The dumbest thing I ever did to try to lose weight was to smoke!
That was even dumber than the unbalanced, low-calorie crash diet I followed in an attempt to lose weight fast!
The low-calorie, unbalanced diet was my own creation. I wanted to drastically reduce calories and be able to eat what I knew I needed to stay on such a restrictive diet. I ate a doughnut with black coffee for breakfast, a junior sundae for lunch and nothing else the rest of the day.
Forget about the nutritional quality of my diet. Focus on the “nothing else for the rest of the day part,” because that’s how I got into trouble.
I am a chewer by nature. I like to chew on things. Food, of course, is my first preference, but if I’m not allowing myself to eat, then I can’t chew on food.
I tried gum and that didn’t work. The first few chews were good when the gum was fresh but after about 60 seconds the flavor was gone and something about chewing flavorless gum gagged me.
At first I didn’t realize that I started to chew objects that weren’t meant to go in mouths. I chewed mostly pencils and pens and wasn’t aware of it until a co-worker yelled at me because she couldn’t find a decent, un-gnawed writing implement.
That brought me to the dumbest thing I ever did.
I walked into a drugstore, plunked down my fifty-five cents and bought a pack of Carltons. Carltons were (maybe they still are, I don’t know) a reduced tar and nicotine brand of cigarettes. I figured they wouldn’t harm my health because of the reduced tar and nicotine and I wouldn’t get hooked.
The first puff certainly reinforced my belief that smoking was going to be a great weight loss strategy. I took a puff and immediately became nauseated. I felt sick and dizzy. I wasn’t thinking about food and if I smelled food at that moment there’s no guarantee I would be able to keep the contents of my stomach down.
So I ate “breakfast and lunch” and puffed on cigarettes and felt sick for the rest of the day. Eventually I decided I didn’t like Carltons and since I thought I wasn’t going to become addicted to smoking I’d branch out to try other brands that may not be reduced tar and nicotine.
That’s when I discovered I like menthol cigarettes. Kools! They made me feel a little crummier but they tasted better. And after a while they didn’t make me feel crummy at all. They became a good thing to do instead of eating and eventually they just became something I wanted to do independently of what was going on with my diet.
Pretty soon I liked to have a cigarette when I drove. I liked to have a cigarette going on my workbench when I made silver jewelry. After soldering a particularly delicate joint, a few puffs would seem to help relieve the tension that built up from performing such a precise operation.
It didn’t take long before smoking took on a life of its own.
Smoking stopped being a weight management tool. After 6 months or so of the doughnut/junior sundae diet I got sick of my “ideal crash diet.” I got sick of dieting altogether. I wanted to eat past noon. I wanted more variety in my food. I missed the feeling of eating enough at a single meal to feel satisfied.
I was well aware of the dangers of smoking, but as a 20-year old those dangers didn’t seem like real threats to me. Cancer and heart disease aren’t young adult diseases. There was one risk of smoking that was more threatening to me than cancer and heart disease – having gross yellow fangs! Few smokers can maintain their white smiles and that happened to be important to me.
I tried to quit and was shocked to find out that every morning I could quit and every afternoon I was lighting up a cigarette.
That went on for about a month and although the desire to quit was still there I stopped thinking I could do it. Then I got a sinus infection and felt too sick to even want to smoke. 3 days after starting antibiotics I started to feel better and reached for a cigarette.
That’s when I realized I’d gone 3 days without a smoke and I felt like I had finally made real progress quitting, so I destroyed the pack of cigarettes. I made a pact with myself not to ever buy another one. I’ve stuck with that pact for 40 years!
If you are trying to reduce your calories, don’t replace food with cigarettes.
I have done some dumb things to lose weight, but nothing even comes close to being as dumb as lighting up that first Carlton!