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I Quit Smoking Cold Turkey: 6 Ways My Life Changed

Your health starts improving just 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Pretty comforting! Here’s how my life changed after quitting cold turkey.

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How I quit smoking cold turkey

I had no intention of quitting cigarettes at the start of the year. I’d been smoking for so long  – almost a decade, in fact – that I felt the damage had already been done. Didn’t see the point.

Despite being aware of the harmful effects of tobacco addiction, smoking had been the single most consistent feature not only as a (bad) habit that stood the test of time in a life where everything else is always fleeting, but also as a thread that weaved seamlessly every memory in my adulthood.

Cigs, as far as I was concerned, got me through varsity.

They were ‘there’ for the good times as much as they were there to pacify anxiety. (I’d later learn that this affectionate language about cigarettes was based on a false internal dialogue that framed tobacco as a ‘friend’)

I’d structured my daily routine around the habit. I’d sooner starve than not have a cigarette somewhere within reach. In short, I was very much addicted. So hooked that the idea of giving up cold turkey never even crossed my mind.

But after eight years of not being able to get through two hours without puffing it up, I had my last cigarette in April this year.

WHY I DECIDED TO QUIT SMOKING

The moment I quit was so sublimely simple and quiet that I can only credit it to God’s grace. It was peaceful; I couldn’t believe such a life-changing decision was a calm moment of clarity.

Here’s what happened on April 23rd, 2018; I stepped outside the office to the smoking area with a friend on a lush Monday afternoon this past Autumn. I then realized I hadn’t brought my cigarettes with me.

“Lord I know I’m playing games with these cigarettes but I rebuke lung cancer in my life.”

Neither had she.

“What now?”, I asked her before signalling to the security guard who’s always good with a stash.

The friend then said something that struck me, and instantly planted the idea that perhaps it was time for me to quit. She said she wanted to be able to just hang out outside and catch some fresh air. That it didn’t always have to be about smoking.

I couldn’t believe how that never occurred to me. For me going outside, taking a break, catching some fresh air, always meant smoking. Somehow that realisation shocked me and I knew I’d be having my last cigarette by that midnight.

6 WAYS MY LIFE HAS CHANGED AFTER I QUIT 

My Sense of Smell Is Back

Smoking irritates the nasal passages, which leads to inflammation that can affect a person’s sense of smell, according to Dr Ivan A Hernandez. Years of nicotine inhaling also affects the olfactory nerves that are located at the back of your nose, which dulls your general sense of smell.

I had no idea that smoking had been damaging my sense of smell. It never really crossed my mind for the eight years, which is why my only smoke prayers had centred around just lung cancer. Lord I know I’m playing games with these cigarettes but I rebuke lung cancer in my life.

Turns out there’s so much more than just that.

When I dug around the internet for some tips on quitting the day before I took the plunge, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that an improved sense of smell was amongst the many benefits of giving up nicotine. I couldn’t wait to smell the fresh morning breeze with more intensity, which starts happening around week two.

Two weeks after quitting tobacco I could smell food from a superhuman distance, which didn’t help my rapid weight gain.

Glowing Skin

Here’s a photo someone recently sent me from a couple of years ago that part of me never wants to see again. The difference in my skin tone and texture between then and now is remarkable, and I haven’t introduced any chemicals or treatments to my skin care routine.

How I quit smoking cold turkey

I will keep it around though, since it’s a nice addition to the ‘before and after’ collection of snaps showcasing the many ways my skin, eyes and hair have improved along with the cessation of smoking and refined sugar, amongst other lifestyle changes.

RELATED: GIVING UP SUGAR IN YOUR TEA – 3 SKIN BENEFITS TO EXPECT

The photographer captured me with a cigarette in my hands, puffing away at a team building retreat. I’m shocked now at how dry my skin looked. I could be dramatic, but you can literally see dead cells on my hands. The fingers were stained, skin tone uneven,

There’s More Energy

I added thirty more minutes to my gym sessions within weeks after quitting. It happened very organically. I found myself with more stamina during my workouts, which began about two and half weeks after my last cig. In contrast, cigarettes were quite tiring. That’s quite interesting, because most smokers would report otherwise.

RELATED: 6 SIMPLE SMOOTHIE INGREDIENTS FOR WEIGHT LOSS

That’s because tobacco can give you a surge in clarity, energy and a sense of calmness. Nicotine, a stimulant found naturally in tobacco products, enters the bloodstream quickly and starts playing games with your brain, which leaves the smoker feeling more energetic and less stressed, according to Vaping Daily.

