Category Archives: I Finally Quit Smoking!

Why Am I Eating More and Gaining Weight: Using DBT-CBT Principles to Become Mindful of Mindless Eating

I’ve gone through a very hard time in recent months with my “diet”…or better said, “my eating plan.” My positive eating patterns had become a habit and little emotional energy was invested in the process. I had peace and stability in this area of life. People would ask, “Isn’t it hard to stay on a diet?” No, it really wasn’t because I HAD developed good eating habits…and eating in this manner was natural for me. It was more of a lifestyle than a diet.

But, SOMETHING HAPPENED and these past few months became the most trying time during my four year diet. Not sure what happened, but somehow things got Out-of-Control. I struggled through…and regained fairly good control. Naturally, I’ve been reflecting on WHAT HAPPENED…because I don’t want to let this lifestyle slip through my fingers and for things to get out of hand! I don’t want to get fat again…I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle…AGAIN.

Here’s some things I have thought about. I FINALLY quit smoking in June after 6 attempts this year! Quitting smoking leads to increased eating because my hands and mouth aren’t busy…and reduced metabolism because I’m not loaded with nicotine…HELLO WEIGHT GAIN…and increased appetite!

Another thing that has changed in the last couple of months is that I started taking a daily multivitamin. Now, I haven’t studied recently, but from what I remember, vitamins increase appetite. Not sure why that happens…or if that’s really true. Just some tidbit of information I picked up and think is true.

Another thing…I began living on fruit…fruit was my mainstay…the largest source of calories per day. I loved the fruit diet! However, something was going on and I was craving sweets more…like CHOCOLATE! I was eating the Snickers protein bars…Mmmmm good…however, they are 290 calories each. When I seek to keep calories below 1300 or so a day…that adds up F-A-S-T!!!!

So, I’ve stopped eating fruit…and this has led to a major decrease in the sweet munchies. I’m thinking the sugar in the fruit did something to increase my appetite for SUGAR! In my four years of dieting, I would chocolate binge about once every 4-6 weeks…and while on the fruit diet, the craving for CHOCOLATE was STRONG…and something I gave in to. I believe in “have a craving…satiate it and go on with life.” That has worked very well for me…because I’d eat 800 calories of chocolate…eat less dinner or no dinner…and suffer little net gain in calories that day…and little effect on the monthly average…and little effect on my weight…until recent months!

Another thing that happened in July…is that an overwhelming workload greatly increased…and the type of stress changed…from internal pressure to get the job done…to external pressure…like performance counseling…and a 30-day deadline! I expect the extra stress and the type of distress affected me, too.
Anyways, lots of changes…radical physiological and psycho-emotional changes (nicotine withdrawal and loss, diet change with increased fructose and then refined sugar…and EMOTIONAL STRESS from work…and stress from my daily diet spiraling out of control! You know, I’m sure there are other factors too…that I’m not currently aware of…but, those are the biggest ones on my mind right now!!!! You know…I may have gotten cocky too…had my weight down real good…had this diet thing “down to a science”…and then…slacked off a bit!

Anyways, things have gone fairly well the last 3-4 weeks…actually regained some semblance of peace and stability in my eating. Revisited the 124-125 range…the size 7’s fit again…(size 9 slim fits are sized like a 7!). Went out of town a few days…and did alright. Not a major pig out…ate some restaurant food, but did well with that. Got favorite foods and ate about half. Some extra calories…but nothing Out-of-Control! Back to work tomorrow, will tighten up again…and go on with life. Average calories for October was in the normal range for me…similar to the last 4 years…so,, that’s good!

The last couple of posts in October note what I did to try to get control, so I don’t want to restate EVERYTHING here…cuz I can’t remember and I’m too tired to go back and check!!!! I am Mindful right now that I greatly increased Mindfulness of my eating plan…by reminding myself of my goal (stability in eating, weight management, not get fat again!), counting calories all day so I’m not engaging in mindless eating and CALORIE SHOCK at the end of the day when entering data in the Excel file, controlled portions and food selection (toting certain foods to work and not toting others…and choosing how much to bring, deciding what I’d eat when I got home, eating a little something before I leave work so I don’t go home STARVING TO DEATH…and ready to scarf everything in sight), and temptation management (telling family about my struggle and how to help…DON’T BUY FATTENING FOOD AT THE STORE…and certainly don’t bring it in and let me see it…AND me not buying fattening foods at the store…the ones that are MY favorites!) So, I went back to my early days of dieting…what I did then that worked best for me…to attempt to regain control over my eating.

