October 31, 2007

Halloween Candy? Bwa ha ha...

Halloween Candy. What do you think about it?

As usual, Crabby has many opinions and also, as is customary, her opinions are totally inconsistent and contradictory!

(And by the way, Katie at Sister Skinny had some very helpful ideas to keep you from pilfering and eating all the candy collected by your adorable costumed children, should you have any).

So. We eat a ridiculous amount of sugar in this country. And holidays, whether Halloween or Christmas or Valentines Day or Easter (or probably even Memorial day by now, who knows) have become just another excuse for an Assault of Candy Marketing. As a society, we're getting fat. We don't need another damned excuse to stuff our faces full of sugar.

On the other hand...

Crabby also came across a reminder about what's cool about Halloween. (Note: the post is a long and funny one and it's also about 900 other things, including a great list of phobias that only a Truly Creative Person could harbor). Anyway, this post got Crabby remembering how much she loved Halloween as a kid.

She loved the weirdness of watching everyone, including herself, dress up in strange outfits. (Although she was very strict about Halloween and felt everyone should be something scary. She looked scornfully upon firemen and astronauts and particularly ballerinas and princesses.)

Crabby also loved the way the neighbor's homes (okay, only a few energetic neighbors actually did this) would transform from ordinary suburban dwellings to Creepy Spider-Webby Haunted Houses where witches or skeletons could open the door and scare you!

And she can remember the sounds of...

Ah hell, who is she kidding. Crabby barely remembers all that stuff. What made Halloween so Incredibly Exciting she Could Just Burst was of course THE CANDY!!!

Halloween was all about THE CANDY! Getting it for free (no allowance necessary) and, at least in Crabby's house, getting to keep all of it and eat it whenever you wanted! (No lie. Crabby's mother wasn't nearly as strict as Katieo is. Though Crabby had more restraint as an eight year old than she does in middle age: she'd hoard her loot and make it last forever).

But candy's not good for you, so all that was probably very, very, wrong. Wasn't it?

In her web wanderings, Crabby also ventured over to the website of the Center for Science in the Public Interest where they posted some creative suggestions for celebrating Halloween without the traditional total candy overload.

And so Crabby took a look at these wholesome sensible suggestions and...

They made her very, very depressed.

Somewhere deep in Crabby's brain she feels that every kid should get to experience a Halloween that's totally stuffed stock full with candy. Not with pumpkin yogurt dip and orange slices and dried apricots.

But sugar in huge quantities is bad for kids!

Then Crabby finally worked out how she feels about this. Here goes:

Halloween is a Holiday! The candy we eat on holidays is part of what makes the holiday special. Halloween candy is not the problem.

The problem is: we're a culture of infants who think every f*cking day of the year is a holiday.

This is a nation of folks who eat sugary cereals or pop-tarts for breakfast; fatty hamburgers and french fries and milkshakes for lunch; ice cream or potato chips for a snack; and then pizza followed by apple pie for dinner. And any time one of these "meals" is late? We fill in with a candy bar.

(And by "we" Crabby means exactly the opposite. "We" doesn't refer to anyone who reads this blog and who buys only occasional treats. It's really "them," isn't it? Those other people out there who are buying all this junky crap that surrounds us in the grocery store and on TV and on billboards and reminds us constantly of all the tempting garbage we might secretly crave but try to resist. If "they" weren't buying all this fat and sugar and packing their SUV's full of it--then maybe we'd be besieged by ads for tofu and lentils and snap peas instead of Snickers bars and hamburgers, and we'd all be healthier and happier).

(Oh wait. Crabby just remembered she has a huge row of cupcakes on top of her blog. Um... Never mind.)

So anyway, part of why Halloween gluttony was so special in Crabby's youth was that access to candy was not as easy and constant as it is now. She wonders: can we please go back to a time when stuffing yourself full of fun sized Milky Way bars and Candy Corn and Sweet Tarts until you wanted to puke was a rare and special privilege?

What do you folks think about the whole Halloween candy issue? (Or feel free to rant about how the whole damn holiday has gone down the crapper--or explain why you think Halloween celebrations are actually more fun than ever now!)

October 30, 2007

What Do You Mean You're Not Surprised?

Well crap. It looks like Crabby is schizophrenic. Or at least heading that way.

A study out of Yale School of Medicine just concluded that "a tendency to extract messages from meaningless noise could be an early sign of schizophrenia."

(Details? Sure, for those who are curious: Participants in the study were folks with early warning signs of psychosis. When they were asked to listen to a tape of virtually incomprehensible voices babbling, eighty percent of them who "heard" phrases of four or more words went on to develop schizophrenia or a related illness during the study period (unless they were on meds). For the others, the conversion rate was only six percent).

So does Crabby hear messages in meaningless noise? Well, um... yeah. She does.

