May 31, 2007

A Big Fat Thank You

So Crabby had stupid questions, and readers had answers!

These last two posts on Fat Acceptance (and on weight and weight loss efforts generally) were all about the Comments. In them, readers shared thoughts and opinions, admitted confusion and sometimes prejudice, and they told stories.

So many of these stories were inspirational. Sometimes they were funny and sometimes heartbreaking. As Crabby read these comments, she was struck by a few things that made her even more appreciative of her readership (and she already knew this was a cool group of people).

1. Though commenters were coming from very different places, the tone was always respectful. No name-calling, no umbrage taken, no "I can't believe you said that." Having been on other sites when Weight Loss folks meet up with Fat Acceptance folks and decide to have a chat, Crabby can tell you that this is not always the case.

2. People's stories seemed to Crabby quite honest and not the least bit bullshitty. What she means by that is: people copped to unhealthy habits or impulsive behavior at certain times in their lives. But they also cited obstacles that sounded real and daunting, and showed tremendous courage and determination in dealing with these and trying to be healthy.

3. Others who weren't fat themselves admitted to some possible prejudices and judgments but were willing to look at them.

4. People took time from their busy days to write really long, thoughtful comments, from the heart.

As an interesting aside, Crabby has been known to check her sitemeter occasionally. (Okay, constantly). A lot of the traffic to Cranky Fitness is unobservable from the number of Comments--Crabby loves her silent readers too, those who don't leave comments but who check in every day to see what's up. There are, happily many of them for each one of you who puts down their thoughts.

Well, a lot of the silent readers were checking in a lot more often these past couple days, just to read your comments as they came in. Your stories propelled a big spike in traffic. (There was also a nice little boost from another source which Crabby will get to in a moment). People wanted to hear what you had to say, and no doubt many were inspired or encouraged or validated by your stories.

So thank you, awesome Cranky Fitness Commenters. Please continue to contribute your 2 cents whenever the spirit strikes, because you are smart and funny and touching and you're what makes readers want to come back and visit Crabby more often!

And more gratitude, on an unrelated subject:

A big hearty thanks to Jacki over at The Cancer Blog. Not only did she say nice things about Cranky Fitness, sending some folks over to check us out, but also she introduced Crabby to a great resource for cancer news and discussion. (Crabby will be stealing their ideas and research updates frequently in the future). The Cancer Blog covers a wide range of cancer-related subjects, so readers with a particular interest might want to go there and rummage around for a bit. But do, at some point, try to make your way back to Cranky Fitness--Crabby gets lonely and sad when you go away for too long!

Fat Acceptance Continued...

This is in lieu of a whole different post that was supposed to be for Thursday. But Crabby found the comments in the previous post on Fat Acceptance so articulate and compelling, she just wasn't quite ready to move on. If any readers missed the last post, skim over Crabby's part and jump down into the Comments, where the real action is.

Crabby has not managed to respond to all the comments in the last post yet, but she promises she will, either there or here. (It's bedtime, but she will be back). She will be in and out on Thursday, attending to the demands of Real Life, but she will also be catching up with you all when she can.

Of course by saying, "let's keep the discussion going," Murphy's Law pretty much guarantees that everyone will have said everything they wanted to say about this. Crabby will have made a big deal out of Nothing, and the Comments to this post will be empty. Perhaps no one else but Crabby is interested in keeping this going. That's fine; she's quite used to making a fool of herself.

But this is her hope: that people will keep telling their stories for a while longer, and her smart readers will comment on each other's comments a bit longer. (Feel free to comment in this post about something your read in the last one). Crabby also hopes inspiration will strike and that she will draw some grand conclusions, or at least have something to add. (More likely she will make some simplistic generalizations instead, and satisfy herself by being impressed and amazed at all of you).

So this is the plan: she will respond to your comments below, and Update this main post with Insipid Generalizations sometime later tomorrow. (Thursday).

As Crabby is very aware, the best thing about her blog are her clever and thoughtful readers.

May 30, 2007

Fat Acceptance: Thoughts and Stupid Questions

This is only the first post on this subject, because frankly, it's going to be an ignorant one. Just some random thoughts without any responsible research to back these thoughts up; one person's (or one Crab's) uninformed opinions.

This is with the hope that better informed readers out there will chime in, and that this could become a dialogue of sorts. It would be great to have follow-up posts in the future. Because the issue is complicated and contentious.

Cranky Fitness is a Health and Fitness site (though not a terribly serious one). There are discussions about calories and exercise; there is a general premise lurking behind many discussions that obesity is a health risk. That exercise and healthy eating and moderate portions are good for everyone, fat or thin. And that to the extent one's unhealthy habits cause one to put on excess pounds, it might be smart for individuals to Take Steps to reverse that trend.

That said, Crabby notes that:

1. Some people who exercise way more than average and eat way less than average have crappy metabolisms and are still fat. (And no, this is not due to "cheating," though some people do fool themselves. Crabby has lived with people who have made heroic efforts to lose weight with no success; she has observed their daily routines; and they are not all cheating).

2. Our culture, while encouraging the eating of junk food, and discouraging exercise and other healthy lifestyle choices, is at the same time, fat-phobic. We ridicule fat people and discriminate against them and conspire to make them feel badly about themselves. This is wrong. Society's attitudes towards fat people need to change.

So here's Crabby's dilemma. She goes to a great fat acceptance site like The Rotund (thanks, ChickenGirl, for the link), and she finds herself agreeing with almost everything on there.

And yet she goes to a convenience store and can't find anything remotely healthy to eat there, and she feels angry. Because as a culture, we are gluttonous and impulsive and childish. Crabby wishes we'd just grow up and behave more sensibly so she could get a piece of fruit and a pint of f*cking nonfat milk which often, she can't--because the shelves are full of chips and candy and sugary soft drinks. And not coincidentally, as a culture, we're getting fatter and sicker because of these kinds of choices.

So Crabby likes to believe that each individual fat person she meets is behaving in a reasonably healthy way, not subsisting on junk food or refusing to exercise or otherwise making stupid choices. But she can't ignore the evidence that such unhealthy behavior, in general, is making us as a population much fatter and much less healthy.

This leads to the aforementioned stupid questions. Crabby would love it if readers would offer any help. She really wants to understand where everyone is coming from.

If you think of yourself as fat:

How do you think you got that way--was it because of your lifestyle, your genes, or both? Are you making healthy choices now? If so, is that good enough, or do you feel pressure to lose weight as well? If you're not making healthy choices, what's getting in your way? What would make it easier?

And if you think of yourself as not fat:

Do you look down on fat people? Do you think they could all lose weight if they just tried hard enough? Do you think they're discriminated against? Do you think your own weight is a result of healthy lifestyle or did you get lucky with your genes?

Also, it's kind of silly to group people into "fat" or "not fat" when it's a continuum. So feel free to ignore this dichotomy and say anything whatsoever you want about this topic.

Crabby apologizes if she has offended anyone. She really is just looking for a bit more information and hopes you will help her.

Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center is a recovery center on a horse ranch using equine therapy.

May 29, 2007

"Grocery Stores Overwhelming to Men"

Oh for Pete's sake.

According to this article, men are big babies who can't handle grocery shopping, and something must be done to make it easier for them.

Mandy Putnam, vice president at a Fancy Consulting firm, complains: "men do represent a large part of grocery shopping dollars and they aren't being very well accommodated."

Boo f*cking hoo.

There were so many annoying things in this article that we could be here all day, but let's start with a health-related aspect because at least in theory, this is a Health and Fitness site.

One of the main stressors for men attempting to navigate the scary aisles of their local grocery stores is this: there are too many choices. They're having melt-downs in the cereal aisle, according to Putnam. Well, it's true: in a big supermarket, there are tons of things you don't want that you have to wade through to find the things you do.

The implication is that to make it easier for men, there should be fewer choices so they won't get confused. Hmm. Well, what would that mean?

