MELROSE PARK, Ill.,--In an era of discount coupons and freebies, trading a pack of cigarettes for a start at a healthier lifestyle may be the deal of a lifetime. In the “Packs for Pecs” incentive, employees of the Loyola University Health System can trade cigarettes or other tobacco products for a monthlong membership at the Gottlieb Center for Fitness on Thursday, Nov. 18, in recognition of the Great American Smokeout.
“Research shows that it takes about 30 days of routine behavior to establish a new habit, so smokers will be getting a solid opportunity to really kick the habit,” said Gloria Murray, director of the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, of the deal that trades 20 cigarettes for a 31-day membership. A $5 pack will get you a $60 membership in the short run but quitting a pack-a-day habit can mean you pocket $35 a week, $140 a month and $1,680 per year.
Quadruple Bypass Ends Policeman’s Smoking Habit
“I was diagnosed with six major blockages in my heart and quit smoking that moment,” said Carmen De Pello, 53, a retired Elmwood Park policeman, who began cardiac rehabilitation at Gottlieb Nov. 12 after recovering from a quadruple-bypass operation there earlier last month.
De Pello was a regular pack-a-day cigarette smoker for more than 25 years until October when he was referred to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital cardiologist Dr. John Bajgrowicz by his gastroenterologist Dr. Gerard Sublette after De Pello complained of constant heartburn.
“Cigarette smoking is a primary cause of heart disease and it is also the most preventable,” Bajgrowicz said. “Save your life and save some money by stopping smoking right now.”
The Gottlieb Center for Fitness has received several phone calls from employees since the offer was announced internally last week. “A hospital employee called to ask if she needed to surrender a full pack,” Murray said, humorously. “We said, ‘yes,’ because we don’t want to encourage people to overindulge in a last-hurrah effort.”
Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and the Gottlieb Center for Fitness are partners in a new yearlong employee wellness program that offers employees health-care incentives for participating in activities to improve their own health. “Our staff dedicates their lives daily to improving the health of others; Gottlieb Memorial Hospital is actively reaching out to help them improve their own health,” said Patricia Cassidy, president, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, and senior vice president of strategy, Loyola University Health System.
And Gottlieb Center for Fitness this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
“Gottlieb is the first in the Midwest to open a full fitness center that is part of the hospital and open to the community, as well as to employees and patients,” said Cassidy of the adjoining 55,000-square-foot facility with two pools, an indoor track, basketball court, exercise equipment and more than 100 studio classes offered weekly. “Our ‘Packs for Pecs’ and our employee wellness program continue a long-standing dedication to health improvement.”
Medical professionals at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital offer these five tips to help everyone kick the habit for good.
1. Clean the House
Purge your environment of any tobacco. “Many find a ceremonial burning of the products, or destroying them, especially publicly so they cannot be smoked, is a positive way to break from the past and to step forward,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gersten, a psychologist at Gottlieb who specializes in behavioral changes.
2. Publicize Your Pledge
Tell everyone and anyone that you are quitting smoking. “Many have tried and failed, but by owning up publicly, you stand a better chance of holding yourself accountable and enlisting the support of those around you,” Gersten said.
3. Make a Plan
Troubleshoot in advance by identifying when, where and why you normally smoke, and establish a game plan. “If you smoke first thing with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, change the routine. Go to a coffeehouse where smoking is not allowed to drink that first cup of coffee and read the paper,” Gersten said. “Make that a new routine to block that potential weak area.”
4. Reward Your Victories
Set up frequent benchmarks and rewards – starting with Day One. “If you know the first hour is the hardest, give yourself a reward right away, such as the cappuccino at the coffeehouse and time to sit and enjoy the experience,” Gersten said. “You need to figure out what reward system works for you – money, gifts, experiences, whatever – and put it in play,” Gersten said.
5. Recover Immediately
If you have a moment of weakness or a slip-up, stop smoking immediately and get back on track. “You’re in it for the long haul; self-correct right away, figure out why it happened so it won’t foil you again and move forward,” Gersten said. He added it may help to make yourself laugh out loud to get rid of tension and make yourself smile to get back in a positive mood. “You’re human, the important thing is that you recovered and went back to your healthy plan,” he said. “And be sure and give yourself a reward for that.”