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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Ketogenic Diet – A Simple And Complete Guide
A lifestyle approach to melt the kilos while reducing risk of several diseases.
INTRODUCTION TO KETO | WHAT IT IS | WHAT IT’S NOT | FOODS TO AVOID | FOODS TO EAT | IS THE KETOGENIC DIET HEALTHY FOR YOU?
Along with Intermittent Fasting, the Ketogenic Diet is definitely on trend right now. It’s being touted as a healthy weight loss machine that can help you to drop up to 10 kg within the first week.
While there’s nothing new about cutting back on carbs and sugar as a strategic vehicle to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, the Ketogenic Diet makes grand claims of being able to melt weight at an accelerated pace.
There’s plenty of evidence to support these assertions.
Scores of people who’ve attempted this diet have testified to rapid weight loss, fuelling an already growing interest in this unconventional approach to eating.
When the Ketogenic first appeared on my radar, I dove into the vast world of Youtube personal vlogs for unsponsored reflections and reviews. As far as losing weight is concerned, many people have really had success.
What’s more, there’s nothing crash diet-y about the Ketogenic Diet.
Quite the opposite, actually. You are able to have as much food as you want. In fact, you can go ahead and have literally all the good stuff. Bacon and all kinds of juicy meat! You can have the cheese, eggs, oils, seeds, sausages, and enhance some of the greens with butter.
The catch, however, is that you also have to keep your sugar and carb intake very, very low.
WHAT IS KETOGENIC DIET?
The Keto diet entails a significant reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates, which are then replaced with fat.
According to Healthline.com, the metabolic state resulting from the practice is known at ketosis. This process, according to an article published on the Harvard website, happens when your body releases ketones into the bloodstream.
In a nutshell, your body tends to rely on the blood sugar cells produced by carbohydrates as the main source of energy.
When you reduce your intake of carbohydrates significantly, which results in fewer sugar blood cells making rounds in your system, your body begins to break down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies.
In simple terms, the Ketogenic Diet is the replacing of sugar and carbohydrates with mainly fat and proteins so that the body may use the fat as a source of energy, resulting in weight loss. This diet typically involves foods such as meats, processed meats, eggs, sausages, cheese (yes, yum!), fish, butter, oils, seeds, veggies and nuts.
Fruits, while healthy and nutritious, carry a lot of naturally occurring sugars, which aren’t going to keep your body in the state of ketosis.
Unfortunately, natural sugars are bad news for those seeking to torch kilos through the Ketogenic Diet, so fruits and honey aren’t go-to’s here.
WHAT IT ISN’T
Although the eating method is quite restrictive, forcing participants to abandon carbohydrates that make up about 50% of the food people eat on a daily basis, it’s not a crash diet. Unlike most quick-fix weight loss eating plans, Keto does not place any emphasis on the amount of food.
The focus is mainly on the kinds of food of food you can and can’t have. Some people have cited this reason for their continued weight loss despite lofty indulgences.
RELATED: 10 SUPERFOODS FOR IMPROVED HEALTH
As a rule of thumb, however, moderation is always the safest principle. Keeping an eye on creating a slight caloric deficit is still beneficial for those looking at accomplishing smaller waistlines.
FOODS TO AVOID
The downside to the Ketogenic Diet revolves around its drastic restrictiveness. It’s also the reason why some people aren’t able to stay on it over the long haul. You are expected to abandon entire food groups you’ve known your whole life, many which are really quite delicious. Life without any form of potatoes is a troubling thought for me, amongst other foods without which life is not as fun.
Basic rule; Foods with carbohydrates should be avoided, or limited. These include:
Sugary Foods – fruit juice, fruits, cakes, ice cream, doughnuts, sweets, sodas etc.
Root Vegetables – Potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
Starches and grains – wheat based cereals, pap, rice, pasta etc.
Beans – This includes lentils
Low Fat/Diet Products – These tend to be more processed, and likely to be higher in carbs.
Alcohol: More bad news.
FOOD TO EAT
Meat – Every meat under the sun is permitted.
Eggs: You can have fried eggs using some olive oil. I still prefer boiled, though.
Butter – Butter is always nice with roasted (non-root) vegetables.
Cheddar – Go for unprocessed.
Avocados – Fun fact, I literally couldn’t stomach these prior to starting. But when restrictions starting coming into effect, you will find avocados to be unbelievably tasty, if you weren’t already a fan.
Green Vegetable: Low carb ones are preferred. Greens are the best, but you can also have tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
IS THE KETOGENIC DIET HEALTHY?
This question continues being hotly contested. There are many factors to be considered, such as the health of those who seek to participate prior to starting, their motivations for going on this diet (always a good idea to consult a relevant health professional before introducing massive changes to your eating patterns), and many other factors.
That said, there’s a minefield of research indicating that the Ketogenic Diet comes with a plethora of health benefits.
There are some studies, according to Harvard, that prove the diet’s effectiveness in reducing seizures in children. MedicalNewsToday.com also note such incentives as helping with the risk of cancer, reducing acne, positive effects on your brain and improving the overall health of your heart.
