‘Change Your Health Direction’ Aftercare


Lorraine (CYHD Health Coach) & Rebecca (Supervising Pharmacist)

Congratulations to you all on completing our 8 week Change Your Health Direction Programme. It’s the end of the 8 weeks, but really it’s just the beginning of a new health direction for you all to follow right through the years ahead.

YOU are the ones who can make the most impact on being a healthier you, one meal at a time, one snack at a time, one workout at a time, one day at a time. It’s the start that stops most people and all of you have already leaped over that hurdle! Even losing a small amount of weight has health benefits.

The key to your success going forward will be that good old scout’s motto, “Be Prepared”. Take time to plan your meals in advance. This will help you to introduce variety, eat more nutritious, home-cooked food and rely less on convenience and processed foods, the bonus is that it will probably also save you money!! Win win!!

Prepare meals using mostly fresh ingredients and choose foods like fruits, veg (eg carrot sticks, celery, cucumber sticks) or a portion of unsalted nuts as snacks. Don’t forget the old recommendation to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg a day has now been changed to 8-10 portions per day so try to include fruit, veg or salad in every meal. Remember size matters, use the food pyramid as a guide for serving sizes. Learn to recognise hunger. If you’re not really hungry at meal times, just eat small portions.


Use healthier cooking methods. Boil, steam, dry-roast, grill, poach, stir-fry or bake food instead of frying it. Our Optima raw virgin coconut oil is a fantastic alternative to butter or cooking oil. Cut visible fat off meat and drain fat off meat and sauces when they’re cooked. Choose tomato-based sauces instead of creamy sauces. Home made soups are a great comfort food, freeze portions of it to have at short notice when needed. Base your meals on having plenty of vegetables and salad – covering half your plate every time.


You should aim to have a variety of colours on your plate at mealtimes and limit chips and takeaway foods as much as possible. Don’t forget the recipes we’ve suggested to you over the last two months are always available online on our blog.

To be healthy it’s not only about our food intake, you need regular physical activity also. It can be hard to motivate yourself so join a walking group, a neighbour, an exercise class, where you can encourage each other. Choose an activity, sport or exercise routine that you enjoy, this way you’ll be much more likely to stick to it. Remember to drink plenty of water, at least eight cups of water a day. Build your exercise level up gradually, ideally to 60 to 75 minutes of physical activity on 5 days a week but remember always ANY  exercise is better than no exercise. You should try to aim for moderate intensity exercise which causes your heart to beat faster and brings a little sweat to your brow. You should be a little out of breath but still able to talk.

For those of you who have quit smoking don’t forget the benefits:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.
  • One day later your risk of heart attack starts to fall.
  • By day two your taste and smell improves.
  • On day three breathing is easier and energy levels increase.
  • Over the next three months your lung function increases, your circulation improves and risk of heart attack and stroke reduces.
  • After one year your risk of heart attack is cut to half that of a smoker.
  • Within 15 years, you will have about the same risk of heart attack and stroke as that of a non-smoker.
  • And not forgetting you’ll have saved yourself a huge amount of money too!

We run the 8-week programme twice every year for anyone who wishes to participate, whether you’ve done it before or are a new face to us. Don’t be afraid to pop in to us in between each programme if you feel you need some motivation or have fallen off the bandwagon or even if you just want us to measure your BMI or have your blood pressure taken.

Wake up with determination because every day is a fresh start. It’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest and best version of you.


Want to finally quit smoking? Get some helpful tips from the experts…

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

Deciding to quit smoking is the single best thing that you can do for your health. Congratulations! You are on the road to a healthier, happier you. Like any bad habit quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and your brain and body crave it. You also associate smoking with daily rituals known as trigger factors, which is why it can be so hard to break the cycle of smoking. The good news is that there are many products, both over the counter (OTC) and on prescription available in your pharmacy that can help you on the road to a smoke free life. Your Pharmacist or Doctor can help to advise you on what products are best suited to you, depending on how you smoke and how many cigarettes that you smoke.  They can also provide you with general advice on how to keep that willpower going!

smoking 2

Deciding to quit is the first step below are a few helpful hints and tips on how to keep going:

  1. List your trigger factors and try to avoid or change those situations for at least the first month of quitting. This will increase your chances of success.

