungs.

The 4Ds will feel awkward at first, but as you get used to them, you’ll find they are very helpful during cravings.