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I used to smoke heavily (over a pack a day). A little over a year ago when my girlfriend got pregnant I quit cold turkey. I have since replaced smoking with snacking, and since then gained about 30 lbs.

I want to stop gaining weight and possibly even loose some. I am not very active either, I work on a computer all day and don't do much activity at night. I am not lazy, theres just really nothing to do in this small town and taking care of the new baby takes up a lot of our time as well.

I want to start exercising, even its just pushing the stroller around going on walks. And doing push ups, sit ups, etc. at home. Not really sure how much that will help?

What would be a realistic plan?

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Could you give us an idea of what you're currently snacking on, with possibly a few examples of standard meals? –  YYY May 19 '11 at 14:01
    
@YYY Snacks are usually salty items such as chips and dip or beef jerky. Dinners are usually things like roast, baked chicken, pizza, pasta, corn, green beans, potatoes, etc. Lunch is usually fast food. I rarely eat breakfast. I drink a lot of soda though too. –  JD Isaacks May 19 '11 at 16:50
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Thanks for the reply. I was going to type up my own answer, but the three answers in the interrim either say what I was going to say or give you better advice based on your situation (like the answer from your fellow ex-smoker). The only thing I will add is that cravings for salt and carbs that apparently make up your cravings can be handled longer and more fully by fat and protein - so you may consider learning how to quickly prepare some ham or chicken to nibble on instead of reaching for a bag of chips. –  YYY May 19 '11 at 17:46
    
@YYY thanks, yes everyone has given great info. Hard to pick only one to mark accepted. –  JD Isaacks May 19 '11 at 19:35
    
"Scientists say they’ve finally discovered why smokers tend to gain some weight when they kick the habit. It turns out that nicotine can rev up brain cells that normally signal people to stop eating when they’re full, researchers report in today’s edition of the journal Science. The weight connection isn’t huge: On average, quitters gain less than 10 pounds. Now the question is whether the discovery might lead to better treatments to help them quit without worrying about weight." Article –  Tony R Jun 10 '11 at 15:46

4 Answers 4

I can think of two simple solutions to your problem:

  1. Don't have snack foods in your house.
  2. Only have healthy snack foods in your house (fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, etc).

If there simply isn't anything to snack on, isn't anything you like to snack on, or isn't anything unhealthy to snack on, you may stop gaining weight. Unfortunately, this means that everybody in your house has to help you out with this goal, but perhaps your wife will like that idea.

As for exercise, if you really want to do something, just do it. There are hundreds of bodyweight exercises that you can do without any equipment at all:

What are some short 30-minute body-weight lift routines for travel.

You can also get a excellent workout using just a simple set of dumbells once the bodyweight exercises don't hold your interest.

Just a side note: lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight. If your little one is keeping you up all night it may be contributing to your weight gain. There's not much you can do about that right now, but it's something you should be aware of.

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+1 thanks for the info –  JD Isaacks May 19 '11 at 14:51
    
They might be healthy, but fruit, seeds & nuts contain plenty of calories. Stick to veggies if you can't help yourself. Or start lifting weigths to build some muscle with all that mass you're gaining. ;) –  eevar May 19 '11 at 15:42

I just quit smoking a month ago after 25 years. I don't think the fitness and nutrition experts have this correct, as you need to be a smoker to understand what's going on here. For a good portion of your life, your normal activities have been combined with smoking. So now, doing those activities by themselves doesn't satisfy your habit. Snacking and smoking are both very similar activities, and physiologically, the signal that you need to smoke, and the signal that you are hungry are almost the same thing - you are craving a nutrient. The problem is, snacking doesn't satisfy your craving, because you are craving nicotine, not food.
So, after many attempts to quit, I think I can say that the problem for you is that you quit cold turkey, and your nicotine cravings became food cravings, and you started a new habit. I have quit with a nicotine replacement, and it is a lot easier because you don't experience strong cravings, and the only task you really need to do is NOT SMOKE.

The only way to stop a habit is to simply not do it. It isn't easy, and now that you aren't dealing with a physical dependence, your problem is entirely mental. I think it can help to hear from other addicts who know what you're going through... but the bottom line is, you need to stop snacking so much. Get rid of the snack food, just like you got rid of the cigarettes - it will drive you nuts for a while, but you just have to deal with it.

