Stop bloody smoking. Your Health, my health, it is in our hands.
'We're getting fatter', right right, 'it's because we eat more junk than we used to', right right right, come on get with the good stuff, 'we don't get enough exercise' erm, wither the informative stuff?
'Croke park hold 80,000 people, we could fill it four times with the amount of obese children in Ireland.' Okay, interesting.
'A BMI reading of....'screeech, hold up BMI? hardly a good way to test body fat, a person well muscled could easily be have a BMI showing him to be obese, why are they using such a poor example of reading body fat? Oh never mind, right right what to do about it all?
Eat less processed food and walk to school, play outside. Erm, okay. Well thanks for that RTE, and super thanks for showing us the children in the fatcamps of America ($6000 a month!) and all those obese headless bellies. That was terrifically scientific of you.
It was a bit of a joke really. Nothing new to be learned or gleaned from the show. We're apparently going through a fat epidemic.
Le sigh. I'm so bored of it all.
So it was with withering tiresomeness I perused today's papers and stumbled across this in the guardian. I"ve added bold to the sections I found interesting. Also I am likely going to bore the ring off a few of you with my, 'stop bloody smoking' story at the end.
"People who adopt four principles for a healthy lifestyle can add as much as 14 years to their lives, a study revealed today.
Researchers found that not smoking, taking exercise, drinking in moderation and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can have a huge impact on life expectancy.
Academics at Cambridge University monitored the health of 20,000 men and women aged between 45 and 79 from Norfolk between 1993 and 2006.
The study concluded: "The results strongly suggest that these four achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked improvement on the health of middle-aged and older people, which is particularly important given the ageing population in the UK and other European countries."
The research showed that a person's social class or body mass index (BMI) had no role to play in life expectancy.
The study, published in the journal The Public Library of Science Medicine, is one of the first to look at the combined impact of the four factors on life expectancy.
Participants, none of whom was known to have cancer or heart disease at the start of the study, were awarded a point for each of their four healthy behaviours.
These were determined as not smoking, not being physically inactive (defined as having a sedentary job and not doing any recreational exercise), drinking less than 14 units of alcohol (seven pints of beer) a week, and having a vitamin C level equivalent to eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day.
After factoring in age, the results showed that, over an average period of 11 years, people with a score of nil - those who did not undertake any of these healthy forms of behaviour - were four times more likely to have died than those who had scored four.
The researchers calculated that a person with a health score of nil had the same risk of dying as someone 14 years older who had scored four in the questionnaire for engaging in all four healthy behaviours.
Smoking had the biggest single impact on people's health, with smokers 77% more likely to have died during the study.
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables came next, with high vitamin C levels giving people a 44% better chance of being alive by the end of the study.
A low alcohol intake improved people's chance of survival by 26% and being physically active by 24%.
Eeek to the low alcohol intake. But I shall take it on board. After all I am in week two of the dry period and feeling rather sprightly. And alcohol, delicious alcohol is after all a poison, so perhaps less of it means I'd be less bloody poisoned. QED
The fruit and veg is also a bit of common sense.
But HELLO! There it is.
There's my old chum. I remember you!
Smoking is the number one destroyer of health, Numbero uno, the big cheese. If a person can cut out the filthy weed they are doing one of the single greatest things they can do for their body.
As an ex-smoker, five years and counting, I understand how daunting it must seem to do away with the crutch of a fag.
We smoke to reward ourselves, we are convinced that we are hooked on this really really strong drug nicotine, we need our cigarettes when we 're bored, stressed, full of food and sipping a coffee, or having just hoovered and washed the floors and fuck off I'm taking a fag break (reward)
Stopping smoking is not the hard part, nicotine believe it or not is really not that addictive a drug. It's pretty mild in fact. If you consider the side effects of not smoking most of them are psychological. You don't fall over and lie there shivering and sweating and shaking violently on the come down. Nope, you just carry on as normal, grouchily telling yourself you need a fag-convincing yourself you're suffering.
No no, the insidious weed had a far better way of staying with you.
It has you.
You tell yourself everything you want you to hear. You tell yourself you need will power, thus setting yourself up for the fall when your will breaks (denying yourself the 'beautiful fag'') You tell yourself from the get go that quitting is hard, thus immediately setting yourself a mountain to climb. You tell yourself loads of other people find it hard to quit too, thus arming yourself with friends and 'witnesses'. You tell yourself you LIKE smoking, thus doing away with some of impetus to stop, You tell yourself you'll cut back, thus giving yourself license to carry on smoking, you tell yourself you need them, thus giving them them more power than they deserve, you tell yourself you're a smoker, thus pigeon holing yourself into what seems like an unbreakable hold.
