July 12, 2007

What's Workin'?

Here at Cranky Fitness, we tend to turn our attention to the negative fairly often, just because it fits in well with the whole Complaining theme. And every blog needs a theme, don't you think?

But even Cranky ol' Crabby McSlacker gets tired of whining sometimes, especially about how hard it is to be healthy. So today she thought it might be nice to check in with everybody and find out what might be going right for you in your personal quests for health and fitness. And, if you happen to have any idea, what the reasons might be for your success.

Now this doesn't have to be some huge accomplishment, like quitting smoking, or starting to jog. It could be a small victory in an ongoing battle--like switching from full fat milk to 2% on your way to nonfat. Or getting an extra half hour of sleep a night. And while it could be a whole new endeavor you've just started, it could also just be an old habit that's really good for you that you never remember to give yourself credit for.

Crabby's is fairly small and recent, but she'll tell you about it anyway, to get things started.

As regular readers may recall, Crabby was discussing the benefits of interval training, and decided to get more serious about doing it herself. And by serious, she does not mean "intense"--because Crabby picked the wimpiest version of interval training she could find. By serious she meant: do it regularly, on purpose, in a specific way. So to do her intervals, she gets on a treadmill and runs as fast as she can uphill, in short little bursts.

And guess what? After about six weeks, she's still keeping up with it! She likes it! It seems to be adding to her general fitness, and is not any more loathsome than any other form of exercise she does.

The main reason she hasn't abandoned it, she thinks, is because she was determinedly not very ambitious about her goals, or her progress.

She only has to do it once a week.

And only for 45 seconds, six times.

And she takes at least two minutes to recover by walking in between.

As she's getting a bit better at it, the only thing she is letting herself adjust is her speed--she goes a little bit faster now. But no additional intervals; no making the 45 seconds into a minute.

It's the sort of "interval program" that would make a serious fitness person laugh. But--it works for Crabby. And by keeping it very doable, she is keeping up with it. She still does regular cardio three or four other days a week, but because this is "different" she actually looks forward to it.

(And by the way, there was another recent study saying how good interval training was for you, and Crabby was all excited until she read it more closely. Because this interval training study used a version about ten times harder than the one Crabby was doing. So she ignored it!)

So do any of you have any recent health accomplishments that you're happy about, or any longtime habits that you should be giving yourself credit for? And why do you think you've been able to do this? Crabby would love to hear all about it!


  1. I'm managing my gestational diabetes really well (so the doctor tells me). I've adjusted to the eating schedule (basically 6 small meals a day) and I'm getting good at picking meals while eating out.

    Hopefully, I'll feel well enough to start doing my prenatal workout DVD again soon, hehe. :)

  2. Crabby - nice work on the intervals, if you run fast, then that's intense. Just be careful when it gets too easy to step it up.
    I gotta say that I've got 2. The one I've been spouting off all over, about strength training. It a workout that feels easy, even lifting heavy, and has serious results. If you aren't doing it and want to get better results with weight loss, then start doing it. what you are doing isn't working right, why not try this.
    The second one is a food issue. I drink benefibre. Yep, it keeps me regular. But it also keeps me full and keeps cholesterol down. I drink a bottle of crystal light with it in the morning and I can last until lunch with no cravings. whenever you have cravings, try drinking it a couple hours before. I gotta know if it works for anyone else.

  3. Excellent work, Crabby!

    I haven't changed my exercise schedule at all, but I have changed my diet (I'm not on a diet, I've just changed my diet) and I've lost 10lbs in the last two months!

    I'm eating lots of veggies, and I've added multi-grain carbs (low glucose carbs) back in (I used to never eat complex carbs). So I eat lots of multi-grain bread (the kind with chunks of stuff in it), quinoa, pasta, and couscous. And I've regularly been eating full-fat goat cheese, but still losing weight, so I think the low-glucose carb thing really works for me!

  4. I've kept up with a few yoga positions every morning since early March.
    Stretching is good and I know it's improved my strength.
    It warded off some looming back problems, helped greatly with a recent lymphatic fluid blockage, and made me more aware of my body in general with has the added benefit of helping with meditation.
    Best part is I can reach things on the second shelf in the cupboard without standing on tiptoe.