Join the Conversation By Leaving Your Comment In The Comments Section Below, on Twitter and Facebook
How An Ice Tea Brand Plans To Help You Detox From Digital Overkill
BOS, a Cape Town based South African ice tea range has launched a campaign to encourage you and I to spend less time engaging with our technological devices and make some space for good ol’ experiences.
Partnering with a bevy of local influencers to amplify reach and get your attention, the brand hopes you will spend less time on your phone.
“More and more people are embracing the notion of a digital detox and regarding it as an opportunity focus on social interaction within the physical world”, says Chad Saaiman, one of the influencers on the campaign.
There’s a minefield of research on all kinds of negative effects of spending too much time on mobile devices anyway, so this campaign couldn’t be more timely.
It’s true that most young people are far too immersed in cyberspace than ever before. When you aren’t on your phone (which is, well, never…), you are probably fixated on an even bigger screen, whether its a computer or a TV.
RELATED: GOING VEGAN? 5 THINGS TO EXPECT
RescueTime, a mobile app designed to track the amount of time you spend on your phone, surveyed 11 000 regular users and found, on average, that they spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone every day.
And Apple, with its Screen Time functionality, sites an average of 277 minutes per day.
The brand’s recently launched #SCREENFREESATURDAY campaign intends to make a small switch with potentially big payoffs. In line with the brand’s philosophy – ‘Go For Fun’, they are hoping you will start freeing up some time to live a little during the weekends… with a new limit on how long you are on your phone.
RELATED: THE SKIN BENEFITS OF GIVING UP SUGAR
The brand’s Global Marketing Director, Montse De Rojas, says the #ScreenFreeSaturday campaign is about enjoying life. “As a brand, it’s great to stand for something. But we’re more than a brand. We’re passionate, fun-loving, embrace- life-and-go-for-fun enthusiasts who started BOS doing what we love – being outdoors. We want to live our brand philosophy.
Join the Conversation By Leaving Your Comment In The Comments Section Below, on Twitter and Facebook
Intermittent Fasting – Everything You Need To Know
Your full guide and tips for Intermittent Fasting, the new buzzword for your health.
I couldn’t contain my excitement after recently stepping on the scale to find that I’ve dropped 5 kilos (11 pounds) in less than two weeks!
It’s certainly the most – not to mention fastest – amount of weight I’ve lost since picking up over 15 kg in a year. I talk a little more about how I picked up weight after quitting cigarettes and refined sugar here.
And while I’ve definitely upped my workout sessions and their frequency as the summer looms, I have good reason to credit the weight loss to intermittent fasting. By the way, I didn’t even conduct properly until exactly 7 days ago so I’m really mind blown.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
At its core, Intermittent Fasting (IF) refers to cycles of prolonged periods of complete, voluntary abstinence from food that alternate with windows during which eating is ‘allowed’.
Unlike a conventional diet, where strict emphasis is placed on creating caloric deficits and removing certain foods from the menu, Intermittent Fasting is more focused on timing one’s approach to eating.
While there’s no specification on the quantities and kinds of foods one is allowed to consume during their eating periods, nothing with calories may be consumed during the fasting windows.
Although, for those who intend to torch the weight considerably faster, a significant reduction in calorie consumption during the normal food intake windows is not such a bad idea.
RELATED: GOING VEGAN? 5 THINGS TO EXPECT
Amongst a plethora of proven health benefits attached to this system of eating is weight loss and maintenance. Improving one’s overall health, simplifying your life and minimising the effects of aging are all part of the reason why intermittent fasting is gaining all the buzz.
WHAT IT’S NOT
TYPES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
This approach is considered the most effective catalyst for rapid weight loss. This method requires part takers to choose two days of extremely low caloric consumption in a week.
On the two days, you have no more than a total of 500 calories. You can continue eating normally on the other 5 days of the week.
Further to weight loss, according to TheConversation.com, research also indicates that this method can help with reducing levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood.
- Alternative Day Fasting (ADF)
Similarly, the Alternative Day Fasting approach to Intermittent Fasting comes with alternating between days in which calorie intake is extremely limited (up to 500 cals a day), and normal eating.
The main difference with ADF is that you are to repeat these cycles every other day of the week, which makes them about twice as frequent as those on 5:12.
This is partly why weight loss tends to be faster with this approach. The downside to ADF is that it’s often quite unsustainable over time.
This is part of the reason why a high number of those who attempt are more likely stop, after a while, compared to the other methods.
- Time Restricted Fasting
This brings us to the most popular approach of the three. As explained above, this is where you alternative between interval of normal eating and complete voluntary abstinence.
There are three options in this formula.
Weight loss is the main reason most people are trying out intermittent fasting. However, this lifestyle intervention comes with a plethora of health benefits that make it even more appealing.
According to Heathline.com, intermittent fasting can also help with reducing insulin resistance, which contributes to the lowering of blood sugar. That, in turn, can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent can also reduce inflammation. While inflammation is your body’s natural way of defending itself from illnesses, injuries, and promote healing, prolonged inflamation is linked to such diseases as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
IF is also noted for its role in preventing cancer, while stimulating overall heart and brain health.