Today’s the Day: Great American Smokeout

Today is the 33rd Great American Smokeout, a day to commit to being tobacco free in hopes of kicking the habit forever. Though I’ve touched upon some smoking cessation tips this week, I’ve neglected to mention one critical component: SUPPORT. If you’re participating in this year’s Smokeout, be sure to share this information with the special people in your life; remember, besides you, no one wants you to kick the cigarette habit more than those who love you.

Share your Great American Smokeout success story – I’d love to hear from you.

Pulling the Trigger on Tobacco: Why Do You Light Up?

If you’re a smoker, chances are you taught yourself to weave smoking into just about every activity in your life. Now that you’ve decided to give up tobacco, you’ll have to reprogram the events that trigger the urge to smoke by inserting healthier habits into your daily routines. Yes, this will be a challenge – but then again, learning to smoke was a challenge too, wasn’t it? The good news is that when you arm yourself with knowledge and have a plan in place ahead of time, you’ll be well on your way toward conquering any reprogramming challenges you may face.

So, what triggers your urge to light up? Are there certain foods, drinks, people, or situations in your life that are interwoven with cigarettes? Make a list of these triggers and alternative activities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Coffee:
Switch coffee brands for a few weeks, or try flavored coffees, flavored creamers, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate instead. Drink your morning coffee in a different place, and if you always drink your morning coffee from the same mug, switch to another beverage container. Treat yourself to an elegant china cup and saucer or snazzy new travel mug. (While it’s best to avoid caffeine, trying to tackle too much at once can set you up for failure; remember, the emphasis for now is kicking the smokes.)

During Breaks at Work: Avoid going to the smoking area during break. Seek out the company of non-smoking coworkers and spend your break with them. Whenever you have the chance, take a short walk, read a snippet from the latest bestseller, or enjoy working a crossword or Soduku puzzle.

After Meals: Avoid the urge to smoke by going for a short walk or brushing your teeth immediately after eating. Have a travel-sized toothbrush with you to use after lunch at work or at restaurants.

While Driving:
Remove the cigarette lighter and ashtray. Give your car a thorough cleaning that leaves it smelling fresh, and remove all traces of tar and nicotine from the windshield. Do not allow others to smoke in your vehicle. Keep a travel bottle of water with you while driving, and sip instead of grabbing for a cigarette.

Each smoke-free day is a testament to your new, healthy lifestyle. The more practice you get, the less the urge to light up will plague you. Soon, you’ll have the chance to clear most of the events and routines in your life that you associate with smoking.

So, what are your triggers? What healthy replacements will you be making in your routines? Drop me a line or share your comments – I’d love to share in your smoke-free success!

Related Posts: What’s Your Reason to Quit?, Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout

What’s Your Reason to Quit?

The Great American Smokeout is just around the corner.  Are you – or a loved one – ready to reclaim your health from the clutches of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco? If so, then join millions of Americans on November 19th for the 32nd annual Great American Smokeout, and take the first step on the path of a tobacco free life.

At the heart of every achievement lies desire or a reason that spurs motivation. Think of this desire as the cornerstone for success. Now, sit down with pen and paper and list the reasons behind your desire to quit smoking. Include every single thing you can think of, from the largest, most obvious of reasons to the smallest. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• I want to reduce my chances of lung cancer, heart attack, or stroke
• I want to play with my child without getting short of breath
• I’m tired of waking up with a cough, or coughing so hard that I make myself sick.
• I want more control over my life
• I’ve got better things to spend money on
• I don’t want my tobacco use to affect my child’s/spouse’s health
• I’m tired of the late night trips out for cigarettes, and going out in bad weather to smoke alone.
• I never accomplish what I need to during the day because I waste so much time smoking.
• I’m sick of the overflowing ashtrays, stinking clothes, hair, breath, and car.
• I’m tired of cracking the car window in the pouring rain or freezing cold to smoke.