Another thing I considered is that my weight is low…calorie needs are lower than the early days of dieting…I may be reaching my low…and this may be as low as things naturally go…and I may need to revise MY goal to go lower…and just focus on maintaining this weight…that it may be unreasonable to push myself to lose more. So, with all this in mind…I’m TRYING to be Mindful and to approach this diet thing with Rational Mind and Wise Mind…because Emotional Mind is eating me up!

A Quit Smoking Success Story…and I’m Even Losing Weight!

I thought I should write a follow-up to the “I Quit Smoking” blog entries over the past few months. So, here goes!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve successfully quit smoking! It’s been about 5-6 weeks now. No constipation…no bloating…and I’ve actually lost a couple pounds! Life is good. I’m still eating Activa type yogurt – about 2 a day and I’m chewing the nicotine gum – about 4-5 pieces a day. I have continued to have less soda per day (about 2 cans per day now) and have a protein bar about 5 times a week (the mega Snickers 21g protein ones!) instead of about 2 per day! Those are a treat and usually take care of chocolate or sweet cravings. I don’t think I’ve done a sweet binge in months since I’ve been eating them! I have been eating a ton of fruit though…that probably helps with the sweet binges! I have lost almost 150 pounds in the past four years so controlling the diet thing is very important to me. Yes, I was QUITE HEAVY, but part of that 150 was pregnancy weight – had an unexpected pregnancy during those four years! However, most of the 150 was part of a slow, insidious weight gain over 12 years! Do you know 100 extra calories a day adds about 1 pound of extra weight per month…and 12 per year! That’s probably how most of us end up so heavy…slow and steady! I’ve written the DBT-CBT Workbook (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook) which focuses on life-destroying addictions and behaviors like drugs and alcohol, self-injury (like cutting), verbal and physical aggression – but it only touches on eating disorders – like anorexia, bulimia, and overeating. I wish I had the energy to write a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook for losing weight. Sure would be helpful to A LOT of people. I have certainly used the skills and understandings in the workbook to quit smoking and to get through this weight loss thing! I have to live, eat, and breathe DBT-CBT on a daily basis to deal with myself! I am a full-time job!

Oh, one other thing…I’ve been eating a lot of sunflower seeds in the evening, that helps to bind the hands and the mouth instead of smoking. I don’t have salt issues, so the seeds work for me! I’m at the point that I rarely think about smoking…can get into the car and take the 23-minute drive to work (or home) and it never crosses my mind. I did think about smoking last Saturday morning…that was a nice smoking time for me…get up, relax, have a few smokes…and start the day! However, got through the thoughts and urges to smoke by reminding myself how glad I am to not smoke…and to be free of that addiction. It also helped that I had lost a “new pound” that morning when I weighed…so that was certainly a positive!

I expect this will be my last “Quit Smoking” blog…and maybe I’ll make myself start writing a Diet Tips one!

I Quit Smoking and Got Around the Bloating, the Constipation, and the Weight Gain

I FINALLY quit smoking. I FINALLY DID IT on attempt #6 or #7 this year! I found a way to get past the bloating, the constipation, and the weight gain. Granted, kicking the habit kicked my butt for 6 months…I persevered through the process and made it through! I have almost three weeks under my belt…and for me, that means I’m done. All’s going well…my weight is excellent…no bloating issues…and no constipation!!!! YEA! I’ve fought through this…and finally won. It’s been a tremendous struggle. I’ve always had an easy time quitting in the past and staying quit for long periods of time (years)…however, things are obviously different now…perhaps it is part of the aging process. I’m not sure I will ever take up smoking again…because it is not “easy come, easy go” anymore. I don’t want to have to fight this battle again.

