Like so many of my girlfriends, I picked up my first cigarette in college.
Far away from the prying eyes of parents and teachers, we kept our dirty little secret from boyfriends and anyone else who thought more highly of us. It wasn’t considered cool like it is today (I’m talking to you Mr. President), but it was considered powerful ammunition in our hunger management arsenal.
Melissa Napolitano, clinical psychologist at Temple University, recently conducted a study of college women who were trying to quit smoking, as well as manage their weight. Napolitano and her team looked at the smoking habits and weight gain of women aged 18-24. The young women shared that stress, peer pressure and trying to manage their weight were the primary reasons they smoked. (No surprise to me).
The results were promising. The majority of women reaped greater benefit from positive self-talk and group support, than women trying to stop smoking and lose weight via exercise alone.
“A lot of college women report smoking to keep their weight down. We think that by providing them with the tools to make them feel better about themselves, it alleviates some of those stressors,” said Napolitano.
Most of the young women who were queried also shared that they felt programs that provided social support would help them to achieve their goals in the long term. So next, Napolitano created ‘Fit to Quit’, a much smaller study which randomly assigned women to two groups. Half of the women worked with an exercise group, the other half engaged in a body image support group. After several weeks, the body image group showed weight losses of more than three times that of the exercise group.
Whether smoking is in your past (I quit 20 years ago), or something you’re engaging in today, it more than likely emanated from a desire to deprive yourself of food and in far too many cases, reflects a lack of confidence and poor self-image. That’s not to say exercise isn’t important, but when exercised is used in and of itself to lose weight and not part of a healthy lifestyle, outcomes can be short-lived and far less impressive.
One way to get on the right track is to start thinking positively early. Learn about healthy weight loss and positive self-image in a supportive setting at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Here you’ll find a special program focus for young college-aged women all year round, or for more on the importance of getting positive feedback, read this month’s Fit Briefing, written by our very own Marsha Hudnall: “Getting The Support We Need”.