Smoking for weight loss: It doesn't work.

Contrary to popular belief (or maybe just my naive, 18-year-old beliefs), being skinny does not make you healthy, and smoking certainly does not make you skinny (or healthy). I conjured this ill-informed belief in Italy, while wondering how all the Italian women managed to stay so slender despite living in the land of pizza, panini, and pasta.

After weeks of analyzing these women in their natural habitat, I came up with only one semi-sensible answer to my most current burning question. These skinny, supermodel-esque, italian-speaking, passionately-driven women a) burn a lot of calories simply through masterful body language and hand gestures; and b) they chain-smoke cigarettes like they’ve just stepped out of a 1920s magazine ad* and even though it’s 2015 they still manage to look in-vogue. 

*The truly slender ones—I later found out—also, typically, stay away from the mass amounts of pizza, panini, and pasta.

And so, I took up smoking.** 

Or tried to, at least.

**I also tried my hand(s)—pun intended—at the passionate body language and hand gestures, but there’s no way of knowing if it a) burned any calories or b) was at all comprehensible paired with my improper conjugations and still basic understanding of Italian as a language.

While still maintaining an (un)healthy diet of pizza, panini and pasta in the heart of Tuscany, I mastered the french inhale. I practiced holding the cigarette daintily, casually, so I too, could look as though I’d just stepped out of a 1920s magazine ad. I learned to stifle my coughs until I didn’t cough anymore after each long puff. I learned how to ask for a ciggy from a smoking passerby on the cobblestones: mi scusi, posso scroccare una sigaretta, per favore? I learned how to buy them myself: prendo il pacchetto di Marlboro Light, per favore. I came to crave them during the 15-minute morning break between my Italian language classes, and I enjoyed the camaraderie of lighting up with my foreign classmates. Everyone in Italy smoked.

However, the trick to smoking for weight loss is that you replace your snacking with a ciggy. This is a trick I never mastered. While smoking up to 10 cigarettes a day, I was still consuming all the foods: the pizza, the panini, the pasta. In fact, I was consuming all the foods, and justifying their calories with my cool new habit. But that’s not how weight loss works. And that’s definitely not how—should you ever be as naive as me to try it—smoking for weight loss works.

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