It was awful to “have to smoke again” to get control of the bloating, the weight gain, and the constipation…however, each time I did so, I was aware I’d get soon and try again…as soon as everything went back to normal. I have lost about 140 pounds in the last four years and I was not willing to start the weight gain cycle…and gaining 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days was not okay…and it happened each time I quit smoking this year. I did not believe that my weight was dependent on smoking because I lost the first 100 pounds without smoking…and I’ve been thin before in my life without smoking. I knew I could have one without the other…I knew I could manage my weight without having to smoke. I knew something was wrong because of the tremendous gain in weight so quickly…I knew it was not REAL weight…because you can’t gain 7 – 10 pounds of fat that quickly…eating 1500 calories or less per day. I knew it was something else…but I didn’t understand it. I blamed it on a high nut diet, birth control pills…and various other things…until I finally learned that people bloat and get constipated when they quit smoking…and that it was an effect of nicotine withdrawal. Talking with friends clued me in…so I began to read about it on the net…and then started to do things to address this. What I did is described in the other “Trying to quit smoking” entries in this blog. Read the most recent ones to find out what the last things were that helped…or read them all to learn about what I experienced throughout this 6-month process! What an ordeal this has been. It’s been such a struggle…and now, it’s a burden relieved!

I’m in the process of writing “Ten Tips for Quitting Smoking” to show how I used DBT-CBT therapy principles , skills, and understandings to recover from this addiction. So, that is yet to come…I wish you success as you make it through the process to quit smoking…just don’t stop trying. Recovery from drugs and alcohol takes 8-18 attempts on average…and it’s very likely that breaking the smoking and nicotine addiction is little different.

I’ve Quit Smoking…and I Think I’ve Stopped the Bloating, Weight Gain, and Constipation!

Well, good things are happening! I’m so excited! I think the latest revisions to my non-smoking DBT-CBT Game Plan are going to be successful. I stopped smoking 9 days ago…and this time, my weight is stable, no bloating, no constipation…life is good! I think cutting down on the soda and the protein bars has helped as well as chewing a few pieces of Nicorette’s type gum per day. Haven’t rode horses in a week, so exercise hasn’t changed much! But, so far, so good. Hope this major blessing continues. I feel so fortunate that something is finally working…given how I’ve struggled with quitting for 6 months. I’m not “out of the woods” yet, so I am going to have to continue to be Mindful of my goal to remain smoke-free…and I’m going to have to keep on keeping on.

Honestly, I’ve quit smoking successfully about a dozen times since I’ve been in my early teens…and I’ve always quit knowing I’d smoke again someday. But, this time, I’m not sure that I will ever smoke again…because I’ve had hell this past 6 months trying to quit. I’ve never had trouble quitting…once I decided to quit. This time around has been very different. I guess it’s the effects of aging or something…but this bloating, constipation, weight gain thing has kicked my butt. I’ve stopped smoking and have restarted smoking about 6 times this year… because of MAJOR weight gain, bloating, and constipation! There’s about 5 or 6 other blog entries documenting this struggle! I hope when I write this weekend, I will have about 12-13 smoke-free days under my belt!

Quit smoking: Managing the Bloating, the Weight Gain, and the Constipation…

As planned, I quit smoking AGAIN on Tuesday, June 20-some-odd, 2009. I prepared for this by changing my diet and adding exercise to my weekly schedule. Two major life changes! These are things that I did not want to give up or change. I’m no different than the rest of the world…I want my life to change in major ways…but I don’t want to have to change in major ways…and I certainly don’t want to step outside my comfort zone!

About a week before I quit, I began to ride horses with my daughter in the evening…awesome exercise! I also cut WAY down on sodas, diet sodas of course…I cut WAY down on the number of protein bars eaten PER day…and I added a bunch of fruit to my daily diet. I had just recently noticed that I was bloating even though I was still smoking…and I noticed that this occurred after a breakfast of diet soda and a protein bar…and a protein bar for lunch! MAJOR BLOAT! It went away in a few hours and did not cause weight gain though! However, I became mindful of a “while smoking bloating pattern.”

The Tuesday morning that I quit, I purchased a box of generic brand Nicorettes gum. I got the 4 mg strength for folks who smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day rather than the 2 mg strength for folks like me who smoke less than 25 per day. I did the math…it makes the gum half price for me! I would smoke about 15 a day, so I just chew a half piece several times a day. I chew it to keep some nicotine in my system to keep my body revved up so I don’t get so bloated and constipated…and gain 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days!