It would mean we'd all shop at Very Large Convenience Stores from now on. And we'd get to buy what the Average Consumer wants to purchase. Are Average Consumers healthy eaters? Hell no. Which items would be the first to go to make the shelves less intimidating to men when they're searching for their Doritos? My guess: all the healthier choices that are less popular than the regular versions. Say goodbye to the low salt version, the whole wheat version, the 50% less sugar version, the entire Organic section.

The fact that there are generalizations and stereotypes in the article didn't bother Crabby. It didn't say all men. And she is prepared to believe that, on average, men are less likely to ask for help, less likely to bother to find bargains, less likely to try new things, more likely to abandon the search for an item if they can't find it easily. What bothers Crabby is the implication: that this is the store's problem.

Crabby thinks the real problem is one of entitlement. Grocery shopping, if done carefully, is a pain in the ass. For everyone. But many men (not Crabby's fine male readers, though they are certainly Manly Men) don't think they should have to do it. Not really. It's women's work, even the women who also have full time jobs of their own.

In fact, in pointing out that more men are shopping now, the article noted "71 percent of men said they had shopped in a grocery store in the past three months." Turn that on its head: almost a third of men haven't been in a grocery store in the last three months.

So Crabby will take a deep, calming breath and cease her ranting for now. But she's curious what you all think: do men need special accommodations in grocery stores? Is Crabby just being small minded about this?

Answers to these questions or any other grocery or non-grocery related thoughts are most welcome below.

May 28, 2007

The Five Second Rule: Scientists Actually Investigate

Didn't you think it was a joke? The "five second rule" is something everyone laughs about when food drops to the floor. No one really believes that it's a real "rule," right?

For those of you who grew up in super-sanitary households and may have missed hearing about it, the "five second rule" goes like this: If you drop food on the floor, and you pick it up within five seconds, you can eat it. Any longer and the food is contaminated and you have to throw it out.

In real life most people create their own rules. The most hygienic say: you've got to be kidding. There's no way I'd ever, ever, eat food that touched the floor. People walk there. People whose shoes have been on sidewalks where dogs might have... You get the idea. You know if you're one of these people.

Others are more... flexible. There are many variables to consider. How recently was the floor cleaned? How sticky or permeable is the food item? (An M&M, for example, gets more floor time than a peanut, which gets more than cheese, which gets more than a deviled egg. The cost of the item, the desire for the item, whether there's any more in the fridge, whether anyone is watching, whether the watcher is a family member or a guest... all these factor in along with how many seconds have passed.

For some reason, though Crabby is very concerned about healthy living generally, she is shockingly lax about dropped food. She is much more afraid of carcinogens than germs. She can't see anything bad down there on the kitchen floor, and as far as she's concerned, ignorance is bliss. If she got sick every now and then she might reform her ways, but she doesn't. So Crabby continues with her slovenly habits.

So what does recent research say about the five second rule?

Pretty much what we all expected. There's not a magic "five seconds," but a slice of bread or bologna left on the floor for a full minute has about ten times more bacteria than a slice left on the floor for five seconds. There's not a horribly dangerous level of bacteria on most kitchen floors, but you could, if unlucky, pick up enough salmonella to make you sick--even in five seconds.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," someone once told Crabby. She should be very strong now indeed.

Announcing the Slacker Meme!

This is yet another Slothful Post for the long weekend, involving no research or thoughtful commentary. It's not even about anything Healthy.

Readers who are not bloggers and don't give a crap about bloggy stuff are once again invited to skip this post if it seems boring and don't even worry about it. A new health-related post will follow right after this one, possibly in a matter of minutes.

Now to those of you who are still left: yes, it's another meme, but it's an Original and Easy One! It's The Slacker Meme, and it starts right here. You'll learn about more interesting blogs and you may even be tagged yourself. Aren't you excited?

Did you skip to the bottom, realized you got tagged, but don't even know what a meme is? No problem. It's sort of like a chain letter, setting up links between blogs. It's a weird word but a good way to meet new blogs.

Crabby will explain it first and then demonstrate.

UPDATE: Having headers in the text seemes to have created ugly single-spacing, but Crabby has no idea how to fix it. Sorry.

Slacker Meme Instructions:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and pretend you're not irritated at them for doing it.

(In this very first round only, the tagger is Crabby, which is confusing because she's also the meme's originator. After this, the tagger will someone different).

2. Link to the meme's originator, Crabby McSlacker, and try not to call her a "low-down-sleazy-opportunistic-link-whore" even though she is. (Or go ahead and call her that, she doesn't care, she's got a thick shell). Try to link to this actual post, as opposed to the blog generally, so that people you tag can also check these instructions. Explain in vague terms what you are doing, but you can refer people here for the full instructions.

3. Pick five or so blogs you'd like to send readers to and hope these blogs will take it as a compliment, because it is.

4. Describe in One to Three Words if you can, or more if you'd rather, what these blogs are like or why readers might want to visit them.

5. You might want to visit the blogs you've tagged to tell their owners what you've just done to them. You can tell them you hope they play along but not to worry too much about it if doesn't work out for them.

You're done!

See how easy? No cute logo to upload, no essay to write, no deadline, no list of 27 things. Just a chance to show appreciation to blogs you like, in a minimum of space and verbiage.

(Note: for this very first round, you don't really need to link to the person who tagged you (Crabby) since you're also linking to her as the originator. But in future rounds these will be two different people, so to make the instructions simple, lets pretend you do it both ways.)

Crabby Demonstrates the Slacker Meme:

So Cranky Fitness tagged me for this Slacker Meme, which is really easy meme started by Crabby McSlacker. (Though she's also apparently a low-down sleazy opportunistic link-whore of the very worst sort). Go to her blog to get more detailed instructions on how to do this if I haven't explained it here well enough.

Now I'll tell you, in three words or less, about five wonderful blogs I've just tagged. You should visit them:

1. Balance: Irreverent!

2. Chicken Girl: Slimming!

3. The Flightless Writer: Kiwi-liscious!

4. Remaindered Random Musings: Manly!

5. I Don't Pretend to be an Ordinary Cat: Catty!

And that's all there is to the Slacker Meme.

Any questions? Get tagged but don't want to be? (Crabby can find a replacement, just let her know). Didn't get tagged but actually like memes? (Crabby tries to guess who might not want one, but she often guesses wrong, so let her know for the future. She herself doesn't always play, which makes it kind of obnoxious that she's inventing her own). Do you have any other observations about health or blogs or life in general? Comments of all sorts welcome below.

May 27, 2007

Old Ladies Walking Up Steep Hills

It's a lazy long weekend and Crabby doesn't feel like doing much research. So she'll direct you over to Talia's blog for yet another cool study highlighting the benefits of exercise. This time, it's about senior citizens, and the study basically says: do some strength training, and you'll be a teenager again.

(Okay, no it doesn't. But close. Go check it out if you're not afraid of mitochondria).

As it happens, Crabby has "Old Age" and "Elderly People" on her mind these days--she's temporarily staying at a retirement community, along with her Most Significant Other. Most Significant Other's mother is recovering from back surgery, and for the last week or so, Crabby has been specializing in getting in the way and eating up all the food, but trying, in spirit, to help. (The patient is getting better, but surgery sucks when you're 82).

When she's not getting in the way, Crabby goes wandering around her temporary home and observes the flora and fauna and local residents. The place is very pleasant. It's huge, for one, with thousands of houses and condos spread out over vast acreage in a serene hilly area--there are deer and coyote and wild turkeys and this week even goats, chomping away at the fire-prone grassy hillsides.

And there are quite a few old people. Crabby knows you're not supposed to say "old," anymore, you're supposed to say "senior" or "elder" or something more respectfully euphemistic. But old seems a perfectly good descriptive word if you don't mean anything disparaging by it.