  5. I've lost a stone (14 lbs -- I'm not British, but I'll take whatever milestones I can get) since April, my body fat percentage is now below 40%, and pretty soon I won't be "obese" anymore. Yaay!!

    Oh, and another nail in the coffin for my "chocolate problem" -- I now find Hershey's Special Dark repulsively sweet.

  6. Hi lisa,
    I hear it's SO important for both Mom and baby to keep on top of that, and so women don't make the effort. So way to go!

    Randi, thanks! And I agree about strength training, which so many people don't do, not realizing how much it helps. And I've heard good things about benfibre too. Good for you for keeping up with both.

    Hi Lethological Reader! Wow, those are big nutritional changes and it sounds like they're working great for you. (Yes, chunky is good when it's in bread!)

    Leah--stretching, yes that's a really important one! It's not even unpleasant either, but it's so hard to remember to make time for it. Great to hear all the concrete things its doing for you--a good reminder for me to make sure I don't slack too much on that one.

  7. ChickenGirl,
    I've always wondered how much a stone was, thank you. And wow, that's great! (And I don't know if I'll ever hit the hershey's milestone, since I have such a sweet tooth, but I'm glad for you that it's not such a temptation anymore). Congrats!

  8. I'm with Randi. Weights!
    In fact I told someone the other night that I sometimes feel like I'm cheating because I see a difference so much quicker than with cardio.

    Trying to actually sit down when I eat anything has really helped me. I can't alway do it, but it eliminates a lot of mindless picking, kids leftovers, and standing at the fridge or a cupboard thinking, "hmm. What do I feel like eating..." I notice just sitting my butt in a chair at the kitchen table somehow makes eating about eating, not boredom or appetite, etc. In fact, taking the couch out of my eating habits is a huge thing on its own.

  9. Well, it hasn't happened yet, but when I move into my house in a few weeks, I'll be walking 1-2 miles each weekday. (That's round trip, and includes a detour to the university rec center 3+ times per week.)

    So if I'm a good girl and don't slack off my regular workouts, I'm going to be getting a nice little added health benefit from living so close to work!

    I've also noticed lately that I get excited when someone brings fresh fruits and veggies to work, and I always want to beg a handout. But donuts and cupcakes leave me cold. This is HUGE for a sweet-tooth gal like me!

    So even though my training levels aren't where I'd like them to be, due to overtime at work and my upcoming move, I'm getting in my minimum cardio each week. And if I can establish my new routines right away once I'm settled in my new home, I think I'll be sitting pretty! Or at least slim. Pretty will remain in the eye of the beholder. ;-)

  10. Crabby - I commend your dedication. I have trouble doing anything more than twice in a row, let alone exercise. But, I have managed to dramatically cut down on one thing, my beer consumption. No, I wasn't downing a six-pack every night after work while watching the 6 o'clock news. But, I was having a beer or two every night (one with dinner and one with the evening line-up). Over the past two weeks, I've cut down to one beer every three or four nights. And I have to say, that even that one beer makes me feel heavy and bloated now. I have in two weeks noticed a huge difference in how I feel. I had no idea that liquid bread could have such a negative affect on my health. I don't know if I have lost any weight, because I tossed my scale a long time ago. But, I feel better, and that's what counts.

  11. training for a 5K as well as doing WW has really changed my body for the better... i was jogging 6x week and now that its over, i have to make sure to really push myself on the days i do cardio (3 days certain) by doing intervals or hills... i've learned that you HAVE to keep challenging yourself, if you want to see results - doing the same DVD or going to the same class isn't going to cut it... :o)

  12. Randi,
    I'll wholeheartedly agree with the strength training thing. Lots of people forget about this (or are afraid they're going to bulk up if they do weights), but it had a huge impact on me when I started doing it more seriously 2-3 times a week instead of kind of lifting once a week.

  13. Oh, and Bunny, I totally second the walking too. Since the warm weather started, I've been walking 15 minutes to the train every morning, instead of taking the bus, and I feel so much better. I get sunshine, a little exercise, and pretty scenery on the bike path. Now the bus seems so depressing!

  14. Crabby,

    I am so happy to see this positive posting. I do believe you are only cranky in disguise.

    Let's see...what have i done that is good:

    I have made it habit to pull out my yoga mat EVERY day. Some days I stretch, some days I do some yoga moves, some days are for crunches, and some days, my animals get the best of me, and we just play on it!

