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Quitting Smoking and Weight Loss

By dcolbert Contributor ·
So, I recently attempted to quit smoking with the aid of Chantix, a stop-smoking drug. It worked amazingly effective, and after my first week on the drug, I had no desire to smoke at all. I managed to quit completely for over 6 months, 4 of which were completely drug free (I went off the Chantix early). I've now back-slid, unfortunately, and I'm smoking about 3-5 cigarettes a day - but it feels like I'm 14 or 15 and smoking again. I can go from 4 pm until 9 am the following morning without a cigarette. I'm eventually going to give it another try - and I may go on a short course of Chantix to help me out. But that isn't really the point.

When I went off, I put on weight, which isn't unusual. I'm not a huge guy, but I went from about 160 pounds to about 175 pounds, which was a noticable increase in weight for me. Now that I'm smoking again, I've shed a few of those pounds.

This got me thinking about my half-sisters, all of who are over-weight. They also all quit smoking in their early to mid 30. Although all of them come from a side of the family that is just larger - none of them were obese when they smoked. One is now probably morbidly obese. She wears it well enough that you probably wouldn't think of her as such - but she is approach morbid obesity. She quit the earliest, and she is also a very big fan of 12-Step programs, with a large circle of friends and support coming from this community. She has had significant health problems. It is arguable if her health problems are related to her weight or not, but her weight certainly isn't making her health problems more managable. She is relatively young to be facing such dramatic health issues, as well.

The thing is, it is clear to me that she has replaced her previous addictions with an addiction to food - and although this may not be a popular statement or opinion, I think that in her case, maintaining her weight but continuing to smoke might have been a more healthy alternative than replacing that addiction with food.

Obviously and ideally, she would have quit smoking, and not found something equally unhealthy to replace that addiction with - but the truth of the matter, and one hard to grasp for people with non-addictive personalities, is that this is harder to achieve than to say.

I think this is the danger with our society and issues like this in general. There has been such a push to attack smoking in our society, we've lost site of the forest for the trees. We've had a massively funded federal campaign that approaches a propaganda campaign to create an atmosphere of zero tolerance for smoking. I'm sure I could find expert advice that would say, "yes, in some cases, it would be better for someone to continue to smoke than to eat themselves into morbid obesity". But as a society we embrace the idea that smoking is always more destructive than eating. That is despite the fact that smoking has never been proven to *cause* cancer, or many of the other diseases or health issues for which there is a strong correlation, but not proof of cause, with. If you feel compelled to argue this point with me, don't bother. Smoking and disease is correlation, not cause. Otherwise we would assume that all smokers would eventually develop cancer, and they don't, and we would also assume that all non-smokers would remain cancer free, and they don't.

To try and bring this into a discussion relevant to these forums - I constantly remind clients, customers and my own staff to beware of cause-for-correlation errors. In fact, I was recently experiencing a permissions/authentication issue between my back end and front end mail server. This error occured after one of my engineers migrated our DC from W2k3 to W2k8. I felt strongly that it had to do with this migration, due to the correlation. My engineer argued strongly that he did not feel that this was the case. Today, another engineer discovered that in Control Panel, in the "Stored User Names and Passwords" control applet, a particular account associated with Blackberry Exchange Server had been stored. He removed this stored account and password, and communication was restored. Cause for correlation errors waste time, cost money, and lead to wrong conclusions, and we're all guilty of making them, sometimes as an entire society thinking with a hive mind. Sometimes they may even jeopardize our health.

Some may claim that this is an elaborate justification to continue smoking. Who knows, there may be some truth to that claim - but even if so, I don't think it invalidates the counter-claim - that giving up something bad for you and replacing it with something worse is simply a bad idea, regardless of how well conditioned we've become as a society to reject this idea. The more important lesson, is that generalizations are invariably dangerous things - regardless of if you are evaluating the dangers of smoking in your life or approaching troubleshooting what appears to be a permissions/authentication issue on a pair of mail servers after a DC upgrade on your AD domain. Correlating evidence should be assessed and evaluated, but confusing cause with correlation is something that should always be foremost in a person's mind - and there simply isn't any alternative to using those critical thinking skills to carefully analyze all evidence available for you. Just because someone tells you something (The Government telling you that you should quit smoking, your manager telling you that your DC move caused a mail server issue), doesn't mean you should take it at face value. Each case is different in some way or another, and should be carefully evaluated as an individual case.