Common trigger factors would be:

  • First thing in the morning
  • With tea/coffee
  • In the car
  • Breaks at work
  • With a social drink
  • After a meal
  1. Be kind to yourself
  • Accept that it is extremely hard to quit and take each day at a time. I often tell my patients to not tell themselves that they will never smoke again but rather to tell themselves that they will not smoke today. This will help you not to panic at the thought of never having another cigarette. It is after all a habit that you enjoy, so the thought of never smoking again can be enough to make you fall off the wagon!
  • Reward yourself when you take a positive step forward, such as being cigarette free for a day, a week, two weeks. But do not punish yourself for slipping up. Just get back on the wagon.
  1. Declare your intentions to family and friends so that they can help to support you. Also clearing ashtrays from your home, washing clothes that smell of cigarettes and cleaning the car can help to remove reminders of smoking from your immediate environment.
  2. Prepare healthy snacks. Oranges are particularly good in this instance as peeling them keeps your hands busy and the strong flavour will help to distract from the cravings.
  3. Distract yourself when you are overcome with a craving by fully immersing yourself in an activity. Even brushing your teeth can be a distraction and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and not smoky!                        smoking 3It can also be helpful to remember that the health benefits to quitting smoking are immediate. They are a reminder to you about how far you have come.Health benefits timeline:

    After 20 mins: Your heart rate returns to normal.

    After 8 hours: Oxygen levels return to normal.

    After 48 hours: Your body is cleared of carbon monoxide. Lungs begin to rid themselves of mucus and other debris. Smell and taste improves.

    2-12 weeks: Circulation and breathing improves. Walking is easier and skin is more radiant.

    >12 weeks: Lung function increases by up to 10%. Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce.

    After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is halved compared to someone who is still smoking.

    After 10 years: Your chance of getting lung cancer is half of that of a current smoker.

    After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of someone who has never smoked.


    Good luck and remember that your Pharmacist is always here to help in any way that they can!


Change Your Health Direction: A year in the life of a non-smoker

Hi everyone!

My name is Naomi O’Farrell and I’m the Health Strategy Manager at LloydsPharmacy Ireland. In December 2013, I was still a smoker. And worse still, I was a smoker who was about to launch a Smoking Control service for our customers. The irony continued to be lost on me as I finalised the last aspect of our campaign by reaching out to our smoking colleagues in the pharmacies, asking them to consider quitting and to write a blog for us about their experience.

We talk a lot in LloydsPharmacy about ‘inspiring more positive lives’ and this time last year, I experienced that first hand when faced with the obvious dilemma of heading up an anti-smoking campaign while still addicted to the terrible things. How on earth could I expect my colleagues to help me promote a quit smoking service when I wasn’t prepared to do it myself? And that’s when I decided I would be the one to kick off our new blog; finally, I would start practicing what I preached and give up smoking. On the 13th of January 2014, I became a non-smoker…

When I was asked to write an account of how things are now, a year after quitting, I tried to think about the differences I’ve noticed. To be honest, it just seems normal now. There are times when I would love a cigarette, I won’t lie – mostly when something very stressful happens. You can’t always go out for a run when tensions are high! So I’ve tried to think of other ways to calm down and it’s usually just a few deep breaths. But overall, you actually just get used to it.

That said, being a non-smoker facilitates you being fitter, obviously. Initially, to tackle some weight gain I experienced just after quitting, I started the C25K running programme in May 2014. This was a really big deal for me – I had never run, or exercised much at all for that matter, because smoking makes that difficult. My proudest achievement in 2014 wasn’t actually quitting smoking; it was running two races, 5K in September and 10K in November and finishing both! I am aiming for another 10K in April and have also started swimming. And I’ve become a much healthier cook. I’m currently in the midst of our Change Your Health Direction weight-loss programme, trying to get to optimal BMI. But this all feels like so much less effort than it would have done a few years ago, honestly.