While that sounds awesome, that energy spike is temporary.

These short-lived effects are soon replaced by negative physical symptoms of agitation and restless as soon as the smoker ‘crashes’ from the high. In fact, energy and mood levels after the smoke tend to reach levels lower than pre-smoking levels. The smoker must have another one to ‘boost’ their energy, which creates an endless, self-defeating loop.

Saving Money 

This is one of those things where you only realise how bad things were after leaving the situation. The money you save afterwards is not only a measure of how much the habit actually cost you, but it also serves as motivation for you to continue in your walk towards better health, despite the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

A fun challenge, if you intend to but haven’t quit yet, is to determine how many packs you buy every week, and then withdraw that money and put it aside for a month. Seeing the hard cash is a thrill on its own!

And then, of course, you can use that money to reward yourself for taking active steps towards an improved life.

Taste Buds Are Working Again!

I read about this one the day before I quit, and I instantly looked forward to being able to enjoy my food more! I did… a little too much. I started to taste food much better around day 7, and of course, it led to me eating more, which led to serious weight gain.

For me though, a bit of weight gain was okay because the intention was to kick a habit that’s not easy to escape by any measure. I went two sizes and kept the weight on until I gave up sugar. After that, the cravings stabilised, so the journey to refined abs resumed! Here’s a recent thirst trap snap I shared of my progress.

http://quenchsa.com/2018/10/31/avoid-5-foods-achieve-defined-abs/

The weight loss is taking longer than before because I’m doing it the healthy way, but for me it was all worth it in the end.

Better Sleep

I haven’t discussed the actual withdrawal symptoms and severity of cravings in this article because that will be addressed elsewhere in greater detail, but I was pleasantly surprised that insomnia was not on that list.

While I found myself dealing with itchy skin, heartburn, indigestion, chest pains, flu, dizziness, lack of energy, edginess, insatiable hunger pangs and so much more, I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep through even the most severe of the withdrawal symptoms.

A weeks later, I found that my sleeping patterns had improved quite significantly!

I will be sharing many more useful insights on this topic moving forward. But I’m also looking forward to hearing from you and your journey. Get in touch with us in the comments section below!

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Diet

Losing 5 KG In One Week With The Cabbage Soup Diet!

The Cabbage soup diet promises rapid weight loss of up to 4.5 kg, or more. Everything you need to know

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Cabbage Soup Diet South Africa

Around this time of the year, many people are hoping to torch the extra kilos gained during the previous festive season. Maybe you are one of them. I sure as hell am.

Most of us gobbled down a little bit more than what we should have, and that’s being nice about it because you know what went down in the kitchen. I for one am on a mission to drop the 5 kilos I picked up within three weeks of giving zeros in December.

I don’t regret anything, though (… at all! Are you kidding me? There were back to back cheat days, at all levels, for more than two weeks at some point). That said, the journey to claiming the snapback body has started.

And although I’m an unwavering advocate for healthier and more sustainable ways of losing weight and getting back in shape, many people are definitely looking into quicker ways of dropping a size or two ahead of a lush gateway in February, or a looming special event. Or maybe because you can’t fit into many of your fave outfit with as much ease anymore.

Whatever your reason is for hunting down the quickest route to the most weight loss method, you’re probably looking at various quick fix options that promise miracle results in a short space of time…

As if all the miracle weight loss teas and concoctions floating around social media aren’t enough enticement to lure the most unsuspecting, many people will be hearing more about the good ol’ crash diets.

These urgent, short term basis diets are taken with the aim of achieving rapid results. They aren’t recommended for the long haul due to the detrimental effects they can have on your body. Many also shun them because the water (which is mostly water to begin with) is likely to come right back, and some. This can lead to yo-yo dieting, which can open you up to some serious health risks down the line.

While these fad diets are always doing the rounds, they obviously resurface more prominently around the post-holiday season. For obvious reasons. The trick is often simple; limit your daily caloric intake by eating next to nothing for a fixed period of time to see mindblowing results. Fast!

So fast, in fact, that the only thing they seem to do faster is the number of before-and-after snaps being thrown in the ether for those swearing by them. Good ones, might I add. Ones that make you want to start, like, now! Like, scrolling down on your Instagram timeline to stumble on a Cardi B video in which she flaunts the enviable abs she was able to achieve merely months after giving birth to her first child.

And then she credits all of that to a tea… Then; ‘SHOP NOW.’

