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7 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

7 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

So, you’ve decided to quit smoking. That’s awesome, and you’ll undoubtedly notice that your health and overall sense of well-being will improve exponentially after you’ve quit, but the first few weeks going smoke-free will be hell on wheels (and not in that “good” way). Though nicotine itself will leave your body relatively quickly, a long-standing habit is difficult to break, and it’ll take a few months to get past the psychological addiction as well as the physical one.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you out a bit.

quit smoking

    1. Have a Strong Support System

    It’s important to let your friends and family know that you’re serious about quitting, and why you want to do so: telling other people makes you accountable to others as well as to yourself, and they’ll be able to help you out by being supportive and encouraging when you need them to be. Make sure they understand that you’re going to be a grump-faced jerk for a little while as you try to break the addiction, but that you appreciate their support. Let them know exactly what you need from them (keep you away from cigarettes; distract you; let you lie on the floor watching Die Hard 50 times in a row, etc.) and let them help you when you need it—don’t be stubborn and try to face this alone.

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    2. Cut Back Before Cutting Out Completely

    If you’ve been a moderate-to-heavy smoker for a while, quitting cold turkey will be absolutely horrible, and you’ll be far more likely to jump right back into smoking out of sheer desperation. Start by cutting back by a couple of cigarettes a day for a week, then cut down more each consecutive week. Once you’re down to 1 or 2 smokes a day, you’ll be in a much better space to cut it out completely.

    3. Take it One Day at a Time

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, but if you’re staring at the seemingly endless horizon of a thousand-mile journey, you’re going to plunk your butt down on the ground, cry a bit, and light up a smoke. It may sound difficult, but try not to think about how much time it’s going to take for you to kick this habit: try to stay present, in the moment, one moment at a time.

    Any time you start to feel overwhelmed, bring your attention back to your breathing, and recognize just how many minutes you’ve spent that day not smoking. See if you’re able to add another minute to that, and then another. Soon you’ll get distracted by something else, and at the end of the day it’ll be a great epiphany to see that you’ve spent 20+ hours not smoking.

    4. Drink Water, and Chew Fennel Seeds

    The former sounds like pretty solid advice, but you might be wondering about the latter: fennel is a mild diuretic (it helps eliminate water from the body), so drinking plenty of water + chewing fennel = flushing toxins out of your body more quickly. Fennel also helps to freshen breath, and keeps your mouth active when cravings might arise so you’re not tempted to toss food in there instead.

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    5. Get Active

    Nothing makes you appreciate a clearer cardiovascular system than physical activity. If you’ve been mostly sedentary, try Yoga or Tai Chi to get you up and moving without straining yourself, or take up swimming: it’s a full-body exercise that can be as gentle or challenging as you need it to be.

    More active folks can sign up with a running group (which will also help you socialize with people who have healthy lifestyles), so there’s a solid support/encouragement system in that social group as well. You can run with others at the same level as yourself, and you’ll feel great as you all progress together.

     6.Take Up a Hobby

    Keeping your hands (and mind) focused on a specific task will keep you from thinking about shoving cigarettes into your face, and you’re less likely to have cravings when you’re focused intently on something amazing. Aim for a hobby that requires a significant amount of care and concentration, and begin with small projects that you can complete in a day or two: finishing them quickly will give you a sense of accomplishment, and will keep you from getting frustrated with them and turning back to cigarettes to calm you.

    Video games can also be distracting, though turning to something like World of Warcraft to get over your smoking addiction might not be the best idea: you’ll just be trading one vice for another.

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    7. Stay Away from Smokers

    This one might be the most difficult,  especially if your social circle is mostly comprised of people who smoke, or if the activities you participate in on a regular basis encourage smoking. Unfortunately, it’s often when we try to kick a bad habit that we discover who our true friends are: when you tell people around you that you’re trying to quit smoking, it’s more than likely that a few of them will make fun of you for it, and try to mock you or pressure you into having the occasional drag. Those who aren’t proud of their own addictions tend to encourage others to join them in it so they don’t feel as guilty, and they have someone with them who’s along for the ride. You could very well find yourself in awkward situations with people you considered friends, but who will give you no support as you try to give up smoking for good.

    If situations like these arise, you’ll need to distance yourself for a little while until you’ve made enough progress that you won’t be enticed by others who may offer you cigarettes. If certain people give you grief about your choice, then it might be a good idea to re-evaluate your relationship with them.

    Be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to heal as the nicotine works its way out of your system. You’ll feel like absolute hell for a while, and you’ll be a cranky, snarling mess to be around, but that passes quickly—before you know it, you won’t have any more cravings, and you’ll be able to run up a few flights of stairs without wheezing.

    Good luck!

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    Featured photo credit: The Last Cigarette via Shutterstock

     

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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