I am doing some editing on my book today and two things happened: First, I began to miss my mother, and second, I thought, why not put this on my blog?
This article was originally written for my column the week my mom died from complications of lung cancer, and was dedicated to her memory.
Those of you who smoke, please don’t ditch me here. Hang in with me. I write this with love in my heart. To prove that I understand the powerful urge to smoke I am coming clean and outing myself. I was a smoker, and it was my love of physical activity that inspired me to quit for good.
Physical Activity Can Make It Easier To Quit Smoking
Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality among both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society smoking causes about 87% of lung cancer deaths.* Smoking is the cause of a host of other diseases, including emphysema, heart disease and vascular disease. Quitting at any age can lower your risk of developing lung cancer, even if you have smoked for many years.
Quitting is not easy. Nicotine, the drug fond in tobacco, is highly addictive. The habit is so powerful that after experiencing the loss of a loved one from emphysema or lung people, some people still cannot kick the habit. Even if they want to, and know they need to.
The best advice is never to start smoking, but for those who already smoke, quitting is one of the hardest habits a person will ever need to break. Ask anyone who has nicotine fits between smokes, or has ever tried to quit. In fact, ask me. In an effort to convince others to quit and prevent young people from starting, I share my personal experience with smoking cessation. I know how difficult it is.
I started smoking when cigarettes were fifty cents a pack and teenagers were permitted to purchase cigarettes in a grocery store. Television commercials glamorized smoking, and hunky mustached men on horseback on billboards made it ‘too cool’ not to smoke.
I smoked for a few years and during that period in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s I had many bouts with bronchitis. I quit several times- only to reconstruct broken cigarettes that were crumpled during my vows never to smoke again. I urge smokers not to give up- keep quitting until you have quit for good. Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times”
It was physical fitness that helped me make the best decision of my life- giving up cigarettes. I have not had bronchitis since.
I was a young woman of twenty six and came home from work to find the elevator in my Manhattan high-rise out of order. Forced to climb the twenty five flights of stairs to my apartment, I stopped every couple of flights to catch my breath
I needed no further convincing, as I always loved physical activity and was astounded by the proof of my limited pulmonary function. I quit for good and took up running. I replaced a bad habit with a good one. The natural high that comes from completing a workout also kept cravings at bay. I also found it impossible to smoke if I was jogging or shooting hoops.
One day the cravings went away forever. Instead of nicotine I craved exercise and oxygen in my lungs. I did not gain weight as a result of breaking the smoking habit. Exercise kept my metabolism up and my waistline down.
As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day will help fight the urge to smoke, and help you to build physical strength and endurance. You can add years to your life, and quality to those years.
The American Cancer Society offers the following tips to help you stop smoking:
§ When you decide to quit- do not smoke. This means at all- not even one puff.
§ Keep active- try walking, exercising or doing other activities or hobbies.
§ Drink lots of water and juices.
§ Begin using nicotine replacement if that is your choice.
§ Attend stop-smoking class or start following a self-help plan.
§ Avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong.
§ Reduce or avoid alcohol.
§ Think about changing your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place or eat different foods.
* These statistics and guidelines were posted on the ACS website at the time this original article was written in April, 2007.
Butta La pasta! (Throw in the pasta). The sauce is ready, and the water is boiling. I have a tub of sundried tomatoes (why do they always seem to come by the peck?), and I found some Brandy that I keep for company in my kitchen hutch. I just made a creamy brandy sauce with sundried tomatoes and broccoli. It rocks! No cream though. I used low fat milk and whisked in some flour water (same as to make a brown gravy) . Tastes great and saved myself some calories. Gotta keep whisking though, so the milk does not burn. That IS KEY! Wish we were having company for dinner!
I saw on the news last night that VP Joe Biden's 41 year old son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, suffered a Stroke. According to reports he is going to recover, which is excellent news!
Would you recognize the signs if you or someone you know was having a stroke?
A Stroke, also known as a brain attack , happens when the arteries leading to the brain are blocked or rupture. It is a medical emergency and can cause permanent neurological damage and death. If you suspect that you or another is having a stroke call 9-1-1 immediately.
Today I received a newsletter from the American Heart Association declaring May to be American Stroke Month. I am helping to spread the word:
May is American Stroke Month. Help spread the word.
Call 9-1-1 immediately and say "I think this is a stroke" if you or someone else has any of these stroke warning signs:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Today, in addition to learning the stroke warning signs, you can help educate your community by encouraging our elected official to spread the word during American Stroke Month.
Help encourage the lawmakers to spread the word!
Stroke. You're the Cure
Moms, today is our day! Enjoy it and basque in the extra attention. As mothers we often put the needs of our family first. Remember that when we get regular exercise, drink lots of water and get good nutrition we are also taking care of our family. They need us healthy! Gotta go...I am getting a rare backrub from my nine year old. This opportunity will not come around again until next Mother's Day.
The symptoms of heart disease can be so subtle that a woman may not even know she is having a heart attack. For decades heart disease has been typecast as a disease for men. Women need to take charge of their lives by making time for exercise and choosing nutritious foods.
Examples of simple everyday fitness activities are: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, recreational bicycling, going for walks, and doing enjoyable chores such as gardening. A body in motion improves metabolism, increases blood flow and improves circulation. Regular activity burns calories for weight control, builds muscle and helps to reduce cholesterol. Parents and couples who juggle work and home life seek balance in their lives. Fitness classes, exercise training programs and weight training become an exciting priority when we put workouts up on the top of our to-do lists.
Spring is here!!!! Jackets are off, and arms are bared. Don’t let frustration mount over unwanted pounds. Planning ahead will get you fit and prepared for the warmer summer months ahead.
Physical activity helps control weight gain, so get out and walk and enjoy the weather we have been waiting for.
And watch your food consumption. Weight gain is about energy in and energy out. Calories are energy that is taken into the body from foods. If we take in more calories than we need, the inevitable result is weight gain.
There are ways to cut calories without feeling deprived of the foods you love.Here are some tips:
Have a half of a bagel instead of a whole one.
Use natural fruit preserves instead of butter.
Use skim milk instead of whole or 2%, even in coffee or tea.
Drink plenty of water, eat fresh fruits and vegetables- low in calories and help keep you hydrated.
Stay away from (or cut back) junk foods.
Avoid gravies and heavy creamed sauces.
Bake or broil instead of frying.
Use olive oil (healthy fat) and vinegar, or lemon, with a pinch of salt is a healthy way to dress a salad.
Small changes will bring big results if the foods you are choosing are healthy, and you are physically active on a regular basis. If you do not have a gym membership, think about joining, or find out if a local club has day rates. There is still time to shed those unwanted pounds before summer, so pack a gym bag, keep it in your car, and move your body. You’ve nothing to lose- except a few pounds.