August 31, 2007


Afraid there's not much Health Research Reporting this Friday, because Scientists Were on Strike All Over the World Crabby was lazy, but let's run through a couple of studies just so we can pretend this is an Educational Health Blog. (Don't worry, the charade won't last for long).

So a Brown University study discovered "a solid association" between depression and living in a damp, moldy home. One interesting note: the researchers were completely surprised, as they had actually set out to show the opposite. They were trying to debunk previous studies that showed a link, figuring that there were other associated factors such as employment status and crowding that hadn't been taken into account before. But nope, turns out it actually was the mold!

Can menopause make you fat? Though this study involved rats, the surgical simulation of post-menopausal conditions, and estrogen supplementation, researchers felt it suggested a link between estrogen levels and the regulation of obesity. (Millions of middle-aged women throughout the world were shortly thereafter heard to shout, in unison, "See, I f**cking told you so!")

And for our last bit of research: Summer babies are more likely to end up wearing Coke-bottle glasses. According to this study, babies born in born in June and July had a 24% greater chance of becoming severely myopic (near-sighted) than those born in December and January. “It is probably a long-term effect of early-life exposure to natural light that increases the chances of a child becoming short-sighted,” said the Smart Scientist, Michael Belkin. As an extremely nearsighted Crab (born in June), Crabby found this study intriguing. But she likes Belkin's previous research even better: he found a strong correlation between myopia and intelligence. “It is not a myth at all that people who wear pop-bottle glasses are smarter. They tend to be,” he said.

Okay, done with Research! Here's some other random stuff:

Check out this awesome blog which has a hilarious product review. Female readers, in particular, you really must at least take a look.

And via Elastic Waist, this is a pretty fascinating comparison of pictures of gorgeous actresses both "primped up" and, well, not so carefully put together for the camera. Crabby is generally a fan of the "natural" look, but, wow, this was weirdly surprising and entertaining.

Can't help it: Crabby, having sent you over to Vanilla's blog just last week, feels silly doing it yet again but she can't seem to help herself. This post cracked her up.

Want some fun exercise? Okay, these are not 'real' exercises; they only involve moving your thumb or your wrist, depending on how you like to move your cursor around. But otherwise, these links have nothing to do with health and fitness! You can try the Cute or the Not Quite as Cute version.

And finally, Crabby always finds herself amused by the Helpful Suggestions Google has for products she might enjoy, based on whatever e-mails she's currently reading. This ad came up while she was viewing reader comments on her post about How to Get Up Early.

Enjoy the long weekend, folks! Crabby may return for part of it, or may not. But the only way to find out is to refresh that page continuously! Or hell, go out and have a good time.

August 30, 2007

Americans and Their Guns: A Sensible Alternative

So a new report is out that says Americans... are getting fatter? No, that was yesterday. Apparently Americans are packin' not just pounds, but heat. We're number one in the world when it comes to come to gun ownership, as there are now 9 guns for every 10 Americans.

(This is a health blog. Guns are design to shoot bullets, which then enter human bodies and do Terrible Things to the tissues, bones, and organs that reside within. From a health perspective, the ideal ratio of guns to people seems more like 0 to 10).


Here are some of the reported highlights culled from the study and related interviews:

  • More than half of the 8 million guns manufactured worldwide each year are bought by Americans.
  • While there is about 1 gun for every 7 people worldwide, leave out the United States and it drops to 1 per 10 people.
  • France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were the next highest, all with about 30 guns per 100 people.
  • Poorer countries, even those associated with violence, ranked far lower. Nigeria had just one gun per 100 people.

And the reasons we can't just say "enough" and ban firearms outright in this country, despite all the damage they cause? These seem to inevitably come down to the Constitution or self defense.

Well, the Constitution can be changed. We don't live in the same times anymore. The British aren't coming (except to take advantage of the exchange rates) and the Indians are now Native Americans and they're not interested in attacking your freakin' Covered Wagons.

But what about self-defense? Don't we need guns to protect the Home and the Family from Criminals?

Well, let's say for argument sake that we do. What's the best way to do that? Who needs protecting? Whom do they need protecting from?

What if only women over 18 were permitted to own or carry firearms? A new national law, to be implemented just as soon as we have reliable functioning biometric gun locks. So a gun would be useless in the hands of a man. And any woman who owned one would be registered and traceable. (It looks like we're already well on the way with the technology too).

And then serious resources would be devoted into getting rid of the old guns. Random checkpoints. Buy-back programs. Stings at gun-shops. Internet quasi-entrapment schemes like they use for pedophiles. The sort of resources we're only too happy to use to catch foreign terrorists or arrest drug dealers or invade countries we don't like.

C'mon, you know this makes sense. Picture all the functioning guns in this country in the hands of women or police officers. Guns that would turn useless if men tried to use them.

Families who wanted to protect themselves with firearms would have to let Mom be in charge. She'd have to go get trained in how to use her weapon and spend some time on the range shooting at targets. If a Creepy Criminal really did break in to the house and threaten her children, she'd know exactly what to do.

So it's not perfect. They'd be the occasional female nutball or aggressive anti-social criminal. We'd catch her quick, though, because there'd be so few shootings that it wouldn't be quite so hard to trace her registered weapon to her and throw her in jail and keep the rest of us safe.

Oh yes, and there's the issue of Sex Discrimination. Curious, isn't it, that we haven't yet managed to pass a Constitutional Amendment outlawing that? There seem to be plenty of loopholes available when it serves men or Traditional Thinking. (Just ask a woman who wants to compete equally with men for military combat assignments, for example).


August 29, 2007

Fat and Getting Fatter

(Photo courtesy of Plan 59)

You probably saw the headlines a couple of days ago, though you may have already forgotten them, because the message is depressingly familiar. Americans Fatter Than Ever, they keep saying.

This summary of the Trust for America obesity report has an interactive map (if you scroll down a bit) so you can click on your state to see how well it stacks up. (Or, well, out). The three states with the highest percentages of obesity are:

Mississippi - 30.6%;

West Virginia - 29.8 %; and

Alabama - 29.4%.

As opposed to the "best" states, which are:

Colorado - 17.6 %;

Massachusetts - 19.8%; and

Vermont - 20%.

Way to go Colorado! Well, at least for now. Because Colorado is getting fatter too--like most other states, their rates increased over last year's.

The report also tracked overweight kids for the first time, ages 10 to 17. The District of Columbia had the highest percentage (tsk, D.C.!) at 22.8%, and Utah had the lowest at 8.5 percent.

Now a previous CDC study had put national adult obesity rates even higher, at 32%. Does this mean we've lost weight since then? Well, no. In that study, they actually weighed people. This current report used a phone survey. Care to make an educated guess which one might be more accurate? "Ma'am? We're doing an obesity study, can you please tell me exactly how much you weigh?"

Lack of exercise is one of the culprits. The CDC found last year that more than 22 percent of Americans did not engage in any physical activity in the past month. This rose to 30 percent in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. But just head to any mall food court and observe for a while--there are plenty of other factors involved, and these tend to be battered and fried and sugar-coated and jelly-filled and grilled and Supersized and smeared with mayo and piled with extra cheese.

So we've had another year of Speeches and Awareness Campaigns and Fussing and Wailing and Breast-Beating about Obesity, but it seems to have done little good. At least as far as the general population goes. Oh sure, there is the occasional victory when a school updates its vending machines or a big corporation starts up a fitness program. But from top to bottom our culture is almost Totally Screwed Up About health and fitness and does not appear to changing--at least not in the right direction.

(For just one example, take this appalling quiz, spotted by Lady Rose at Diet Pulpit.)

So this is just more useless Wailing, because the people who visit Cranky Fitness are those who read health and fitness blogs to begin with. Even if you have made mistakes in the past, or have crappy metabolisms and are struggling with weight issues, you are most likely not the folks who are ordering Triple Bacon Burgers and quaffing 1200 calorie milkshakes and refusing to walk any further than it takes to get from your couch to the car to drive it to Pizza Hut.

