By WALTER MUNDAY
According to a study conducted by Health.com, living healthy and longer is as easy as making a few lifestyle changes. The study identified four unhealthy behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—that can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.
One of the leading unhealthy behaviors is the use of tobacco. Tobacco is one of the most popular carcinogens affecting humans. Tobacco has about 70 different chemicals in it which are known to cause cancer by damaging a human’s DNA.
The good news is, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has been reduced by more than half since 1964, yet remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. It kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. For every person who dies this year from smoking, there are over 30 Americans who continue to live with a smoking-related disease.
The goal of the Striving to Live Healthier series is to monthly highlight an employee(s) who are engaging in some form of healthy activity, or has made adjustments to their diet to live healthier. As part of our monthly series, Louisville Parks and Recreation is proud to highlight Teresa K. Lee, Historic Site Supervisor, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing.
Teresa was a seasonal employee from 2013 to 2014, and joined the department full-time last May.
After 25 years of smoking, Teresa decided last fall that enough was enough. After several attempts in the past, she was confident she wasn’t going to fail this time. Her family had long been encouraging her to quit, and recently she began noticing that smoking was taking a toll on her health. So, she set a goal, and has stuck with it so far
“I feel so much better. I sleep better, run faster and longer. I have more energy, and have noticed an improvement in my skin,” said Teresa.
In addition, Teresa also sites an improvement in her oral health by her dentist, being able to laugh without coughing, and improved allergies as additional reasons why she’s done smoking. She’s less self-conscious about smelling like smoke all the time, and admits that food tastes better.
But quitting smoking is not easy. Teresa offers the following tips:
- Develop a list of reasons to Quit, and use that list to keep you motivated
- Find a support network; people to keep you encouraged
- Don’t be afraid to seek help – patch, gum, lozenges, etc…
- Identify/substitute smoking with healthier habits (i.e. drinking more water, walking, running, etc…)
- Stay active!
- Be patient with yourself!
- Don’t Give Up!
As Teresa alluded to earlier, quitting smoking is tough. When you have a craving for a cigarette, it’s important that you have something to redirect your attention. According to research, the urge to smoke dissipates normally within a few moments. For Teresa, she began doing yoga and running. In fact, right after deciding to quit smoking, she competed in the Rugged Maniac, a 5K Obstacle Course Race at Paoli Peaks. Below is a picture of her finishing the race.
“Quitting smoking has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life, but the benefits to me and my family have been more than worth it,” said Teresa.
“It’s the single biggest thing anyone can do to improve their health; you will not regret it.”