This all sounds too wholesome to be true, right? I promise I’m not making it up! I guess I was consciously trying to keep the momentum going after quitting, keeping my focus positive and healthy, so I carried it through to food and fitness. Smoking was very much a way to keep calm for me, a tool to keep mentally healthy (or so I thought at least). My substitute turned out to be exercise and healthy eating.

It’s no secret that quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health and that once you reach the point where you start to look and feel infinitely healthier, you’ll never look back. However, the most positive aspect of this whole experience for me has been sharing the journey with my fellow blogging quitters. This to me is what it means to inspire more positive lives – sharing your experience, your knowledge and your expertise with others in order to provide the necessary support for them to reach their goals, whatever they are. This is what we do in our pharmacies every single day.

You cannot give up smoking without support. Our bloggers talked about it time and time again; your family and friends must be behind you for you to succeed. Too many slip-ups occurred on a night out when someone offered a cigarette to one of our quitters. Throughout the past 12 months, I have been blessed with consistent encouragement and support from colleagues and friends, without which I would not have succeeded. And what’s more, some of my colleagues and friends have since chosen to follow our lead and also quit smoking. Talk about inspiring positivity! I know my friends and family are very proud of me and I thank them for their support.

nsmokI asked my friends to tell me their thoughts and my gorgeous pal Ciara (pictured with me here) said:

‘Naomi has a whole new outlook since quitting smoking last year. She now enjoys big walks with us at weekends. And she seems to only cook healthy food now. She is now healthier than us non-smokers ever were! I need to start living like her rather than in the past when we were lecturing her on healthy living.’

If you are considering taking the plunge and quitting the habit, there is no better time than right now. If the time is right for you, luck and willpower alone won’t do it for you – you need to work hard at staying positive, keep picturing the end game, stay focused on your goals and, I cannot stress this enough, let those around you help, not impede, your progress.

But don’t just take my word for it – check out what my amazing co-quitters went through by checking out our Quitters’ Blog. We hope that it inspires some of you to make the most positive decision you can for your health. I certainly couldn’t have done it without them.

Written by Naomi.


Quitters’ Update 19th March 2014

hatIt’s the 3rd week of Lent!  And welcome back to our Smoking Control Quitters’ Blog.  And guess what happened by accident?!  I thought it was more than enough for me to have quit smoking and so didn’t give up anything else for Lent.  And I’ve just realised I haven’t actually eaten any chocolate (I’m almost sure anyway) since Ash Wednesday.  So go me!  Well one my way to optimal health and well-being.

Today’s picture is me with a hat.  Sadly, it’s not my hat as I’m pretty fond of it now.

(Okay, where’s she going with this?!)

You may remember that I decided to take up knitting in order to keep my hands busy and my mind distracted in an effort to break some of my evening-time smoking habits.  Well, behold my first ever knitted thing that’s not a scarf!  It’s a present for my boyfriend though I may re-think that as I’m pretty attached…

Knitting really has been a great help.  You have to think about it while you’re doing it and you need both hands. Previous evening-time activities were easily done while smoking; watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on the phone.  I’m addicted now and am taking orders from friends and family.

My point here is (apart from promoting my new craft business!) that you really do need to think of something else to do.  It sounds obvious but it’s so important.    Break the habits and change your routine so that the activities and times you associate with smoking become associated with something else.

I’m still in the warm a fuzzy self-righteous glow of being a new non-smoker so it may be hard to take advice from me.  So this week, I’ve asked one of my colleagues, a long-time non-smoker, to tell us a little about how she feels about things now…

Noeleen, LloydsPharmacy, The Mill S.C. Clondalkin


Quit Date: 3 years ago

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

20140106_141627Hi guys,

Anyone out there trying to give up the cigarettes, hang in there, believe me it will get better. I was there myself and it will be worth it.  The ‘freedom’, as I called it at the time, was like I was released from something.