But back to the topic at hand. There are countless crash diets that promise rapid weight loss at your disposal in January. But while the long and short of it is they are mostly unhealthy, unsustainable and sometimes downright bogus, we thought it’d be worth taking a detailed look into the three most common ones. Bear in mind that you should keep to their recommended span and move on to a healthy lifestyle as a vehicle to weight loss afterwards.

Kicking things off with the cabbage soup diet, we break everything down about the diet and how it works:

THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET 

This is a short term weight loss diet that promises rapid weight loss of about 4.5 kg in a period of seven days. While the soup will be central throughout, it is to be consumed with fruits, vegetables and the introduction of lean meat in the advanced stages.

 

INGREDIENTS & RECIPE

  • Cabbage
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 package of mushrooms

THE DIET 

DAY ONE 

In addition to having the soup throughout the day, you are meant to eat only fruits on first day. With the exception of banana(banned until later on the diet), there’s no limit to the amount of fruit you can consume on the first day of the diet. Take the opportunity to focus on fruits that are also superfoods in order to maximise nutritional value for the least calories at impressive satiety. Our list of 10 Superfoods for faster weight loss and improved health should come handy. Stock up on those blueberries!

You are also advised to drink at least eight glasses of water for optimum results. There are no awards for guessing that you can’t indulge on soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and sweetened juice.

You can also have black coffee or tea with no sugar and, according to cabbagesoupdiet.com, unsweetened cranberry juice. Cranberry juice, in general, is pretty bomb for your health. As a side note, I’d suggest you look into limiting or cutting out refined sugar from your hot beverages altogether. If you are already looking to go down this path, this is a pretty good way to set things in motion.

RELATED: GIVING UP SUGAR – 5 SKIN BENEFITS TO EXPECT! 

DAY TWO 

First of all, Congratulations on surviving the first day! It takes a whole lot of willpower to resist all the yummy stuff.

But be warned, day two is generally where most people quit this diet. You aren’t going to quit, so here’s what you be having the whole day;

The cabbage soup with an unlimited amount of vegetables throughout the day, which means you never have to go hungry! The same rules from the first day still apply the same here. You are advised to keep your reach away from starchy beans, peas and corn. You can have a bigger ass potato for dinner, but you can’t add any salt. No fruits for you today.

DAY THREE

You’ve made it past the half way point now. It doesn’t necessarily get easier;  Possible side effects include lightheadedness, dizziness and exhaustion by now. This is when you are also likely to start seeing some results, which is enough motivation to drive you to the finish line.

You can have both fruits and vegetables on this day. I’d recommend you blend everything into a yummy smoothie to kick off your day fresh with a nutritional morning shake. No potatoes and no fruits. Three to four bowls of the soup. Drink plenty of water.

RELATED: SMOOTHIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS – 7 INGREDIENTS TO SHED THE KILOS 

DAY FOUR 

I did ask you to be patient about your bananas on day one, their time would come. Today, you are to drink at least four glasses of skim milk (or unsweetened almond milk) and gobble down on eight huge bananas. Banana is a superfood too, and makes for a delicious killer smoothie. Blend with the milk and add some ice blocks for better consistency.

DAY FIVE

Beef! Yes, that’s right. You can have up to 20 ounces of lean beef today, with tomatoes. Slice up six medium sized tomatoes and have them with beef over dinner. I, not being a fan of beef as it ranks too high on the list of carcinogenic foods (foods that have the potential of causing cancer), would rather go for skinless chicken or fish. Plus with the soup, you aren’t likely t0 endure any hunger pangs today.

DAY SIX 

Finally, it now does get better; Beef and vegetables are on the menu. That’s more protein for you! If you aren’t into beef, repeat the alternative recommended on day five (above). Have some leafy greens today, and the soup.

DAY SEVEN 

You are so close to the finish line that not even the repulsive smell of the cabbage soup will deter you from touching the finish line. The truth is, the soup will start annoying you somewhere during the diet, but we decided to only add this little inconvenient fact pretty late in the game for your own good.

You can see the results at this point and should have lost a considerable amount of visible weight. Today, you can have brown rice and veggies. Three to four cups of brown rice is recommended by cabbagesoupdiet.com, and between three to four servings of the soup.

And just like that, you are done! A couple sizes down and feeling much lighter.

Remember, this diet is meant to be short term. You are seriously advised to resume eating properly after the seven days, which should only serve as a springboard for a long term healthy eating plan for more sustainable weight loss and overall improved health.

