If you follow my podcast and read my newsletter, it’s safe to assume you are probably not a smoker—but, you may be surprised to learn that smoking is still around in society more than we might realize. Many casual smokers are ashamed of their habit and will sneak cigarettes here and there without family or co-workers even realizing it. Or maybe that person is you—and despite being so dialed into all aspects of health, you can’t seem to quit this one last thing. Then there are the people who smoke only when they are out partying, or on vacation, but don’t make it a day-to-day lifestyle element. In any case, we can all agree that making the commitment to quit is critical to health, and also that it is quite a difficult task due to the addictive properties of smoking.
Even if one does manage to succeed in the challenging task of quitting, many former smokers find themselves missing their body’s previous capacity for fitness, and tend to feel intimidated by the difficulty of smoking cessation. But rather than think about that difficulty, it is important to focus instead on the fact that many have succeeded in quitting. In fact, the HHS reports that 3 in 5 adults who have quit smoking noticed a reduced risk for many adverse health effects, like cardiovascular diseases and COPD, almost immediately afterward.
You can get back in shape too. As you may know, however, quitting can be a delicate process that leaves your body more vulnerable than most. It’s important that you proceed carefully to avoid any consequences to your overall health.
Here are some tips to get back in shape after quitting smoking:
Start small with micro workouts
Micro workouts are explosive fits of strength that are meant to promote activity while still being easy enough to perform. This can be as simple as doing a set of 20 air squats: they only take a minute to complete, but the benefits last far longer, since choosing to incorporate these brief bursts of activity into your day will inevitably increase your level of fitness (and, depending on the kind of micro workouts you choose to do, increase your mobility and flexibility).
As previously discussed in 5 Reasons Why Micro Workouts Will Change Your Life, this fitness concept will boost your metabolism—something that should appeal to former smokers, as weight gain has traditionally long been viewed as an almost inevitable side effect that comes with quitting smoking—since smoking (and nicotine) was once your body’s resource for boosting its metabolic rate, quitting usually slows it down. Micro workouts are a highly effective method to counter this aftereffect and maintain your body’s propensity for fitness.
Maximize NRT options
Quitting cigarettes is all about keeping your body stable so that it doesn’t violently react to withdrawal. That is why micro workouts are a great introduction back to fitness, and also why NRT options are frequently used by smokers trying to quit.
These are alternatives that also contain nicotine, and are meant to wean the smoker off the chemical by slowly transitioning into smaller dosages. The nicotine pouches available on Prilla come in options of 3mg all the way to 12mg of nicotine, and are also produced in different flavors to make the cessation process easier and more enjoyable.
A feature on nicotine patches by the CDC notes they’re another popular alternative because they’re topical and only need to be placed on dry, hair-free skin. Patches can withstand sweat and are suitable for use while exercising in public places. Before partaking in any NRT option, however, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable one for your lifestyle.
There are foods that can help stop cravings for nicotine—dairy for example, makes tobacco unpalatable—and also foods that help boost your body’s metabolism. Try vitamin-rich options like fruit—kiwi, strawberries, apples, and oranges, which flush out the toxins in your bloodstream, making it easier to keep your weight in check.
It’s common to gain weight after quitting smoking because the urge to snack as a distraction from the cravings becomes hard to resist. That is why it’s best to plan healthy meals ahead of time, and if you must snack, keep healthy options around, like fruit or protein rich foods—beef jerky, various nuts and seeds, or keep it simple and super convenient with Brad’s Macadamia Masterpiece, which blends nutritional powerhouses like walnuts, macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, MCT oil, and cacao nibs together to make a snack that is as delicious as it is healthy.
Intense cravings for nicotine come and go, and many smokers have to distract themselves to resist the temptation. Why not take this as an opportunity to develop a healthy hobby like walking or biking? Research by NCBI lists these as aerobic exercises that strengthen your lung’s capacity, which would’ve been hampered by smoking. They’re also found to be associated with improvements in positive affectivity and reductions in negative affectivity.
A healthy hobby doesn’t even have to necessarily be exercise—why not look into meditation, too? This can help you develop mindfulness, as meditation “trains your mind to do what you want it to do” as my podcast guest Tawnee Prazak says, as well as provide opportunities for focusing on your breath and relaxing your muscles.
There are many ways that you can achieve fitness after smoking, so start today! For more tips and inspiration, check out our other blog posts on Brad Kearns.com and you can get back in shape in no time.