Some of these old people have taken good care of themselves, and some have not. There is a meaningful but not perfect correlation between these efforts and the end result. Significant Other's Mom, for example, was an avid exerciser all her life--but nonetheless has a crumbling spine and crippling arthritis.

But many of these old people, some of them ancient-looking, go out walking, or more rarely, even jogging, through the streets of this community. Some of the hills are really really steep. There is something so inspiring about seeing some fairly ancient looking residents, mostly women for some reason, making their way up these steep hills. Some cruise along easily; other doggedly put one foot in front of the other, tottering a bit or leaning on a cane. But the sight of these ladies getting out for some very tough exercise every day gives Crabby a reason to do it too.

Exercise is hard sometimes, but so is old age. If exercise can make old age any easier, then Crabby will just have to put aside her whining, put on her tennies, and get out the door to race these ladies up the hill. She won't even feel too badly about it when they win.

May 26, 2007

Cyberchondria and Blogitis--Real Diseases?

Many of us have done it: we notice a numb fingertip, perhaps, or a sudden weird pain where we're not used to having one. So just to reassure ourselves, we go to google and type in "numbness in extremities."

And we end up on a site for multiple sclerosis patients.

Yikes! Do we have multiple sclerosis?

Then a half an hour later the numbness is gone and we forget about the whole thing. But some people aren't nearly so casual about what they find on the web.

"They're called cyberchondriacs and I would say that's the group of hypochondriacs who have a strong, obsessive compulsive focus to their symptoms," according to Dr. Brian Fallon of Columbia University. ABC News recently did a cyberchondria story that Crabby will borrow heavily from, 'cause it's easier that way.

Fallon says ninety percent of hypochondriacs with Internet access become cyberchondriacs.

This makes total sense to Crabby. The internet and its huge volume of health information are very tempting when a strange symptom appears, even for normal people. It's cheap and convenient, as opposed to an actual doctor whom you have to pay and visit in person. So many of us are tempted to diagnose ourselves before investing time and money in a doctor's visit.

But can you imagine what kind of trouble you'd get into with google if you were a hypochondriac to begin with?

"I sort of think of the Internet as the cutting edge of hypochondria. It's almost like a horror movie," said one sufferer's therapist. "You want to look away but you can't, and you just get more and more scared the more you look at it."

Crabby is prepared to believe that Cyberchondria, while too-cutely named, is a real disorder. After all, it's just hypochondria with a cable modem. However, she's not buying "blogitis:" an addiction to blogs. Even though it's clear she's suffering from it herself.

Why not?

Well, even though some health reporters might cover it as though it were real, Crabby can't help but notice who coined the term in the first place. Or who's trying to publicize it. Psychiatrists? Medical researchers? Nope. A Public Relations Consultant about to give a big speech. Hmmm.

May 25, 2007

Too Many Vitamins--Link to Prostate Cancer?

Not having a prostate, Crabby probably didn't take sufficient note of this study when she was skimming through headlines a week or two ago. She suspects the percentage of prostate owners among her blog readers is probably in the 5-10% range, and being selfish, she tends to pay more attention when a study mentions breast cancer than prostate cancer. For this she apologizes but she probably won't reform anytime soon.

But the implications of this study are troubling for those who take lots of multivitamins. Researchers found: "an increased risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancer among men who used multivitamins more than seven times a week, compared with men who did not use multivitamins. The association was strongest in men with a family history of prostate cancer and men who also took selenium, beta-carotene, or zinc supplements."

We've gotten pretty used to studies telling us that we can't get all the benefits of healthy foods like broccoli by taking a pill. But it's kind of creepy to discover that too many multivitamins might actually increase certain cancer risks.

There is also some evidence (still under debate) that for smokers, beta carotene supplementation may actually increase risk of cancer.

Studies like these almost seem to make some whole-foods advocates happy. "See," they say, shaking their heads and making little tsk-tsk noises. "We were right. You have to eat your carrots and your broccoli after all."

But though Crabby believes whole foods are best, she isn't happy about this. She too wishes there were more short cuts. She's tired of reading cheerful magazine articles touting the health benefits of some obscure vitamin or mineral, then telling her that in order to get enough of it she's going to need to eat 14 servings of oat bran, twelve cups of anchovies, or eight glasses of carrot juice a day.

So Crabby is eagerly awaiting news that they've discovered a pill that will turn the food groups on their heads, requiring us all to consume more hot fudge sundays and fewer cups of brussel sprouts. However, as that day is not yet here, Crabby will dutifully eat her vegetables.

And for readers who like to leave the occasional comment but find this post just too darn boring, take note of the previous post: about two thirds of the way down, Crabby got "called out." Many may well agree with accusations that Crabby is far too fixated on superficial matters such as Google and Site meter. Feel free to chime in there and Crabby may get around to responding officially to reader grievances in a future post. Or you may continue the discussion in these comments--Crabby is quite flexible, for a crab.

May 24, 2007

Crabby Needs...

So this is just a quick post to keep you entertained until the next delivery of Steaming Hot Health and Fitness News.

I'm stealing this from Julia, and for all I know we all may be doing a post on this today, since its a cute idea. I haven't made my rounds yet, so I'll try not to be embarrassed if some of you all have already gotten to it first.

Just go to google, and type your first name with the word "needs." As in "Crabby needs."

Now Julia did a lovely post that included pictures; Crabby obviously won't bother with that. She's also not going to share 13 of them, just a few. And it's more fun to do your own anyway than read someone elses.

Just a few:

Crabby needs a real job.

Crabby needs to conduct a online smiley sheet survey at the end of each class.

Crabby needs to chill.

Crabby needs a new exoskeleton.

Crabby needs 2 stop reading comics.

None of these were the "real" Crabby; it is of course disturbing to learn there are so many others. (Crabby did google "Crabby McSlacker" before starting the blog, and at the time there were none, and she thought "good enough.")

In other google news, my site meter reports that someone looking for "Ripples on the Lake" by Dawn Rotarangi arrived here and found their way into the comment section on heart rate monitors. Which should work out well. Anyone lucky enough to purchase Dawn's new novel will no doubt need monitoring because they will soon be in a state of extreme excitement!

So I'm curious to see what loyal readers "need" this morning, according to Google. Any good ones?

May 23, 2007

Nitrite Free and Tasty Too: Applegate Farms Lunch Meat

Yes, it's an unsolicited Product Review. And not even a grouchy one.

Note: be careful readers, whenever a blogger is suspiciously enthusiastic about a particular brand-name product. Sneaky sites like this one are out there providing financial incentives for some of these rave reviews. If Crabby ever decides to go over to the Dark Side, she will certainly warn you first so that you can begin ignoring her when she recommends things.

Anyway, Crabby was looking for a subject for a quick easy post this afternoon and realized she'd just eaten one for lunch. She's been looking for nitrite free turkey or chicken lunch meat and has tried several varieties, but frankly, they all tasted weird. Sort of like liverwurst mated with tofu and marinated in plastic.

But at last, she's found one she likes: Applegate Farms Organic Smoked Chicken. This is not to say it tastes like fresh chicken; it tastes like lunch meat. But Crabby means that in a good way: sometimes you feel like that slightly junky, sweet, salty flavor you grew to love if you were, as Crabby was, raised on WonderBread, Best Foods, and Oscar Meyer.

So why Nitrite free? Well, damned if Crabby didn't have a surprisingly hard time trying to answer that question. She's read, she swears, thousands of articles over the years saying you should avoid nitrites; they're a known carcinogen; they'll give you stomach cancer and all kinds of terrible things.

However, when Crabby went to her usual Reputable Resources to find a convincing and definitive link, everyone seemed to get all wishy-washy all of a sudden. The only sources who seemed to have firm opinions had some sort of horse in the race: an anti-nitrite book to sell, perhaps, or a financial connection to the processed meat industry. (She did find this, which at least sounded like it had some research behind it, but she thought there'd be a whole lot more out there).

