Thursday, December 31, 1998

Looking to stop smoking?
Don't try New Year's Day

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's New Year's Day. After a night of eating and drinking too much, you lounge around the house and watch bowl games.

        Which begs the question: Is Jan. 1 the best day of the year to quit smoking?

        Absolutely not, says quit-smoking expert Charles Tedesco, a 26-year smoker who quit 18 years ago. He heads Smoking Release Associates in Del Mar., Calif.

        “That's no way to stay smoke-free,” he says, noting that the first days of kicking the habit should be filled with activity, exercise, good nutrition and mental alertness.

        His advice:

        • Make a plan. Give yourself two weeks to start quitting (longer if work, family life or relationships are stressful).

        • Make a daily list of three things you'll do for yourself that have nothing to do with quitting smoking. As you accomplish each task, check it off so you get used to keeping promises to yourself.

        • Think about your limits and what you will or will not tolerate. For example, will you continue to socialize with friends who smoke? What will you do instead of that hourly trip to the smoking area at work?.

        • Stay focused. Taking a drag from someone else's cigarette, or sneaking “just one,” is not consistent with the changes you are making in your life, so make sure your actions mesh with your goals.

        It's best to consider New Year's Day a starting point, not the day, for quitting smoking, says Jeneene Brengelman, a Cincinnati quit-smoking coach.

        “Many people think that quitting should be an event,” says the Westwood woman who until this year ran the SmokeFree for Life quit-smoking retreat for the YWCA. “It's not an event; it's a process and it takes quite a long time to get through it. It's in your best interest to stack the deck in your favor so that quitting can be your top priority.”

        Once you're prepared mentally to quit smoking, it's wise to prepare your body physically, Mr. Tedesco says.

        First, see your doctor about changes in your diet and activity level. Before you plan to begin exercising regularly, get a medical checkup so you can begin working and getting active safely.

        If you crave sugary or crunchy foods, try to get a handle on those urges before you quit smoking. Otherwise, it's possible you'll substitute food for nicotine and find yourself back in the habitual rut of short-term satisfaction (eating) followed by stress, more cravings and eating again.


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