    This is something I can commit to and I really enjoy my time on the mat.

    I have also committed to avoiding diet soda because it causes headaches. This is a problem, you see, because I love soda. So I buy a regular soda every once in a while, drink half or so, and then throw the rest away.

    Skipping the calories and drinking a diet, simply isn't worth the headaches.

    Thanks for the positive turn today, I really enjoyed it!


    Sylvia C.

  15. Hmm, thinking positive.... let's see.

    When the weather turned nice in the spring, I began walking my greyhound twice a day again, we don't do that over the winter. It was going great but he is ill and not able to walk now. Yesterday I went out on my own, however I did feel guily not having my trusty partner at my side. I will continue to walk on my own until he can do it again though.

  16. Hi Katieo,
    The weights are definitely workin' for ya--I've seen the pics! And good idea about the sitting down to. I always used to do that because I love to eat so much I like to savor. But lately, bad habits are creeping in and I find myself standing over the sink... good reminder!

    Bunnygirl--that's great news on the walking and on your victory of the Evil Power of Cupcakes. Good thing if you're going to visit here with that banner always looming above.

    Welcome digi-blonde!
    Great job on the cutting back on beer. I like it too but it's a fairly high-calorie indulgence. I figure it's best when it's a fancy micro brew fresh on tap, so I save that for going out. And one suggestion on the exercise? If you're not doing anything at all, think about starting REALLY slow and easy so it doesn't sound so awful. Just a 10 minute stroll to get some fresh air or something. Just to get a new habit started. A lot of people don't exercise at all because they think it has to be something big to count. But little stuff counts too. Thanks so much for your visit!

    Back in a little bit...

  17. Does reading fitness magazines count... Man, I'm pathetic. I promise to try and do one healthy thing... soon.

  18. I lost a bunch of weight thinking that being fat could be a reason my relationship was spiraling horribly. (it didn't help us,but I feel great!) The hard part is trying to maintain because I still have what I call my "fat brain" and crave junk food instead of a salad. (I can't even stand to look at some of the foods that everybody healthy raves about...tofu brie goatwhat?)Give me my pizza! I knew that I needed to find something to do to burn calories or I'd just put all the weight back on, so I started walking around a lake in my town that's used for many racing events and has a sidewalk all the way around marked for mileage. It's 2 1/2 miles around. When I first started, it took me 45-50 minutes to go around once. Now it takes 35 minutes around and once isn't enough anymore. I circle twice and sometimes run up a steep hill for a little variety. It's been 2 years and the weight is still off. (I was called 'hot' last week when I was out socializing!) I still feel the same nerdy way I always did, but people don't see me the way they used to...which is another story...don't get me started! Anyway, I feel good about being able to keep the weight off in more ways than one!

  19. Hi Jodi,
    Wow, sounds like you're really accomplishing a lot, with the combo of the WW and the intense cardio. (And I don't know that I could ever make myself do cardio 6 days a week, even training for a race. Cutting down from that actually sounds pretty reasonable!)

    Lethological, you're being good about so many things, it's quite impressive. And isn't walking great?

    Hi Sylvia--
    really enjoyed your Diet Blog post today too! And great idea about the yoga mat. Pulling it out is the important part, not so much which activity you do on it.

    And about that "positive" stuff: it is nice for a change! But this being "Cranky Fitness," don't worry, it won't be too long before the whining starts up again.

    Hi Marijke,
    So sorry to hear you dog's not well! Must be hard to go without him but sounds like a great healthy thing to be doing. Hope he's back with you soon.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Sure, reading about healthy stuff counts too--'cause I know you'll go out there and put some of it into practice just as soon as you get a spare minute. And Frisbee totally counts.

    Hi Carrie,
    What an inspiring story! Though it must be frustrating to deal with "fat brain" thinking despite all your successes. And you totally cracked me up with the "tofu brie goatwhat?--Give me my pizza!" Anyway, congrats on losing the weight and keeping it off and all the other healthy changes you made.

  20. I should be taking a leaf out of Marijke's book and walking dogs more. We have two - one part greyhound and they both need a fair amount of exercise but as they're hunting dogs it isn't always that much fun walking them. But I feel guilty if I go without them.

    On a positive note - I'm getting on the exercycle more often.