As for me, at the moment I'm not sure what I am craving more, a few bite sized Mikly Way dark bars or a cigarette. Maybe I'll compromise, and have a little of both. :)

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I've always avoided Chantix

by AV . In reply to Quitting Smoking and Weig ...

I really don't think the answer to why you smoke can be quelled by a pill, unless you take it forever. It doesn't get at the root of the problem.


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by dcolbert Contributor In reply to I've always avoided Chant ...

Chantix "repairs" the receptors that receive the jolt from nicotine. It actually prevents the nicotine molocules from passing the receptor, if I understand correctly. That is my lawyman's understanding, anyhow. I can say that even though I am smoking again, it is more like when I was a teenager. I can go 8 hours easy without constant cravings. I think physiologically, it does get at the root of the problem. The psychological need is unaddressed. That is what support groups and the like are for. There isn't a wonder drug for that - or I wouldn't be smoking again.

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Sounds like a Beta Blocker

by The 'G-Man.' In reply to Chantix

What do you think of the e-cigs that are around then?

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That is how I fell off the wagon...

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to Sounds like a Beta Blocke ...

And I'll tell you what, vaporizing what amounts to anti-freeze and inhaling it felt WAY worse on my throat than traditional smoking. It was also hard to know how to regulate my nicotine intake. I know when I've smoked 2 cigarettes, or 20... but when you're sucking on vaporized nicotine juice, you can't really tell how much you're taking in. It freaked me out.

Lots of people really dig it, though. For me, playing with e-cigs is how I fell off the wagon - and will probably mean another bout with Chantix to get back on track.

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Coming from a weird angle

by Tig2 In reply to Quitting Smoking and Weig ...

My SO smokes and has stage four lung cancer.

The knee-jerk response? He HAS to quit smoking! Do it right now! Why in the world would you still smoke?!?!?! And using alcohol too?!? You had better stop that here and now!!! And your diet is crap!


He has a family history of lung cancer in family members that never smoked. Hmm. Genetic pre-disposition, anyone?

Cause for correlation is WAY valid, in my opinion. Could it be equally argued that because you insisted on using a Windows server, you had already opened the door for this kind of issue to occur?

I have a mental health challenge that is relieved with nicotine. So much so that the next generation of medications for my personal challenge are based on how nicotine interacts with the brain. Over 80% of people with this particular diagnosis are smokers. Hmm. Oh- and people with the specific issue I have statistically die young.

I am not yet 50 and have already experienced my first heart attack. So what is the causal factor? That I have a long history of heart disease in my family? That I am a smoker? Or that I have a diagnosis that puts me into a group of people with a shorter life expectancy?

The smokers in my family are fairly trim. The non smokers are overweight and in two cases are clinically obese. Does this give us additional information?

I have long debated the validity of what passes as 'science' lately. The theoretical 'good' science is trashed routinely in favor as the 'good science' of the moment.

Today I will choose to live without sugar. It is an addiction and one I can live without. I can be strong. I will be.

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Familiar with the studies...

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to Coming from a weird angle

that show a correlation with certain psychological disorders and self-medication with nicotine - and I think your observations show that often scientists and doctors would do good to pay better attention to what their patients are saying. If there is a problem with the sciences today, it is that they are too dismissive of the input of anyone outside of their specialized circle of knowledge who presents observational evidence.

Now as for cause for correlation being valid, I think you've misinterpreted (or I am misunderstanding your point). Your point here argues against making cause for correlation errors - that is, the scientific community is convinced that smoking is causual for lung cancer (well, not really, but popular media campaigns go beyond simply suggesting that smoking is correlated to increase in lung cancer rates). Your observations would indicate while there may be a correlation with smoking and long cancer, that other factors may be more important.


"Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, ... Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of death from cancer."

This is wrong. Smoking is correlated with many types of cancer - but has never been proven to cause it. Most sound science would suggest that cancer is probably a trigger in people with a perponderance to develop these cancers.

But I agree with your skepticism of "scientific fact" as it is presented today.

