October 08, 2009

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?


  1. Hi Gigi.. welcome, and congrats on 12%. that's nothing to sneeze at!

    I'm not someone to come to for fitness advice.. altho i will say this. When I was in high school and on the crew team, i was still around 200lb and a size 18. even tho i was the biggest girl, i was also the strongest. Did i lose any weight after gaining all the muscle? nope. nothin. nada. I didn't do anything about my eating habits! For me, I'm realizing, it's not JUST about exercize. it's all about the food.

  2. "To put it in a nutshell: I didn't want to wake up dead some morning because I wasn't taking care of myself."

    This has been so heavy on my mind lately. I have 6 "dog years" on me and 60-ish extra pounds. I became choked-up when I read what you wrote. I don't want to die now. Then I thought, well, maybe I do...why the heck am I not taking care of myself? I know all the common sense stuff...except how to stay committed.

    Thank you for your post. One thing I haven't had much of is a support system as you mentioned. I have 3 little kids, 2 cats, a dog, and have moved 8 times. I'll seek that out; I bet that would help. I'm thankful for stumbling upon Cranky Fitness.

  3. Good job Gigi! I agree with you - we're all different and we each need to figure out what works for us. I still feel like I'm missing a few pieces of the equation, but I keep picking away at it.

  4. Welcome Gigi! Yes, finding a program both with food & exercise that is right for you is key! I am for that too. What works for you may not be for me & my stuff may not be for you. We all have to manage this for life so we might as well make it "our way"!

    For me, it has changed many times thru the years.. both food & exercise. We have to pay attention to the bod & make adjustments as needed plus we may just want to do something different for exercise.

    Age poses a whole set of new issues as the hormones fight back big time & I was glad I knew how to listen to my bod from past experience as I made changes & keep making changes to meet the new & challenging hormones!

    I think if you are content with what you do, that is what matters!

  5. Great post, Gigi and it's nice to meet you.

    I don't think that one-size-fits-all and that each of us has to find a way of living, which includes eating, exercise and other self-care practices that are sustainable. What can we do for a lifetime? And for those shifts in perspective, common sense is probably the most important. Great post!

  6. Great to see you here, Gigi! I always love your posts, and now I get to read more of them! Yay!

  7. Nice work, Double G.

    My whole journey... all 75 lbs so far... has been fueled by determination and common sense. For me, measuring, weighing and tracking aren't an answer because I know I won't continue to do that after I reach my goal weight. I was looking for a lifestyle I could live with. I found it, and started living with it.

  8. It's great to read you, Gigi. Thanks.

    And thank you many times over for using "wake up dead." I have used it in conversation from time to time and get the oddest looks or find I've flat out offended someone. Made me smile.

  9. Welcome, Gigi! Great post.
    There comes a time when we all start to realize that hey, perhaps it's time to start thinking about what this excess weight is doing to me.... And then get off our butts and actually do something about it! It sounds like you are doing well in that department.

  10. you know I love the chunkymonkeymama :)
    so I simply want to add that I really like and second your idea of "plan to exercise every day!"

    I find when I do that I nail working out 5 times a week.

    when I shoot for five....I get in three.

    when I shoot for three...I nap.

  11. Great post Gigi. I follow your blog as well as this one so I look forward your posts here and there from now on.

    Common sense wise was realizing that I am the one that is responsible for my body's health. No more blaming others actions for having an effect on my health. I have the power to allow external factors to effect my progress or the power to not. Once I took that responsibility I finally started to move in the right direction.

  12. Great post, Gigi!
    Between you and Jo, Crabby's in good hands :)

    Um... could you go into a bit more detail about the "Hugh Jackman paraphernalia"? Just curious...

  13. Welcome, Gigi!

    I'm a few months shy of 43 and have always practiced weight maintenance, since common sense suggests that it's easier to maintain than to lose.

    About ten years ago I got serious about a clean diet and found that I'm less hungry when I eat "real" foods instead of commercially processed and packaged stuff. If I want cookies, I make my own. Two homemade cookies satisfy me completely, whereas two Oreos leave me craving more.

    So those are my secrets, and they're not mysteries: focus on weight maintenance before things get out of hand, and eat a clean diet of natural foods, preferably prepared at home.

  14. Welcome GiGi. This is a great group to hang with. And you gave great common sense advice.

    It's NOT just about exercise, but it IS about exercise. Those who seek to do it all by only diet or only exercise are always missing something.

  15. Your first cranky fitness post...aah. Of course it's terrific.

    Four things I've learned:

    1). Slow & steady progress = success
    2). Find a type of exercise you genuinely like. For me it's cycling.
    3). Adjust your goals & your approach to reaching goals as needed. IOW - as Jody says, listen to your body and stay flexible.
    4). Keep going.

    Looking forward to more posts.

  16. OOh...common sense! I love it...now all I have to do is use it for myself :(

    Great post Gigi and welcome.

  17. Welcome to Cranky Fitness, Gigi! Fun post!

  18. Nice to "meet" you Gigi. Everything you say is entirely logical and reasonable. The whole "eat less, do more" concept makes sense. Looking forward to more posts. :)

  19. Nice post, Gigi! We all have to find our own way to the place where the pounds come off. It's calories in vs. calories out. But everyone works those two elements is different.

    I find that keeping stress levels low helps me a lot. Right now, that's meaning milder exercise/activity and attention on the food portion.

  20. Hi, Gigi! A smart-alecky Hugh Jackman fan? I love you already!

  21. Hi Gigi,

    What a great post. What we so often lose sight of is the common sense approach to getting healthy. Basically, to eat less and exercise more. I look forward to reading more from you.

  22. Welcome Gigi! Congrats on the loss! I think you'll be a great addition. I can't wait to hear more :)

  23. Persistence is what does it for me. This is both for food, meaning, as you said, that just because I eat something fatty and sugary doesn't mean that I should eat into a food coma (it sure used to!), and also for exercise, which is more subtle. I exercise every day, and sometimes I don't want to, and hunt for excuses, but I'm more stringent in not finding them valid, and going anyway. I never regret this, always feel better. And another thing that helps me is to not get caught up in being obsessive, either regarding the scale, food choices, anything, and I will actively block my mind pushing me to lose weight faster, since I know (objectively if not emotionally) that this backfires, usually in a big way.

  24. A belated welcome and a huge Thank You for joining Team Cranky! (Sorry; was out of town.) I love your common sense approach and can't wait to hear more!

    And, um, if you do ever find that ONE MAGIC THING? Be sure to pass it on! I'd chuck all our common sense, pain-in-the-ass solutions for an easy miracle approach if they weren't all horse sh#t.

    Welcome aboard!


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