Ever tried this diet? Get chatting with us in the comments section below and leave your pearls of wisdom.

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Diet

Giving Up Sugar In Your Tea: The Skin Benefits To Expect

There’s no sugarcoating it, the white stuff is bad for you. That’s the tea. Quit and here’s everything your skin will be thanking you for.

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The idea of tea with no sugar had always been incredibly weird to me, as much as it is for many.

The reality turned out to be even less appealing, of course, the first morning I attempted ditching refined sugar in all my hot beverages. Switching to a teaspoon of honey and some lemon was especially awful at first.

Having plunged from 5 teaspoons of sugar (I know, right!?) on 10 cups of tea a day to that, the whole mildly sweet and sour taste threw me off. Then there were green teas. Ja, no.

‘Sugar ages your skin “faster than a lifetime of lying in the sun”‘

Like millions of people, I loved nothing more than kicking off my mornings with a creamy cup of super sweet tea. The five teaspoons did the trick, a cigarette and some Wendy Williams ‘Hot Topics’ segment on YouTube to kick off my day with that punch of good shade.

But, to summarise a plot twist that led to a series of positive lifestyle changes; I quit cigarettes, cold turkey.

SUGAR CRAVINGS

Two things happened after I quit smoking; my taste buds cleared and everything tasted so much better, and I developed a superhuman smell that helped me to sniff sugar through walls, basically. Although I knew better than giving in to the primordial urges, I also knew better than messing with the most sensitive days of my cigarette detox.

MORE: AVOID THESE 5 FOODS TO ACHIEVE DEFINED ABS

For a while, I gave in and started bingeing as I needed a lot of activity around my mouth to wean me off from the threat of a relapse. Less than a month in, I had gained over 5 kilos, my skin had broken out and I was bloated.

As much as I hated those first sugar-free days, I can only thank myself now for sticking it out! The health benefits start as soon as you stop. Here’s why your skin will thank you

BETTER SKIN 

Slow Down Aging 

Excluding refined sugar from your hot beverages, cereals, snacks and meals can slow down the ageing process quite significantly.

Many people who give up sugar report an improvement on the texture and tone of their skin, typically with diminished blemishes. I started noticing a glow to my skin just days after ditching the white stuff, and many people would follow with the positive feedback around two weeks later.

RELATED: 5 THINGS TO EXPECT WHEN YOU GO VEGAN 

The benefits of doing away with sugar include fewer wrinkles in the long run, and better-looking skin now.

Why? Because sugar ages your skin “faster than a lifetime of lying in the sun”, according to Dr Patricia Farris via DailyMail, where she also describes sugar as “the new nicotine.”

The accelerated ageing occurs when our bodies break down glucose from sugar and refined carbohydrates. On the contrary, quitting sugar renders collagen and elastin more supple and resilient.

Reduce Acne 

Acne and breakouts are directly caused by a hormonal imbalance or surge. Food that is high in sugar causes this hormonal reaction in the body. The body absorbs the sugar rapidly, which leads to the release of insulin for regulation of that sugar.

Insulin will most likely inform the body to store access sugar as fat; this is the reason reducing sugar consumption is essential for torching weight. In general, the activation of insulin gets the body in the mood to store fat.

As far as skin is concerned, though, glycemic foods and sugar activate hormones that stimulate the production of oil, which in turn proliferates skin cells that block and clog pores.

Along with medications, a low glycemic index diet is now recommended by many dermatologists as an effective treatment for acne.

Controlling Psoriasis

Psoriasis refers to a chronic skin disease that shows up through red, scaly and often itchy blotches of skin, according to www.skinsmatter.com. It can affect the scalp, elbows and knees. In extreme cases, it can affect the whole body. While both non-life threatening and incurable, the condition can be treated with a low sugar or ‘anti-fungal diet’.

Wanna replace that first cup of coffee or tea with sugar with something just as yummy, but with fewer health risks? Take a look at 7 Smoothie Ingredients for Weight Loss

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Diet

Going Vegan? 5 Things To Expect!

If you are thinking about ditching meat and other animal-based foods and products for a plant-based diet, these are the radical changes you should anticipate

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The number of people who are going vegan is growing, and the ease of transitioning to one is scaling along with this trend.

And as far as establishments are concerned, vegan options are being availed more readily. You can grab a raw vegan cheesecake at many cafes and restaurants in major cities now.

Moreover, efforts by brands like Woolies to cater for – and promote – a range of plant-based alternatives is a tell-tale sign of the shifting cultural landscape.

