Commonly Overlooked Common Sense

First of all, let me just say how thrilled I am to be a part of Cranky Fitness Nation and working with Crabby and Jo. For the past couple of years, Crabby and Merry have been keeping us informed about health and fitness in the most entertaining of ways. A little whine with our morning coffee. Merry, you will be missed and are a very tough act to follow.

I'm Gigi, from ChunkyMonkeyMama, which is a weight loss blog I started a year ago. They say you should always write about what you know best and for me that included being overweight and a smart aleck - two things I almost never put on my resume or job application. The facts were that I was over 7 dog years old and had 50 pounds to lose. My weight had been up and down during my younger days but never more than 20 pounds from my ideal weight. Things started rolling downhill after I got married because as the saying goes, "once you've caught the bus you can stop running." And now it's getting even more complicated by the immutable laws of nature as my weight/age and metabolism are moving in opposite directions.

I've read every book or magazine article ever printed on weight loss, always searching for that ONE MAGIC THING I could simply incorporate into my life that would make a significant difference. But the pounds continued adding up because apparently (news flash approaching) reading about weight loss and actually doing something about it are two very different things. And so every year there were one or two new weight-related issues that were impacting my health - not to mention the even longer term negative effects of obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. To put it in a nutshell: I didn't want to wake up dead some morning because I wasn't taking care of myself.

It has been slow progress for me but I have lost about 12% of my body weight since my all-time highest weight and still have more to go. The other good news is that I've kept it off too. So what has made the difference for me?

First of all, I'm not a doctor nor do I have any training in the medical profession whatsoever. Even the profession I once belonged to is pretending they don't know me anymore (including the Witness Protection people - but that's their job, of course). Anything I say here is my own personal opinion, experience and quackery. You should always check with your doctor before starting a weight-loss program of diet and exercise. My doctor pretty much sent me an engraved invitation.

After failing spectacularly at any assortment of mainstream diet programs I finally figured out that I needed to tailor my own program to suit me - something I could sustain over a lifetime and not some quick fix that was going to return all the lost poundage - and then some - when I "finished". So this is what I did, and am still doing, for however long it takes.

Cutting down on portions. I still eat most foods - even some junk on occasion so I don't feel completely deprived - I just eat smaller amounts of it. The "5 Second Rule" of dropped food is no longer in effect and so the dog finally gets anything that falls to the floor.

Exercising every day. I don't give myself a day off per se because as we all know, life will throw just about any obstacle in our way at any given time - so use your exercise time wisely as you may have "days off" forced upon you. Exercise is loosely defined as something that gets me sweaty for 30-40 minutes a day - excluding any and all Hugh Jackman paraphernalia.

Drinking plenty of water. Enough to stay hydrated and feel full but not so much that I'm crying fresh water tears.

Getting enough sleep. For me that means about 6-7 hours and this time including any and all Hugh Jackman paraphernalia to ensure sweet (and sweaty) dreams.

Forgiving myself any bad food choices and not using it as permission for declaring the day a total loss and eating my way into a sugar coma.

Getting or staying connected to a support group. For me this was blogging and it has made a significant difference in my attitude, motivation and accountability.

Doing it all again the next day.

It's all pretty common sense stuff which I should've had the good sense to realize years ago. And as much as I hate to admit it, as I've spent a lifetime looking for short-cuts and the easy way out, it really is about expending more calories than you take in. Hard work and perseverance - who would've thought? Do you have any common sense suggestions that have helped you along your fitness journey?

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