It all started in New York, not that many years ago... (cue violins)

The Crab and Lobster were living in a very noisy apartment in the West Village, and wished to sleep at night. So Crabby went out and bought one of those Sharper Image Sound Soother machines. These machines are supposed to put out "white noise" (static), or other assorted "soothing" sounds, to cover up the other stuff you hear at night. You know: honking car horns, drunken revelers leaving the bars after last call, car alarms, unmuffled Harleys, sirens, occasional muggings, etc.

The first few nights were fine.

Then one night, Crabby noticed that the Lobster must have forgotten to turn off her clock radio, because there was a man with one of those radio-announcer type voices talking and talking away. She could only make out a few words here and there (and wishes now that she could remember what they were, so she can diagnose what kind of schizophrenia she's going to get). But while she couldn't make out entire sentences, she's pretty sure there were times she heard a few phrases. In any event, it was very clear to her that there was a man talking in the room.

But the Lobster reassured her--no, the radio was not on.

So Crabby turned off the Sound Soother. Suddenly: no man talking. Turned it back on: there was radio man, chatting away again.

Crabby became suspicious that the Sharper Image people were dabbling in subliminal messages. Perhaps they were recording them in the background of their Sleep Soother tapes and not telling anyone? (Crabby even googled to see if anyone else had noticed this phenomenon--but she came up empty. Not enough unmedicated schizophrenics on the web, apparently).

Unfortunately Crabby couldn't quite hear well enough to tell what the man was talking about. Were these friendly "now you're getting sleepier" type messages? Or were they sneakier suggestions, like: "wouldn't you really like a massage chair?" Or, "what if your nose hair needs trimming, do you have the proper tools? You must go visit Sharper Image right away."

Crabby, not being entirely stupid, tried hitting different buttons, looking for a "soothing sound" selection with no man's voice in it. There are 20 different choices offered, and sure enough, she found some without radio man!

But some of these had trumpets in the background. Or other instruments. Or children shouting to each other or weird sounds that were not supposed to be there.

And the rest were simply not tolerable. Many of the channels on the Sound Soother feature a most unusual definition of the word "soothing." Soothing, like...train whistles, or bullfrogs croaking or traffic noise or foghorn blasts or a symphony of crickets or thundering heartbeats or birds screeching. All that was missing was the "car alarm" option.

(Also, to whine further: the sound quality of the Sound Soother is pretty horrible and each channel is really just a repeated loop a few seconds long. Crabby didn't like this machine much even before it started talking to her).

In the following years, however, Crabby discovered she couldn't blame the Sound Soother people entirely for her unwelcome Voices and Trumpets and such. She started hearing patterns that turned into recognizable sounds in other white noise too--like fans or air conditioners or even ocean waves.

Even worse, Crabby has also inadvertently trained the Lobster to do the same thing. This comes from years of saying, in the middle of the night: "Hon? Do you hear that? Listen--don't you hear that sound that keeps repeating? Can't you hear that?"

So now the poor Lobster hears things in white noise too, although not exactly the same things the Crab hears. On the plus side, now when Crabby becomes officially schizophrenic, she'll have company when she goes to see the nice doctor to get her meds.

So, Crabby almost hates to ask--has anyone else ever had this problem? Or, rather than risk an awkward silence and a post having zero comments, Crabby will also ask: how do you folks deal with Noise at Night? or How you feel about Sharper Image Gadgets or Getting a Good Nights Sleep or Any Darn Thing at All?

October 29, 2007

Yoga and Wine: Together at Last?

Cranky Fitness has been alerted to a surprising new development: did you know you could combine yoga practice with wine tasting? Crabby sure didn't!

The New York Times was on it many months ago (registration might be required), but Crabby missed the boat and needed a nudge from the helpful vital juice folks, who emailed to let her know about it. Apparently there is not just one venue, but several, that offer both activities together.

On hearing this, Crabby was at first confused. How can you sip wine if you're standing on your head? Or what if you're bent over at the waist, or crouched on all fours, or flat on your back? Crabby is capable of dribbling wine down her front when seated upright at a table in a nice restaurant. How on earth could people do their tastings during yoga class?

But then Crabby realized: Oh. Probably they both don't mean at the exact same time. Probably they mean do the yoga first--then taste the wine.

Got it now! You go on a retreat or to a workshop that features both yoga and wine tasting, but not simultaneously.

Still. Do they belong together?

Crabby has lots of opinions. Problem is, her opinions totally contradict each other. Perhaps she needs to do a sun salutation or pour herself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and meditate further on what it all means. Or, better yet, she may have to ask her Smart Readers what to think.

So please help Crabby sort this out. Here were some of her first impressions:

1. Smart marketing! Lots of people like both wine and yoga, and many of these folks have $$$ to spend on retreats.

2. How crass! Yoga isn't just an exercise, it's part of a spiritual practice. What's next--Yoga retreats combined with tummy tucks? Or with seminars on "How to Profit from Real Estate Foreclosure Sales?"

