Quitting Smoking is NOT Comparable to Losing Weight.

- POSTED ON: Nov 21, 2014

Baby Smoking photo BabySmoking_01.gif

There is a fundamental difference between stopping smoking and losing weight.   To stop smoking is a Behavior, while losing weight is a Result, not a Behavior.

When someone quits smoking, they change a Behavior. They stop doing something, namely putting a cigarette in their mouth, lighting it up and inhaling its smoke.


In contrast, losing weight is something that happens – not something one does.

Yes, there are behaviors that may (or may not) lead to weight loss, but the relationship between these Behaviors and the Results -- what happens to those numbers on the scale -- is far from straightforward.

When someone stops putting cigarettes in their mouth, they have successfully stopped smoking. But when someone starts eating breakfast, going to the gym everyday, counting calories - and/or counting bites - and/or cutting carbs, there is absolutely no guarantee that those numbers on the scale will permanently change.  Indeed,...over a lengthy time period... more often than not, their weight will remain exactly the same or even go up.

While we don’t know how a person’s weight will react to such changes in lifestyle, we do know that Someone who eats better, increases their physical activity and gets more sleep will see health improvements – irrespective of what happens to weight.

This reality has important consequences for anyone trying to slim down. All anyone really has control over is their behaviors. When you decide to start eating breakfast and eventually are eating breakfast every day, you will have successfully changed your behavior. Hopefully, this could translate into more energy and better control of your eating for the rest of the day. However, there is absolutely no guarantee anything will happen to your weight.

In fact, even when you decide to cut your daily calories and somehow manage to do so – you will have successfully changed your behavior (to eating fewer calories). But again, there is no way to predict what will happen to your weight. This is because your body will very rapidly adapt to living off fewer calories and will find ways to sustain your body weight even on fewer calories than before. This is the frustrating physiology behind the dreaded “weight-loss plateau.”

All of this is why in behavioral interventions it is important to focus on behaviors and only set behavioral goals – never weight goals. While it is pretty much a guarantee that eating more nutritiously and being more active will make you healthier, there’s no way to tell whether or not these behaviors will lead to permanent weight loss, let alone how little or how much.

Unfortunately, many people set Unachievable and Unsustainable weight-loss goals, which becomes the source of endless frustration. “I’m doing everything right but I am still not losing weight.” In fact, obesity expert, Dr. Sharma, says that: “This is the rule rather than the exception.”

Dr. Arya M. Sharma, M.D. of www.drsharma.ca is a medical doctor specializing in obesity as well as a professor and chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta, Canada.  
He regularly tells his patients, “If you work on your health behaviors, your health will improve – no matter what happens to those numbers on your scale. You just do what you do and those numbers will do what they do (or not).”


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On Nov 22, 2014 Alma wrote:
Absolutely no comparison! A cigarette smoker is not compromised when in the company of a pipe or cigar smoker. It is cigarettes only. It is only one brand for a TRUE smoker. Food is so many different genres and different flavors that totally tease us just seeing them on TV, magazines, etc. It took a while for me to understand that I am fighting a bigger battle with food in general. It really sunk in when the heating element bar blew up in my electric oven. Deny a foodie something and that is bad enough but when you are a baker.............wow, you have dreams of baked foods because you can't have them until you get the stove fixed. I was so traumatized until I immediately bought a new stove the next day. All of that was an important message. Now I bake many things and freeze much. From the time I WANT, I have time to do nutrient counts and face up to countability as to whether I am going to eat it as it thaws. Favorite frozen item overall is Thumbprint cookies which can be made as a sweet or savory item.

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