Everything went well the first couple days…but, everything wasn’t perfect. By Thursday afternoon, I hadn’t pooped for about 4 days…so, I bought a box of Correctol…a laxative that’s SUPPOSED TO BE very mild. The box says to take 1-3 tabs…well, not being a laxative queen, I took just one Thursday evening. Nothing happening by Friday afternoon, so, I took another one. Well…things began to happen Friday evening…and I think everything cleared out including the box of cherry tomatoes I had for lunch that day. Needless to say, my weight was good Saturday AM…and I’m not smoking…and I’m not bloated…nor constipated right now!

Laxatives are a major concern…and something I’ve taken about three times in my life because I absolutely don’t want to become addicted or dependent on laxatives. This will NOT be part of my weekly non-smoking plan! I purchased Activia yogurt yesterday…it’s guaranteed to increase regularity if you have one a day for two weeks. I’m trying that.

Some may think I am entirely crazy to be posting about bowel habits…however, if you go to this link and type in various keywords or keyword strings related to quitting smoking and bloating…or constipation…you will see that MANY people are having this problem. It will tell you how many times in the last month these keywords were entered into google for a search. Also, many people are reading this blog…so, there’s other people who are struggling with this as well. I write this as a help to others…and maybe, folks will benefit from my struggles and come up with a Game Plan to quit smoking that fits their lifestyle and needs.

Another point. I shared my struggles with my sister. She was going with my Dad to his cardiologist that day. She spoke with the heart doc and he was seemingly oblivious to this side effect of quitting smoking. He told her that if I was so constipated, I needed to see a Dr. immediately because I had something major going on! Boy, did she call me back with a great sense of urgency in her voice! FUN-NY! Also, my boy became ill this week and I took him to our family doctor. While there, I asked him what I could do about this problem. Because of what he was advising me, I told him several times that the MENTAL part of quitting was no big deal, it was the physical side-effects that were kicking my butt…and leading me to relapse. You know, I don’t think he ever really heard me because he continued to talk about mood, irritability, bitchiness, etc. Could this bloating–constipation thing be a side-effect that the medical profession isn’t noticing?

In case you’re curious, my Doc recommended Wellbutrin as a medication to help quit smoking. He says he’s had a very high success rate with this, around 85%. He said Chantix isn’t doing so well in his practice. He also recommended the nicotine patch. He didn’t like the idea of the gum because he said you can’t really control how much nicotine you’re getting…like chewing faster, longer, etc. His concern is that I’d end up with a nicotine gum habit to deal with!

I got the script for the Wellbutrin, but I’ll hold off filling it. Will finish the trial of what I am currently doing and I’ll see how it works. Will go to Plan H, I, or J if this current Game Plan doesn’t work!

Well, that’s the update. I hope I have good news at the end of this next week. So… so far so good…for the first 5 days of NO SMOKING attempt number 6 or 7 this year!

Quit smoking the DBT-CBT therapy way: Attempt #7 – Making my “failures to succeed” successful failures

Here I go again. Another attempt to quit smoking. This constitutes try number 6 or 7 this year. However, I’m stubborn, hard-headed, and persistent…and I’ll keep trying until I make it. This is something that is do-able and something I’m able to do!

My last blog entry was a week or two ago and I had resumed smoking because of major bloating, constipation, and weight gain…like 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days. This has happened each time I have quit smoking this year.

My plan is to quit on Tuesday, my next work day. No smokes on the way to work…and none thereafter! Over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve bloated even while smoking; however, I haven’t had the constipation and weight gain. The bloating has come and gone. So, I became mindful of the bloat patterns and noticed it seemed to occur when I drank soda and ate a couple protein bars. So, I gave up soda and protein bars for about 5 days and I had absolutely no bloating. WOW! I began eating some protein bars the last few days because I started feeling VERY tired. However, I did so in moderation and I’ve had a few sodas. Only one bloat session occurred. I’m going to practice moderation with both of these because I like them…and don’t want to have to give them up, TOO!