Nor are you the developers who are planning more communities with no running trails, parks, bicycle paths, or even sidewalks. You're not the parents who are stuffing your children full of sugar and transfats and plopping them in front of the T.V. to sit for hours at a time. You aren't the bureaucrats who declare candy bars a healthy snack food for kids. You're not the restaurant owners who refuse to include whole grains on the menu, limit vegetables to a few leaves of Iceberg lettuce, and drown everything in butter.

This post is really for the people not reading it right now.

And sure, all this stuff is hard, and harder when you're poor and overworked and underprivileged. But some people don't even seem to be trying, at all. And many of you here are struggling financially. And you're busy and tired and the last thing you feel like doing is exercising or making a meal using healthy whole foods at the end of a long day, when a bucket of fried chicken might taste just fine and is whole lot easier to come by.

But you try your best most days anyway and grumble when you can't find nonfat milk or fresh fruit at your company cafeteria because no one else but you seems to want it.

So what the hell, for the people not reading this, we're going to yell at you even if you can't hear us.

Take Care of Yourselves and You'll Feel Better! Eat More Healthy Stuff and Less Crap! Get Your Butts Off the Couch and Exercise! Teach Your Kids to Do All This Stuff Too!

Ah, that was quite satisfying to let loose. But Fat lot of good it will do.

August 28, 2007

Life-Hack: Ten Even Easier Ways to Get Up Early

Have you ever come across one of those "How-To" sites and looked for tips on just living your everyday life? They seemed to be called "Life Hacks." Because everything is apparently much more interesting to Web Users if it comes in a list and contains some reference to computers! Anyway, there are quite a few articles like this one out there about how much more productive you'll be if you become an Early Riser! They even give you suggestions as to how to accomplish that.

However, the post above seemed mostly to suggest: "make it harder to turn off your alarm clock," and "have a reason to get up." Both good suggestions, certainly. (Apparently worthy of a couple thousand Diggs! No jealousy here at Cranky Fitness, though. Nope. None whatsoever--because that would be Petty!)

Anyway, there are of course many sensible things one can do to make the transition from being a Slothful Slug-a-bed to an Eager-Beaver Early Riser. Here are a few: lay off the excess caffeine; don't do things late at night that are going to keep your mental gears grinding long after you've gone to bed; have a soothing bed-time ritual; don't sleep 'til ten o'clock on weekends just because you can; let morning light into the room... but, well, some of these require Thought and Effort and Discipline and Planning and who wants that?

Here are ten much easier ways to become an Early Riser!

1. Have a child. Hell, then have a couple more. "Mommy? Daddy? Are you awake? Madison just got the blender down and she's trying to make Grape Juice and Ice Cream and Peach Smoothies and I told her she should take out the pits first and find the top of the blender but..."

2. Buy a dog. One with weak bladder and bowel control who can Barely Wait until morning is especially good.

3. Or if the dog proves too stoic and trainable, try a cat! Make sure you get the kind who gets hungry in the early morning hours and communicates this by walking across your stomach and perching on your chest. Bonus if she playfully bats your face or licks your eyelids. Important test: to see if you've adopted the best kind, perform this simple pre-adoption test: go into the bedroom and close the door, leaving Kitty on the other side. She should attempt to dig her way through the door. If this doesn't occur to her, or if she gives up on this activity in less than two hours, sorry! You'll have to take her back and get the kind we got.

4. Get Married or Partnered. If one of you is a night person, the other is bound to be a Early Riser already! Or if you somehow accidentally hook up with someone who shares the same biorhythms, make sure you get one whose Snoring, Restless-Leg-Syndrome, Sleep-Talking, Cover-Stealing or other Sleep Disorder occur in the 4-6 a.m. hours.

5. Get older. Even without finding a mate, breeding, or buying pets, simply maturing on its own without other major lifestyle changes can take care of the early rising issue. Sun's up? You're up! Have a late night or a bout of insomnia and only got 37 minutes of sleep? Strangely enough, that doesn't matter! If it's past 5 am, you're Awake.

6. Generate garbage. This only works once a week, but there seems to be some universal rule that garbage pickup must occur in the pre-dawn hours.

7. Forget to drink your Recommended Daily Amount of Water until an hour before bedtime, feel thirsty and guilty, then drink an entire gallon of water right before going to bed. Allow nature to take its course. (But wait, you say, what about those articles saying there's no magical "8 glass a day" requirement anymore? No worries! Every time you read one of those, you will inevitably see 3 more articles right afterward telling you how important proper hydration is and that skimping on water will make you Unhealthy and Constipated and Wrinkly and Bloated and Ugly. There's no escaping the Water Drinking Requirement!)

8. Move to an Urban Area. No need to fret about sleeping too late, what with honking horns, car alarms, sirens, early-morning jack-hammers, big heavy trucks with squeaking brakes, club-hopping neighbors still amped on crystal when they get in at dawn...

9. Or you could move to a Suburban Area! There they have early-morning landscaping concerts (featuring the popular leaf-blower/lawn-mower/hedge-clipper combo), neighborhood dogs who howl at the first sign of movement or light, idling SUV's preparing for their 2 hour commutes, smug joggers and bicyclists shouting back and forth to each other because if they can get up for their 5 a.m. workouts then everybody should be up...

10. Just don't try moving to a Rural Area because of course people who live on farms traditionally sleep in late and the thought of any barnyard animals making noise just because it's morning... absurd!

Thoughts on early/late rising, sleeping, pets, kids, "life hacks," or, as usual, Any Damn Thing at all are always appreciated!

August 27, 2007

More Unconscious Weirdness

This is just a quickie, but since we're still discussing Unconscious Processes (this morning's post), check this out.

This bit of strangeness came from here, where it was much more artfully presented. But here's the text of it:

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.

Try it folks. It's really weird. Can any of you Resist This and make your foot keep going clockwise? No luck over here!

There is probably an explanation for this posted somewhere, but the explanation is probably not nearly as interesting as the phenomenon itself!

What's That THING In My Brain?

A while back Crabby took a test and discovered something unexpected and malignant hidden within her brain. Don't worry; it wasn't a tumor! This was not a medical test.

However, it was very, very creepy.

Crabby discovered a shocking Unconscious Prejudice of which she was completely unaware!

If you can spare a few minutes, you might want to find out if you have a similar affliction. (It's not a really quick test, and there are a number of things you have to click to get going, but it's worth persevering.) Crabby is hoping at least a few of you will go to this website and give one of these a try--then you can please tell her why the whole concept behind the tests is completely flawed and the results don't mean anything at all. Because unfortunately, from what Crabby could tell it all looked pretty legitimate. Perhaps they mean some other "Harvard University?" There's got to be more than one, right?

Anyway, for those of you who don't have the time or patience for these things, here's the deal:

You can choose among a variety of subjects to test your unconscious biases--there are tests on race and age and weight, etc.

You then answer a bunch of questions that measure your conscious attitudes toward your chosen subject.

Then you take the test! You have to make quick determinations about things--too quick to allow your conscious mind be entirely in charge of the process.

Then you find out your results.

The good news is, not everyone harbors terrible unconscious biases! The bad news: a lot of us who do are completely unaware of it.

Check this out: Crabby is (ulp) homophobic. Just try explaining this to the Lobster! This was NOT the result she expected.

She needs some of you smarty-pants scientists to help her out here. This can not be right!

Because if THAT unlikely bit of nastiness could be residing in her brain, leaving no conscious trace, what the hell else could be down there?

Even if you don't feel like taking one of the tests, Crabby is very curious as to whether you all feel you might harbor unconscious attitudes that are in contradiction to what you Actually Think about things. Ever been surprised at yourself? At other people you know?

August 26, 2007

Random Rotating Blogroll: Now It's "Fun-Sized!"