Have your list at the ready, and add to it when more reasons come to mind – remember, there’s no reason that’s too small or insignificant to include. Carry your list with you, and read through it whenever your resolve starts to ebb. Having your list at your fingertips will help get your priorities back in order, and keep you on the path of success.

So, what are your reasons for quitting? Drop me a line, or share a comment – I’d love to be part of your smoking cessation success!

Related Posts: Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout, What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress

Get Ready for Great American Smokeout

Chances are you’ve never heard someone say, “Wow – I’m really glad that I’m a smoker” or “I really wish that I wouldn’t have quit smoking.” Yet, more than 43.4 million Americans continue to light up.

While 90% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking, tobacco is also linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, bladder, colon, larynx, and esophagus – just to name a few. Cancer, as a result of cigarette smoking, claimed the life of my mother and three beloved aunts; the oldest was only 50 when she passed.

Though we’re all familiar with the link between cigarettes and cancer, the threat looms too far in the future for some to take seriously; for others, smoking and the potential for cancer are a crapshoot. After all, we’ve all heard the stories of so-and-so’s Grandpa Joe who smoked 3 packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and lived to be 101, or the sad tale of the smoker who quit cold turkey only to be killed by a runaway bus while crossing the street, right?

Did either of the above tales strike a chord? If so, let’s take a look at the “here and now” dangers of smoking – especially for those who already have health problems.

Increase in sputum. Though an increase in sputum is disgusting, producing excess mucus is a threat to your health.  From the first puff, irritating gases begin to cause chemical injury to lung and airway tissue, triggering an increase in mucus production. This excess mucus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and increases the susceptibility for colds, flu, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.

Weakens immune system.
Smoking impairs the immune system by slowing antibody response and weakening white blood cells. Smokers have a far more difficult time fighting infections and foreign invaders than non-smokers.

Decreases circulation.
Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces blood flow to the extremities. As blood flow decreases, so does the delivery of white blood cells or lymphocytes to the site of infection, slowing the healing time. In addition to a slower healing time and increased risk of stroke and heart attack, a sluggish circulatory system fails to clean the body efficiently, allowing dead cells and debris to build up in the body.

Hinders digestive system.
Cigarette smoke irritates the digestive tract, hindering the absorption of nutrients and contributes to common health disorders such as heartburn and peptic ulcers. In addition, smoking damages liver function. The liver, responsible for processing and removing drugs, alcohol, and other toxins from the body, loses its ability to function properly when damaged by cigarette smoke. If you do require medication, liver damage severely limits the pharmaceuticals you can ingest, and may stand in the way of you receiving the best medication for your health concern.

Keeps you from getting restful sleep. Did you know that smokers are four times more likely to get non-restorative sleep than non-smokers?  Stimulants found in cigarette smoke make it difficult to fall asleep, while nicotine withdrawal during the night disrupts the body’s natural sleep process. Inadequate and ineffective sleep keeps the body’s immune system from recharging, leading to a slew to of health problems.

The good news? There are immediate benefits to be had from kicking the cigarette habit:

• 8 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal
• 48 hours after quitting: All nicotine ill have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
• 2 weeks after quitting: Your circulation will increase, and will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks
• 3-9 months after quitting: Your lung capacity will have improved by 10%, lessening the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
• 1 year after quitting: Your risk of having a heart attack has dropped by 50%.

Whether you’re a smoker or have a smoker in your life, I hope that I’ve given you something to think about. This year, I urge you to participate in the Great American Smokeout Day on November 19th. This event challenges smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping that their decision to quit will last forever.

As the date approaches, I’ll be in touch with additional friendly reminders. In the meantime, I invite smokers to share their challenges and former smokers to share their quitting tips. Let’s kick the habit together!

Related Posts: What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress

HMO’s and Lemonade

HMO is an acronym for Health Maintenance Organization. In my opinion, that’s precisely what an HMO does – helps you “maintain” your health. While maintaining your health is great if you’re an overall healthy individual or if you have a manageable illness, what happens if you’re really sick?