I am going to start exercising today. I’ll get the junk off the fancy treadmill and do that in front of the TV. I’ll ride horses with my daughter a couple times a week. I need to do something to offset the decrease in metabolism due to not smoking…and to offset a couple hundred extra calories that I might consume daily due to quitting smoking. I’ve lost more weight than I care to admit in the last four years and I have no intention of putting on a lot of weight. I can tolerate a few pounds…but then, it must come off again!

I’ve also added several servings of fruit per day over the last week. I’ll keep that up because it will help offset constipation.

If I start bloating again, I’ll buy some nicorettes and give that a try. If I fail this time again, I have a Dr’s appointment in a few weeks and I’ll try something else. I WILL make this happen.

Here’s an excerpt from the DBT-CBT therapy workbook that I wrote…and it’s something I believe in and I live by. It’s from a section entitled, “Failing to Succeed…or Successful Failures.” It’s in Chapter 7, the Rational Mind chapter…where the Emotional Driven Lies we tell ourselves are challenged through Rational Mind. This excerpt relates to the “I’ll never be able to do it.” and the “Everything I try gets screwed up somehow” type of lies we tell ourselves that sabotage our recovery.

“When we fail, we need to SEEK AN UNDERSTANDING of WHY WE FAILED. We need to LEARN FROM IT and CORRECT WHAT WE’RE DOING. We need to change or adjust our plan to deal with what went wrong. Successful “failures” start with PLAN A and go to PLAN B, C, D, E…and so on until things work out! Despite their failures, THEY KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

It’s also important to be Mindful of our successes and accomplishments and to note WE’VE ALL HAD SOME! We also need to realize that WHEN WE’VE TRIED…when we’ve REALLY STUCK WITH IT, we’ve overcome challenges…and WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Consider the 8-18 attempts at recovery that it takes people ON AVERAGE to become clean n’ sober. Through our recovery attempts, we learn about our triggers and relapse patterns. We learn we REALLY HAVE TO change the things in our life that we DON’T WANT TO CHANGE…things that we’ve refused to change, like friendships, activities, and abusive or conflict-filled relationships. Because of our repeated failures at recovery, we FINALLY SUCCEED! That’s because we’ve revised our Recovery Plan SO MANY TIMES that we FINALLY GET ENOUGH OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES made! We’re hard-headed and we’ve got to learn from OUR experiences…and in the world of recovery…these experiences ARE OFTEN RELAPSES.

Changing our LIFESTYLE and our LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT. We need to ACCEPT OUR FAILURES and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part of the LEARNING PROCESS…IF we learn from them.

The truth is, WHEN WE KEEP TRYING, things FINALLY work out. Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we aren’t going about it the right way. Therefore, we need to get a NEW PLAN. Sometimes, we try to do more than is do-able at one time. We plunge head first when we’d be better off wading in and taking smaller steps! There are many reasons why we haven’t reached our goals. Fortunately, most of these problems can be overcome with PERSISTENCE and a REVISED GAME PLAN!”

So I will practice what I preach and I’ll keep trying until I make it. I’ll just DBT-CBT my way through it and rather than failing to succeed, I will make my attempts successful failures.

The following are some quotes off the side margin of the aforementioned section in the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook:

“The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Failure: I expect to fail so I don’t try very hard …so, I fail.”

“If we don’t put forth a FULL effort, we’ll never REALLY KNOW if we can succeed.”

“Some of our greatest leaders and wealthiest people failed many times before they achieved great success.”

“We never fail until we quit trying. Success comes to those who are determined to overcome obstacles
in their path.”

“When we understand our failures are a part of the learning process, then we can constructively accept our failures and learn from them.”

This relates to the 8-18 tries at recovery it takes on average to recover from substance abuse: “Some say, ‘Been there, done 14, I’ve got to be real close to making it!’ Folks who are new to recovery are discouraged, ‘I don’t want to do this that many times.’ Be Mindful that 8-18 is an average. Some make it on the 1st try (they need to write the book!), others on the 25th. Some make it in 3 tries, others in 20. Bear in mind though…these numbers don’t mean it’s okay to relapse 17 times ‘just because we can’ and then work real hard on the 18th try!”