The best advice I would give is to do something with the money that you would normally spend on cigarettes, that is if you could afford to smoke in the first place. I got myself a loan and I knew then that the money was spoken for. I got my first car and paid back the loan within a year, I was so proud of that little Micra.

Apart from my car and back to the more serious side, my health was my main reason for giving them up. I got bronchitis every year and I have never had it since I gave them up. All the other little things like tasting my food again, my house smelling good and having loads of energy were a bonus. So if you’re trying to kick the habit at the moment, keep going and set yourself a goal, maybe a nice holiday or a spa weekend when you have reached your 3 or 6 month goal.



Thank you Noeleen!


I love Noeleen’s tactic of getting that loan.  It’s not unusual for a smoker to spend €300 in a month on cigarettes.  That’s the repayment on the loan for a very nice car.  But health is obviously the more important aspect.  Giving up smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health.  And as I hope you can see from our blog, it’s not impossible; it’s not always easy of course but not impossible…

We’ll be back next week with an update from one of our favourite bloggers and amazing pharmacy managers, Lyndsey, to see how she’s been getting on since we heard from her last.

Chat soon,


Quitters’ Weekend Update: Week 4

boozeHere we go again!! Today’s picture features me with my greatest temptation – the booze. It’s the weekend and that means a drink or two (I really need to consider staying in a bit more!) and a drink or two usually means Naomi gasping for a cigarette. This is my fourth weekend as a non-smoker and here’s hoping I eventually start forgetting cigarettes, or indeed stop dreading the thoughts of visiting the pub quite so much.

Tonight, I’ve a date with my boyfriend who is also in the midst of quitting. There’ll be no one else there to distract us, no other quitters or non-smokers about to act as our conscience. This will be a real test for us both. If any of you sees me about the capital tonight, please do feel free to give me a nod of encouragement or a friendly high-five!

Before we hear from the lovely Lyndsey again, something I read today shocked me. See below a link to an article about smoking trends amongst pregnant women in Ireland. Before now, I always thought that if I ever got pregnant, that would be the one thing that would make me give up immediately and permanently.

(Please don’t panic friends & family – I’m well aware I can barely mind myself so no immediate maternity plans!)

I think most smokers would be of the same opinion. Shockingly though, Ireland has a higher rate of smoking during pregnancy than the US, with between 18 and 21 per cent of women unable (or opting not) to quit the habit while carrying a baby. I spoke in an earlier blog about finding your motivation… I can’t think of one more compelling! Indeed our own Lyndsey is doing her best to become a non-smoker before she thinks about having more children.



Reading this got me thinking about how lucky I’ve been in that this quitting has been a mostly positive experience for me. It hasn’t been that difficult, once I had made the decision to go through with it. But it must be so much more difficult for others, particularly those women who do not give up during pregnancy.

This just emphasises the importance of SUPPORT, MOTIVATION and MEDICATION.  You have to make it easier on yourself.  If you’re finding it difficult, please ask about Smoking Control in your local LloydsPharmacy, or a similar service in another pharmacy, or indeed check out www.quit.ie for online support.  Your family will thank you.

Okay… ready for a smile?!  Lyndsey never lets us down…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

piggy bankHi again everyone!

Meet SMOKE-Y Bacon my savings piggy, who is getting nice and full lately 🙂

So still smoke-free and really enjoying it. I’m not going to say ‘loving it’ as I am still missing them. However I keep telling myself I’m only one drag to being back at the very start. (I’m not going there again).

Okay so I’m not a big drinker and I don’t go out weekends so I don’t have that temptation to smoke with drink or anything like that. But my temptation is definitely put to the test when I’m in my car and by God did it reach its peak this week……..

