Weight Loss and Smoking

1702

cutting cigarettesI often am approached by clients who have done everything possible to lose weight and keep it off, without lasting success. Others want to quit smoking. There is no question about their desire to be different; to overcome their addictive behaviors .

The problem is that it is very difficult to focus on NOT doing something. If someone tells you not to think about elephants, it is virtually impossible to remove the image of an elephant from your mind. If you decide that you will not eat certain foods, or that you will not light up, it seems that it is hard to think of anything else.

In order to effect real change, it is necessary to focus on wanting something that is incompatible with the addictive behavior. Then you have to want it MORE than the high, or the comfort that the addictive behavior provides. The smoker who decides he wants a high level of health and fitness, is on the right path.

If he decides to work to reverse the damage from smoking, he may aim to improve his level of cardiovascular fitness. This might involve working out at the gym, or taking up running. As he begins to feel better, he sees results in his exercise routine. This feels good, so he may be motivated to increase his level fitness even more. His original goal was damage control, but in the process he becomes an athlete. He has long since forgotten about smoking.

Contrast this with the couch potato who smokes a pack a night in front of the television. He decides to quit smoking, and sits on the couch thinking of how badly he misses his smokes.

Getting fit is incompatible with smoking, consequently if the focus remains on fitness, the smoking behavior will be eliminated. The same process is involved in weight loss. If the focus is simply on not eating desired foods, it is more difficult than if there is an incompatible positive goal. If a decision is made to put only healthy foods into your body, to maximize nutritional content, with an eye to increasing longevity, the focus is different.

Quitting smoking requires a commitment to clean lungs. Being slimmer requires a commitment to a different way of thinking about food. Forever. Anyone can lose weight by reducing intake for a period of time. Becoming, and remaining slimmer, requires a permanent change in focus. It may involve increasing the level of physical activity, drinking more water, developing new interests that distract from the focus on food.

The bottom line is that if we want something to change in our lives, WE have to change. We have to see ourselves as a different person; a different person than the one who overeats, a different person from the one who inhales toxic smoke.

If we can hold a vision of “the new me,” we have a good chance of moving in that direction. If we cannot form that image, cannot see ourselves slimmer or smoke free, nothing that we try will produce lasting change. So instead of trying to lose, or trying to quit, form a positive image of what you want to create. Then go for it.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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