Even if you haven’t recently quit smoking or stopped another addictive substance/ behaviour, this is a great plan to get fit if you’ve fallen off the health wagon or just getting on it for the first time. I’m pleased to present guest blogger, Vani Chugh, with her wise advice and thorough suggestions in starting a fitness plan!
If you’ve quit smoking, you have won a major battle already. You probably used e-cigs, NRT (Nicotine replacement therapy), counseling, hypnosis, positive affirmations, or medication to facilitate your cessation attempts, but it was an uphill battle anyway, right?
Now you have another battle ahead of you – preventing and controlling the weight gain that usually accompanies quitting. Numerous studies, published in authoritative journals such as Science and the Journal of the American Medical Association, have affirmed that quitting smoking is usually followed by weight gain. The British Medical Journal in fact verified the fact that people tend to gain weight after quitting after studying a sample of 62 people who had kicked the butt.
The good news is that this post-quitting weight gain does not have a negative impact on your heart health. Having said that, no one has any love lost for extra pounds and cellulite. So, what you need is a master plan that will keep those calories at bay and get you back in shape after quitting smoking. Here are a few suggestions that may be of help:
Strengthen Your Resolve: Start!
- Begin with some low-intensity cardio exercise. Also, make sure you use traditional weight-loss techniques initially; they will be more effective.
- Choose an activity that is less of an ordeal to you than others; you can walk, swim or cycle. If you have any smoking-related or other medical conditions, consult a physician before starting out.
- Whatever form of cardio you may have chosen, exercise everyday, for a fixed amount of time. Start out with 15 minutes perhaps and gradually increase your fitness activity.
Be Slow, Yet Steady
Start out slow but progress steadily. This is what you can do:
- If you begin by working out for 15 minutes each day, increase the time by 5 minutes every few days, till you can exercise comfortably for about 40 minutes.
- When you are exercising for 40 minutes comfortably, increase the intensity of the workout. If you’re walking at a brisk pace, walk faster or start jogging; if you’re swimming, add short sprint swims to intersperse your usual regime, if you’re cycling, increase your speed or choose more challenging paths.
The idea is to ensure that your heart-rate is elevated gradually while you’re exercising (without over-exertion, of course). You know your body is burning calories when you are breathing rapidly and can feel your lungs working over-time.
Add Strength-Training To Cardio
Once you have successfully incorporated cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine, add strength-training to your regime. Strength-training helps with muscle-building, and muscles require more calories for maintenance. Thus, more muscle mass means increase in body-toning, metabolism and eventual weight loss.
Try and exercise different muscle groups in rotation throughout the week:
- One day, concentrate on your arms; use weights (bicep curls, press-ups, tricep dips) or practice push-ups.
- Another day, work your legs; lunges and squats work wonders, even for beginners.
- You can also tone your core muscles by doing crunches, bicycle crunches, leg raises and the plank.
Plan a Nutritious Diet
As any fitness expert will tell you, getting fit is not just about working out, but also ensuring that you eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet. This holds special importance if you have just given up smoking, as eating the right kinds of food will help you detoxify your body.
Chalk out a diet plan that is right in fibrous vegetables, refreshing fruits and low fat nuts to help your body get rid of the harmful toxins that have accumulated in your system over time. A healthy diet will also help strengthen your organs and build your stamina as you start working on getting fit.
Here are some things that you should consider including in your diet plan:
- Lentils and egg whites are great sources of proteins, which means that they will leave you feeling fuller.
- Fruits and raw vegetables, especially leafy ones like spinach, are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals that are required for smooth functioning of the organs. And they also help detoxify your body!
- Avoid processed foods as much as you can – they contain unnecessary amounts of salt and calories, without really adding much value to your diet. Besides, the preservatives used in some processed foods can do more harm than good.
- Not all carbs are made equal, and more importantly including good carbs in your diet is essential. Unprocessed foods like whole grains, fruits and beans are healthy sources of carbs.
- Don’t avoid your favorite, sinful foods – make it a point to consume smaller portions of them instead, once a week. You’ll find it easier to stick to your diet plan if you allow yourself little treats once in awhile.
- Break down your 3 main meals of the day into smaller, more frequent meals to stay energized throughout the day and to curb your appetite.
Working your way back to a fitter you takes a lot of commitment and dedication, and as someone that has quit an addictive habit recently, this can be especially challenging. An easy way to stay motivated is to put it all in writing – so that you can always focus on the bigger picture. You need to constantly remind yourself why you quit smoking in the first place to stay on track.
Follow these simple steps to design your very own fitness plan:
- Gauge where you are currently, and where you want to be. This includes not only your weight, but also information about your stamina – e.g. how much you can run, weights you can lift, etc. When you can see your start point and destination clearly, it becomes easy to chalk out a path.
- Try your hand at various fitness routines to find the one that you enjoy the most. Start your fitness journey by concentrating on this form of workout until you see some improvement, and then move on to more challenging ideas.
- Give yourself ample time to get to the new you, and don’t get disheartened if you fail to see immediate results. Remember, your body needs to first detoxify itself once you quit smoking, before it can start getting healthier.
- Make sure your fitness plan includes enough time to rest. Your body needs adequate rest to heal itself and recover from the grueling fitness routine that you put it through.
Create a fitness plan detailing the amount of time you plan to dedicate to working out every week, and track your progress by listing your daily exercise routine – the number of calories you have burned, change in stamina, etc. When you see the results appearing over time, you will feel the urge welling up from within to stay on the healthy path. And smoking? Well, you may forget all about it in the process too!
Do Not Give Up
Most importantly, stick to your fitness goals and regime. Even if you do not see results immediately, do not give up. This exercise will be good for your health in general and weight-loss in particular.
About the Author
Do you have any suggestions to add here? The one I’d like to recommend is: drink more water. This not only helps with any cravings you might have for your substance of choice, but also helps you detoxify AND keeps you hydrated so you eat less and enabling you to be more active.