(This article first appeared on The Huffington Post)
In a recent article published by Vice Media’s website, the headline asks, “Is Vaping Actually the Secret to Weight Control?” — It looks like a weight loss ad on Google News. Could it be true? In a word – NO!
Vaping may be better than smoking, but it is one problem swapped for another, not a solution, to cancer risk or weight loss.
Any smoker who has blown smoke through a handkerchief knows the crap you are putting into your lungs when you smoke. I hope you have seen the results, the tar build up, the eventual COPD (Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) and possible lung cancer that comes from smoking. Certainly, it seems to me that if one could stop smoking with an alternative way to ingest nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes, it would be a big improvement. Logic tells me that one would be better off without all that tar in the lungs, the cause of the COPD and likely contributor to cancer. However, other means of nicotine delivery also cause cancer, so continuing the addiction without the smoke may be an improvement, but it is not the answer to good health, not to mention the freedom from addiction. Only ending the smoking addiction offers that. And only changes in yourself —your habits, thinking and feelings about food, will result in solving your weight problem.
Why would anyone think that vaping would be an answer to weight control?
It has long been thought that smoking helps with weight control. Smokers have found that quitting smoking leads to weight gain. Research points to evidence of that. But does smoking really help solve a person’t weight problem? No.
The connection between smoking and weight became evident when researchers observed that people commonly gained weight when they quit smoking. The usual weight gain is 5 to 10 pounds in the first few months after quitting, but some gain much more, as much as 50 pounds after quitting. Some of the weight gain is thought to be from a decreased metabolic rate because the stimulative effect of nicotine is no longer present. However, most of the weight gain is due to switching from grabbing a cigarette to grabbing a snack when the urge strikes. The stressors of life triggered the need to inhale something to relieve the stress, and instead of smoke, it became food.
In addition to those findings, women who had become stress or emotional eaters have found that if they substituted lighting up for grabbing a snack, they could avoid a lot of the overeating that caused their weight problems. For them, smoking seemed like the answer to their problem of gaining weight.
However, the reality is that when you develop a habit of overeating, you are going to end up overweight, even if you smoke or vape. Habits develop and strengthen over time, and overeating habits will grow, whether you vape/smoke or not, unless you learn how to master your eating addiction.
Smoking or vaping is not the answer to weight loss and weight control. Only permanent change in yourself, your habits, thinking and feelings about food will achieve that.
Quitting smoking led me to learn how to lose weight. Weight loss can be solved, but not by smoking or vaping.
I referred to an eating addiction, and while many may question that idea, those who have struggled with self-control with their eating know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea that we easily just decide to eat less, using will-power, and then succeed instantly, is a fallacy for most people. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic with over 70% of Americans overweight. And adding vaping or smoking to your eating habits will not make you less of an addict. You’ll then be addicted to both vaping or smoking and overeating!
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in weight loss and addictions, and I got my start in the field with smoking cessation therapy. I was an obese heavy smoker who managed to become an ex-smoker with effective addiction therapy. In my training as an addictions counselor I became aware that my problem with being overweight was really a problem with overeating, similar to other addictions, like smoking. In 1984, using proven behavioral therapy, I lost 140 pounds, and have kept it off since. That led me to the program I now offer all over the world through my network of therapists and my book, The Anderson Method. Believe me, smoking or vaping is not your solution to weight control.
Weight loss and weight control is achieved via changes in yourself, not by will-power, but through “psychotherapy.”
The term “psychotherapy” today usually refers to formal clinical counseling with a psychotherapist. However, I’m using it here in original meaning of the root words, psyche (mind), and therapy (healing). To lose weight permanently, we need to make improvements in our mental processes, our automatic thoughts, habits and feelings, so that we habitually take in fewer calories than we burn. And we need to make it permanent, for the rest of our lives. That means we have to change that part of ourselves, our unconscious mind, that controls our habits, automatic thinking, urges and even feelings. Right now, your unconscious mind is probably set up to make you overeat, no matter how much you’d like to change. Deciding you want to be different and feel different is not enough. Trying to use “will-power” is not enough. Something else is in charge, something like an addiction, and the only way to change that is with the healing of your mind. “Will-power” only comes into play in deciding to learn how to accomplish that, learning the techniques.
So, realize that wanting to change yourself is certainly a big step towards self-improvement, maybe the biggest step, but it is only the first step. You need to learn how. And that’s what my book and lots of other self-help books can teach you about self-improvement and personal growth.
If you want to lose weight and solve your weight problem permanently, quit looking for miracle diets, weight loss “tricks”, gimmicks, pills and potions. Learn how to change yourself.