I replaced my smoking activity with something else. See my youtube video here...

Cut out the caffeine! It makes the cravings worse!

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I would proceed with making any changes to your diet slowly and incrementally, or in other words do NOT make radical changes.

You could start with documenting your current eating habits. Track your meals and calories by using a journal/notebook or use an online/mobile journal like MyFitnessPal.

Review your journal after two weeks and look at possible foods that you can target to either add, eliminate, or replace. Commit to making these changes for approximately 1-2 weeks until you get the hang of it. After that time frame, review again and target the next series of changes. Feel free to adjust the amount of changes you make (i.e. more/less) based on how well you managed during the last period. Of course you are still tracking your meals, right? :)

Examples

  • Replace: Instead of snacking on potato chips, I will eat a handful of almonds.

  • Add: I will eat an apple and/or a banana every day.

  • Eliminate: I will stop eating double-cheeseburgers from Hamburgers 'R Us.

Focus on having good, well-rounded core meals, meaning breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating properly may reduce your snack cravings.

Mental Awareness

If you catch yourself snacking at various points of the day, try to ask yourself WHY you are snacking.

Are you bored, stressed, depressed? When you smoked you may have formed unconscious desire to smoke at certain times or as a response to certain stimuli. For example, I've seen smokers light-up after every meal or every time they answered the phone.

Once you become aware of these habits you can tell yourself "NO" and choose a better alternative, like a glass of water. Over time you'll re-train yourself to automatically go for snacks that won't increase your waistline.

10 Appetite Suppressing Foods

I've included a list of 10 appetite suppressing foods from Men's Health to give you some snack ideas. Note this isn't a panacea but you may find that snacking on these may make you feel less hungry:

Apples, Flaxseeds, Caffeine, Water, Hoodia, Chicken & vegetable soup, Wasabi (spicy foods), Oatmeal, Salmon, Almonds.

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I would recommend:

  • Breakfast - I think it would help balance your metabolism throughout the day. Maybe a banana or orange and cereal or bagel, those are simple and easy. Juice.

  • Lunch - Not fast food. Packing a lunch will generally be cheaper and healthier. Some jobs are harder to pack a lunch for, but salads with separate dressing go well in a plastic tub. Not a kid rabbit salad, but a 1 lb. man salad with almonds, cranberries, some cheese, spinach not iceberg, red/orange/yellow peppers, mandarin orange slices, etc. A lean-meat sandwich like turkey is pretty good too. Throw in an apple, maybe some o' those healthy chips.

  • Snacks - I used to buy big bags of cranberries, and raw unsalted almonds, throw them in a little tupperware and snack on that. Red licorice twizzlers are good. No or low sugar i think.

  • Soda/pop/sugars - Your body burns that sugar before it burns other stuff in your body. Drink some water, it will also help your metabolism. If you drink a lot of coffee try drinking some green tea. Not as much kick though, which might take some getting used to. Beer? A lot of carbs in beer. Dessert? smaller size? skip it sometimes?

  • Exercise - Anything that gets your heart rate up. There's probably some optimal heart rate for weight loss... i dunno. Walking the stroller sounds like a great start. If there is a small grocery store, you can walk there frequently to keep fresh goods well stocked. Sit ups and push ups in the morning sound great too. Try starting at like two se. Jogging sucks, but it can be effective. Biking is great, mountain biking is an awesome challenge. Be consistent and try tracking your progress. Maybe run a half mile in one direction, then back. Time it. Log it. Maybe run 10 minutes in one direction then back. Mentally note the distance. Log it.

  • Smoking - congratulations on quitting the smoking. I have tried and tried and keep trying but it keeps coming back to bite me.

  • Accountability - get your girlfriend to support you. I'm sure she's pleased with the not-smoking, she probably be pleased with some weight loss too. Find a friend or neighbor you can stand who wants to work out, jogging, biking, pumping iron in the front yard. Take things one step at a time. Be deliberate. Don't give up.

I'm not a nutritionalist or personal trainer. This just works for me. If you get stuck, or discouraged, get some input from one of those professionals.

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Great information. Thanks :) –  JD Isaacks May 19 '11 at 19:34

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