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Weight Gain When You Quit Smoking - Leslie's Story

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Updated February 02, 2014

Weight Gain When You Quit Smoking - Leslie's Story

Leslie Bainbridge

Smoking cessation often brings some unwanted weight gain along with it.  While it can be uncomfortable, keep your perspective about the risks of a few extra pounds versus the thousands of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke.  Once your quit is under control, losing weight is a doable task.

I'd like to introduce you to Leslie, a member of the About.com Smoking Cessation support forum.  In her account, she details with humor the challenges of weight gain early on in her quit program.

From Leslie:

I have gained weight since I quit smoking. A lot of weight. I've gone up two dress sizes, and though I tried to convince myself that it was just water or bloating or that last large dinner...I've now realized that I'm quite simply, fat. It's funny, because during that first quit, I actully lost weight because I was so active. This time around though, I gave myself permission to eat anything I wanted, a sort of 'reward' for quitting. Although I'm a firm believe in 'whatever it takes' to bury this addiction, I kind of wish I'd chosen to bury it with weights instead of cakes.

I went to a very hip clothing store the other day, filled with beautiful, sassy clothes and skinny, saucy clerks. With several items strung across my arm, I made my way to the teeny, tiny change rooms (I'm sorry, but why do they put those things in the middle of the store sometimes!?) It was pretty cramped in there, I kept banging my bottom against the door and had mental trauma imagining the door swinging wide open to show a group of revulsed and horrified individuals a chubby, mortified me.

I changed slowly. The fluorescent lighting was awful. Every bump, bulge and droop seemed almost glaringly caricature-like in its magnification. I then had a thought that made me giggle; 'After you quit smoking, objects may appear closer than they actually are.' Then I heard whisperings outside my booth. Great, I thought, now the door will swing open to reveal a mortified, chubby me, laughing maniacally.

So, yes. After admitting to myself that even though I could fit into one size above normal pants, I would never be able to sit down in them, I opted for comfort and self-honesty, and bought the pants two sizes larger. I was down for a bit, but then the realization hit me that I am a non-smoker, and really - who gives a rats bottom if I'm a bit plumper but so much more healthy?

Weight gain doesn't have to happen when one quits. I believe we have used smoking for so much emotional repression, that food just sort of takes the place of the fumes in filling the void. I also still maintain that better to carry a few pounds around that can eventually be lost, than an oxygen tank! And so what about a few pounds!

My skin is absolutely glowing! My eyes are bright, my breath is fresh, and I've gotten some double takes when I've been out and about. There's nothing sexier than health and confidence, and quitting smoking gives you both. In spades. Now I have to find a way to reach for a paint brush or swimming goggles or anything other than that chocolate bar. Mind over matter. It's not even a hunger or a craving, just a mindless 'filling' of something that needs to be replaced with something healthier. I've often heard it said it takes three weeks to break a habit, so now I just must find a better way to fill my time.

We live in a world of 'fast'. Fast-food, fast relief, fast healing. But sometimes, something that's really important to do takes a bit of time. There isn't always immediate relief and reward when we make a positive change in our lives. Sometimes we have to climb a bit of a mountain to get to see the spectacular view below. It would be nice if it was a downhill slope, but would we really appreciate it? Oh, heck - I would. Seriously, I really believe I could still appreciate a beautiful view if I got to it via nice comfy ski-do. But yes, I suppose there is that knowing, that development of inner strength, or perhaps recognition of it, that does make the climb worth it, that does heighten the poignancy of the view.

Sigh, okay, give me the ropes, I'll do it! In the meantime, I'll console myself with this; A friend of mine just joined Weight Watchers. At a recent meeting, the instructor asked everyone who had quit smoking to raise their hands. When about half of the attendees raised theirs she smiled and said, ' I used to smoke. And losing weight for you, will be a piece of cake.' Oooh, let's not say cake!

More from Leslie:
the Seduction
Replacement Therapy
Not One Puff Ever (N.O.P.E.) - Part One
Not One Puff Ever (N.O.P.E.) - Part Two

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