April 30, 2007

Health Magazine: WTF happened?

Once upon a time, many, many, years ago, Crabby subscribed to a health magazine called Hippocrates. There weren't a lot of health magazines back then, and this, despite its nerdy name, was very cool. Crabby loved it. Written for intelligent non-doctors, its pages were full of actual health and fitness research, careful analysis, and sensible suggestions.

And it was fun to read. It really was! The writers were skeptical and amusing and irreverent. (Mary Roach, whom Crabby greatly admires, was one of the contributors. She's been at Salon, and wrote darkly funny books like Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Don't miss her).

But over the years, the magazine "evolved." And by "evolved," Crabby means: changed its name a bunch of times, sold it's soul, and went straight down the toilet.

The sad thing is, it's still probably one of the best women's health magazines out there. Please, dear readers, tell Crabby she is wrong and there is a better one and she will gratefully subscribe.

Let's just look at some of the informative articles on the cover of the most recent issue of Health: "The Most Slimming Swimsuits EVER," "Secrets to frizz-free hair," "Hotter Sex Tonight," and "A nice, firm butt in 10 minutes!"

Crabby is curious about that last one, having not read the issue yet. Firm butt? Ten minutes? Really? Is lamination involved?

Health has turned into a f*cking "Women's Magazine," not a health magazine. Page after page of make-up and fashion tips, skinny plastic-looking models, superficial takes on complex health issues, insanely unrealistic promises.

To be fair, there are usually a couple of good articles in there. But the whole magazine used to be good, and now it's mostly crap. (Crabby still reads it, but grouses the whole way through).

She can't even entirely blame the people who run Health magazine, because they're only responding to the market. They tried being informative instead of superficial and lame-brained, and it didn't work for very long. They couldn't sell enough copies that way, so they had to switch to what women would pay to read.

And most women apparently want another fluffy beauty magazine. Because Lord knows there aren't enough of those out there already.


So readers, ponder any of these questions: is Crabby just being a bitch? Do any of you read health magazines, or do you get your info elsewhere? Alternatively, has anything else you used to like gone down the toilet?

About Cranky Fitness

What the Heck is Cranky Fitness?

Cranky Fitness is a health blog, sort of. It was started by Crabby McSlacker in 2007, and now also features cobloggers Gigi and Jo. (A former esteemed coblogger, Merry, is no longer contributing on a regular basis, but you can still enjoy her archived posts or find her at her own blog, Sheesh).

Blog topics at Cranky Fitness include general health, fitness, nutrition, personal development, disease prevention, aging, and whatever else the authors happen to feel like whining about on a given day.

Would you like upbeat inspirational advice about how easy and fun it is to eat healthy food, lose weight, and stay in shape? Then you will probably not like it here! One of the founding principles of Cranky Fitness is: Healthy Living is a Pain in the Ass.

Disclaimer: We are not health experts. Do not take our advice seriously and then try to sue us when Bad Things Happen. Consult your doctor, pharmacist, psychotherapist, herbalist, chiropractor, dentist, shaman, voo-doo practitioner or other appropriate health professional before doing anything that might affect your physical or mental health.

Comments, We Love Comments!
New to blogs? You may not realize that reader comments are often much more entertaining and informative than the posts themselves. Be sure to click on "Comments" and see what other folks have to say. And don't be shy--you don't have to have a blog or sign up for anything to join the conversation. Feel free to comment anonymously or make up a funny nickname! However, we do reserve the right to delete comments that are spammy or that seem too rude or mean.

Please Email Crabby at CrabbyMcSlacker @ gmail dot com.

More soon; this page is in the process of being updated. Thanks for visiting Cranky Fitness!

Who is Crabby McSlacker?

Photo montage by the awesome Bossy of I Am Bossy

Crabby McSlacker started the blog Cranky Fitness in April of 2007. She also writes under the name Jamie Graham, and has been a contributor to Diet Blog (although she seems to have gotten rather lazy about that lately).

Crabby is not an expert on health and fitness; she is just a regular person who often finds it challenging to eat healthy and get enough exercise. However, she thinks it is very important to try one's best.

Crabby Loves Cupcakes Way More Than Broccoli

Crabby's philosophy on nutrition can best be summarized by the Ninety Percent Rule: try to eat 90% healthy, with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. The remaining ten percent? Eat total crap if you want, and enjoy it!

Crabby Hates Weights But She Does Them Anyway.

As to exercise? Well, Crabby thinks that's essential. It's best to try to find something you like, but the grim reality is that exercise is not always going to be fun.

Crabby believes one should ideally do some cardio, some strength training, some stretching, and even some more challenging SHIIT every now and then. But she thinks it's more important to do something rather than nothing! She often argues against health and fitness perfectionism, even though it has never been a personal problem of hers.

What Else Has Crabby Done Besides Blog?