The weather the last couple of days has been pants. Which means an EXTRA early start for me to try beat the traffic. So I’m driving to work in the mental weather, having a fight with the steering wheel cos of the wind and the window wipers are on full with the rain. Next I just see break lights on the motorway. Yep just as I dreaded, I hit traffic. So I’m grand for the first couple of minutes just listening away to the radio. I look out the window to the car beside me and there was a man having a smoke out his window. Now all I can think about is….. I’d LOVE a smoke right now, like I’d REALLY love a smoke right now. I’m nearly willing for a pop-up garage to appear on the motorway, just so I could buy a pack and end this horrible feeling of temptation.

But nope that didn’t work.  although I did feel like rolling down my window and giving the man a piece of my mind for smoking next to my car cos now all I want is a smoke and I was fine till before I seen him acting all cool with his stupid smokes ha ha!!  (Oh as you can guess by this little story, I’m sooooo not a morning person!)

I was thinking about what Naomi was saying in her blog about needing a distraction and it’s so true but I just don’t think I’ve found mine quite yet. If I was to take up knitting my kids would end up with a sleeping bag instead of just a hat, ha ha!! So I think I need to get my thinking cap on and find my Distraction.  I’ll let you know J

Blog you all soon!



As usual Lyndsey, fair auld play to you x

Distraction and Motivation – what it’s all about it seems.  And making it EASIER…

Do you really want to quit?  What are you going to do to make it easier to do so?  How will your life/the life of your family be better if you’re successful?  What will you do instead of smoking?

There is no point embarking on this unless you have good answers for these questions and sturdy plans in place.  Here’s hoping my own plans last the weekend!

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Chat soon,


Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 4

naomiHi again everyone. Naomi here, still smoke-free and still having to concentrate very hard on staying smoke-free. It’s getting easier to deal with the cravings but I tell you what, it’s hard to keep the focus.

We’ve lost a blogger this week – Ciara is still doing really well with her quitting but she’s finding that writing the blog is making her think about smoking! That’s no good, is it?! Thanks Ciara for sharing your story with us so far. This got me thinking though about focus. It makes sense in January to focus on quitting and saving money and getting healthy after over-indulging over Christmas. But once February comes, it’s harder to keep the momentum going. Nights out start to become more frequent and you have some cash in your pocket again. We can’t keep blogging forever so I’m starting to wonder how long more I will last…

I heard an amazing story last week from one of my colleagues in LloydsPharmacy The Mill, Clondalkin. Noeleen is blogging away over on the Weight Loss Blog (have a read of it, it’s really great!). She gave up smoking 14 years ago and she had a very clever way of keeping her focus. Noeleen was saving hundreds of euro each month so she decided to treat herself to her first every new car. The money she was saving from smoking became her loan repayment – this meant she just couldn’t afford to smoke, even if she wanted to. And she had that loan cleared in a year! I thought this was so inspiring.

It’s also important to keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing to become a successful quitter. For me, it’s ensuring my friends and family don’t let me slip, ensuring I do something with my money, and ensuring I keep using my NRT and keep tracking my progress. 4 weeks in and I feel healthier, cleaner, and far more energetic. I now need to put this energy to good use! Hopefully I’ll have figured out how by the time we finish with this blog…

Time to check in on how our customer David has been getting on since last week…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke-free?  Yes!

Blog 4 – I don’t want trouble!

‘Hi all,

daveSo here I am settling into my weekly blog routine, much the same way as I’ve settled into a routine of not smoking. I’m continuing to use the patches and have found that I never even think about smoking for most of the week. The only time that I get them on my mind, and immediately fold, is during the weekends when socialising.

This weekend though, for the first time since I quit, went very well and was definitely the most successful to date. A social event on one of the nights went fine as I was not drinking and didn’t know any of the smokers so had no reason to sneak outside for one. On top of this I genuinely didn’t feel a desire for one.

