The problem is that cigarettes are the perfect weight loss drug. They increase metabolism, decrease your appetite, and on top of that, they make your food taste shitty. Even further, they satisfy an oral fixation so it’s “like eating” in a way. So when you quit, your metabolism goes down by about–I think it’s about 8%, but I don’t have a reference handy–your appetite comes roaring back, you regain a sense of smell, and you can actually TASTE your food again, and you want to satisfy your oral fixation, so you start cramming high-fructose corn syrup filled crapola into your mouth at record speeds. (By the way, that 8% sounds pretty meaningless, but it means if you’re a 220 lb bodybuilder you can eat almost 250 more Calories per day.)
No wonder people don’t want to quit because they think they’ll gain weight. They’re probably right.
It sounds like you’ve been without smoking for long enough to be considered “off” the stuff, though I’m pretty sure at least some of the temptation will remain for life. I know I still get temptations, especially when I’m drinking. If you hadn’t been “off” the stuff for so long, I would tell you to get that nailed down first before you start trying to cut the fat.
Okay, so you’re through step one. Step two is threefold, as TT pointed out. Diet, Weight Training, and Aerobics. Intervals are YOUR FRIEND. They serve two purposes. One, they burn the crap out of your fat stores, and two, they remind you why you quit smoking. If you ever slip (it happens) and you go do windsprints the next day, you WILL FEEL the cigarette or two that you downed. The key is letting this discourage the cigarette smoking rather than the windsprints. Sometimes easier said than done.
One thing that doesn’t relate directly to this would be the training partner. If you can find someone else who has the same goals (running a 5k), it helps. My best friend’s dad has run 14 marathons, and he says that the hardest part of going running is tying your shoes, walking out the door, and doing that first mile. I’ve found that to be true, and having a workout partner will help a lot. For some reason, if you feel culpable to someone, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
If you don’t have a workout partner, one thing you can do is bet someone (your girlfriend, your best friend, whoever) $20 that you will complete all of your scheduled workouts. For some reason, that $20 will drive you out of your warm bed at 5 am to go running.
Yeah, it works, but I don’t know why.
You’re doing the right thing. Now you just have to stick with it.
Dan “Been there, done that.” McVicker