How to Get Control of the Quit Smoking Bloat, Weight Gain, and Constipation! Must DBT my way through it!

I teach DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)…in fact I wrote the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook, “Out of Control.” I have the skills and understandings for behavioral change…I’ve recovered from many things…and I’ve kicked many habits…but this one is kicking my butt this time. This is a follow-up to two previous “I’M TRYING TO STOP SMOKING” WordPress blogs. It’s been about two weeks since my last blog on trying to quit smoking and the bloating and weight gain that compels me to resume smoking. So, I’ve been smoking again for the last two weeks. It’s really a love-hate relationship with smoking…I love to smoke, I hate to smoke. I hate it more than I love it and I’m determined to quit. My plan continues to be to get a Game Plan for quitting. I am going to a conference tomorrow in California on risk assessment, the Reid Meloy PCL-R one. I didn’t want to suffer the agony of being three sizes bigger and “feeling fat,” so I’ve allowed myself to smoke for this period…two weeks plus the conference.

Folks in my DBT Group would say I am just sabotaging myself and falling into the trap of Emotional Mind by coming up with Emotion-Driven Lies and Excuses to continue smoking…that my excuse to smoke is nothing but an excuse to smoke. Alike many people who sabotage themselves this way, I would say, “I’ve got a plan to quit and this is part of my plan. If you knew me, you’d know I was going to quit…and this is part of my quitting plan.” And everyone else would say…”Bull Sheets…that’s just bull, Sheets!” And I would say…”Just sit back and watch. I’ve quit many things in my life and I will quit this…come hail or high water…I’ll find an umbrella to make it through this storm.” And, I will. I’m determined to quit and I’ll find a way. If I knew that smoking two more weeks and through the conference would cause me lung cancer, I’d put this cigarette out right here, right now, and call it quits. Glad I don’t know that! I do think about it though and I’ve asked God to see me through this…and keep me safe while I get ‘er done.

I sent an email out to the Docs and nurse practitioners at the hospital yesterday and was just about desperate enough to send an email out across campus. I explained this bloating – constipation – weight gain problem and I asked if they knew of a medication or patch that would minimize this. I read a bit about Chantix and stopped at the side effects of constipation and gas! I haven’t studied any more…so, I don’t know if Nicorette gum or other nicotine replacement therapies will help. I’m hoping some readers will share their experiences and we can figure out what to do. Many people are reading this blog, so many are struggling with the same thing. Please leave some comments and let us know what works and what doesn’t. I’d really like a magic pill or patch so I can easily quit smoking. I’ve quit 5-6 times this year and I’m fine mentally, emotionally, and psychologically after the first couple days…until this bloat thing happens and my weight soars…and my pant size increases by 2. So, if I can get this bloat thing figured out, I’d be quit again in no time. I seek the “No pain…big gain” method of recovery!

So, if I don’t know of anything else to do when I return from the conference, I’ll set another quit date, try Nicorette gum or something similar and go at it again. I understand that the gum is expensive…and I did try to sabotage myself with that excuse…but, my Rational Mind isn’t going to put up with that crap and quickly reminded me that smoking is more expensive. Ended that. I do have a doctor appointment set up in early July and I can get some information from my PCP at that time if Nicorettes doesn’t work. I’ve also become Mindful that my current diet is very high in fiber and protein and that may be why I am having this new problem with quitting smoking. I’ve always been able to quit for long periods of time and have never had this problem…until this year. Maybe I have to change my diet and eat more roughage rather than soft protein bars. Maybe I have to exercise more often. Do you know that riding a horse burns about 200 calories an hour? All I have to do is to go outside, sit on a horse for an hour, and let it take me for a walk! That’s sure a lazy woman’s way to exercise. If I can hold on while the horse gallops, I can burn about 500 an hour! I thought about putting a sign on my horse’s butt and trotting past power-walkers on the road or galloping past a jogger that says “I’m burning more calories than you!” FUN-NY! Yes, I know I’m not getting the same cardio benefits…nor pulmonary…but the mental picture is quite amusing!

Long blog short…I’m still smoking and I’m not done quitting! I’ll keep folks posted on this journey and what I learn as I go…and what I have to do to get there! Hope there’s a magic pill!