An HMO can make the process of getting quality healthcare a true nightmare. Countless people have died while waiting for an HMO to approve a life saving surgery or to provide life saving medication. While we all know that money talks, this rings especially true with regard to hospitals and their money saving practices. It’s sad that the sick and the tired are bearing this burden, paying the price through prolonged suffering or, even more tragically, with their lives.

So, does this mean that doom and gloom is your medical destiny if you have an HMO? Maybe not. Take advantage of what your HMO has to offer. For example, your HMO may be the perfect venue for providing test results. If so, use the test results to help you take control of your own treatment plan. The old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” can apply in all aspects of life. Even healthcare.

A Healthy Shift In Perspective

I’m new to Cincinnati, and have been making an effort to get out and connect with other like-minded individuals. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a Women’s Idea Network meeting where I shared in great food and great conversation with a group of wonderful women. I was struck by the dynamic energy of the women seated at my table, and by their passion for their work. It’s no mistake that I was drawn to this particular table of women because I absolutely ooze passion and enthusiasm whenever I discuss health and wellness.

One of the ladies, Martha Kersey, shared a story with me that I found very inspiring. (I have to tell you the story was hilarious when Martha told it, so bear with me as I try and give you a feel for what she said minus the humor.)

As an RN, Martha taught her daughter how to read labels of various over the counter medications and determine the proper dosage based on what she’d read. It was normal for her daughter to call her when she didn’t feel well, tell her how she felt, explain what she wanted to take and relay the proper dosage.  (Most mothers would think this was great, and at the time Martha did, too.)

However, Martha later shifted her perspective and began to look at how she could prevent rather than treat her family’s symptoms. Martha used her RN background, and began researching ways she and her family could start living a healthier lifestyle. During her research, Martha discovered Juice Plus, and decided that it would be a great addition to her new, healthy lifestyle. Well, it worked! This shift in perspective changed Martha’s daughter’s perspective, too, which led to her having fewer health problems.

As a mother, Martha expressed guilt over not being able to share this mindset with her other children (they were older and out of the house by then).  My reaction to Martha’s story was quite different. I thought to myself – How amazing! Martha was not only able to shift her perspective, but those of her daughter and husband as well. For that, Martha should be truly proud.

I shared Martha’s story with you because I think there’s a lesson to be learned.  Many times, people that suffer from health challenges don’t ask themselves what they can do to make things better.  It would have been easy for Martha to let her daughter continue down the road of symptom->pill->symptom->pill, but instead she decided to take control and figure out what she could do to help her family become more healthy.

If you’re living your lifestyle a certain way and experiencing multiple health symptoms and/or health problems, how can you expect your health to change if you continue to do the same thing? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Yes, medication may be an option, but what happens when you become dependent on that medication and you need another medication to counter the side effects of the first medication?  It’s an endless, vicious cycle, but you have the power to break this cycle if you take control of your health by taking responsibility for your health.

Change your perspective and ask yourself not what the medical establishment can do for you, but what you can do to help yourself medically. Take it from Martha, it works – and it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to do it as long as you do it!

How can you change your perspective?

What your Mystery Symptoms Can’t Take Away

When your body is gripped by the symptoms of a mystery illness, it’s easy to lose sight and feel as though you’ve surrendered everything to your health challenges.  It’s equally discouraging when a debilitating chronic illness such Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia zaps your body of all its energy.

Now is the time to take stock of your assets, and have a closer look at what Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the symptoms of mystery illnesses cannot take away.  First and foremost, the symptoms of chronic illnesses and mystery illnesses are not omnipotent. They do not have the power to:

  • Overpower your spirit
  • Diminish your accomplishments
  • Destroy your inner drive
  • Stop you from dreaming
  • Quiet your inner thoughts

However, mystery symptoms CAN take over your life – IF you let them!

Think about it….have you been letting your mystery symptoms take over your life?