Have you ever heard friends say they’d like to quit smoking, but they are afraid they’ll gain weight if they stop?
Some people do experience a slight weight gain after they quit smoking. It could be that smokers trying to quit may reach for food for the same reasons they used cigarettes—to deal with stress or boredom or to be social.
The good news is that research shows that by 6 months, many people start losing this extra weight (typically less than 10 pounds) as they adjust to becoming non-smokers.
When you think about the many health benefits of quitting smoking, it’s easy to see far more pros than cons, tobacco use being the number one preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.
Here are some ways you can keep weight gain to a minimum while making the healthy life choice to leave those cigarettes behind.
Choose healthy foods. Fill your plate with fruits and veggies and lean meats like fish or grilled chicken.
Get moving! Exercise reduces stress and boredom, increases your metabolism, and can even help you get a better night’s sleep. Consider joining a class with a friend to help keep you motivated.
Drink more water. Skip the sugary soft drinks and make sure you drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day.
Watch your portions. Many people eat far more than the recommended serving size, and many restaurants serve huge portions of food! But remember, you don’t have to eat everything at one meal—take half of it home for lunch the next day.
To learn more about weight as it relates to quitting smoking, see Forever Free: Smoking and Weight (PDF, 1.18MB), a publication from the National Cancer Institute.
Everyone has stress in their lives, whether it’s from school, family, friends, or work. Everyone deals with stress differently. Some deal with it in healthy ways, while others turn to drugs, choosing not to confront their issues head on. Drugs lead to stress as your body starts to feel the harmful effects. So, how can you deal with stress in healthy ways? Here are some suggestions for a more stress-free life:
1. Take the stress out of stressful situations. Stress can pop up anywhere, but you can help make stressful situations more bearable. For example, if you have a test coming up, plan ahead and study for an hour every night of the week leading up to it instead of cramming the night before.
2. Just breathe. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a moment, step away, and practice some breathing techniques. Try counting backwards from 10 while breathing slowly in and out.
3. Exercise. Exercise is a great way to take your mind off your stress and reassess the situation. Not only will you refocus, but your body will release endorphins, which create a sense of pleasure throughout the body.
4. Relax. Take some time out of your day and do something that relaxes you. You could read a while, watch your favorite show, listen to music, spend some time outdoors, whatever helps you unwind.
5. Talk to family and friends. Getting advice from the people who care most about you can put stressful situations into perspective. Talk with family members or close friends when you’re feeling stressed out.
Tell us: What are some ways that you de-stress?
- Get some exercise. Community centers and health clubs may offer a special reduced price or free use of a gym for teens at holiday time.
- Don’t commit to too many parties, events, and get-togethers—everyone needs down time.
- Keep realistic expectations for getting along with family, and understand that it’s not going to be perfect. When things don’t go your way, ask yourself if it’s worth holding on to your anger or if you can just let it go and enjoy the moment.
- Chat with friends—talk on the phone, text, or de-stress on Facebook—and plan stuff to do.
- Volunteer at a community soup kitchen, food bank, or hospital.
- Start a drive to collect food and supplies for a homeless shelter.
- Visit a neighbor who may be elderly or impaired, or who may not have family around to help them celebrate.
- See about helping out families with young children who may need some relief to get dinner cooked or gifts wrapped.
- Start up a holiday dog-walking service for neighbors going out of town.
- Organize a gift exchange or a potluck supper with friends or family.
- Go caroling, then have the group to your house for hot chocolate.
- Make your own holiday baking gift packages—pre-packaged ingredients and recipe—to deliver to friends and family.
- Have a cookie baking contest or crazy cupcake competition.
- Go sledding, try ice skating, or build a snow fort.
- Have a sleepover or invite a friend over.
- Organize a dance-a-thon at your church, school, or rec center. See if the adults want to offer gift certificates or coupons for dance contest winners.
- Check to see if there’s a local First Night celebration. First Night is an organization that throws citywide New Year’s Eve activities.
- Start a tradition in your neighborhood with a flag football holiday bowl league.
Get good grades. Spend time with friends. Make your parents proud. Eat healthy. Exercise. Volunteer. Choose a college. Don’t relax until you’ve finished all of the above.
Sounds stressful. Yet these are the everyday situations many teens face. Add to that other common problems like bullying, sex, drugs and alcohol, joblessness, and family troubles, and it’s easy to see how teens can feel overwhelmed.
That’s where a mentor can help. Mentors are volunteers who support young people through the stresses of school, family, and friends—in other words: life. Mentors are trained in one or several areas to serve as guides, tutors, career advisors, and friends.
One of the oldest and best known mentoring networks is Big Brothers Big Sisters. Founded more than 100 years ago, it matches adults to young people age 6 to 18, one on one, to develop positive relationships that have direct and lasting effects.
Mentors can be a lifeline when you can’t turn to friends and family for help. School-based mentoring is growing more popular: Volunteer mentors work with students during or right after school.
It’s not always adults mentoring teens. Many high schools offer teen leadership development and peer mentoring programs. The Web site DoSomething.org—for and about teens—offers a campaign to Start a Peer Mentoring Program in Your School. Signing up and getting started could earn you a $2,000 scholarship.
The Benefits of Mentoring
People often form enduring relationships with their mentors and experience good changes in their lives like performing better in school or having a more positive attitude in general. According to a study by Big Brothers Big Sisters, evidence suggests mentoring can lessen the chances of teens starting to use drugs or alcohol and engaging in violent behaviors.
But the mentors benefit too. Big Brothers Big Sisters also found that high school students who mentor younger people report improved interpersonal skills—communicating better, being more patient, and wanting to be a better role model.
Have you ever been someone’s mentor? Do you have a mentor yourself? Tell us your experiences in comments.