Does this mean Crabby is going to return to unrestrained nitrite eating? No, though she has to admit to a fondness for the occasional Polish Sausage or Pepperoni Pizza. And Crabby knows that a few minutes on google does not constitute real research, so she is going to assume all those studies she read are out there somewhere. In the meantime, there's Applegate Farms and their tasty luncheon meat. But Crabby will keep her eyes open for any new research that might shed some light on the subject.

And if you've just popped in and missed the previous post, don't forget to go there to vote in the very important reader poll! Why is it important? Because Crabby will be embarrassed if hardly anyone votes and everyone can see she's unpopular! Plus, you have to find out whether Krispy Kremes cause Leprosy.

May 22, 2007

Crabby has Authority Issues? Who Says!

Please don't be alarmed by the picture of the book. Yes, this post is about research. But at the end, we can try something new and take a poll! Crabby has been wanting to try a poll about something. Those who are too shy to comment, or who have actual lives and don't want to bother, can register heart-felt opinions with a simple click of the mouse. So please, hang in there!

Observant readers may have noticed that when Crabby reports on a new study, or cites a nutritional tidbit (like, for example, "Crabby's favorite kind of Krispy Kreme donut has hardly any calories,") there is usually a link included with the information. (Often it is in a completely illogical part of the sentence, but what the hell).

It often takes Crabby some time to track these citations down, but she still feels they should be there. (True, when Crabby is feeling particularly lazy, she'll say something without citing a source, but she usually at least acknowledges her slackitude).

Crabby has a sitemeter; she knows that hardly any of you ever click on these links. She wouldn't want or expect you to; she wants you right here. Why then, does she bother putting them in there?

Mostly, because she appreciates it when others do. Often, in her google searches, Crabby comes across interesting or alarming information: "Krispy Kremes Cause Leprosy," a headline might say. "Really?" Crabby might reply. She might further wonder, "Does one truly have to choose between an occasional sugary breakfast treat and a much-loved extremity?"

And so the first thing she does is look beneath the headline to try to figure out: Who the hell says so?

Often, if the information sounds kooky, is because it's from an Unreliable Source. But sometimes, the information sounds kooky but it's actually true, according to Reputable Scientists. (Crabby sighs and says a sad goodbye to her toes.)

Just today, Crabby was reading yet another fine article by Martha from That'sFit extolling the benefits of exercise. Martha's article was properly sourced, but it led Crabby to an article from eDiets (which doesn't get a linky, so there) that mentioned that new studies showed exercise can curb your sweet tooth. "Great!" said Crabby, though she exercises a lot and hasn't noticed any such benefit herself. "But who the hell says so?"

eDiets, which is a big and popular and probably reliable site, doesn't want to tell you. Probably because they're afraid you'll click on the link and never return. Ifit&Healthy (also big; also no linky) does the same thing, only they're even sneakier about it. Crabby confesses she sloppily linked to iFit&Healthy on the Atkins/DUI story without checking their link. She never will again. They use fake links that look like research but that only take you somewhere else on their site. This link-stingy behavior makes Crabby very very grouchy.

(By the way, the exercise/sugar craving research is real (just animals) and it's here. How hard was that?)

So having made it clear that she's going to keep on doing the same damn thing she always does, Crabby will now take a poll and ask your opinion about it!

You probably have to have cookies enabled. (Crabby won't collect any information with these; she doesn't know how). She will try not to be embarrassed if only 3 people vote; she knows you are a link-averse bunch and she generally likes this about you. But since she would really like to give this a try, she hopes that you'll humor her this time and play along.

Note: the poll is in a drop-down box; there is actually more than one choice, or it wouldn't be much of a poll. Fingers crossed, hope this works...

Should Crabby Include Research Links?
Free polls from

And of course actual comments are always welcome.

May 21, 2007

Breaking: Crabby's Readers are Intelligent and Witty!

So while Crabby is up here in the main post whining and opining, helpful readers are often picking up the slack below in the comments section, providing actual information. Crabby makes guesses; readers actually supply the answers.

In addition, it has been scientifically proven that Crabby's commenters are highly intelligent and witty. A recent study analyzed the comments of 1,000 random blogs and determined that Crabby's were 73% more informative and 124% funnier than average. Oh, does that link not work? So sorry, we must be having technical difficulties here at Cranky Fitness.

Since casual or occasional readers may not realize what a wealth of information is available in the Comments section, Crabby hereby recommends that you start checking it out. In the meantime, Crabby will provide some assistance. Here are just a few interesting tidbits from her readers in the last few days alone:

Conducting some heroic research, Leah personally tried Tropicana Orange Juice with Fish Oil--and found it tasted just fine! And no fish burps! This was after Crabby had slandered the poor juice, assuming it must taste vile.

Dawn informed us that sheep do not have the right of way on narrow paths in New Zealand. And cream filled apple donuts are a health food.

Katieo observed that the Awful Meatball Man actually may be posing naked on the cans of his, um, "product."

Linda was able to tell us what broccoli sprouts (potent cancer-fighters) actually taste like: kind of radish-y when raw, nutty when cooked.

And Samantha clued us in to "lime slime," another bizarre but apparently tasty way to get omega-3's.

Finally we also learned that when confronted by a mountain lion or an axe murderer, the safest course of action is to try to look large and slightly unstable. (Courtesy of Anonymous, who will hopefully become less so at some point in the future).

Crabby apologizes for the fact that this is a very random and haphazard list--please, if you are a commenter who has been contributing all kinds of great stuff, don't feel bad if Crabby missed you. It's random. And she'll definitely be doing this again. Right after the Contest, the Slacker Meme, Dear Crabby and all the other stuff she talks about but never seems to get around to. But she will; promise.

May 20, 2007

Artist Makes Meatballs from His Own...

(Warning: Stop right here. You don't want to read this. Seriously. If you're new, skip down a post or two, right past the boring broccoli musings, to "Sidewalk Hogs" or something better. If you're a regular, check the archives or your other favorite blogs).

Still here? Don't blame Crabby, then, you're as stubbornly reckless about what you read as she is.

So we have Bethany over at That'sFit to thank for alerting us to this lovely story:

"Artist Makes Meatballs from His Own Fat." (Or did you think it was something even grosser?)

More of the story is here, but why go there when you can stay here and get completely disgusted?

Here's a quote:

"Artist Marco Evaristti mixed fat removed from his body by liposuction with ground beef to make meatballs, which he then fried in olive oil and displayed in a public gallery. He also invited 12 people to join him in eating the meatballs in a last supper."

He claims they tasted better than his grandmother's.

“I want to show people that meatballs made with my fat are no more disgusting than the meatballs you buy in the supermarket,”
he said.

Crabby doesn't know where Mr. Evaristti shops, but she's certainly not going there next time she needs meatballs.

You may have heard of this guy before: he's the one who put live goldfish in blenders and gave exhibit visitors the option of "making their own fish soup" by turning on the blenders.

Crabby really, really, does not like this man.

For those of you who are still left, any thoughts?

Broccoli Sprouts: Yucky? But They're Cancer Fighting Superheros

For all you readers who make yourselves eat cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, Bok Choy, and Cauliflower 'cause they're good for you:

Keep it up! They're really amazing cancer fighters.

(Of course some people eat them because they like them. Crabby is not usualy one of these people. On occasion, if the unlikable veggie is blended in with other more appealing ingredients, and smothered in a particularly delectable sauce, even Crabby can appreciate them. But steamed and plopped unadorned on her plate? Blechh).

A new study has confirmed once again that cruciferous vegetables are a particularly potent cancer fighter. But here's the interesting part: Broccoli sprouts have about fifty times the cancer-fighting stuff in them.

Crabby has never tried a broccoli sprout. She's very curious. Are they nasty? Nastier than regular broccoli? Anyone try 'em yet?

