Monday, 31 August 2009


I went to a wedding reception on Saturday night; and a great time was had by all.

However, I woke up on sunday morning with foul smelling hair from the night before - cigarette smoke, yuk! Not had that for ages, since before they banned people smoking in bars and clubs (not that I frequented them all that much but..........).

It was probably my fault for going to stand outside with the smokers at the wedding (and there seemed to be alot), but that's where most of the interesting conversations were taking place.

It reminded me of a chat I'd had with some friends a while before about smoking, and drinking coffee. And how the two things go hand in hand for what seems like still too many people.

So, another blog on why it really, really is not a good idea for your body to be pumped full of nicotine and caffeine on a regular basis (yes alcohol and sugar are terrible too but that another days blog; before you start Lucy).

Someone had read an article that said that caffeine improves your memory. I've read up on this and apparently it does in fact stimulate regions of the brain that regulate mood, concentration, arousal and alertness. A good thing, temporarily?

Especially in my case; after three children I sometimes feel as if many of my brain cells have left my head permanently! But lets hang on a minute - this needs to be weighed up against the side effects of drinking too much coffee. Way too much can make you get the shakes (and I've witnessed this in an addicted friend). It can also cause anxiety and stress and mess about with your ability to concentrate.

Moderation is the key then?

What happens if we look at drinking coffee from a different angle? What if you're a regular exerciser, so to all intents and purposes looking after your body; but you also drink a shed load of coffee to get you through your day?

What's happening here is that you're possibly putting a bit of pressure and stress on your adrenal glands. Exercise is a cortisol producer in the short term (the stress hormone) AND so is coffee so you're getting a double whammy if you're doing both.

Rest after exercise reduces this and allows your muscles to recover and grow stronger etc. but if you're drinking coffee your body is likely to be in 'fight or flight' stress mode virtually all the time, which gives it a limited ability to rest and repair.

Long term adrenal fatigue can lead to all sorts of health problems like sleep disturbances, being tired but wired, depression, cravings - for caffeine!, poor immune system function and also weight gain.

This doesn't sound too good does it? And if you smoke as well as exercise and drink coffee. on.

We all know, or should do by now that smoking damages the lungs, and what do we need to exercise effectively and efficiently? A jolly good pair of lungs, amongst other things. Your cardiovascular system is damaged by smoking - fact. Smoking fills your body up with nasty toxins, reduces its ability to effectively transport oxygen in the blood and it stimulates the adrenals - just like coffee. Which is why we get a kick from it, and go back for more!

So if you're a smoker, if you like to drink lots of coffee and you also exercise, you're doing ONE really great thing. Pat yourself on the back, and then let's have a look at what you can do about the two things that you know need addressing if you want to be fit, and healthy, on the inside, long term.


Keep a diary - write down when you have a fag, when you have a cup of coffee and if you are able to work out why you felt the need for either or both then write this down too. If you can work out what triggers your desires, great, it can be worked on from here.

Try to substitute a cup of coffee for a cup of something else, say a herbal tea. Peppermint is a stimulant, as is green tea (and green contains a small amount of caffeine too). Sometimes, if it's a drink for comfort or relaxation that you're after, this may work for you, you can still clutch a Starbucks takeaway cup, and pretend!

If you wake up gagging for a fag and a coffee to kick start you in the morning, distract yourself. Book to see a personal trainer like me. You'd hardly want to turn up for a fitness session smelling of smoke and coughing your guts up now would you?

This sounds crazy but humour me. Give your fag packet to someone else at work. That way you may think twice about having to go and ask for one, than if they were within easy reach on your desk.

Maybe you use smoking as a relaxant after a hard day at the office. Try to find another way of relaxing. How about a swim, a massage, meet a friend whose company you enjoy in a place where you know you can't smoke, Anything.

Meditation, or yoga are great 'mind over matter' tools which could be helpful with both coffee and smoking. And EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, a type of counselling which helps to let go of the negative emotion attached to events/habits etc in our lives. Perhaps you started smoking when your relationship broke down, or you lost your job, and it's now become a crutch. I can't recommend EFT highly enough, and if anyone would like further details I can recommend a great lady who does it.

Hypnotherapy can be another great way to help you get off the stimulants. It's also sooooo relaxing. Contact me for a great guy who is able to help.

Patrick Holford, a leading nutritionist, has written a book on how to quit addictions - effectively called How To Quit Without Feeling S***. I think many many people are extremely worried about what will happen to them if they do quit their coffee/smoking habit. They know the 'come down'/detox is not going to be at all pleasant and this can put people off for years. Your body becomes dependent on substances that you fill it with very quickly and its not easy just to go cold turkey.

Patricks book aims to help by offering nutritonal and supplement recommendations to help 'take the place' of the substance you are trying to get away from. It's a thick book, and he's sold thousands of copies. Yes it is a big problem so please don't beat yourself up about it.

And that brings me on to my last point (hurray you might be saying). To quit smoking or drinking coffee YOU HAVE TO WANT TO WITH ALL YOUR HEART. When I ask clients , "on a scale of 1-10 how much do you want to give .......... up" and they say 5 out of 10, I know they are not ready. We go through goal setting, what will help, waht will hinder etc and for some it may take a health scare or shock to make them realise how serious a problem it is for them. For others, they may just wake up one day with the sheer determination, or have an earth shattering, light bulb moment that makes them ready.

Hope this has been food for thought............RX

No comments: