How Greg Stopped Smoking and Overcame His Weight Gain Issues

In this emotional blog posted to, Greg (from Tampa) shares insights from his personal struggle to stop smoking and deal with the weight fluctuations that accompanied those efforts. Not everyone can achieve this kind of success but, according to Greg, by keeping your eye on the prize you can get through the worst of it.

Greg writes:

I hope what I am about to write will be an inspiration for those who are truly serious about quitting AND losing weight. I have now been almost five months without a cigarette (the longest I have EVER lasted) and unlike every other time I tried quitting, this time I FEEL its for good. Truthfully, no temptations other than a quick subconscious glance (like noticing cleavage on a woman)!

Every time I quit in the past, I gained at least five pounds, then lost it as soon as I started smoking again. This time I tried a different strategy overall and it has made a world of difference. Instead of making my goal “quitting smoking and holding weight”, I made my goal far more ambitious: “quitting smoking and losing weight..gaining muscle, and looking 100% better overall.”

I am now 42. About ten years ago (while I was still smoking), before I met my wife, I lost about 20 lbs (and 12% bodyfat) in four months by simply using a bodybuilder’s type workout (3-5 set pyramid, every five days upper body and lower alternating), light-medium cardio two to three days per week, plus eating on the “Zone Diet” (40 Protein/40 Carb/20 Fat) and five time per day. The results were so dramatic and so fast that one of my teachers at college thought I was sick or on drugs.

When I quit smoking in October, I started the same routine. At first, my goal was to hold weight only…not to gain. But now, four and a half months later, I went from 200 lbs to 184 lbs and over 29% bodyfat to under 22% bodyfat. Now that’s not nearly as dramatic as the last transformation when I was 32 and smoking, but hell, at 42 and no longer smoking I am beating the monster and looking and feeling better every day.

Truth be told, if I was smoking and my metabolism was up, I’d probably be losing faster. But who cares, the fact is I’m clean of smokes and feeling and looking better than I did this time last year.

This isn’t a pitch for supplements, a workout program, or any other BS. I am just saying, if you truly want to quit AND lose weight, it is possible even at 42. Just be smart about it AND totally committed. I think this time what made the big diffrence was making my mind up that I will settle for nothing less. Now, four and a half months into my quit, my goal is 170 lbs and 12% bodyfat. F#@k smoking! F$#k gaining weight! I want to breathe a full breath of air and see a six pack of abs in the mirror!

Anyone who tells you that gaining weight is the price of quitting is lying or, more likely, just doesn’t know otherwise yet. Keep the faith!

Dr. Atkins Diet Wins by a Nose

Diet by Dr. Atkins Wins by a Nose

A nose that weighs about 4 or 5 pounds, that is.

A recent Stanford University study compared the benefits of four different weight loss programs: Atkins, Zone, Ornish and Learn diets. What they found was that after 12 months the average weight loss with the Atkins diet in overweight and obese but otherwise healthy women was about 10 lbs. which was more than with any of the other diets. The next best diet was the Learn diet with an average weight loss of about 5.5 lbs. The Ornish and Zone diets produced about a 3 or 4 pound weight loss after one year.

Of particular interest was that the amounts of fats in the blood (triglycerides in this case) were lower in the Atkins group by the end of the study than in the other diet groups. Since the Atkins diet is a high fat diet and very low carbohydrate, while the others are low in fat and relatively higher in carbohydrate, the finding of better triglyceride levels with Atkins was unexpected.

I applaud the hard work and effort made by these researchers to uncover these findings. Unfortunately I don’t think they have provided us with enough information to make an informed decision about whether the Atkins diet is truly the best of these four dietary approaches to weight loss. It has been my experience that many who start the Atkins diet fail to adhere to it for very long. Many people tell me they find that the high fat of content of Atkins makes them want to vomit. Making matters worse the development of ketones in the body that are thought to be crucial for success of the Atkins diet also induce nausea. Perhaps it is the effect of a high fat diet to make you sick to your stomach that causes some of the weight loss. In the Stanford University experiment each participant was carefully selected and nurtured through the study. Even with this level of care, of all the subjects starting a diet about 1 in 5 couldn’t finish a year. Without the intense personal support from study coordinators that goes with this type of clinical research I predict many fewer people would last a year on the Atkins. In the real world my concern is more for those who couldn’t finish the diet than for those who did. What if a person consumes all those fat calories and can’t lose weight? What happens to their blood fat levels, blood pressure, body mass etc?

A researcher reading these comments may go “Piss-posh…who ever studies the drop-outs from a study? These people simply disappear.” I assume the drop-outs themselves and their doctors are concerned about the drop-outs. If someone is placed on a diet by their doctor and doesn’t succeed on it, the patient and the doctor still have to deal with the aftermath. It would not surprise me at all if a lot of bad things happen in the body of those non-losers on Atkins.

So I say, let’s attend to the drop-outs and non-losers as well as those who succeed with their diet. Let’s study high fat diets in a real world environment without a million dollar budget for support staff and other luxuries. I need to tell my patient what happens if they are unsuccessful on Atkins as well as if they succeed. Will their triglyceride, blood pressure, and sense of well-being deteriorate? If that is the risk they must take for losing 5 pounds more then with the Ornish, Zone, or Learn diet I would think twice about suggesting the Atkins diet. When the “non-loser study” is available I’ll feel much better informed about which diet to recommend then I do now.

Only you and your own doctor can decide what is the best treatment for you. The comments made here by the staff at are purely for educational purposes and are not meant to guide you in the treatment of any condition or illness.

Gary Pepper, M.D. FACP
Editor-in- Chief,

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