Regarding age, health issues, and fitting a group that has shorter than usual life expectancy: One theory I've seen proposed is that the clinical diagnosis of psychological challenges often goes along with habits that are likely to decrease life expectancy. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg argument among those doing studies.

Is mental illness causing behaviors that make you live shorter lives, as a group, or do you live shorter lives as one symptom of the mental illness, which may also present symptoms (such as self-medication) which are also likely to shorten life expectancy, but may be unrelated.

In regard to all of this, I'd refer to the original post. I think most people who have addictive personalities are probably dealing with other, potentially undiagnosed (and possibly mildly symptomatic) issues.

G-man could possibly be onto something when he noted the abrasive parts of my personality. I think those are the challenges here, we don't understand.

Which is really what this whole post is about, not acting before you've got at least a decent grasp on the issue. The difficulty is, in knowing the difference between *having* a good grasp of the issue and just *thinking* you do. (Refer back to global climate change entering this discussion, for example). :)

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by cmiller5400 In reply to Familiar with the studies ...


"Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, ... Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of death from cancer."

This is wrong. Smoking is correlated with many types of cancer - but has never been proven to cause it. Most sound science would suggest that cancer is probably a trigger in people with a perponderance to develop these cancers.

Both my Grandparents on my mother's side smoked for 45+ years before they quit. My Grandfather never developed Cancer (and is still alive today, at age 82 I believe) and my Grandmother is alive and well at age 80; though she did have a bought of breast cancer a few years ago.

On my Father's side, my Grandmother died at age 84 of Alzheimer's (I don't believe that she smoked). My Grandfather died at age 86 of prostate cancer that metastasized to other parts of his body. He smoked for 20+ years then quit about the time I was born.

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As you noted

by Oz_Media In reply to Quitting Smoking and Weig ...

That;s been a fact if quitting, for ages.

Stop smoking, eat more, goes with most quits.

Most smoking cessation drugs also note that you need to control diet by choosing sugarless gum instead of candy, processed (salted)peanuts which are also very high in calories etc. to replace the habit.

Smaller food portions, controlled eating times etc should always be part of smoking cessation.

And I fit into the 'me too' category. I started smoking after gaining weight and again lost it, then learned teh two go hand in hand and require equal consideration and focus in order ot be successful.

I smoke now, cigars anyway, but a friend of mine quit smoking AND lost over 60lbs at teh same time. It can be done it sure as **** isn;t easy but nobody said it would be, just that it CAN be done.

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exercise exercise exercise exercise

by Forum Surfer In reply to Quitting Smoking and Weig ...

The only way to avoid the weight gain is exercise. I joined a gym months before I quit in preparation. By the time I quit, I was on a regular cardio schedule. I used the weight gain to my advantage and hit free weights more heavily as I quit smoking. Not only was I able to "bulk up" but lifting heavier than normal (more weight, less reps than usual)was a nice way to vent some of that stress that quitting cold turkey causes. Why quit cold turkey? Read my whacko post above!


Overall I'm pleased with this as it worked well for me. My routine isn't for everyone. 3 months after I quit, I weighed exactly the same as I did the previous year. The fat had been replaced by muscle in many areas though, or at least toned up significantly in other areas. I felt very good about my physical health once my pants were too loose and my dress shirts were too tight across the upper body, arms and neck.


Good luck in whatever you decide to do. Smoking is one of the toughest habits to break. My OxyContin and Percocet withdrawals (3 weeks of bed rest and 6+ weeks of narcotics)after a procedure I had paled in comparison to quitting smoking.

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The thing you may be onto here is...

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to exercise exercise exercis ...

That you may have replaced on addiction with another, but one that instead of having well documented negative health impacts has positive health benefits.

You're getting endorphine stimulation from regular exercise - and there is no doubt, it is well documented, that people can become fitness junkies because they literally become dependent on creating those endorphine rushes.

I used to lift when I was in my early 20s and ended up real cut. Not Carrot-top overbuilt, but far more defined than the average guy on the street. At some point I developed problems with hyper-extended joints and tendonitis, and now lifting is terribly uncomfortable for me. I have similar joint problems with cardio and aerobic exercises. I've got a family history of arthritis, and I think that this may be related.

At some point, you're just painted into a corner. :)

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