Crabby has written a novel, but alas, it remains unpublished. She is working on another novel and is trying to turn Cranky Fitness into a wildly successful series of Cranky self-help books. (Wish her luck with that, will you? She could use some).

Crabby used to be a psychotherapist, and spent some time in the legal publishing field. Yet she remembers almost nothing useful about her prior careers. She still holds an inactive license as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and may someday go back to private practice. Or, she might take a shot at life coaching. She's sure tons of folks will want to seek help from a life coach named Crabby McSlacker.

Who is "The Lobster?" What is a "Moo?" And what about "Fran the Van?"

Crabby shares a quiet life with her Most Amazing Significant Other, known on the blog as "The Lobster." They have been together more than 18 years, and were recently married in Massachusetts. Crabby and the Lobster split their time between Provincetown, MA, and the San Francisco Bay area. They enjoy camping and touring the country in "Fran the Van," a 19 foot Pleasureway campervan of which they are inordinately fond.

Their beloved 17 year old cat is named Maile, which then became "Maile Moo," and now she is just known as "The Moo." The Moo is a talented artist, but when it comes to physical exertion she is, unfortunately, even lazier than Crabby.

(Cupcake/weight photo credits: Betsy Gertz; weird purple photo tinting added later by Crabby for no particular reason.)

April 29, 2007

White Whole Wheat?

So for about a billion health reasons we all know we should be ditching the refined white flour and eating lots of whole grains instead.

You try to choose your battles: Whole grain muffins? Sure. Whole grain croissants? No f*cking way. (Not that you should be eating croissants all that often, but when you do, you should damn well enjoy them).

If you've been to the grocery store lately, you may noticed that there are lots of new products proudly boasting: "Now, made with Whole Grain!"

So you think, Great! I can have my favorite bread/cereal/cracker/toasterwaffle/whatever without loading up on a bunch of nasty refined flour!

But usually it's a big fat lie. "Made with whole grain" just means they threw a little bit in there. Scummy product marketers are trying to trick you, hoping you won't check the actual ingredients. Often, "wheat flour" is the first ingredient, which sounds kind of grainy but is really just another way of saying "white flour."

So in a world of devious marketeers trying to get you to eat fake whole grains, it would be easy to mistake "white whole wheat" for one of these impostors. But it actually is a whole grain--it's just milled from white winter wheat berries instead of red spring wheat berries. White whole wheat is still really good for you like regular whole wheat. But it tastes a lot milder and lighter.

Of course, products can still use winter wheat and then throw in a bunch of other crap that's bad for you. So you still have to check the labels. But in itself, "winter wheat" or "white whole wheat" is not a bad thing.

On the rare occasions when Crabby bakes, she often uses it. In some recipes, it tastes almost the same as white; in others, it tastes a little "browner," but not as brown as whole wheat. You have to experiment. The King Arthur brand is good.

So what do the rest of you do about the whole grain thing? Don't give a sh*t? Vow to eat more and then don't bother? Or do you have some favorite tricks for getting more in your diet?

April 27, 2007

No, Dadeee, I Want a Cone!

Crabby recently returned from a pleasant walk in her neighborhood. As she was strolling by various shops she heard a commotion--the sound of child crying, and screaming, and wailing.

The little girl was perhaps five years old. Fortunately, this wasn't the heart-wrenching cry of a child in real pain; it was the tantrum of a little girl who wasn't getting her way. She was yelling "No, Daddy, I want a cone!" Over and over and over again, ever vowel elongated.

Her father, a patient looking man, was holding a very large serving of bright yellow ice cream from The Fancy Expensive Ice Cream Place and holding out two spoons.

"But honey, there's plenty," he said, offering the container to the screaming child, "you can just share this one with Justin."

Justin was quite a bit smaller that Tantrum Girl, and it was a huge serving of ice cream. She'd get more than if she'd gotten her own single cone.

"Noooooooo! Daddy, I want a cone!"

Five minutes later, having reached her turn-around point, Crabby went by again and the girl was still screaming, and any ice cream that wasn't being eaten by her little brother was quickly melting. She wasn't going to get any at all if she didn't get over herself soon.

And Crabby thought: what a brat. (This instinctive reaction is one of the major reason Crabby has no little Crablets of her own.) This poor man was only trying to give his daughter a treat, and here she was screaming bloody murder because she had to share a little of it with her brother and it didn't come in a cone.

It seemed like a damn good analogy, too, one Crabby could use for a blog post. As adults, so often we complain about not having "the perfect thing" we fantasized about instead of feeling grateful for all we have.

After all, Crabby is a believer in Positive Psychology, and other sensible Cognitive/Behavioral theories that Talia can explain way better over at her fine blog. The general idea: how you think about things affects how you feel about them. Learn to think differently, and you'll feel better.

But then Crabby remembered what it's like to be five years old. To hear that you're going to get ice cream and to look forward to it all day long and have this perfect picture of what it's going to be like in your head and to feel all happy about it.

And then dumb dad screws it up and gives you a Not Ice Cream Cone, that isn't even your own, and you feel crushed and miserable. Crabby is pretty sure that at that age, she would have had a tantrum too. Eventually one learns to get over one's self a little sooner, at least before all the ice cream melts.

But we never get over ourselves completely, or at least Crabby doesn't. And perhaps this is one of the reasons for her blog: a place to say, just before digging into the ice cream that's left in the cup you have to share with your brother: But no, Daddy! I wanted a cone!

And you know what? Once you've had your tantrum, sometimes the ice cream tastes even better.

Many, many thanks to all those of you who have joined Crabby here this week. She may be posting lightly through the weekend, or she may not. Instead she might just frolic in the comments sections of the posts that are already here, if anyone stops by to visit.

Y'all have a great weekend, now, hear?

April 26, 2007

Great Big Bouncy Breasts!

Should Google ever discover Crabby's blog, future arrivals to the site are going to be very disappointed to discover this is a post about sports bras. But she promised readers we'd return to Steaming Hot Throbbing Health and Fitness news soon, and she's afraid a vaguely salacious post title is the best they're going to get.

Actually, the post isn't even about bras per se, because Crabby (who is afflicted with a mild version of GBBB), can't even remember the heavy-duty brand she wears. This is more generally about the problem of bouncing while exercising.

Not only is it uncomfortable, but for some women it can attract unwanted attention. A good friend of Crabby's also has GBBB, and she happens to be pretty and has long blonde hair. When she goes running, random men turn right before her eyes into total assh*les. There's a hostility behind their leering catcalls, too, as though she has recklessly caused their testostronic discomfort by daring to run with bouncing boobs.

In any event, Crabby discovered a helpful method to calm down a good percentage of this unwanted motion: in addition to a serious sports bra, wear a snug leotard over it. The leotard eliminates at least half the bounce.

Of course finding a proper fitting leotard is insanely difficult, at least for Crabby. She has the damnedest time finding one that will cover her entire ass. And if there is anything less dignified than racewalking, it is breaking stride to rummage around your posterior and find the edge of the leotard creeping up your butt and move it downward.

This high-riding leotard situation is puzzling. When Crabby puts on poundage, she wears it on her belly, not her butt. So she does not have a particularly large ass. Why then, is it so hard to find a leotard (or swimsuit, for that matter) that can spare enough fabric not to ride up her rear? What do larger women do?

Since the women's apparel industry is market-driven like any other, Crabby can only assume that most women want leotards and swimsuits to crawl up their asses as they move. Quite perplexing.

So readers, do not feel you must limit comments to GBBB, a problem you may not have. Weigh in about anything!

April 25, 2007

Blog Apocalypse

For those non-bloggers who might be reading, as well as newly-minted bloggers (like Crabby) who may not know what the hell a "meme" is, bear with us. We'll be back before too long with more Steaming Hot Throbbing Health and Fitness News.

So from what Crabby can tell, a meme is sort of like a chain letter, or a venereal disease, in that you get "tagged," must deal with it in your own way, then pass it on to someone else. On the upside: a meme is much more fun than a doctor's visit or the threat of some horrible fate befalling you if you don't keep the chain letter going. On the other hand, memes involve no careless flings with sexy strangers or promises of untold riches if you send out twenty copies of some crap to all your friends.

(It occurs to Crabby that some readers may be too young to have ever received an actual chain letter in the mail! Be grateful. Crabby always broke them and felt paranoid for weeks afterwords.)

This particular meme thingy comes from UrbanMonk, passed on to Crabby by Thomma Lyn, who explains it much better than Crabby can. It involves money going to charity, and blog traffic, and the end of the world.

Here's a short version of the instructions:

The blogosphere is ending. No more blogs. Blog apocalypse. The internet is still working, the world is fine. But you can’t write anymore. Write your last post.

Crabby may be a new blogger but she has figured out a useful trick when what you're supposed to be writing about is something hard that requires deep reflection and thoughtful consideration: don't write about that, write about writing about it.

And indeed Crabby has, and now the post looks a respectable length. She hereby tags Dawn and Michael, who may have already been tagged or who may not want to play having better things to write about at their fine blogs. (Crabby survived breaking all those chain letters in her youth just fine, so she's not going to worry about breaking it now.)

Crabby will end this with her hypothetical end-of-the-blogging-world post:

Mmmm, cupcakes...

April 24, 2007

Ambien Goes Generic as Crowds Cheer

So the FDA just approved generic Ambien and a lot of folks are going to be saying hooray! Crabby has noticed that the drug is extremely popular among many of her friends and loved ones--particularly the go-getter types who work long hours and get sent all over the world for their jobs and have to sleep on bouncing planes or in noisy hotels in weird time zones.

It's actually kind of cute: they hoard their pills and count them and fuss over them. They worship those little magic beans that can turn a miserable red-eye flight into a peaceful trip to dreamland. Crabby knows a lot of people who use the drug this way: occasionally and sensibly. She makes no judgements about that.

Actually, she has no judgements, either, about those who use drugs every night for long periods of time. Chronic insomnia sucks. Getting more and more exhausted, depressed, sick all the time, cranky; trying everything you can think of but nothing works? Sounds awful. (Crabby, being lazy, gravitates naturally to low-energy states. Sleep is not a problem unless it's her own damn fault, and when it is, she knows how to fix it if she's not being stubborn. More on this, perhaps, at a future time).

There are any number of articles like this one that must drive people who have insomnia crazy. They always make it sound like making a few simple changes in your routine is really all it takes. Sure, all that stuff helps. But for those who just seem to have the wrong biology for easy sleep, it doesn't fix it. They still mostly can't sleep.

So resorting to nightly medication is understandable. But as you may have heard, if you use drugs like Ambien for extended periods of time they may produce some, well, inconvenient side effects. Like "complex sleep-related behaviors which may include sleep-driving, making phone calls, and preparing and eating food (while asleeep)."

Gadzooks! None of these are behaviors Crabby would want to engage in while asleep.

While not as bad as killing yourself or others while behind the wheel, or alienating all your loved ones by phoning them in a psychotic dream state, eating while asleep strikes Crabby as pretty darn unfair in its own right. All those real calories actually count when you could be consuming dream calories free of charge?

(There are also tales of people making cigarette sandwiches and other nasty midnight snacks while asleep, but Crabby couldn't substantiate these with any links. But she swears she heard it was true.)

So no easy answers here on the insomnia question. Do any of you have trouble sleeping? What do you do about it? Crabby will share her methods in a future post, because they work for her, but any true insomniac would just laugh.


Bunnygirl has posted an awesome, articulate comment below challenging the very way we frame discussions of insomnia. Do any insomniacs (or friends of same) take issue with this? Please weigh in.

April 23, 2007

Splenda and Equal, Part II

So here's where the "reverse chronological" aspect of blogging gets tricky, at least for new bloggers who don't organize their thoughts properly before they post. Yesterday Crabby began a discussion of Equal and Splenda, but realized she was running on way too long and so she stoppped. The first part of this discussion appears below and so you might want to start there and end here.

So to continue, here are the reasons why Crabby uses Splenda despite all the nagging internet articles telling her she shouldn't:

1. While Equal raises more concerns, Splenda has survived a boatload of testing. Given that there are carcinogens in everything we eat, drink, or breathe these days (even sunlight is carcinogenic) Crabby is just not that worried about the tiny level of risk that Splenda seems to present. If new studies come out saying "Yikes, we were wrong, this stuff really is going to kill you," then it will be a good time to re-evaluate. (But only if these are real studies by real scientists, not propaganda by people hawking books).

2. Crabby doesn't use 20,000 packets a day of the stuff, or whatever quantity it is you have to get to before problems start appearing.

3. Sweets are wonderful! Life is short! But it's hard to eat all the sweets one craves without risking obesity and other health concerns. Crabby is not ever going to turn into a person who doesn't eat sweets. Splenda works for her--she lost weight when she started using it years ago and hasn't gained it back.

4. Crabby doesn't care that it isn't "natural." Real, whole foods are generally more healthy and nutritious than made-up chemicals, but there are exceptions. Sugar and butter and lard are natural, but they're not good for you. And if a wild boar one day bites Crabby in the ass and gives her some rare and fatal Wild Boar Disease, you can bet she will head straight to the doctor and swallow whatever made-up chemicals the doctor prescribes.

Feel free to give her hell about this (just do it gently).

More confusion over whether Equal has links to cancer. Italian scientists are saying yes again, FDA says their studies are flawed. (This is Equal though, not Splenda.) Bethany over at Thatsfit has some links.

Splenda and Equal: Toxic Terrors or Tasty Treats?

There's a lot of controversy about the safety of artificial sweeteners, particularly in the blogosphere. (In real life, where most people aren't paying attention and are happy to eat total crap all day long, no one seems to care much. Those who can stand the taste use it to cut calories, and those who can't, don't).

But in the Internet world, these artificial sweeteners are indeed a Very Big Deal. To admit, particularly on a health and fitness site, that you use the stuff is like announcing you eat babies for breakfast. Lots of strong feelings on the subject.

Crabby came late to the whole debate, because she never thought either of them tastes "just like sugar." But eventually she got used to them and discovered that while in some foods they still taste metallic and nasty, in others they work just fine.

The FDA recently weighed in on Equal again, saying don't worry at all about cancer, but they weren't entirely convincing since it sounds like they didn't get all the data they needed but just went ahead and said it anyway.

Crabby does not pretend to have carefully analyzed all the studies. She tried to do some actual research but there are just too many vested interests and conspiracy nutballs out there cluttering up the debate to get a straight answer about Aspartame (Equal) or Sucralose (Splenda). Of the two, Splenda seems less controversial than Equal, at least among mainstream scientists.

People tend to find the articles that support what they already think, and Crabby is no exception. The Mayo Clinic and The American Diabetes Association say "no problem, keep dumping it in your coffee" (not an exact quote). But countless others say "cut that out, you'll die!" (Just google, you'll see a million of them).

It seems quite sensible to avoid consuming artificial sweeteners if it doesn't feel like a hardship.

Tomorrow, Crabby will explain why she uses Splenda anyway. (After putting this post up, she realizes it's running way too long so she's taking part of it out for now). Stay tuned!

Cardio Options: Race-Walking, Speedwalking, etc.

Whatever you call it--Race walking or Power walking or Speed walking--it's a smart cardio option. That is, if you do it really really fast, fast enough to get your heart-rate in its target zone. It's an especially good idea for those like Crabby who have shredded their knees through years of running. You can get pretty much all the benefits of running, with a lot less wear and tear on the body. (Here's one random article from some hard-core weightlifting guy with some of the benefits--Crabby was feeling too lazy to find a more authoritative source, but you can trust her that it's good for you).

However, despite tons of magazine articles saying for years that Power Walking is the next big thing, hardly anyone seems to actually do it. At least not in Crabby's neighborhood. Outdoor exercisers tend to be either runners or walky-walkers, not race walkers.

What's the reason for the puzzling absence of speed walkers? Simple: it's impossible to do it without looking like a total dork. Crabby knows this because she does it herself. The frantic arm-swinging, the ludicrous hip swivel, the prissy eyes-straight-ahead posture: one can't help but think "doesn't she know she looks like an assh*le?" Yes, she does.

Another problem is that if you used to be a runner, it's hard to get your heart rate up without concentrating really hard on what you're doing. It seems to feel more effortful than running, even though it's slower. (Crabby also likes the elliptical machine, but that's a subject for a future post). A heart rate monitor (also perhaps the subject of a future post) is a really good idea if you want to give race-walking a try.

Uphill helps too, because then you can walk more like a normal person and still stay aerobic. And for Crabby, music is essential.

If you want to get all fancy about it and actually follow the rules, check out these folks at the North American Racewalking Foundation.

Feel free to tell Crabby what you think, either about Power Walking or your own favorite Cardio endeavors.

April 22, 2007


Crabby is still learning the mechanics of this new-fangled "blogging" thing, and she obviously hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet. There is a brand new post which appears beneath the cat food post. She started a draft of it earlier, then got distracted. She thought posts would appear on the blog in the order they were published, not in the order they were started.

So peek down below for the newest one.

April 21, 2007

Quick note

Crabby takes a broad view of "health" when it suits her purposes, and today at least, it includes Veterinary Health.

If you haven't seen it yet, Thomma Lyn over at Tennessee Text Wrestling has a well-researched update on the latest expansion of the pet food recall.

Go over to her site and check it out. This just keeps getting worse.


We were recently discussing how difficult it is to get enough Omega-3's in one's diet if one doesn't eat a lot of fish. Crabby was in the grocery store yesterday and came across this new incredibly-disgusting-sounding option from Tropicana.

It's orange juice with fish oil in it.

Note this helpful caveat, both on the carton and at the website:


100% pure pasteurized orange juice and MEG-3* (fish oil and fish gelatin).

*Ingredient not found in regular orange juice. Contains tilapia, sardine and anchovy.

Really? Tilapia, sardine, and anchovy are not ingredients found in regular orange juice?

Who knows, maybe this stuff is tasty. Crabby couldn't bring herself to put it in her cart.

But if you're going to hedge your bets with supplements, why not just take a fish oil capsule and enjoy an unadulterated glass of orange juice?

Crabby will confess that in addition to eating fish (but not quite often enough) she also downs a daily fish oil capsule. (The enteric kind to minimize nasty fish-oil burps). She figures they're probably not as effective as consuming it its natural form, but hopes that combined with real food, will help a little.

April 20, 2007

Warning: Possible site weirdness ahead

So Crabby realizes her site name is too damn long, and she needs to do something about that before she starts getting all cocky and submitting herself to search engines and such. She won't change the URL, so any links that have been created will stay the same. But the whole Crabby McSlacker's Real World Guide to etc etc may ending up being a subtitle rather than the official site title. The real title may be something more simple like Cranky Fitness, in keeping with the blogspot domain name.

If anyone has any strong opinions about this, be advised to communicate them quickly. Crabby might ignore them or she might take them very seriously, but either way you will feel better for having vented.

So in an attempt to do something about a title change and header renovation over the weekend, Crabby may end up totally hosing the site up. Crabby is a "geek" only in the sense of being socially awkward, not in the useful sense of having any technical aptitude. The thought of going in the template and messing around with the HTML makes her queasy. She is also going to do some blogroll updating and try to figure out what the whole meta tag business is about.

And while it hasn't been quite a full week yet (Crabby wrote her first post on Sunday and invited the world in on Tuesday) Crabby would like to say to her visitors and commenters THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH! Yes, she is shouting, because she means it. What a wonderful group of people she is discovering in her cyber wanderings.

UPDATE: Many thanks for all for your helpful suggestions. Crabby has decided to go with Cranky Fitness. The subtitle is not set in stone and could well change again, either on a whim or if everyone hates it.

Crabby is also beginning to realize that she needs to stop rushing into the comments section every few minutes and responding individually to each one, both for her own health and to keep from driving you all crazy. She will be reading them and cherishing each one and occasionally stopping in to respond, but perhaps not so obsessively anymore.


Martha over at ThatsFit has a helpful post reminding us that there are a variety of ways to exercise outdoors, where actual sun and nature exist, rather than in our usual gloomy gyms and basements. (For some reason she omits long walks to Ice Cream Emporiums from her list of outdoor activities but I'm sure its just an oversight). Crabby is hesitant to send you over to ThatsFit, because they have a ton of helpful advice there and sensible columnists and she is afraid you will never come back.

In any event, one of the activities Martha mentions is Speedminton, which Crabby had never heard of, and it sounded kind of fun and hip and goofy, like dodgeball for adults, so she went to the Speedminton site to check it out. She even watched their video.

And guess what? Crabby was so disappointed. It's just boring old badminton without a net! They've got this very expensive looking video set in all kinds of exotic locales, with buffed young'uns who are just delirious with excitement about this incredible new extreme cutting edge sport they've discovered. So they hit this "speeder" (which is just a badminton birdie but goes faster) back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, and from what Crabby could tell, that was about it. She isn't sure what she was expecting, but somehow she'd gotten it in her mind (since it was supposed to be a combination of several different sports), that people would be running around doing other things at the same time as they were hitting the "speeder" back and forth--maybe tackling each other or running relay races or juggling lit torches. Alas, this was not the case.

This is not to say that it couldn't be fun. Have any of you ever tried it? Any other goofy sports you like? Crabby should learn not to let her imagination run away with her. Also, when she looked up more on badminton she found out the "speeder" (birdie, ball, whatever) is also frequently referred to as a "shuttlecock." As long as they were coining new names, why pass up the opportunity to introduce SpeedyCocks?

April 19, 2007

Omega 3's (Good fats) and Preventing Alzheimers

Crabby can't say anything funny about Alzheimer's, because it's a terrible disease. However she is happy whenever hard-working scientists can tell her what to do to make getting it less likely. (And often these tend to be things you're supposed to be doing anyway, like exercising and using your brain and eating right).

So here's another new study that seems to suggest that Omega 3's can help prevent Alzheimer's. You can get Omega 3's from foods like fish and flax and walnuts and I forget what all else, but I'll try to dig up a link and come back and put it in later.

The whole "good fats" versus "bad fats" issue is easy to get lazy about. Many of the benefits of eating lots of Omega 3's are long-term, whereas paying attention to calories gets you results you can measure on a scale. Crabby knows her readers are too smart, however, to ignore those important long term health benefits.

One problem, though, is that not everyone likes fish, especially the oily kinds like salmon that give you the most of the good stuff. Crabby makes herself eat it anyway. She has also been known to consume organic whole wheat toaster waffles laced with flax and hemp, but she is not proud of this fact. (Plus they taste like cardboard.) Do readers have any helpful suggestions for getting more Omega 3's? Or opinions on whether or not to bother? Crabby will do a bit more digging around too, and perhaps update this post with more actual information.

April 18, 2007

Inexcusable Ipod Selections

Music is one of the best ways Crabby has found to make exercising less gruesome. A pounding beat and a catchy melody, especially when timed to match one's own footfalls or pedal strokes or pogo-stick boing-boings or whatever--can do wonders in turning a grim chore into an actual exhilarating experience. At least on good days.

But finding good music is hard. (And the the criteria for "good" is incredibly subjective, as Crabby will discuss in a future post). If one is being virtuous and exercising regularly, the old tunes can start sounding stale awfully fast.

So have you, dear readers, ever found yourself downloading shamefully cheesy music just because it has the right beat? I'm not talking just your average shallow pop music, but the sort of songs that are just so over the top awful you'd have to swallow your Ipod whole before you'd ever let anyone catching you listening to them?

True confession time. Crabby will go first.

Some of the cheesiest tunes she has on her Ipod are selections from "Classic Cardio Workout 2." Crabby was going to link directly to the itunes download page so that readers could judge for themselves, but she realized that you'd need to already have itunes loaded on your computer for the link to work. And Crabby recognizes that not everyone has the infernal devices and their software, at least not yet.

So she will try to explain. This amazing album is not just classical music set to a disco beat--embarassing enough--but it's a particularly exercrable example of the genre. The songs have this cheap synthesizery sound straight out of a porn movie or an infomercial. And yet, Crabby is secretly happy she owns these terrible tunes. She gets all bouncy and energetic whenever one of them pops up on shuffle from her playlist.

So is something horribly wrong with Crabby? Or do others of you have any similar dark secrets to share?

Guilty Pleasures

Crabby finds herself amused (and annoyed) when she reads articles that start off very sensibly, saying something like: "You'll never stick to a diet for the long haul if you have to swear off all your favorite foods. Treat yourself occasionally!"

But then they go on to say: "Have a piece of hard candy or a small square of semi-sweet chocolate and satisfy your cravings--you've earned it!"

I'm sorry, what planet do these people come from? Dear readers, have your cravings ever been satisfied by a puny piece of candy or a single small square of chocolate? Any craving so easily vanquished hardly even qualifies as a craving to begin with.

Of course we can't indulge in Special Treats every time we feel like it. Crabby, speaking only for herself, would be as big as a school bus given how often she feels like eating something Evil. Instead, we have to choose our occasions, and either (a) plan ahead and reward ourselves for good behavior; or (b) go insanely out of control for a few glorious moments and then beat ourselves up for it for a respectable hour or two afterwards.

One of Crabby's favorite rewards, after a good week of lots of fresh produce, whole grains, low fat protein, good fats, blah blah blah, is to forgo a healthy dinner and walk a couple of miles to a local ice cream emporium and have a hot fudge sundae for dinner. Ecstasy!

So, newly arrived readers, please weigh in! How do you handle the issue of Treats? With self-restraint and dignity... or not so much? What are some of your favorite indulgences? And if you don't have a blog or anything, please comment anyway, just be happily Anonymous if that makes it any easier. Crabby would love to hear from you!

April 17, 2007

Good news for potheads!

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows

Science Daily — The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

A summary of the study is here.

Crabby suspects that experts will go on to say "but don't smoke it anyway," because they always do. And she has no idea what the study actually means in practical terms--she didn't really get past the first paragraph because she's in a bit of a hurry at the moment and wants to get in a quick post. Plus, as we've established, she's lazy.

And of course Crabby is neither recommending (nor condemning) the smoking of marijuana. She just gets a kick out of it whenever some indulgence that we get nagged about not to partake in (wine, chocolate, coffee, eggs, whatever) turns out to have unexpected health benefits.

April 16, 2007

A reader writes: Dear Crabby

Dear Crabby,
What's in the world is wrong with me? I know exercise is really important, and everyone else seems to really love doing it. I see them all out there running and biking and skating and whatever, but to me it's all just torture. Am I a freak? I think my body just wasn't made for getting in shape. But I don't want to end up an obese, arthritic, diabetic, asthmatic, depressed insomniac like my doctor says I'm going to be. Help!
Desperate in Denver

Dear Desperate in Denver,
Okay, so you have two major problems: the first, you're not a real person and you don't really exist outside of this blog. (And Crabby's one to talk!) But lets put that issue aside for now and pretend you're an actual flesh and blood human with a real problem.

You're not a freak, you're just normal. Normal humans are often lazy and we have to slog our way out of our slothfulness, one workout at a time.

Exercise isn't supposed to be fun, especially not at first. That's a lucky bonus that may happen for you eventually, once you find the right kind of exercise for you and get used to the whole sweating and breathing hard and unfamiliar awful exertion aspects of it. In other words, your misery isn't "special." We all have all suffered from it but some people just don't know how to whine about it properly so they pretend it's always fun and glorious.

And it does get better. Crabby actually enjoys her aerobic exercise much of the time. However, she can never remember that, and even after years (okay, decades) of athletic endeavors she always dreads putting on her running shoes in the morning but she does it anyway (most of the time).

The good news: there are many, many ways to make exercising less miserable. Stay tuned! Crabby and her eventual readers will have plenty of advice for you. In fact, very soon Crabby is going to stop noodling around with this blog in secret and actually go out and tell people that it exists, so that we can have some conversations about all this. (She has not wanted to invite people to a blog devoid of posts--sort of a chicken and egg thing.)

One caveat on the "Just do it" advice: even a fake person needs to be careful, so as not to rush out too soon and do too much and have a fake heart attack. So, fictional person, talk to your make believe doctor in Denver and find out what it's safe to start off with.

And if any real readers stumble upon this blog and find they have actual real questions or real advice to share, just write to Dear Crabby! Put a note in the comments or email her at CrabbyMcSlacker***@gmail.com, only leave out the asterisks as they are only in there to repel the Dread Spam Email Harvesting Monsters.

Sneaky way to eat a vegetable for breakfast!

Smart readers already know they should eat lots of vegetables. (Crabby will have more on that later, no doubt). But you don't really love vegetables do you? At least not the way you might love Krispy Kreme donuts or barbecued ribs or milkshakes? (Some people claim to but Crabby doesn't believe them entirely, though she may concede they think they love vegetables). Crabby believes that because vegetables are inherently unlovable, then sneaking more of them into your diet gives you Extra Credit. And for breakfast? You get Double Extra Credit.

So here's a trick Crabby just discovered. Being lazy, Crabby doesn't bake very often, but she made some whole wheat pumpkin muffins the other day, and ended up with a left-over half can of pumpkin. Not the sweetened kind, mind you, just the regular vegetably sour gloppy stuff. Well, she also happened to have some nonfat vanilla yogurt on hand (the "light and fit" kind Dannon makes with Splenda that's only 80 calories a cup), so she mixed equal parts pumpkin glop and yogurt, sprinkled in some cinnamon and ginger and allspice, dumped in a bucketload more Splenda, and voila! A painless vegetable that tastes sort of like a dessert. (Okay, not like a real dessert, but arguably in the same ballpark).

Pumpkins, by the way, are incredibly good for you.

Not everyone can abide by Splenda, of course. Crabby has opinions about artificial sweeteners and so do a lot of people so she will be posting more about this topic at some future point.

April 15, 2007

Exercise makes you smarter: BDNF and the brain

Crabby just loves it when hard-working scientists in crisp white lab coats toil away for years in their dreary labs, just to give her more proof of what she already knows: Exercise is Really Good for You! People who work out are going to get big payoffs! People who don't will be totally, totally screwed!

Crabby hopes that you too, dear reader, also revel in the nitty gritty specifics of why exercise is so amazing for your body. Want some confirmation that those grueling 5 am morning runs or sweaty lunchtime spinning classes--or whatever form of self-torture you indulge in--are all worth it, because working out makes you a Superior Human? Well, here's some more. Pity those poor deadbeat drones who don't exercise. Pity their feeble brains, full of dead and dying neurons.

What's BDNF? It's part of the reason that your well-exercised brain will have perky, get-up-and-go neurons, neurons that can grow new connections and help you remember important stuff that lazy people can never remember, like their ATM passwords or their kids names.

John Ratey, in his book (not out quite yet) called "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" calls BDNF "Miracle-Gro for the Brain." Which is good, because BDNF just isn't a very catchy name, whereas Miracle-Gro is at least something you've heard of. But bottom line is: exercise increases your supply of Miracle-Gro, which helps your brain become strong and green and leafy (maybe not exactly, Crabby has to confess she didn't read the study all that closely) or at least it makes your brain better at growing the connections and pathways that help you learn and remember and be smarter and more knowledgeable.

Okay, but how do we know John Ratey isn't some kind of quack just trying to make a buck on brain fertilizer? Well, for one thing, he's a psychiatrist at Harvard. But also Newsweek recently did a big fat article on all this (and there's more great studies in there too), and Newsweek probably employs actual fact-checkers. So I'm trusting 'em on this.

Welcome, to no one in particular!

There's something so pathetic about the launch of a new blog. Absolutely no one will be reading Crabby McSlacker's Guide to Health and Fitness (or whatever it ends up being called) for a really long time, there's nothing in the archives, the site is still a mess, and yet here they come anyway, these first few lonely little introductory posts, crying out "I'm here! I'm here! Come read me! Is anyone out there?"

No, obviously. So sad. Yet one has to start somewhere.

So there's a simple reason for this blog: Fitness advice, for the most part, is too damn cheerful.

Eating right, exercising like you're supposed to, and living a reasonably healthy lifestyle--it's tedious, and involves a lot of sacrifices, and often, no one even notices or cares that you're making all this effort. Most people don't even bother trying.

Crabby McSlacker does not pretend, like all the women's magazines do, that it's Easy! and Fun! and Fast! to lose weight, to get in shape, or to improve your health. Ever go to a Walmart or Disneyland and look at a cross-section of Americans? If it was so Easy! and Fun! and Fast! why on earth would they all look like that?

So this is the place to come whine about it. A place to learn some tips and dirty tricks and share opinions about what works and what doesn't. (It's also a place to be smug about what you've accomplished. You're not one of those losers out there who refuse to haul their asses off their Lazy-Boys until the house catches fire. You know, the ones who are at this very moment happily scarfing their Quadruple Extra-Bacon Cheddar Sausage Sour Cream McNasty burgers while you're trying to get excited about your organic blueberries and nonfat yogurt.)

Warning: Crabby McSlacker is not an expert on health or fitness, she's just opinionated. Don't follow any of her advice without talking to your doctor or whatever. Also, she swears pretty often. So if you're easily offended (and are not fooled by the use of asterisks in words like f*ck and sh*t and what-all), you might not like it much here.

So that's it for now. In posts to come: some actual information. Maybe.