Smokers sometimes get very annoyed at me when I laugh about quitting. It's really not hard at all, I say, and they are outraged. They feel I am belittling their attempts and their struggles. But I am not. If you go about quitting smoking the wrong way then your attempt will be very difficult indeed. But if you go about it the right way then you too can give up a 30 a day habit in one go and never want another one again as long as you can be arsed living.
As with everything in life, the prep work is the key.
Make your decision. Do it. Ignore everything you've ever heard about giving up. Stop and listen to your body. What's happening to it since your last cigarette? Have you fainted? Vomited? Can you breath? Walk? Talk? Eat? Work?
If you haven't died and you can do normal things, then ixnay on the power of nicotine for a second. If you can do all of these things then lets see how much longer you can do it. If you have gone a day without smoking and you haven't died, let's consider something for a second, if you haven't died, or had any enormous physical reaction to not smoking then maybe, just maybe nicotine is not as powerful a drug as you were led to believe.
Second, I freely admit Allen Carr was a godsend to me, but not his whole book, one particular story which helped me above all others. It seemed a simple analogy, but this analogy is actually far from simple, this analogy was so visually powerful for me, that during the first few days of not smoking, every time I thought I had a craving I was able to conjure this image up and I laughed chumlies, I swear to you laughed at that craving.
Imagine if you will a dragon, small, thriving, powerful little bugger, living happily in your lungs. He's there right now kicking up a storm, decorating the place as he sees fit. Happy little chap, fat and cheery, getting his own way.
Now, this dragon lives on smoke, cigarette smoke to be exact. He's a hungry bastard and he insists on being fed regularly, some people feed him more often than others and some less, but either way he gets fed, and he gets bigger and more powerful as they years go by.
But what if, what if one day you decided enough was enough, you wanted your own lungs back, you decide he was getting too big for his britches? You decide the only way to get rid of this occupant was to remove the one thing that makes him strong, you take away his food.
Well as you can imagine he won't like that at all, he's going to kick up fucking murder. The first day he's going to storm about the gaff, pulling every trick in the books his knows, he's going to yank on brain cells and nerves, screaming for his breakfast, and when he doesn't get that he's really going to crank up the volume come lunch, and by dinner time he will be furious and trying his utmost to ge you to pay attention to him.
He's laying it on thick now and you're probably feeling a touch ropey, but you persevere, you decide you won't feed the little fuck-you think to yourself-because the moment you feed the little bratty bastard he's going to feel happy and strong again.
This battle might wage for a day or so, but what happens when you don't feed something?
It starves. It grows weak, it putters where once it roared, it limps where once it stomped. You're killing it. Oh you might get a few blows yourself, but you're killing it, and every time it tries to get your attention you think, 'fuck you dragon, go fucking starve.'
And starve he will. Because you have deprived him of the one thing he needs to live.
Now, I'm paraphrasing all over the camp here, but I found this for me worked above all other logic (fuck me, who doesn't know that smoking is bad for them, that never stopped me) and all other advice. For the first few days of not smoking every time I got a 'hey I should have a fag at this time' I"d counter with 'still there Barney? Fuck off. You're getting nothing. Ohhh weaker today aren't you ha ha.'
Chumlies four or five days after giving up smoking I awoke and went down stairs and made coffee. I was reading the news papers when it dawned on me. A shock! I'd forgotten to think of a cigarette for the first hour of the day. And that realisation that single dawning realisation was the beginning of the end for my poor old withered dragon.
I was no longer a smoker. I'd kicked that dragon's arse but good.
I still have my dragon, he's asleep, the little bastard, deep in a coma. He can stay there. I will never ever smoke a cigarette as long as I live, not through fear, not through willpower, which I believe is a crock and only makes you feel you're denying yourself something, but because I'm not feeding that little smoke loving fuck. Let the little bastard slumber on for eternity.
They are my lungs and I will decorate them as I see fit.
If you do give up smoking, at some point you will look around and wonder, 'how did I ever smoke in the first place?' I don't feel smug about being an ex-smoker, I only wish I could impart the sensation and relief of how I feel for having freed myself from a self imposed bad relationship.
If you can, and if you want, do give up. You won't know yourself in three months, you'll laugh, your dragon will slumber, your body will be your own again.
It is the single greatest thing you can do for you.