I happen to be acquainted with a few people who’ve now opted to completely exclude animal products from their diets, and a few others are at least toying around with the idea of reducing their consumption significantly.

As former meat eaters, their experiences couldn’t be more fascinating.

There’s the social aspect of it; the persistent social stigma attached to veganism. After the switch, I’ve been told, you soon find that navigating and negotiating your way around social settings that involve dining is not as smooth as before.

If you are considering the switch, you will benefit from the following list of 10 Things To Expect when you Become Vegan.

Before we delve into your new looming realities and the adjustments to be anticipated, let’s first define what veganism actually is.

VEGANISM DEFINED

The Vegan Society describes veganism asa way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” 

As you can glean from this definition, veganism is a philosophy that rejects the (ill-) treatment of animals as commodities.

Vegans do not eat any kind of meat, dairy products and eggs.  Some vegans do it for ethical reasons, others out of concern for the environment, and still, others are motivated by the health benefits associated with the dietary lifestyle.

Now that we’ve cleared the air, here’s what awaits you on the greener pastures!

SOCIAL STIGMA

A timely glimpse of the existing stigma surrounding veganism found a platform on the Real Housewives of Johannesburg, where Mercy encountered various social humps as she navigated life as an instrumental black vegan. The girls weren’t really being sports about it, to put it mildly.

In one case, she had to get rid of scrummy vegan meals she’d ordered after almost none of the ladies showed up to her vegan themed intimate shindig. The health and wellness advocate, who has shared her journey to weight loss through a plant-based lifestyle, often found herself being a subject of much teasing from the girls.

And while a lot of it was garnished with the typical dose of heightened television drama, attitudes towards vegans are generally negative.

A recent study indicates that those who opt for ‘clean eating’, in general, stand to lose a few points on the likeability scale.

“People get on the defensive the second you tell them you are vegan”, a vegan friend told me as he detailed his own experiences as a black vegan.

RELATED: AVOID THE 5 FOODS TO ACHIEVED DEFINED ABS 

After two years leading a plant-based life, he has clocked in the hours as both a proud vegan and as somewhat of an expert on the social awkwardness that greets those who eschew meat.

“People’s reactions are always so interesting. They look at you like, ‘Okay…’, you are judging me. Snob.'”

Expect that your departure from the hegemonic hooks of meat eating will come with a lot of coming out, and explaining, and defending, and being ridiculed, and sometimes, being avoided.

THE WAY YOU COOK WILL CHANGE

Besides foregoing all animal-based foods, products and derivatives in your kitchen, the way you prepare food will have to change. Most new vegans often find that the absence of meat, dairy and eggs means they have to get extra creative with how they prepare food. You’ve got raw veggies, fruits and nuts to keep your meals appetising and vibrant.

As such, steaming all the veggies won’t cut it anymore. They are now the dish. Think about it.

YOU WILL CRAVE CERTAIN THINGS 

The first 30 transitional days of going vegan (or going anything, really), will be the most challenging. After that things get easier and easier as your taste buds adjust to your new eating habits and your general lifestyle has transformed to promote consistency.

RELATED: 10 SUPERFOODS FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND IMPROVED HEALTH

But, as with all drastic lifestyle changes, you will fantasise and crave certain things from time to time, and it’s okay. Vegan diets are highly restrictive, which makes them challenging to sustain, especially at first.

YOUR SKIN WILL POP 

Amongst the many benefits of whole foods is the effect it can have on your skin. Many vegans report remarkably improved skin complexion, tone and texture within days of taking up the diet.

That’s unsurprising.

The exclusion of processed foods, dairy and red meats render vegan diets high in fibre and low in saturated fats than the average diet. This, according to Greatist.com, makes way for an enhanced function of insulin and glucagon production, which control your sugar metabolism. The imbalance of insulin can lead to clogged pores, which causes acne.

RELATED: SMOOTHIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS – 7 BEST INGREDIENTS 

YOUR ENERGY LEVELS WILL SHOOT UP

There’s word on the vegan streets, amongst vegans, that your levels sky rocket in the beginning. This surge, according to a vegan friend I consulted with for subjective feedback on this, is quite exciting. “You feel like taking on the world”, he said. According to research, however, there isn’t a direct link to sustained levels of energy and veganism.

According to Elite Daily, a vegan diet doesnt automatically make you healthier. Yes, the fruits and vegetables are more nutritious and low in saturated fats, but quantities, combinations and quality still matter.

 

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