May 19, 2007

Sidewalk Hogs

This is one of those petty self-indulgent rants about a minor grievance that a normal person wouldn't even notice. Hooray for the invention of blogs!

So let's say you're out for a walk or a run, enjoying the fresh air or not, making your way down a narrow sidewalk or path.

Two people approach, walking side by side, taking up most of the path or sidewalk.

You see them coming. They see you coming.

You move over as far as you can. You cannot make yourself evaporate, but you try to take up as little space as possible.

The two people continue to chat and walk, side by side. Perhaps they even smile at you.

You get closer. You wonder when they are going to realize they need to walk single file.

You move even further to the edge of the sidewalk/path.

The two people continue to walk two abreast.

You get even closer.

And closer.

Just before the point of collision, they... decide to finally walk single file?

No, actually, they don't. To avoid smashing into them, you have to veer off into the bushes or out into traffic, as they continue to talk and laugh and act as though you were invisible.

There are other variations of course: two people walking slowly ahead of you hear you coming, turn backwards to see who it is, note you getting closer... yet refuse to move. Or a group of people congregate on the sidewalk, having a conversation, and at least 5 or 6 people see you coming and... nothing. You either crash into them or detour into underbrush or traffic.

What the f*ck is up with that?

Ultra Meme-athon

Those who are not bloggers: Crabby apologizes to you once again. A new grouchy post is coming soon; in the meantime, she has some housekeeping duties that she has fallen behind on. These involve "memes." A meme is actually a real word, but it is also what clever bloggers use to increase the number of links to their blogs. (They're also designed to start interesting discussions, introduce readers to new blogs, further good causes, blah, blah, blah).

For Crabby, a selfish Crustacean, memes are mainly about links.

Why do bloggers care about links? Because they increase a blogger's google page rank. More people will find our little bloggies within the vastness of the World Wide Web! For example, if several months from now a random googler is looking for "Disgusting Orange Juice with Omega 3's and Big Bouncy Breasts" he or she is much more likely to find Crabby if she has a decent google page rank. So today she will Play with Memes.

Crabby was planning to invent her own meme, a Slacker Meme that produced links without anyone having to do much of anything, especially her. She still may.

But before she could announce her new meme, she got tagged twice by Lady Rose at the very entertaining Incredible Shrinking Ladies, and Crabby does not want to drop the ball. She likes these Ladies, even as they disappear before her very eyes. She's not sure she can get to both of their memes, but she's definitely up for the first one, Wandering Wednesdays. Even though it's no longer Wednesday.

This is an easy meme, the very kind Crabby was going to invent. So let's pretend it's still Wednesday and play along. The meme was started by Mama Kelly at Diet Pulpit, another fine blog that the Ladies preside over. (They also may well be behind Best Diet & Health Blogs, and Crabby wonders how they have any time to eat or sleep. Is that why they're shrinking away?)

Anyhow, here are the instructions, should you find yourself tagged.

"The idea is to highlight 5 links that you feel would be new to other readers. They can be daily reads, or personal favorites. They may even just be something fun or freaky or just plain fascinating that you stumbled into recently."

You make a list at your blog and link to it in the comments. (This part confuses Crabby a bit. The comments of whose blog? She may just ignore it.) Anyway, you link back to the person who tagged you (Crabby, in this case) and link to the originator at Diet Pulpit. Incredible shrinking ladies has a graphic you can use too, if you'd like one, but Crabby is too lazy to deal with it.

The best part of this meme: no mandatory essay. Just link away to 5 people you have met and like and hope they play along.

So here are Crabby's five. She's skipping some of the obvious choices because (a) you know them already and (b) a lot of her regulars are already up to their asses in memes.

She hereby tags several fine blogs and hopes readers will check them out:
Samantha at Get Green Things;
Katieo at Sister Skinny;
Mirtika at Mirathon;
Spider at Lose Weight or Die; and
Erin at Smart Cookie.

Those who are tagged: feel free to ignore this if you're not in the mood--not everyone is into the Meme Thing.

May 18, 2007

Omega 3's and Fish Oil: More Exciting Research!

Okay, maybe not so not exciting. In fact: Zzzzzz. But every now and then Crabby likes to make reference to a study or two just so people think she Keeps Up On Things.

And we were recently discussing some of the benefits of omega 3's (like reducing risks of alzheimers, and other bad things like cardiac problems and arthritis. However we noted that if you don't like to eat oily fish or drink disgusting adulterated orange juice, omega 3's can be hard to come by. There are some vegetable sources like flax and walnuts, and some processed foods that are starting to add it, but it's still kind of a challenge.

Crabby's confession: she also resorts to popping fish oil pills (the enteric kind that minimize fish burps) in addition to occasionally eating some salmon. But since supplements are almost never as good as the real thing, she hasn't been entirely sure this was a legitimate approach.

And there's still no Definitive Answer on that, but there's some hope for fish-avoiders. At least one recent study seemed to show good results with fish oil supplements, making Crabby feel somewhat vindicated. Some Australian scientists found that taking fish oil supplements in combination with aerobic exercise improved cardiovascular and metabolic health. Hooray!

Now just in case readers missed part of that last bit: in combination with aerobic exercise. Still got ta shake that booty.

And since no one can really pretend to give much of a crap about fish oil, lets talk about something else below. Anyone got fun plans for the weekend? Anything piss you off in the news today? How's everyone doing?

May 17, 2007

Got Mammogram?

So a new study says that women aren't being quite as good as they used to be about getting their regular mammograms. The Experts all float various theories as to why this might be, but none of them sounds too confident they know what the deal is.

There's always been some controversy over when a woman should start getting mammograms, and how often she should have them. But most researchers agree that whatever schedule you and your doctor settle on, following it is a smart thing to do.

(In fact, in yet another creepy and depressing recent report, researchers found that more than 200 chemicals, including some in stuff like shampoo and French fries, caused breast cancer in animals. One of the researchers summed it up thusly: "exposure to mammary gland carcinogens is widespread.")

Of course mammograms are no fun. Did you get that jokey email years ago explaining all the ways you could "practice" for one? Crabby couldn't find the exact list she remembered, (there's one version here) but her favorite went something like this:

"Visit your garage at 3:00 a.m. when the temperature of the concrete floor is below 32 degrees. Take off all your clothes, invite a stranger in to observe, and lay comfortably on the floor with one breast wedged tightly under the rear tire of the car. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until the breast is sufficiently flattened. Turn over and repeat for the other breast."

But while mammograms aren't pleasant, they're not that awful. Crabby just had hers (digital this time, and not quite as uncomfortable) and she's a notorious slacker. She's dreading her first colonoscopy way more than a mammogram.

Is paying for it the problem? Crabby has really crappy health insurance, but it pays for most of it. She knows, though, that not everyone has the luxury of even crappy health insurance.

What do you folks think is going on? For those of you female and old enough to be getting them, do you? Do you guys get whatever mysterious male screenings you're supposed to be having? Why or why not?

(And btw, Crabby does know that the picture above is not the right machine, it's just a regular xray. She's too cheap to fork over real money for a picture of the actual equipment. She hopes you will use your imaginations).

(And one more further aside: the spell-check thinks a "colonoscopy" should actually be a "cloudscape" or a "kaleidoscope." So does Crabby!)

Third Person Crabniscient

Warning to new visitors: this post will make absolutely no sense at all. But don't worry, a new post on an actual health-related topic (mammograms) will appear before too long. In the meantime, feel free to amuse yourselves in the archives by clicking on some of the old Cranky Fitness posts that no one ever has ever read--because, well, in the early days of Cranky Fitness, there were no readers.

So, beloved regulars, Crabby has returned! She listened to her readers, who were quite articulate and persuasive, and she has banished the intruder!

True, she did promise this "I" person (also known as "Me") that she'd retreat for a week or so as an experiment. But Crabs are fickle creatures and sometimes untrustworthy. Crabby is breaking her promise already and reappearing way early to take her rightful place again as Proprietor of Cranky Fitness. At least until the next time she has an identity crisis.

However, Crabby does not want to be unreasonable. She will allow "Me" to preside over the comment section. And perhaps "I" might be permitted to do a guest post occasionally. But Crabby has decided, with the help of many of her friends, to keep things as they were. Even if it makes her look wishy-washy and amateurish. And with full knowledge that the strange Third Person format of Cranky Fitness (along with all its other weirdnesses) may send casual googlers fleeing as fast as their browsers can whisk them away.

Crabby thanks you all for your patience and apologizes for this disruption in service. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

And as always, any thoughts you wish to share about absolutely anything are most welcome.

May 16, 2007

'Til Tomorrow

There are two, count 'em two, official new posts coming soon, tomorrow morning to be exact. (Pacific Standard Time).

So this is not an actual post. And as is often the case here at Cranky Fitness, there is nothing in here that has anything to do with Health or Fitness. Except in the sense that laughing is good for you, but that's lame.

Anyway. The ever-resourceful Dawno found this site and it seemed easier to steal her idea than to find or write original material.

It's called the Shakespeare Insult Kit, a do-it-yourself project that's way too much fun.

Some examples of why you should go check it out:

Thou fawning beef-witted canker-blossom!

Thou infectious dizzy-eyed hedge-pig!

Thou mammering boil-brained flax-wench!

See how much fun this can be?

Thanks, Dawno. Next DMV visit, this list could come in quite handy.

"Unfair Treatment Causes Heart Attacks"--Stupid Study of the Week

The headline was depressing and it was easy to picture what the study would show: People who get screwed over feel terrible; they get stressed; they have heart attacks. Life sucks; the innocent are punished; bullies win.

But take a look at how ridiculously lame the study actually was.

Eight thousand or so British civil servants were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."

And shockingly, the results showed that people who thought they were chronically mistreated had a higher risk of heart attack. The authors then concluded that "fairness is key to promoting a healthier society."

Aarghh! There was no independent, objective measure of unfair treatment. All this study says is that people who feel like they're always being screwed over are more likely to have cardiac problems. That says nothing about fairness; it says a lot more about personality.

How did these people get funded?

You've met that neighbor or co-worker, haven't you, who radiates optimism and grace; who's kind to everyone and is always exclaiming how lucky he or she is in life. Then you find out she was abused and beaten as a child; or he was tortured and exiled from his home country; or that there was a child who died in infancy or or a period of homelessness or some terrible disease or any number of other misfortunes. But this person feels lucky and blessed.

And you contrast their situation with that of another co-worker or neighbor: one who grew up with every advantage; one who has powerful and influential protectors, yet whose hostility and sense of entitlement poisons every relationship and interaction he or she engages in. This person complains constantly of injustice.

If you live in the real world, you know very well who has "really" been treated unfairly. But the people who designed this study sure don't.

This is not to say that unfairness is a good thing. Unfairness is very, very bad. And it may well cause heart attacks. But jeez, scientists, you can do way better than this.

May 15, 2007

First Person Crabular

So Cranky Fitness is celebrating its One Month anniversary today. And guess what: Crabby is already thinking about messing around with the format.

(At this point, health and fitness enthusiasts who are not writers or bloggers may want to bail; Crabby is going all Meta in this post. More Health news soon, she promises).

Crabby is re-evaluating her consistent use of the Third Person in her posts. (A tradition already broken in the comments section). This formality was inspired, she thinks, by predecessors like Judith Martin ("Miss Manners") and more recently (though only on occasion), and Miss Snark ("Miss Snark"). Crabby is thinking, as an experiment, of dropping this convention for a bit just to see how it goes.

Watch out: brutal transition ahead.

Because now I'm wondering if third person might be a bit off-putting. What if I were to address you all more directly from now on?

Don't worry; I'd still be grumpy and old-fashioned and write in a cumbersome indirect fashion. I'd still employ lots of passive voice and other frowned-upon linguistic contrivances. Perhaps I'd use the editorial "we" sometimes, as though I had a staff of eager interns, even though you'd all see right through it. And maybe I could continue to use the third person sometimes, but sparingly, not incessantly.

I can't help wondering whether I might even retain a few more visitors if I sounded more like a normal blog. I'm guessing many newcomers must mutter "WTF?" when they arrive here looking for heart rate monitor information and discover they've somehow arrived in the 18th or 19th Century.

But I'm open to feedback. How about I try it for a while and see what you all think?

May 14, 2007

Coffee: Mighty Fine Beverage After All

Coffee is one of those right-of-passage beverages, like beer or Cabernet Sauvignon, that one has to work a bit to fall in love with. Unlike, say a milk shake, which is more inherently lovable.

Remember back as a teenager or young adult (or even earlier, if you grew up in Crabby's house), how grown-up you felt opting for a cup of coffee instead of a Coke? Gradually, perhaps, the rich bitter taste even started to grow on you (especially if you cheated and added milk and sugar). And the best part? A lovely and perfectly legal buzz. The fact that coffee was vaguely "bad for you" only added to its allure.

But then we all grew up and the nagging of the Health Experts got to many of us. We realized we wouldn't live forever, and the same way we stopped eating so many cheeseburgers, many of us either cut back on coffee, switched to decaf, or just felt guilty about drinking it.

But lo and behold, over the last few years, the nagging has quieted. Health Experts are changing their story: Coffee is even good for you now, and "moderate" consumption is defined as 3-5 cups a day. Hooray!

So recently a bunch of coffee-obsessed researchers got together at some sort of symposium and discussed some of the benefits of coffee: it might reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, kidney stones, gallstones, depression, and type 2 diabetes.

Other studies have noted that coffee contains healthy antioxidants, and even some dietary fiber.

Plus, coffee is great for increasing your endurance and lessening your misery when you exercise.

Of course if you drink a whole pot right before bed, there may be some unwelcome side effects. So don't do that unless you have to because you're laboring under some impossible deadline.

Crabby drinks her coffee brewed strong; mixed with equal parts heated milk (a blend of nonfat and 1%) and she dumps Splenda in it like a sissy 'cause she never totally got used to the bitter taste. How about you?

May 13, 2007

Mother's Day at Cranky Fitness

Many of us learned our healthiest habits from the original Health Expert--Mom. Some of us had to re-learn these lessons later, after a period of Adolescent Rebellion or "Adventures in College Dormitory Living"--but it would have been much much harder to start from scratch.

Here are a few random lessons Crabby's mother taught her as a tiny Crablet, and for these she is very grateful:

1. Don't eat your entire bag of Halloween candy in one sitting. (This useful lesson in moderation also applies to packages of Oreo cookies, Pepperoni Pizzas, Quarts of Ben & Jerry's, and bottles of Chardonnay).

2. Don't stay up past your bedtime or you'll feel Extra Crabby the next day.

3. Unfamiliar vegetables taste weird the first time you try them, but you have to eat them anyway because with persistence you may grow to like them.

4. Potato chips and Coke and a package of twinkies in the afternoon will indeed spoil your dinner.

5. Leave your scabs alone--if you keep picking at them, you'll just make them bleed.

6. Smoking is actually very bad for you.

7. Don't hitchhike or get into cars with strange men.

8. If a toy (or Exercise Gadget) is advertised only on TV, it is probably junk. If it were really any good, why wouldn't they sell it in the regular stores?

9. Wear your seatbelt every single time you get in a car and one day you'll be really glad you did.

10. It's not good to mope around indoors all day. Go outside and play!

This is only a partial list, there are doubtless many more Smart Health-Related Things Crabby learned from her mother.

Is there anything you learned (or didn't, or did and wish you hadn't) about Health from your Mother?

May 12, 2007

Happy Not-Mothers Day to Happy Not-Mothers!

So Mother's Day is almost upon us. On that day we will all think of our own mothers, and those of you who are mothers yourselves may soon be receiving expressions of gratitude: cards, flowers, candy, or perhaps breakfast in bed. (Burnt toast, undercooked eggs and cold coffee were what we proudly offered our mother when we were little--but being a good sport, she always pretended to be thrilled).

But it's not quite Mothers Day yet, at least not in North America. So today Crabby is proclaiming it officially "Not-Mothers" Day here at Cranky Fitness. This is in honor of all the Not Mothers who may be lurking in her readership--and particularly those women who are childbearing age or older who do not have grateful spawn of their own lining up to celebrate their existence tomorrow.

So here's an interesting study about women's decisions to have or not to have kids. The results challenge the notion that women who don't have children will end up bitter and regretful in middle age because they're not getting their share of saccharine Hallmark cards on mother's day.

According to University of Michigan sociologist Amy Pienta:

"Whether a woman has had children or not isn’t likely to affect her psychological well-being in later life. What is more important is whether or not she has a husband, a significant other or close social relationships in her life as she ages."

There are some interesting nuances in the study, which surveyed 6,000 women between the ages of 51 and 60. Moms who had kids early, for example, were not nearly as happy as those who delayed.

Crabby, though a believer in scientific research, doesn't think anyone in her right mind should make such a huge life decision based on somebody's study. But she appreciates hearing that she most likely won't be suffering any additional crabbiness as she gets older solely because she failed to produce little Crablets of her own.

Do any Moms or Not-Moms (or Dads or Not-Dads) have any thoughts to share?

May 11, 2007

Atkins Dieters: Beware of Flashing Lights

Crabby has always been unreasonably suspicious of the Atkins diet. Apparently it's gotten much more sensible over the years, and it works for a lot of people.

Still, Crabby remembers all those early Atkins adherents who ordered plates of bacon and eggs and butter-covered steaks, scrupulously avoiding innocent food like carrots and apples. Sure, they dropped lots of weight fast but they looked so miserable. Any diet that deprives one of the occasional slice of bread or chocolate cupcake does not rank high on Crabby's list.

So forgive her if she found herself amused by this item, which reports an unfortunate possible side effect of the Atkins diet:

It could get you tossed in the pokey for a DUI.

Apparently the excess blood ketones that result from an incomplete breakdown of fats can be converted in the liver to alcohol, and can cause a false-positive blood alcohol test in someone who hasn't been drinking.

Do they serve no-carb ice cream in jail?

Of Course You Could Just Blow this Study Off...

But you might want to take note of this report from Johns Hopkins University if you're, um, an oral sex enthusiast. Especially one with multiple partners.

The risk of throat cancer for those reporting oral sex with more than six partners was almost nine times higher than normal, beating out smoking and alcohol consumption by quite a bit. Apparently infection with the HPV virus (which also causes most cervical cancers), was responsible.

Crabby understands if some of her normally forthcoming commenters find themselves without much to say on this topic.

She also promises she will have another post before too long, just so people stopping by don't get the wrong idea about the nature or her blog. (She's still getting search engine mammary-seekers from a previous post and has learned her lesson about salacious language. She will never again use the phrase "Big B**ncy Br**sts" in reference to sports bras!)

But please, readers, do feel free to share if you have any thoughts to contribute!

May 10, 2007

Thin Outside, Fat Inside: MRI, BMI, and "Fat Maps"

You know those annoying people who never exercise but manage to stay trim and fit anyway? Well, you no longer have to hate them. (Okay you can still feel a little resentful). Turns out, many of those people could be risking heart disease and diabetes after all. In fact up to 45% of the women and 60% of men in this study were found to be harboring Secret Sneaky Fat around their vital organs, even though they had normal Body Mass Index scores. And unlike those of us who pack visible pounds when we misbehave, they didn't even know that they were endangering their health.

This research comes courtesy of Jimmy Bell at the Imperial College, London, who has a nifty MRI machine that can create "fat maps" see where people are hiding fat that isn't visible just to look at them.

Bell said researchers even found these "TOFI's" among professional models. He says those who are fat on the inside are in essence on the threshold of being obese. They eat too many fatty, sugary foods, and exercise too little to work it off.

But since they look so good, apparently they don't feel the need to take the sort of steps many of us here like to moan about.

So sad. Perhaps more of them will need to start reading Cranky Fitness!

Road Trip!

Loyal readers may miss the presence of one of our favorite commenters, Leah, over the next few days as she has announced she's off on a serious retreat but also on a Road Trip.

Road Trip! Road Trip!

These words conjure up many happy images in Crabby's mind, not many of which involve health or fitness. Yet she does, for the most part, try to stay healthy while on the road. So if you'll bear with her, she'll try to make this a post about Exercising while Away from Home. (Eating while Away from Home is an even better topic and will be the subject of a future post).

So here's the obligatory barely-related research. You can file this under Department of the Obvious. Yet another recent study has concluded that: "people who consistently engage in high levels of exercise over the long haul are the most successful at losing weight and keeping it off." The study went on to show, however, that hardly anyone actually did stick with it.

So this may seem like a stretch, but Crabby is going to attempt to tie these two ideas together. Because part of the difficulty in maintaining a lifetime of consistent, vigorous exercise is figuring out how to deal with all the obstacles that come along. Travel, for business or pleasure, can be one of those obstacles. Like bad weather or injuries or family or work demands or any of a million other perfectly legitimate reasons to stop exercising for awhile.

It is Crabby's contention that most successful lifelong fitness freaks don't just drop their devotion to exercise while on the road. Nor are they completely inflexible--they allow themselves some slack, because it's not realistic or healthy to turn vacation into drudgery, or make work-related travel even more stressful by being too demanding on the fitness front.

But once one gets into the habit of daily exercise, missing it just feels wrong and icky. Crabby has donned her workout clothes and grabbed her Ipod in any number of unlikely, and on the surface, inhospitable locations, and she has almost never regretted it. She suspects many of you have done the same.

Crabby and her Most Significant Other have, over the last few years, discovered a valuable resource: day passes at local gyms. If one is not staying at a Fancy Hotel with a Well-Appointed Fitness Center, one can still work out. In big cities, it can be a bit expensive (but still worth it). However, in the middle of nowhere, there are lots of local fitness centers who will be happy to accomodate you for $5-$10. (Sometimes a bit more, but $15 seems to be the limit). One has to get over feeling a bit self-conscious and awkward--not knowing where things are or how they work. But we've stopped at dozens of gyms and the locals have always been very friendly and helpful.

So how about you, dear readers? What do you do about exercise when travelling?

May 09, 2007

Portion Control and Being An Idiot

There are people out there who have no trouble at all with portion control, but not many. For most of us, there is a big difference between what we need to eat, and what we want to eat. And a lot of the time, unless we're really strict with ourselves, want is going to win out over need.

Here's one strategy that may help: Be an Idiot.

Often you can fool yourself on portion size as easily as you can fool a two year old child. There's even Actual Scientific Research on this which will be discussed below. In the meantime, Crabby will give you an example.

Do you remember from psychology class how there's a stage in child development where kids think that a tall, skinny glass has "more" juice in it than a short fat glass, even when they watch someone pour the same liquid from fat glass directly into tall glass?

Well Crabby is every bit as naive as a toddler. She used to drink her morning orange juice in a big fat tall glass. Eventually she realized she was drinking about 16 ounces of juice--well over 200 calories. What to do? She couldn't just fill up the glass part way because it looked too short. She felt deprived. It was only half a glass of orange juice.

So Crabby bought a new set of tall skinny 8 ounce juice glasses, and now she doesn't feel deprived, because she gets a full glass of juice every morning. It's dumb, but it works.

So a couple of guys at University of Pennsylvania, Andrew Geier and Paul Rozin, actually get paid to study this stuff. They've conducted studies on "unit bias"--how people decide that a particular portion of food is the right amount, and how that influences how much food people eat.

In one study, they put a large mixing bowl of M&M's at the concierge desk of an apartment building. Below the bowl hung a sign that read "Eat Your Fill" with "please use the spoon to serve yourself" written underneath. (Had she lived in that building, Crabby would no doubt have found many reasons she suddenly needed to visit the concierge's desk).

The tricky researchers sometimes set out a small spoon for people to use, and sometimes a large one.

When there was a small spoon, most people took a single scoop, even though the sign encouraged them to "eat their fill." But when the spoon was larger, they'd take a much bigger scoop and eat twice as many M&M's.

"It is more than just people afraid of appearing greedy," said one of the sneaky scientists. "They didn't know they were being observed. We have a culturally enforced 'consumption norm,' which promotes both the tendency to complete eating a unit and the idea that a single unit is the proper amount to eat."

Crabby swears she saw an even more amusing M&M study which she can't find anymore, which may well be by the same sneaky scientists, because how many researchers are out there studying M&M consumption? Anyway, the study said that if you give people a bag of M&M's all the same color, they won't eat nearly as many as if it's a multicolored bag. More variety can trigger people to eat more, even though they must know they're all the same flavor.

So: be an idiot like Crabby. Use skinny juice glasses, small spoons, and divide your M&M's up so you're just eating one color at a time.

Is anyone else this dumb? Have any good tricks to share?

May 08, 2007

Heart Rate Monitors: Worth Getting One?


Okay, I suppose we could discuss it a bit more than that.

As readers may recall, Crabby doesn't automatically endorse every health or fitness related gadget that comes to her attention. She lusts after them, but doesn't always spend actual money to get them herself. She didn't urge you to run out and buy that RESPeRATE thingy, right, 'cause it cost three hundred bucks?

But if you're trying to get regular cardio exercise, and you know your target heart rate zone (and if you don't, go here), then a heart rate monitor is a really convenient way to stay in the right range. And they're not expensive either, if you shop around and settle for the most basic model.

Crabby loves the low-end Polar monitor, which does absolutely nothing except measure your heart rate. Because it has so few functions, the digits on the wrist band are actually big enough to read. (Not true of the fancier models). Doing some comparision shopping on-line, she bought it a couple of years ago for less that $40, U.S. (As though Crabby would be suddenly quoting prices in yen. But she wants to remain sensitive to her most-valued international readers).

For most models, you do have to wear a chest strap. Crabby didn't buy a monitor for years because of the chest strap, assuming it would be terribly uncomfortable. But it's really not bad at all.

Especially for non-runners, a heart rate monitor can ensure your "brisk walk" is really brisk enough to be aerobic. Often you're doing more than you think you are. But if it turns out you're not, at least you'll know it. You can either step it up, or just embrace your slackitude. Either way.

One caution, however: neither the monitors nor the "target zones" are a hundred percent accurate. For example, when Crabby gets going with good music, charging up a big hill, the heart rate monitor claims she is actually exceeding her maximum possible heart rate (not merely her target zone) and should be in full-on cardiac arrest. Crabby, being foolish, just ignores the scary number because she's been doing the same thing for years and figures the number must just be wrong. She hasn't died yet.

Don't you do that though. It's dumb . If the number gets too high, slow the f*ck down.

May 07, 2007

Tea: Green, Black, Red, and Encapsulated

Fortunately, tea tends to be Really Good for you, so this will be mostly a cheerful post.

But first, a blogging aside--non-bloggers may want to skip this next paragraph.

So who knew that accidentally hitting "Control S" (which is the way to save a file in Word, so a natural thing to do), would publish the damn post you're working on when you're still in the middle of it? Crabby certainly didn't. At least she thinks that's what happened. She was compiling notes for a post and was only trying to save the draft and then suddenly a "Congratulations, You Successfully Posted" message appeared. Crabby screamed "Nooooooo!" and deleted it (deleting her notes in the process), but she suspects it's still out in there in an RSS feed or a blog index or something, just waiting to embarass her.

Anyway, back to tea.

So we know green tea has a lot of health benefits. According to Whole Foods, (which has a pretty good database of nutritional info if you ever need one), green tea can lower risks for a bunch of diseases: bacterial or viral infections, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis.

However, taking green tea supplements (or drinking more than ten cups a day of green tea) can actually be harmful to your kidneys and liver. So, as with most healthy foods and beverages: have the real stuff, don't try to cheat and get your polyphenols in a handy-dandy supplement.

And in other tea news, drinking a couple of cups of tea a day (they didn't say which kind, which was rude of them) seems to offer some protection against skin cancer.

Black tea also seems to offer some pretection against diabetes and cardiovascular problems, but there's a catch:

The cardiovascular protection doesn't work if you add milk.

Crabby drinks her tea with milk, and can't seem to do without, so she didn't like this result much.

Crabby actually drinks a mixture of green, black and red teas. Red tea, or rooibos, is not really a tea at all, but has lots of antioxidants and associated health benefits. (She knows her source is only a Rooibos tea promotional site, but she swears she's seen Real Research that bears this out.)

And coffee drinkers, don't worry. Crabby likes coffee better than tea and there's plenty of good news about coffee too, which will be the subject of a future post.

Awesome: Fat Rant

You may have seen this before, but Crabby hadn't. It's by Joy Nash. The clip is a bit long, but well worth it. (Crabby has not tried to post a YouTube clip yet, so please bear with her if site weirdness results. She tried to do it two different ways, so there's a chance it will appear twice, or she'll only get part of it. If so, necessary adjustments will be made).

Crabby found this clip courtesy of DietBlog, yet another more informative health and fitness site than her own.

Breast Cancer Randomness

Apologies for hapazardly grouping a bunch of breast cancer-related items together and calling it a post. Problem is, breast cancer is a Serious subject and this blog is not very good at Serious.

Not that cancer can't be a source of humor--but Crabby feels that the people best qualified to be light and irreverant about it are those who actually have it. Crabby doesn't. (And she promises if she ever gets it, she won't be all brave and inspiring like so many cancer survivors are. She'll be a whiny, self-absorbed, pain in the ass).

So here's a quick and no doubt incomplete round up:

Some bad news for barbecue lovers, at least if you're a post-menopausal woman: a new study out of University of South Carolina says eating a lot of barbecued meats may increase your breast cancer risk. The risk was even higher for those barbecue fans who skimped on fruits and vegetables.

And there's more evidence that excessive alcohol and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) increase a woman's risk for the disease. However, there seems to be no link between abortion and breast cancer.

Fortunately scientists are, as ever, busy on the research front. They're even designing and synthesizing breast-cancer fighting molecules that looks promising, at least in animal studies.

And in another somewhat related item, author (and first rate blogger) Allison Winn Scotch just came out with a novel about breast cancer. The Department of Lost and Found chronicles the complicated life and chemotherapy rounds of a woman newly diagnosed with the disease. TDLF is not one of those "sweet girl struck down in the prime of life" stories. Natalie Miller, the books' protagonist, is feisty, driven, sometimes ethically challenged, and so cranky she even has Crabby beat. Needless to say, there are plenty of opportunities for character development. There are also lots of fascinating medical and personal details that make her journey through chemo and her messy personal life seem realistic. For more info, make your way over to Allison's blog--she also gives writers helpful advice on getting their novels and magazine articles published.

Also, here's a link forwarded by a friend: click on the pink "fund free mammograms" button (3rd banner ad down from the top, in the middle) and the advertisers make a small donation towards mammograms for women in need. (Unless someone has heard otherwise, but all indications are it's legit).

And on a completely unrelated note: Crabby has not forgotten about our Contest. She's holding off a bit to work out some of details. Also she wants to accumulate enough Cranky Fitness readers so that people actually enter and she doesn't look like a complete fool for even mentioning it. (The good news--readership is actually increasing, slowly but surely! Crabby is thrilled.)