You know how those microscopic candy bars are called "fun sized," even though there's nothing "fun" about getting one measly bite all wrapped up masquerading as a real candy bar? Or how cheap restaurants or hotels with few extras are called "Express" even though they're not particularly fast? Well, in that stellar American Marketing Tradition, Crabby is proud to present her new, "Fun-Sized" "Express" Random Rotating Blogroll!

Could we have a Blogroll Drumroll please...

Ta da!

It's over on the right side bar somewhere. It may be hard to find because there are only 10 blogs on it. But if you refresh, the selection changes. Doesn't it? Please?

At least that's what Crabby hopes. It took her for-freakin'-ever to put it together, despite the Perfectly Clear Instructions. (Apparently missing commas and stray apostrophe's can kill the whole list, and Crabby is terrible about spotting things like that.)

Crabby has been looking for something like this, because she herself finds that when she goes to blogs with huge Blogrolls, she rarely ever clicks on anything. With a small list, the idea of checking something out becomes far more intriguing. On the other hand, one hates to be overly fussy about adding new friends in order to keep a blogroll small and tempting. So where to find a solution?

It seems as though there are many more Widgets around for Wordpress than for Blogger, and most Blogroll widgets wanted Crabby to bring in Content from Other Blogs and involved RSS feeds. Crabby wanted something simpler. So she finally Consulted the Google and found JuliaKM, who has come up with a Fine Solution!

The only problem was that the coding worked just fine when Crabby copied it exactly, but then she had a blogroll full of Chess Blogs. It took so many tries to get her own blogs in there before it worked that Crabby was about to give up and start writing about Chess instead of Health! So please don't tell her its not working or you all are going to be reading soon about Chess, which won't be much fun at all because Crabby can't remember the first thing about how to play it.

Anyway, Crabby in the process of adding some new people to the blogroll and dropping some former blog friendlies that she hasn't seen around in a while. But it may be a while forever before she gets completely up to date.

In the meantime, if you've been visiting regularly and commenting frequently and don't see your blog ever, ever, come up, give Crabby a holler in the comments or email her. She is (a) lazy (b) careless and (c) not necessarily trying to be all-inclusive. Some general guidelines: health-related blogs, incredibly amusing blogs, and frequent commenters are more likely to be given priority. Also, if you want to be on Crabby's blogroll it's a good idea to put her on yours, too. But like most bloggers, she's somewhat arbitrary about this as well as being forgetful.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

August 24, 2007

Really Random Friday

(Album cover photo:

Crabby isn't even going to try to tie this mess together with any sort of theme.

And for those of you not too distracted by the brunette's butt cleavage, here's some Dry Scientific Research. But have patience, later there will be Sex and Shopping!

Night shift workers do not, apparently, face higher cancer rates than day shift workers, or at least this study of Swedish workers failed to find any connection. Researchers analyzed nearly 20 years' worth of data. Earlier studies had suggested there might be a link. Crabby is glad because that just didn't seem fair!

And since we were very recently talking about Sunshine, Vitamin D, and breast cancer, there is another new study suggesting that increased intake of D-3 could prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer cases a year. The researchers recommended supplementation 2000 IU of D3 a day, plus moderate sun exposure (but not more than 15 minutes without the use of "clothing" and a hat). Damn, there go Crabby's Nude Sunbathing plans for the weekend! (Note: that was just Gratuitous Bold Text, something Crabby is having fun with today. There is No Actual Link to Pictures of Crabby Nude Sunbathing!) Anyway, from what Crabby has read previously, she suspects not all researchers would agree with these guy's recommendations, but she is too lazy to go find opposing points of view.

Despite all the controversy around Surgery to Reduce Stomach Size apparently bariatric surgery does save lives--at least among the severely obese. In one study, surgery to reduce stomach size cut the overall risk of death by 40%; in another, there was a reduction of 29%.

This was widely reported elsewhere, but it seems to be Big News that Many Seniors Are Still Having Sex. However, in this cheerful update on the sex lives of those in their 70's and 80's, "sexually active" was defined as having sex once a year. Crabby has decided to be contrarian about this whole thing, because, well, she's just that way.

In any event, despite the Horny Headlines, only 26% of men aged 75 to 85 were getting any, even once a year, and women were even less likely to be doing it. (And only 50% of men and 25% of women even indulged in admitted to masturbation!) Crabby has no agenda around Senior Sex--seems to her it fine to have Lots or None at All. Whatever! She just wonders why all the headlines seemed to go out of the way to make it sound like Old Folks are Doin' it like Bunny Rabbits, when that seems not actually to be the case. (And you may note that though the survey was of US seniors, the Yahoo people apparently had to go Spain to find a picture of two Elders smoochin').

Now, on to less scientific stuff!

So Crabby was not the only one who went clothes shopping recently. This post by the always amusing Vanilla at Half-Fast had Crabby laughing her brand new faux size 2's off.

Need to Nag Yourself About Something? This useful site, Hassle Me, allows you to harass yourself by email at various intervals--to bug yourself to go to the gym every few days, or call your mother, or whatever. It may have an Evil Application too: it looks like you can specify other people's email addresses and hassle them too!

And finally, here's a Really Random Observation:

So you know when you set up a Blogger profile you can specify an occupation? Crabby, when she started her blog, decided to call herself a "Professional Layabout." Well, recently the Blogger people did some updating and organized things, and suddenly Crabby's "occupation" was Highlighted in Blue--which means it was a link! Crabby excitedly clicked on the link and discovered there were 21 other Professional Layabouts! Crabby has no idea why she finds this amusing.

Update note: Crabby does not know why suddenly the line spacing has changed on her posts but she doesn't like it! It's too cramped. If any Bloggers have any ideas about how/where to fix this (she can't seem to find the right button) please advise!) Update to the update: If anyone else encounters this line-space problem after a picture or list, Med Journal Watch had a fix which hopefully won't mess anything else up. Coincidentally, it's a health site with a more careful and critical analysis of the bariatric surgery study Crabby just casually cited today. (Date stamp should be fixed too).

Oh hell, just say anything you want!

August 23, 2007

Knee-Deep in Rationalizations

Crabby has written before about her attempts to get her aerobic exercise by means of Race-Walking. And for those who don't mind Clicking on Things, she has just written more about this topic over at Diet Blog. (The article was posted yesterday, but don't worry, it is still Piping Hot and Almost Fresh!).

However, shortly after she e-mailed off that very article to Diet Blog (encouraging everyone to look like an ass like Crabby does and give Race-Walking a try), Crabby went out on her own morning Race-walk and did a very silly thing. She broke into a run! And she kept running the whole way. Bad, bad Crab. She just said the hell with her screwed up knees and hoped that somehow they were magically different knees now.

It was warm but raining lightly--way better weather for running than walking, and the songs on her iPod were really running songs, not walking songs, and she had that little burst of energy that comes from perfectly-timed caffeine ingestion, and there was a soft dirt trail to entice her off the hard asphalt one and everyone else was running too and... she just couldn't help herself.

Oddly enough, her knees hurt afterwards. Is this perhaps the reason she has given up running over and over and over again? She knows from experience that if she keeps running, her knees will continue to hurt more and more until regular walking is painful too.

But maybe this time it will be different?

Crabby first began to have knee problems when she started running at 17. She is now 47. Yeah, sure, maybe this time it will be different.

But, damn it, she likes to run so much better than she likes to walk!

Over at Diet Blog, she limited herself to one complaint about Race-Walking, which is that it looks absurd. But she has others; mainly that it doesn't feel nearly as good as running does. When Crabby is power-walking she always wishes she were running.

Yet there have been times in her life when running has been only minimally injurious. She could actually do it for months or even years at a time before having to give it up again. Crabby keeps hoping to hit that magical sweet spot again.

Here are some things she has tried over the years, some of which worked for awhile:

  1. Running in only really expensive running shoes.
  2. Running only on soft surfaces.
  3. Running only uphill.
  4. Running with orthotics.
  5. Running with a different pair of orthotics.
  6. Running while wearing huge hideous neoprene sleeves with funny looking kneecap holes cut out of them.
  7. Running only once or twice a week and alternating with:
  • a gym stair-climber;
  • an old-fashioned regular aerobics class;
  • bicycle riding;
  • a step-aerobics class;
  • a squeaky home stair-stepper;
  • a low-impact aerobics class;
  • a rowing machine;
  • a gym elliptical machine;
  • uphill walking; and
  • race-walking.
To be fair, Crabby has not fully explored medical options, other than orthotics. She has never had an MRI, for example. (She had trouble enough getting health insurance without actually having the audacity to use it for something.) And her knees actually function pretty well--as long as she doesn't try to run on them.

Which would be really dumb, since there are other perfectly good aerobic alternatives. Like, for example, Race-Walking.

Crabby should not be so foolish; she promises herself that she won't go running ever again. Probably. Possibly. At least not unless it rains again and the music is really, really good.

How about you all? Any aches or injuries keep you from exercising the way you'd like?

August 22, 2007

Labels that Lie: "Zero" Integrity

Since the Associated Press just reminded us again that you can't trust a food label to be accurate, Crabby thought she'd use their article as an excuse for a little rant. She's tired of swearing at her computer, and now that it's fixed, she thought it might be time to get back to her more usual swearing about Health and Fitness annoyances!

And Crabby doesn't mean those obviously Scammy Miracle Weight Loss Products marketed by skeezy fly-by-night companies you've never heard of. This is mainstream, government sanctioned lying by big Fortune 500 companies. No doubt they all have the usual corporate mission statements about "delighting customers" and "exceeding expectations" and offering "extraordinary quality and value!" They never seem to include "Lying our Pants Off to Make People Think Crap that Will Eventually Kill them is Actually Good for Them" into those mission statements.

Anyway, what the AP article is talking about is labels that say "zero trans fats."

You've seen these. Say you're at the grocery store and you pick up a package of Tempting Junk Food that you know probably isn't good from you. But, at least it has finally switched away from Evil Trans-fats. It's packaging shouts out "Now with Zero Transfats!" Good news!

But then you look further on down at the ingredients, and one of them is "partially hydrogenated something-or-other oil." Hey, what gives? Isn't that a Trans Fat?

Yep, of course it is! Even though the package has quite a few transfats in it, they've declared an arbitrary, teeny tiny portion is "a serving." And because our always-helpful government agencies allow them to declare that .5 grams of something is really "zero"--all the trans-fats in the package simply disappear!

Why is it a hardship to put the actual amount of transfats on the label? Crabby speculates that the extra ink it takes to print .5 instead of 0 must be really expensive. Or something.

This doesn't mean there's necessarily a lot of transfats in the product. There may not be. But half a gram is not zero! It's a lie! And you can't even figure out for yourself how much is in the whole package, because apparently they don't have to tell you.

This drives Crabby crazy. Because unlike you Smart Readers, average consumers don't necessarily know about the cheaty rounding rules, or to look for partially hydrogenated oils on the label. They think if it there's a big banner saying there's Zero Transfats in a product, that means there aren't actually any transfats, no matter how much you eat. Which is wrong, but actually quite logical.

It's not just transfats either. Splenda is very low-cal, but it doesn't actually have "zero" calories in it. And have you ever bought a can of Pam "Fat Free" Olive Oil and wondered what the hell is supposed to be in there if there's no fat? How can there be no fat or calories in a can full of Oil? (Crabby doesn't buy it anymore anyway, since it smells more like paint thinner than olive oil, and she's no longer afraid of Good Fats). But still. They use a microsecond spray as a serving until they find one less than .5, then round down. And again, by magic, all the fat and calories in a can of Olive Oil simply cease to exist.

There are only about 37 million more examples of deceptive advertising like this (and don't let Crabby Go Off on "Now Made With Whole Wheat" yet again) but she thought she'd share another new twist she discovered.

Crabby herself is now Virtually Fat Free!

At least that must be the explanation. Because here's what happened:

Crabby hates to shop for clothes and has not done much of it in the past few years. But she went off to Macy's over the weekend and braved a One Day Sale. She actually bought things! Including shorts.

And Crabby is pleased to announce she has dropped two sizes! All her hard work has paid off. She now wears a size that is so small it barely exists. It might as well be a Zero! (Which is now, apparently, an actual size). Crabby had to keep going back for more clothes because she couldn't quite believe how much she had accomplished over these last years.

The interesting thing is that it was so easy! She's just doing the same cardio, the same weights, eating the same mostly healthy but sometimes Abominable diet, yet the labels prove she is so much thinner than she used to be.

The strange thing, though, is that all her old clothes with the much bigger number on the label still fit her just fine. They should be hanging off her! Obviously, the dryer must have shrunk them. Also, her bathroom scale must be out of order because it still has the same old range of numbers it always did.

Because to arbitrarily declare that a pair of shorts that has not changed dimensions is nonetheless now a "smaller" size? That would be dishonest and misleading, wouldn't it?

Crabby is so very, very proud of herself!

August 21, 2007

Guest Post: Norabarnacle Takes on UV rays!

So Crabby has on several occasions left her accustomed post at Cranky Fitness in order to go Guest Blogging elsewhere. Today, she is doing the opposite--making up for the pretend post below by bringing you some Actual Science by one of our favorite Commenters, NoraBarnacle! She is the host of Crunchy 'Nanas, and she is braving the confusing research around Sunshine and Breast Cancer and making some actual sense of it. She even takes on the Cranky Fitness' bizarre Third Person Format in solidarity with the Crab--not for the blogger who is Faint of Heart!

Now here's her post!

In the height of the summer sunshine, a recent study suggests that UV rays may actually do one some good in the fight against breast cancer. Or, at least the headline writers and journalists want us to think so.

The results from a study by a team at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska show that in a group of women who’ve passed menopause, the lower the level of vitamin D in their bloodstreams, the higher their risk of developing breast cancer. Sun exposure is important in the mechanism for incorporating vitamin D into our bodies, so let’s head out into the sun and fight our risk for breast cancer! Right?

Careful! Don’t go stripping down to your undie-roos and streaking into the burning noonday sun yet. The study examined the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplements. The women who were given both supplements had less than half the chance of developing breast cancer than those offered the placebo. The researchers went one step further and said their findings were consistent with data showing that “cancer risk, cancer mortality, or both are inversely associated with solar exposure, vitamin D status, or both”.

All this seems to be telling Norabarnacle the best of the skin cancer/breast cancer trade-off might actually be vitamin D and calcium supplements and remaining responsible (sunscreen, hats, and not laying out for hours on end, as deliciously tempting as that sounds!) when jaunting out of doors.

Also, if you enjoy playing in the sun, you might consider a cup of joe before you exercise. Another UK study shows that caffeine and exercise working together increases apoptosis (a scary sounding word that usually makes Norabarnacle think of snapping air-filled bubble wrap pockets, but actually means “cell death”) of damaged or cancerous cells. This could be good news for coffee and cola junkies, or at least active coffee and cola junkie mice, who saw a whooping 400% increase in apoptosis. Alas, the theory still needs to be tested out in humans. Still, it seems prevention is better than treatment: caffeine shouldn’t be substituted for sunscreen and responsible sun practices to prevent skin cancer to begin with.

Norabarnacle’s an avid sun-worshiper. Like a shivering lizard to a sun-soaked rock, she basks in it. But, until there is more evidence, you won’t see her swapping sunscreen and shady breaks for sunbathing au natural for hours on end in hopes of preventing breast cancer. And being neither a coffee nor a cola drinker, she won’t be jumping to get her morning fix before she strides out into the sunny sunshine. However in Belgium, they do have some dark chocolate napolitains with tea... she’s not sure how much caffeine is actually in those, but they might be worth a shot!

And Crabby would just like to step back into the blog for a moment and say Thank You, NoraBarnacle!

Feed Me!

Crabby finally has internet back on her computer, hooray! However, she's still a day behind, and has only sort of a fake post of her own today. But in the meantime, there is a guest post following almost immediately after this one, in an effort to make up for Crabby's recent slackitude. Stay tuned!

All Crabby has today is a Question and a Cartoon. The cartoon goes first, because you know you're going to skip down to it anyway. And Crabby would like you to at least see the question in case you have an opinion!

So this Nataliedee offering was sent to Crabby by Sara from HealthBolt, a much more informative health site than this one is. But gosh, why do you think this made Sara think of Cranky Fitness?

natalie dee

And now on to the question. It's for those of you who have Feed Readers or Blogs or have opinions about Content Distribution. (Sorry, Crabby should have warned regular readers it was a boring question!)

So Crabby has been distributing her RSS feed in its entirety, mainly because she never really thought about it one way or another. But she has recently been alerted to a couple instances of plagiarism (bad, bad, fake blogs!). And she also finds herself feeling slightly confused about the whole idea of feed 'publishing.'

The best she can tell, there are quite a few perfectly legitimate sites that take a bunch of posts from other people's blogs off their RSS feeds, collect them together, and 'distribute' them. Then people come to their sites to read things instead of going to all the original blogs. The legitimate ones always include a link to the original post.

Based on Crabby's very limited understanding of how this all works, she has mixed feelings about it. While she loves the idea of new people possibly discovering Cranky Fitness, she's afraid that when the entire post is published elsewhere, people aren't going to bother going to Cranky Fitness just for the Comments. But they should! Because everyone should see what Crabby's Smart Readers have to say.

So Crabby is curious about the option of just publishing a partial feed. So people could get a sense if they wanted to read the post, and if they did, they'd end up on Crabby's site where the Comments live. (Crabby would of course have to discover the disappointing reality of how many people out there are just going to read the first part of a post and say, "yuck, no thanks." But as depressing as that sounds, she suspects her ego could weather the blow).

What she'd hate to do, though, is mess her readers up! She doesn't want to make Cranky Fitness a hassle. Crabby herself is an internet Luddite who doesn't do her own blog visits by using Feed Readers so she's not entirely sure what impact publishing a partial feed would have. (Also she's not sure how to do it, but she remembers some option in some tab somewhere in Blogger that seemed to offer this ability. She's assuming this would actually work?)

So she's hoping some of you can advise her about all this! Would partial feeds be a Pain in the Ass? What do you other bloggers do--publish your whole feed or only part of it? Does it help your readership to have your posts floating out there in the blogosphere? Crabby is a bit over her head here, which as you all well know is nothing new!

August 20, 2007

Farmer's Markets! (And Boring Internet Update)

As she writes this, Crabby is still experiencing major internet connection problems and still has only sporadic web access. She purchased a new router over the weekend with high hopes, but attempting to install it crashed both her computer and the Lobster's! It took quite a while to get back to the starting point of just sporadic internet access. (The salesman at Radio Shack listened with a very bored expression as Crabby trued to explain all the horrible and unexpected things the installation disk had done to both computers. Then he wrote, as the reason for return: "Customer Changed Mind." A**hole. But at least he took the Evil Router back and refunded Crabby's money).

Anyway, Crabby finally said "the hell with it" and went out to play instead. Which was fun! Washington D.C. is an amazing city with lots to see and do.

Crabby does feel badly, however, about her neglected Blog Duties and will do the best she can to get up and running again. When there is internet available, she will try to do actual Health News Reporting and respond to awesome reader comments that come in! When there is no internet: more posts like this one that can be composed off-line and slipped in whenever the Web Access Gods allow. Hopefully, normal service will be restored soon.

Let's see, the topic was... that's right, farmers’ markets! Crabby went to a new one this weekend. She and the Lobster love going to farmer's markets, though for some reason, they can never remember they're called that and refer to them as "Flea Markets" instead.

So here are some things Crabby loves about farmers’ markets:

1. The free samples!

2. Unless it is a Fake farmers’ market, the produce is local and fresh and incredibly tasty. Even the vegetables are good.

3. You get to feel sort of smug because even though it’s fun, you’re doing this really healthy thing.

4. It's not like at the grocery store: almost everyone at a farmers' market looks really glad to be there.

5. Sometimes the people selling the produce are actually the people who grew the produce. Why is this so nice? Hard to explain--it just is!

6. Local musicians often play at farmers' markets, and some of them are really talented.

7. More free samples!

8. There are usually food vendors who serve at least semi-healthy food, and also Junky Food is available too if you’re in that sort of mood. For some reason, it all tastes better there.

9. Many people bring their kids and friends and dogs and make an outing of it, so it feels more like an Amusement Park than like a chore.

10. Even More Free Samples!

11. After a while, you get the hang of who has the produce you like the best and when it’s worth paying more for something and when it isn’t and you get to feel like a “regular.”

12. Holy Cow, there are still a whole bunch more Free Samples!

However, this wouldn't be Cranky Fitness unless there were a few Quibbles, even about something totally cool like a Farmers Market:

1. It can be hot and crowded and the lines can get long.

2. Bags of produce can get heavy if carried home for many many blocks. (For no real reason, it is a point of pride with both Crabby and the Lobster not to ever drive to a Farmers Market. Why is this the fault if the farmers market? It's not! But nonetheless, the bags do get heavy).

3. One can become so enchanted by the freshness and the variety of the produce that one can end up purchasing Way More than any human can eat before it goes bad.

4. The prices are not always cheap.

5. You can totally fall in love with some item one week and then never see it again. Or at least not until next year. (Supermarkets, on the other hand, will sell you a crappy version from far away for way longer, postponing your disappointment until you get the item home and discover it doesn't taste very good).

6. Local musicians often play at farmers' markets, and some of them are really awful.

7. The Free Samples! (There are only so many you can enjoy, especially if you just ate before you went, but Crabby can never, ever, seem to turn down a Free Sample.)

Do any of you have a nearby farmers' market or something similar? Or, if you have any thoughts about produce, Weekends, Computer failures/crashes, or anything at all, Crabby loves your comments! (Even though she has been terribly remiss lately about responding to them all).

August 16, 2007

Arrgh! No Internet!

So this post is not the usual Friday Roundup, which is half-written and will likely remain unfinished. The sporadic internet access problems Crabby was having for the last few days? They are no longer sporadic but now are continuous. She lost her connection midmorning and it is still gone.

The issue seems to involve her computer's inability to connect to the LAN or something like that; Crabby does not quite understand it all. She was using wireless but that too has ceased to function.

This sad little update is being composed on the Lobster's laptop computer, which works just fine! Unfortunately, the Lobster needs her computer for an actual job. It is hard for Crabby to ask: "Could you please stay home from work, Lobster, so that Crabby may attend to her blogging duties?"

So Crabby will do the best she can to get the Damn Thing fixed. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon! Thank you all for your patience. (And to hell with her HP laptop which has already required three expensive repair bills even though it is only two years old!)

How Freaky, er, Healthy is Your City?

Crabby is certainly not the first person to discover Google Trends, but it's an amusing little time-waster if you find yourself online wanting to avoid Actual Work. Of course regular Cranky Fitness readers would never think of surfing during work hours. In fact Crabby is sure the only reason why her site visits drop off dramatically in the evenings and on weekends is that you all have creative flexible schedules and you love working when everyone else is home!

Anyway, the deal is this: Google, being quite snoopy, compiles everybody's search terms. It also knows where you live. Thus you can find out what people from various metropolitan areas are searching for and compare them!

(As yet another aside, do those of you with Google email end up with those really funny/freaky context-driven ads that appear next to your email messages? And sometimes they get a whole different idea of what you're talking about and just run with it? Perhaps we should have a contest for most amusing juxtaposition of email subject/advertisement).

Sorry. Crabby is having a hard time staying on topic today. Perhaps she is just hyper from all that broccoli tea she's been drinking.

So one cool thing about Google Trends is that it normalizes the search data--it's not done by pure numbers, otherwise the big cities would always be on top. Instead, it's done by relative popularity. So you get an idea of what the citizens of different cities are most interested in. And since this is a health blog (sort of), Crabby decided to find out Who Searches for What in Health Related Categories!

Are you ready? Here are some Top Five Cities in various categories:


People who search for "Antioxidants" tend to be residents of:
Chennai, (India); Mumbai, (India), New York, Washington DC, and San Diego.

Those who care more about "Calories" live in:
New York, Washington D.C., Boston, San Diego and Seattle;

While those in search of "Twinkies" live in:
Salt Lake City, St Louis, Seattle, Chicago, and Phoenix.


Those who search for "Pilates" reside in:
New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Sydney.

However, people more interested in Dodgeball hit the playgrounds of: Chicago, New York, Washington, Seattle, and San Francisco.

And those who enjoy the subtleties of "Mud Wrestling": can be found in Seattle, Melbourne, Washington DC, Brentford, (UK); and London.

Body Image:

Who cares how Big they are? "Biggest" cities for "Average Weight Male" were New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, and London.

But women don't have weight issues! At least according to Google, "Average Weight Female" was not a popular enough search to compile a graph. (Crabby should have thought of a better query but did not want to go back and do the Men's over.)

The search for "Average Penis Size" was popular in: Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, New York, and Seattle. (No Wonder They Call Australia "Down Under!").

And yet again "Average Breast Size" did not have enough searches to rate. However, "Breast Implants" were popular in: Salt Lake City, Tampa, Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, and Irvine, (CA).


"Heart Healthy Diet": It was popular in Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Toronto.

But the "Cookie Diet": was a favorite of those in Delray Beach (Florida), Boca Raton, Miami, Boston, and Cambridge.

Skip the diet, just take a pill, and don't worry about the Oily Discharge? Folks who prefer to search for "Alli" tend to live in: Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Miami, and Houston.

And in the Miscellaneous Category:

Looking for an "Oxygen Bar?" You probably live in San Francisco, Pleasanton, Minneapolis, Miami, or Denver.

But those who prefer "Colonics": tend to hail from New York, San Diego, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Irvine (CA).

And finally, the Very Flexible folks wanting to get their fix of "Nude Yoga" do it in Denver, San Francisco, New York, Irvine (CA), and Pleasanton (CA)!

So Crabby is going to forgo the temptation to analyze any of this--she suspects you all might have some observations of your own!

Any surprises? And feel free to contribute any amusing Google Trends you may find, too, or any Bizarre Google Ad/ email combinations. Or as usual, please let Crabby know any Damn Thing that's On your Mind today!

August 15, 2007

Broccoli in Your Tea? Product Review, Part 2

So sorry! After keeping readers guessing what product Crabby would be reviewing for an entire day, Crabby will now reveal that it was something far less entertaining than her Smart Readers' ideas. More on that below!

But the first Free Thing Crabby received as a Blogger was not smoking-cessation yogurt or caffeinated soap, but Tea with Broccoli in it! (Okay, so the Brassica Tea people may not even know she is a blogger. But she Hinted and they Sent and for that she is grateful. Had they sent Magic Instant Six-Pack Abdominal Creme or Melt-the-Pounds-Away Chocolate Ice Cream she would have been Even More Grateful, but this was pretty cool too).

Crabby was curious about these teas because they contain a very potent antioxidant called SGS. This is the same stuff that comes in Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts! Anyway, SGS is a kick-ass cancer-fighter and all-around nutritional Superstar.

If you want to read more about SGS, the Brassica people have a collection of research over at their blog. It's a list of actual scientific studies, so Crabby is not too embarrassed to send you over there even though they're also selling the tea and the Broccoli sprouts. (And they also have less technical, more user-friendly info at their site too).

And Crabby likes the Brassica people! They're scientists associated with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and they sound smart and well-informed. For whatever reason, Crabby trusts them when they say something is good for her. But any actual scientists among Crabby's readers who have different information, please feel free to weigh in and set Crabby straight.

Crabby knows some of you disapprove of any food on principal that has been supplemented or tinkered with by scientists. But Crabby does not fear all Franken-Food! To her, it sort of depends on whether the Tinkering is done to make food healthier, or just more profitable. And adding some extra Really Good for Your stuff to tea seemed like a fine idea to Crabby. (The Brassica people, by the way, still tell you to eat your vegetables; you don't get out of it entirely by drinking their tea. Crabby appreciates their honesty on this point, as much as she'd like to replace 90% of her vegetables with cupcakes).

So Crabby was thrilled to get her samples in the mail yesterday, but then she started to worry. What if the tea tasted, well, like broccoli? Being an honest Crab, she knew she'd have to say so, but she really hoped she wouldn't have to be mean to the nice Brassica people.

So she brewed up a cup of Green Tea with Orange and...

It tasted just fine! No broccoli-ness was detectable. Hooray!

(Caveat: Crabby made that cup the way a normal person would, with just one teabag, but usually, she drinks her tea in a Freakish Way. She puts in anywhere from 4-7 teabags in a mug, all different colors and flavors, brews it for 5-10 minutes, then dumps in Splenda (horrors!) and milk. She's really more of a coffee drinker so "normal" tea tastes too watery for her to enjoy. The Brassica tea, it turns out, also tastes good when a bunch of different flavors are combined in freakishly large quantities).

The SGS tea has actually been around for a few years, but it was new to Crabby. She will be ordering some soon and paying with her very own money!

More information about the tea and about ordering it can be found at the BrassicaTea website.

Now Crabby said she would acknowledge the most amusing Reader Guess about what she might be reviewing, but that is so hard when there were many funny ones! For readers who do not regularly visit the Comments Section (click on the link at the end of the post that says how many comments there are), do go back to yesterday's post and see what commenter's guessed. Crabby had many favorites, including one that the author seems to have removed! She hopes it will reappear someday.

So Crabby appreciates all your creative guesses. She hates to just pick one! But having said she would, she found Katieo's guess that Crabby would be testing samples of this appalling food item, to be perhaps the most Amusing. And for those who have not, for some reason, been visiting Sister Skinny on a daily basis, do not miss this recent post of Katieo's, which is very much worth clicking an additional link to read.

Thanks to all who guessed! And to any of you who have either more ideas, Very Silly or Not, for products Crabby should check out in the future, or any other comments about Tea or FrankenFood or Anything at all, please feel free to share your thoughts!

August 14, 2007

Crabby Reviews a Product! (Eventually). Part 1

Oddly enough, Crabby doesn't often get asked to review health products. Which is too bad because: (a) she is very opinionated; and (b) she loves the idea of getting free stuff to try!

It's true that Crabby does make fun of products sometimes, or tell readers they probably don't need them. And even when she's basically endorsing something, her quotes are not the sort one would likely see displayed with pride on a manufacturer's website:

Applegate Farms Nitrite-Free Organic Smoked Chicken "doesn't taste like fresh chicken; it tastes like lunch meat. But Crabby means that in a good way!"

Or, on Journey to the Wild Devine, a biofeedback game she enjoyed: "I think it helped with stress management, but I don't really remember. And it was kind of expensive. But, well, it was really fun!"

Crabby did get an email once asking her try a laxative. Er, uh, a Fiber Supplement. Crabby didn't need one, so she declined.

But then recently she came across a product she was curious about, and so she asked a question at the product's website. She dropped a few Broad Hints and lo and behold, they let her try it! This, of course, is not the same thing as actually being sought after to review something, but Crabby will take Free any way she can get it.

At this point a normal blogger would now tell you about the product, and whether she liked it or not.

But guess what? That's not 'til tomorrow. Crabby is hoping to create Suspense, as well as to create Two Posts out of material for One.

So instead, she will leave you to guess, if you care to, what she is reviewing and what she might say about it. The more Wild and Unlikely your Guess, of course the Better. Though she has no prizes to award, the Most Amusing Guess (and Guesser) will be gratefully acknowledged by Crabby. And accurate guesses/guessers will too!

The whole issue of bloggers reviewing things is a tricky one, and Crabby is curious about what other bloggers and readers of blogs think about it. Because Crabby has googled products she is interested in and come across reviews in blogs. How does she know whether to believe them? She did not know until recently that some bloggers get paid to say nice things about products.

That's clearly scummy! And it also seems a bit suspicious if a blogger keeps getting expensive products in return for saying really nice things about them. But what if they really truly think they're wonderful? Though Crabby dreams of the day when she will face this ethical dilemma, she will just emphasize the fact that she would never lie to her Smart Readers in order to get free stuff.

At this point, though, Crabby is happy to try out things that people want to send her and she will tell her readers, honestly, what she thinks. But manufacturers and retailers, beware--she actually means "honestly."

So if anyone has any Real or Silly Guesses about what product Crabby is testing out, or any thoughts about bloggers reviewing products, or any left-over but still tasty opinions about anything else in the Universe, please feel free to share them here!

August 13, 2007

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Martha at That'sFit discovered an interesting survey about aging and happiness that surprised the hell out of Crabby.

It was conducted by a Big Bank (HSBC), not a team of smarty-pants researchers from a University, but it was large (21,000 people) and included people age 40-80 in 21 different countries.

And guess what? They found more people in their 60's and 70's reported being happy than people in their 40's.

This is encouraging, isn't it? Because we're all going to get older, at least until the scientists discover how to make aging optional.

And some of us are perhaps not entirely sure we're looking forward to our Seventies and beyond. We fear Alzheimer's and achy joints and bypass surgeries. In the drugstore aisles we push our shopping carts briskly past the Depends and the Dentu-grip and the Metamucil and the Special Toilet Booster Seats and try to assure ourselves we'll never need them. Perhaps we've even peeked inside a nursing home or two and seen groups of frail elders wrapped in plaid blankets staring slack-jawed at Golden Girls reruns. We've thought: Yikes, that doesn't look all that appealing.

But it turns out, according to researchers--the elderly are not just as happy as we are, they're happier!

The article goes on to quote various experts who offer their theories about why we tend to get happier as we age--there's some interesting information in there. And Crabby is open to the idea that in our journey from our childhoods to our "golden years," we might indeed become increasingly content. But she is not entirely convinced that people in their 70's and beyond are really a whole lot happier than people in their 40's.

Mainly it's because Crabby has trouble with any of the studies or surveys that try to measure and compare how happy people are by asking them how happy they are.

When you ask a person "are you happy," or in this case, "were you happy most of the time in the previous week," are you measuring happiness? Or are you measuring honesty?

Or, even more confusing, are you measuring cultural attitudes about what "happiness" means and how you're supposed to feel, and what you're supposed to say when a complete stranger asks you a binary question that's meant to sum up a lot of complicated and charged emotional territory in your life?

Crabby thinks it's equally possible that people born in the 1960's or later are more willing to say to a stranger, "This week wasn't the happiest ever" than people who were born in the 1930's. Even if the same number of people had less-than-happy weeks.

And here's where the skewed world view of Crabby McSlacker might become apparent to readers who havn't caught on to her yet. She thinks most folks aren't nearly as happy as the studies say they are.

Which is not to say they're Unhappy either!

Crabby just thinks these studies aren't very good at capturing true states of mind. Because they make it sound like people are deliriously happy most of the time, and Crabby just isn't buying it.

When Happiness Researchers compare statistics about how happy people are, they're often comparing numbers like 80% vs. 90% of people being happy. In this study, for example, 78% of U.S. respondents in their 40's, 87% of those in their 60's, and 89% of those in their 70's said they were "happy most of the time in the previous week."

Really? Almost ninety percent of people are walking around being "happy most of the time?"

Crabby has talked to and shared experiences with many friends and acquaintances. She has observed people in public. She has been in DMV lines and dentist's offices and grocery stores; but she has also been in places people go for "fun" like and restaurants and amusement parks. Are some of them happy, some of the time? Sure! Are almost all of them happy most of the time? No! She swears this is just not true.

Most people spend a lot of time just being... average. Neutral. Not happy, not unhappy, just There, just Existing. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's normal, that's life! Is that the new "Happy?" If you're There, if you Exist, then you're Happy? Perhaps actual "happiness," as Crabby understands and appreciates it, has lost its meaning.

And it's ironic, because Crabby, despite being crabby about health matters, actually feels she is a Happy person herself! She believes she spends more time content, engaged, happy, or even ecstatic than the "average" person does, based on what she has observed. If you saw her in the grocery store, she would probably smile at you. And she would not get all grouchy with the cashier, even a slow fumbly one, like some people do, because she is usually in a Good mood not a Bad one.

But like anyone, she spends a lot of time in "Neutral." She even has occasional frustrating moments. Do 70 year olds spend more time feeling ecstatic and less time feeling frustrated than she does? Perhaps they do. But Crabby is not trusting any of these surveys to give tell her the whole story of who "who is happier," at least until they figure out how to ask their questions better.

So what do you all think about Relative Happiness?

August 10, 2007

Cavemen on Exercise Bikes

The experts agree: everyone needs to exercise. Regular readers of Cranky Fitness, feel free at this point to exclaim "Duh!" (Out loud, while at work--why not?) There are about 87,502 reasons why exercise is good for you, or, put another way, why people who don't exercise are totally screwed. And while every little bit of movement helps, more is better. Regular vigorous aerobic exercise (with some anaerobic intervals, strength training, and stretching thrown in too) is what you really need for optimal health.

Yet most people don't do it. Especially not the intense sweaty heavy-breathing kind. Why not? Because for the majority of people, despite what all the cheerful books and magazines and TV programs say about it, it's hard. It doesn't feel good, especially at first.

And Crabby has a theory: this inertia is entirely natural! Humans evolved to conserve our calories, which were hard to come by back when you had to hunt down and kill your protein, and roam the countrysides for miles in order to scrounge up enough carbs to keep from starving. So unless something with sharp teeth and claws was chasing after you at a fast clip, it made no sense to break into a run for no reason. Cavemen and cavewomen did better to sit on their butts and stuff themselves with calories when they got the chance. They would have just laughed at our silly elliptical trainers and exercise bikes! Inertia was their friend.

Now of course many readers of Cranky Fitness just love to do aerobic exercise. They look forward to it! They would still keep doing their triathlons even if all the studies suddenly reversed themselves and started saying whoops, looks like exercise actually causes cancer and heart disease--so sorry, we're afraid we had that backwards all these years! They'd go, oh, that's a shame, and go out for a fifteen mile run the next day anyway.

But there are others of us who must battle our "cavewoman" brains, and break through a stubborn wall of inertia almost every damn time we lace up our running shoes. Even if we actually enjoy our workouts much of the time. We do it anyway, day after day. Hooray for us! But we do it reluctantly nonetheless. It's not inherently appealing in the way a nice mid-day nap is.

So how do those of us who don't "naturally" like to do hard exercise come to find ourselves not only keeping up with it, but sometimes enjoying it? Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but there seem to be two main strategies.

1. Distraction.

Putting a television or a magazine rack in front of a treadmill, listening to books on tape, outlining your next novel, composing symphonies or writing cranky letters to the editor in your head--whatever your method, the idea is simple: Disconnect your brain! It would just be unhappy about what's going on down beneath it anyway, so protect it from the unpleasant physical sensations by keeping it occupied with more interesting things.

Crabby recently saw an article somewhere that said no, don't do this! The theory was that you'll be lazy and slow down if you're not paying enough attention. But Crabby says, screw that, go right ahead! Especially if you're on a treadmill--just set it for whatever pace you want to keep, and if you get too distracted you'll go flying off the back--THWACK--into the wall or the machine behind you. If you don't kill yourself or break anything, you'll eventually learn to keep your legs pumping even if your brain is miles away!

Note: Crabby doesn't use the distraction method herself. Her brain seems to be built to do only one thing at at time. So unless it's an easy walk (which she enjoys anyway) all she can think is This Sucks This Sucks This Sucks. So to make it Not Suck, she has to use this next method:

2. Enhancement.

This method Crabby thinks of as the "Rock out with it" strategy. Accept the fact that you are exercising and make it, to the extent possible, fun! We all probably have different ways of doing this, but for Crabby, there are three essential requirements: Great Music, A Large Dose of Caffeine, and Rhythmic Motion in time to the music. (Beautiful scenery is nice too, but is strangely enough, not as crucial). With these in place, it is possible for Crabby to achieve an altered state in which exertion is transformed into exhilaration, or at least becomes way less miserable.

For optimal altered states, a certain amount of bouncy up-and-down motion seems to be helpful. (And she does not mean this in a dirty way! Please!) An elliptical trainer works best for Crabby, because she pretty much abuses it: she launches herself up unnecessarily high with each step, so that it becomes more like a "ride" than a piece of exercise equipment. Dancey aerobic classes are also great for this--the music and leaping are all part of the package. Running is also not bad, especially outside where it's pretty.

Unfortunately, race-walking is a way down on the list for Crabby. But it's what she mostly does because of her knees. She misses her old step aerobics classes and her morning runs, and has to be careful when she has access to elliptical machines not to overuse them. Crabby wonders if perhaps a mini trampoline or a pogo stick may be in her future?

So what about you folks: Are you "natural" aerobic exercisers who love it no matter what? Do you avoid it entirely? Are you a "Distractor" or an "Enhancer" or some combination? Or are there other cool strategies Crabby is completely overlooking?

August 09, 2007

CrabApple Confusion!

The Crab has landed! However, she will need a day or so to get settled and caught up, so she is sorry to send you away, once again, for a Guest Post elsewhere.

Have you all discovered Mark's Daily Apple yet? It is a great health site full of much more information than Crabby ever manages to find about anything. However, the site is also frequented by people who are Very Serious about Health, and Crabby finds herself somewhat intimidated when she visits. If you go over yesterday's guest post by the Crab, you can marvel as Crabby attempts to justify her Use of Splenda and Eating of Cupcakes to folks who actually enjoy their big salads every day!

Crabby will, she hopes, be back with a "real" post soon! Thank you all for your patience.

August 08, 2007

In Flight Entertainment

Sorry, this is not a real post. But Crabby didn't want to turn the lights off entirely at Cranky Fitness as she makes her way to D.C. for the start of her East Coast adventure.

As it happens, Crabby hates flying, so she will not be enjoying the journey all that much. She'll be counting down the minutes and gripping the armrests tightly in order to keep the plane aloft. (Silly pilots think they fly the planes, but really, it is all the nervous flyers back in the cabin who are doing all the work. If any one of us were to relax for a moment--fooom! However, don't worry, we take our responsibilities seriously. There will be no relaxing).

People sometimes give Crabby advice on how to deal with her "fear of flying." However, she doesn't feel that her fear is the problem. The problem is that every now and then, a plane crashes. That's the problem! Just invent planes that never, ever, ever crash--then Crabby will have no fear of flying. The argument that "well, you're even more likely to get killed during the cab ride to the airport" is, strangely enough, not helpful. It just makes Crabby that much more aware of the fact that the cabbie is driving 30 mph over the speed limit and cutting people off right and left and has permanently disabled the seatbelts.

So here are some totally silly things that made Crabby giggle over the last week or so. Since this is Not Really a Post, she'll just throw them around without worrying whether they're health-related or not.

Remember earlier we were talking about sweet little Oscar, the kitty who would cuddle up to dying nursing home patients, as though somehow he "knew it was time?" Well, via Chicken Girl, Mental Floss has the goods on Oscar. (Note: this is dark and weirdly delicious LOLcat humor, something the Crab was unfamiliar with until recently. She is still somewhat bewildered by it all, but she is nonetheless amused).

And in another Cat related post, Lady Rose over Diet Pulpit has a great diet suggestion--and don't worry, it doesn't involve feasting on felines.

This last link isn't cat related unless one wants to get really crude about anatomical slang expressions. We won't. Note, however: this commercial parody is a bit Raunchy, Juvenile, and is possibly Not Safe for Work depending on how uptight your workplace is. It is also Not New. Many of you may have seen it on TV already, but Crabby hadn't. (And it has the word hygiene in it, so Crabby is counting it as "health related.")

You are now free to move about the blogosphere.

August 07, 2007

Aging Gracefully?

So we were recently talking about the possibility of living for hundreds and hundreds of years without aging. Someday, maybe. But for now, we do age--and as we do, our faces tend to age with us.

In fact, over at the Age Project, they have a fun parlor game you can play. Random faces pop up, and you guess how old these people are. Then you compare your answer to the guesses of others, as well as to the person's actual age. Sometimes, you're close or exactly right! Other times, you're way, way off. More faces pop up, and you see if you're getting any better at it. Crabby was pretty hopeless.

You can even submit your own photo and have complete strangers guess how old you look!

Crabby would rather eat a case of Depends.

Part of the reason Crabby was so inept at the guessing game was that she kept overestimating how old everyone was. She figured: no one would send in a photo unless they were a 50 year-old who looked 38, or 42 year-old who looked 29, or a 15 year-old who looked 24. "Fishing for compliments" was the only motivation that made sense to her.

But there were middle-aged people who looked older than their actual years, yet they submitted a picture anyway! Crabby was amazed.

However, her amazement only served to reveal an embarrassing fact about her: she has some very screwed up ideas about Looking Old.

Crabby knows how superficial it is--what counts is on the inside. She doesn't think "younger is better." It's not just a cliche that age brings wisdom--you really do get smarter about life once you've been around a few decades.

And she's not a vain Crab, she swears! She wears jeans and T-shirts and shuns make-up. No one would mistake her for Fabulous even if she had the smooth dewy skin of a teenaged beauty contestant.

So why does she care that she's looking older?

And she is. Crabby was not blessed with youthful looking genes to begin with, and she spent many of her formative years frolicking in the California sun before anyone knew what SPF meant. She looks older than she is and way older than she feels and she hates that.

As a young Crab, she used to think women who cared so much about their wrinkles were so superficial. They should be proud of their years! And the idea that some women would actually have surgery to look younger seemed outrageous. How could they be so silly! Who cares about looking young?

Then... Crabby got a bit older herself.

And she can't figure out what's wrong with her brain! Why does she care that she looks like a grown-up? Sure, contemporary cultural attitudes devalue women over 40. But since when does Crabby give a crap what contemporary culture thinks about anything?

Would Crabby buy Coors lite instead of Fat Tire Amber Ale just because more people think Coors Lite tastes better? Of course not. Those people are just wrong!

But sadly, while Crabby hasn't internalized societal beer preferences, she seems to have internalized its aversion to aging. She looks in the mirror and instead of appreciating originality and bite and nuance and complexity, all of a sudden she just wants to be watery Coors Lite again.

Would Crabby be willing to go under a scalpel to achieve Coors Lite? No. But mostly that's because she's very afraid of scalpels. There are other less invasive procedures now, still expensive and arguably silly and yet... she sometimes finds her eyes lingering on the ads with the "before" and "after" pictures. She no longer makes the judgments she used to about people who retreat to clinics for a week or two and come back "restored." (Although she certainly thinks there is such a thing as Overdoing it). She understands a little better now.

She hopes she grows out of this, by the way.

So is Crabby the only one who's struggling with this issue? Or are you all much more serene and sensible when it comes to aging gracefully? Do you youngsters think you'll ever be this silly? And what about guys? Do men give a hoot how old they look, or is this mostly a female preoccupation?

(Cartoon courtesy of Nataliedee)