image by: Obama-Biden Transition Project
21% of the population smokes cigarettes and every year approximately 20% of them try to quit, yet only 2% will be successful. President Obama can relate, he is still struggling with smoking and is using “nicotine replacement therapy”
For most people, their annual physical is nothing more than an inconvenience mixed with a touch of embarrassment. First there’s the time off from work or school. Why can doctors only see you at 2:30 on Thursday? So annoying! Then there’s the waiting…the appointment day arrives, you get there early, and what do they do? They make you freeze to death in the exam room while you wait and wait for the doctor to appear.
Finally, you must endure the humiliation of getting very intimate with someone you would probably never give a second glance to, yet they get to see everything you own, if you know what I mean. They end the appointment by telling you what you already know; eat right, exercise, and stop smoking (if you do). Throw in a bit of anxiety, because they may actually find something wrong with you, and that is you’re once a year trip to the doctor. By the time the memory fades it’s time to go back once more.
For the most part though, that annual physical is a private matter between you and your doctor. No one else needs to know anything about what took place or what they may have found. But, for the president it’s an entirely different story. It’s a public event. Every detail of President Obama’s physical has been released to the public; height, weight (!), blood pressure, even the type of colonoscopy he had. How embarrassing! But, it’s probably more embarrassing when your dirty habits are announced to the world. Breaking News….Obama weighs 180 pounds! (In his shoes) Obama has high cholesterol! (Blame the bacon) Obama still smokes! (Blame the stress)
Still smokes? I thought he quit way back in the day? Obama has always been open about his struggle to quit smoking. Back in 2005, he talked about his many attempts to quit, saying, "The flesh is weak. It's an ongoing battle. I have my gum, my patches and all that stuff. And I think that it is important to just keep in mind, I have a nine-year-old daughter and a six-year-old daughter. And I want to give them away in their weddings and I want to see my grandkids," said the president.
Ummm. Then don’t light the cigarette. Problem solved, right? Although the president is “in excellent health”, the report says he is still struggling with smoking, and is using “nicotine replacement therapy” to curb his cravings. Obama says, "I've been chewing on Nicorette, which tastes like you're chewing on ground pepper - but it does help.” Last June, when asked if he still smoked cigarettes, Obama said he was, “95% cured but there are times when I mess up. It is a struggle like everything else".
Obama is the leader of our country and should therefore, lead by example, right? He can’t expect others to take their health seriously if he doesn’t. (Although, he does have the best health care and doctors on the planet available to him, but that is an entirely different topic.) As far as quitting goes, I thought Obama should look to Hollywood to see what techniques celebrities are using to kick their smoking habits. Some techniques are crazy, some are traditional, but for those that have won the battle they swear by their chosen technique.
Three years ago, Brazilian supermodel and new mom, Gisele Bundchen vowed to quit. She says “I was smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day and eating cheeseburgers all day. I was treating my body, which is my temple and my best friend, as my worst enemy.” She quit smoking cold-turkey and as an added bonus she says, "Food tastes better [to me] now than when it tasted like an ashtray.” (I buy the smoking a pack and a half a day, but not the cheeseburger thing.)
Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck, a 20 year smoker, took advice from his BFF Matt Damon and used hypnosis to quit. Affleck smoked his last cigarette in 2005, shortly after he discovered his wife, Jennifer Garner, was pregnant with their first child. Matt Damon quit after he saw a video of himself smoking and realized it was disgusting. And, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron used a hypnotist as well to quit smoking in 2008. And, so far so good for all three quitters.
Super-healthy Gwyneth Paltrow used yoga to help her quit smoking and beat her cravings. She had her last cigarette when she was 24, and now she will only light up for her movie roles. She is among the 10% of quitters who have succeeded through will-power alone. And while Paltrow admits to still craving the occasional cigarette, she says she takes pleasure in knowing she can control her cravings; mind over matter.
Musician Billy Joel credits Russian self-help guru Yefim Shubentsov, aka The Mad Russian, for ending his 27-year smoking habit. Joel, tried to quit smoking for years, read about Shubentsov in the paper and went to see him. "He is intense and convincing," says Joel, who says he has not picked up a cigarette since leaving Shubentsov‘s office. Actress Drew Barrymore also credits Shubentsov with ending her smoking habit. "It's so cool. I've gone three months now. I went to the Mad Russian and whatever it is that he does — it works." Courtney Cox-Arquette and her husband David Arquette are also followers.
I don’t quite know what the Mad Russian does to help so many people but his followers are almost cult like in their worship. According to Shubentsov‘s website he has “helped more than 96,000 people kick their cravings without patches, drugs, blame, or denial.” Sounds impressive!
The statistics on quitting are not good. You have better odds of winning in Vegas. 21% of the population smokes cigarettes and every year approximately 20% of them try to quit, yet only 2% will be successful. The average smoker makes seven attempts at quitting before they are successful; it’s very rare for someone to quit smoking on the first try. Nicotine is more addictive than many street drugs so it’s not surprising that people have trouble quitting. But new data shows that a person’s body responds better each time they try to quit.
I guess the moral of the story is there is no right way to quit smoking. You have to find the method that works for you. So go ahead and be a quitter. It’s the one time in your life when quitting is the right thing to do.
Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.
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