  21. You'll are gonna 'love' this one.
    Skip break-the-fast!! I know, it's heresy, but I think it's the best way to stay fat burning for a longer length of time. Perhaps it's the run I do in the AM to cap it off but all I can say is it works.

  22. Anonymous, it's just the opposite for me: I started eating breakfast - usually a lite yogurt and piece of fruit - and that has made my diet better. I feel more energetic in the morning and I'm not starving at noon, which means I eat a bit later lunch and I'm not starving before dinner, which means I don't feel like I need an unhealthy snack to keep me going . . .

    Actually, pacing my food intake has decreased the amount of junk I eat. It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out that it doesn't make sense to expect to have your last food for the day at 6:30pm when you aren't going to bed until 3am. Planning a healthy midnight snack makes more sense than going for the chips because I'm starving.

  23. Hi Dawn,
    So now I'm all curious as to what hunting dogs do that makes walking them a challenge--do they try to chase down everything and pull against the leash? You could get extra credit for upper body strengthening exercises! Or does one even have to use leashes in New Zealand? Perhaps they run off untethered to return with game in their mouths? That could be distressing, but at least economical. I shall have to catch up with you at your place sometime and find out the specifics. Anyway, good job for hopping on the exercise bicycle. I feel about those contraptions the way Norabarnacle feels about Treadmills!

    Dr. J, I'm totally surprised about the breakfast skipping! This indeed defies conventional wisdom. But one thing that seems to be true is that we're all different. So if it works for you, I'd say keep on skippin' it and go for a run instead.

    I actually have two breakfasts--the first is liquid which seems to work better to avoid stomach cramps before my morning cardio: Orange juice and coffee in a huge mug with a bunch (10oz) of 1% milk added. About 250 calories. Then I have a second breakfast when I'm done exercising.)

    Hi Peggy--
    I'm with you on eating breakfast and pacing multiple meals throughout the day. Plus, that way I always have something to look forward to!

  24. I've been sugar free for over 18 weeks. I've been following a low carb plan and have stuck with it, without any cheats for over 18 weeks!!

  25. Hi Cindy,

    Wow, no cheating in 18 weeks!!

    That is truly amazing.

    I have a hard time going without sugar for 18 minutes. Eighteen weeks! That is so impressive.

  26. This is infinitesimally really extremely minutely small by the standards set by the rest of you (you over achievers you!) but it's a big deal for me.

    No laughing.

    Ok, you can laugh.

    Just don't point and laugh! That's too much for my ego to handle.

    Anyway, I've actually started taking vitamins again. Not just vitamins, but my antihistimines, too.

    And I'm not just getting the pills out of the bottles and putting them on the desk, but I'm ACTUALLY SWALLOWING THEM (as opposed to leaving hem out on the desk for the the dustbunnies that breed behind my monitor. I have very healthy dust bunnies.)

    It's a small victory, I know, but I'm stupid proud of it.

  27. Go Crabby! **shakes pom poms** you're such an inspiration

    I have totally been slacking off - my excuse it's too hot to walk outside - BUT I need to just get my butt back on my stationary bike! (it sits right in front of the air conditioner)

  28. MT,
    Hooray! That's actually great--it's always starting the healthy habits up (or up again) that feels the hardest. Even "little" ones. Be proud! And thanks so much for stopping by.

    Hi Lady Rose,
    Good for you on getting back to exercise--it's hard to motivate when it's hot. Even if you've got the AC option, there's just something de-motivating about heat being all around. I know you do so well on the healthy eating, so getting back on the "saddle" as far as exercise too is great news. (And you are one of the most Inspirational people I know, so pom poms for you, too!)

  29. Good for you on the intervals Crabby :)

    I started doing intervals on trails. It is very different from flat, even surfaces where you know where and when the next is literally. Did that make sense? Well, that's my accomplishment.

  30. Hi Goinggone!
    Good for you on the trail intervals. Those can be really fun, in that the landscape can mark out the good places for it--just up this hill! But then it can be tricky, too, especially if you hit a downhill in the wrong place or if there are other annoying people around getting in the way. Anyway, it sounds awesome and healthy--congratulations!

  31. Simply Put " Consistency "

    Life Is Good


  32. Great answer, Jordan!

    And yeah, life is good!


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