On another occasion I was in the pub and having my first pint since December. This used to be an unmanageable temptation when I tried to quit previously. I always had the impression that you have the most craic outside the pub and there was normally a partner in crime to head outside with. This time around though, I didn’t cave in. I was happy to sit in, and chat away to the people with me and never even considered heading for the door.

When I think about how I managed to get through the weekend a few things come to mind. No one else was smoking – they must be a dying breed – so I never even thought about it. For me having a support network of non-smokers is really helpful. All the bad weather makes it miserable to be anywhere close to the wind and rain so this has also encouraged me to stay out of trouble.

Until next week,


Well done on your first smoke-free weekend David!

Once again in David’s update, we can see how important a support network is in quitting.  For me, I’m almost afraid to let my friends down, never mind my boss! (We can’t have a failed quitter writing this blog!)  What’s going to keep us all going?

Keep the feedback coming.  We’re back on Saturday to check up on Lyndsey’s progress.

Chat soon,


Quitters’ Update Tuesday: Week 4

Hi again everyone.  Naomi here with our first update of Week 4. I’m delighted to be reporting yet another smoke-free weekend for me, despite two social events.  Someone give me a star!

One night over the weekend was particularly tough.  I was at a birthday party with a lot of social smokers and I was more tempted than ever to go out and join them.  What stopped me wasn’t actually my amazing will power (I know!), but the smell…  My sense of smell really has improved so much.  And the wave of smoke that entered the room each time the patio door opened was astounding, not to mention a little bit sickening.  I just can’t believe I used to smell so bad.  I really don’t know how my non-smoker friends stuck it.  No smell from my Nicorette inhaler!

Speaking of my non-smoker friends, I spoke at the beginning of the blog about how they and my family were my motivation in breaking the habit in the first place.  I think it’s very important that you understand exactly why you want to quit, REALLY, and if you really do want it enough.  We bloggers are doing well for the most part, with less and less slip-ups along the way as we progress.  But in order to keep that going, we all need to want to be non-smokers for the long-haul.  I’m talking to a lot of people who are self-proclaimed quitters but who still smoke when they socialise (i.e. when they drink).  What is a non-smoker exactly?  And do you think you can really kick a habit if you allow yourself to indulge in the habit just some of the time?  I suppose it depends on your motivation, doesn’t it?  If it’s your health and your family, I don’t think being a ‘social smoker’ is going to cut it.  I intend working really hard to forget about cigarettes completely.

I spoke about Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking a couple of blogs ago.  To be honest, I found myself being afraid to finish it.  I don’t know why exactly so this week, I’m determined to get through it and let you know how I find it.  With that and the knitting, there’ll be no stopping me!

naomi book

Let’s see how Alison has been doing since last week…

Alison, Manager LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Aged 31

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

alison cropHi everyone!

Well I’m still off them…3 weeks so far and it’s getting a lot easier.  I think about them for a few seconds when I first wake up but they don’t cross my mind for the rest of the day/evening. The less I talk about them the easier it is!

I feel much better, even though I’m on antibiotics for a chest infection! My body doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that I have given up because I’m on inhalers and I haven’t been on one since I was a child!! Hopefully it won’t last long and I’ll be fit as a fiddle in no time!! I’m sleeping much better than I had been in the first week on the patches… no more freaky dreams!

I have put on a little bit of weight but I just want to get through the stop smoking first and then I can worry about getting back in shape!! I’d rather be a fat non-smoker!!

I’m saving so much money it’s scary…I can leave the house without my purse now and not worry about getting cigarettes etc. I used to go to the shop and buy smokes, drink, magazine etc. and spend a fortune every day! I’ll have my new kitchen in no time!!

Hope everyone else is still off them!

Fantastic news Alison, well done!

Alison was compelled by her daughter, her partner and her wallet to give up.  And she obviously really wants to ensure she doesn’t let her family or herself down.  A new kitchen will be more than enough reward I reckon!

Chat soon,