3. But most people don't do yoga as a religion. They do it for exercise. Why should they have to get all picky about what they combine it with?

4. So what if "most people" only dabble? You shouldn't subvert the deeper nature of the practice by treating it as some consumer product to exploit.

5. "Deeper nature?" What do you know about the "deeper nature" of yoga? You've never even been to a yoga class!

6. Well, I saw a video once. Some nice pony-tailed man with a cute British accent kept talking about his "sit bone." Anyway, it still seems kind of cynical. I bet most real yoga people would object.

7. So they can stay home! Think about it--gentle stretching and mellow people and wine? What's not to like?

8. Hmm. Would there be, like, a really nice restaurant? And a spa with deep tissue massage?

9. Sure!

10. What was the question again?

Please help the bewildered Crab.

Yoga + Wine Tasting. Yes? No? Maybe?

October 27, 2007

Late-Breaking Links

In case busy readers have already finished perusing the Random Friday Linkage, here's a Weekend Update: Still More Cranky-Fitness-Friendly Linkage!

Not that Crabby will ever get around to acknowledging all the great bloggers she's friends with. But these are a few that really should have made it into yesterday's post if Crabby was paying better attention.

First off, Dr. J is now officially on the web at CalorieLab, with an amusing, informative, and smart-assed guest post!

And BunnyGirl had a great submission posted at The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

Also, Gal at 60 In 30 has an interview with a some random health blogger who shows clear signs of mental instability.

So what about the Gratuitous Animal Exercise Linkage? Well, these photos are not really associated with the blog, but they're pretty damn amazing.

October 26, 2007

Random Friday: Home-Grown Edition

(Benny, Frank's charismatic dog, courtesy of The Smitten Image)

While Crabby was on vacation, she missed reading many of her favorite blogs. Since then, she's been trying desperately to catch up. So rather than search the entire internet for Random Friday items, she thought she'd just steal stuff from some of her blog friends! use this opportunity to acknowledge some of the great blogs hosted by friends of Cranky Fitness!

Unfortunately, she can only get to a few--so readers are reminded to click on those cheerful blue hyperlinks in the comment section as often as possible. (And on a related note, Crabby knows the Random Rotating Blogroll needs a major update. Soon, she hopes--or at least, well, someday.)

Anyway, so all the info here is courtesy of various Crab-Friendly blogs. Thanks everyone, for writing Crabby's Random Friday Post for her!

Broccoli Sprouts: Smear Them on Your Face?
Well, not quite yet, but the Broccoli Sprout People (who kindly sent Crabby some Broccoli Tea a while back) are reporting that "a topical application of an extract of broccoli sprouts" can protect skin from the damaging effects of UV rays. More here--this sounds weird but the data actually looks pretty impressive.

Vinegar: Pour it On Your Head!
'Cause it helps fight dandruff. And vinegar can make your coffee taste better, keep your eggs from cracking, and do a bunch of other cool stuff. Mark's Daily Apple has these and other uses for what must be the all-time handiest item in your kitchen cabinets.

Swear at Work: It's Good for Productivity!
Via the always informative Healthbolt: This interesting article claims that Crabby's favorite hobby, swearing, can actually be good for productivity and workplace morale. F*ckin' A! This is great news! However, the authors caution against swearing in front of senior staff members or customers, which unfortunately takes quite a bit of the fun out of it.

Special bonus: Sara over at the Healthbolt post encourages you to go ahead and swear in her comments section. Crabby did it, with no asterisks or anything. It's really fun, try it!

(Another good blog for swearing, of course, is the reliably funny Fitness Fixation. Kelly swears all the time, thank goodness.)

Stop the Dog From Farting?
According to the Bag Lady, (who just started her own blog, hooray!) a tablespoon of plain yogurt mixed into dry dog food can help with this unpleasant but not uncommon problem. (She also has further tips on that Miracle Substance mentioned above, vinegar, and lots of amusing stories).

Ensure Your Own Quadruple Bypass!
Blame Jim at Chew On That, not Crabby, for any catastrophic diet failures that may result from clicking on this link. Jim passes on the secrets to homemade Snickers Bars, Peanut Butter Cups and other familiar but ridiculously evil Halloween treats.

Sprinkle Chili Powder In Your Doorways?
Yes--to repel ants without pesticides! Jennifer from Tree Hugging Family also fights cockroaches with garlic and will tell you how to make the World's Ugliest Fruit Fly Catcher.

On a More Serious Note--Check out These Fine Blogs and Sites:
Not all our contributors are silly all the time like Crabby is. Find out from Reb what chemo is really like, and get information on death and dying and palliative care from Marijke's new website. Also, Soap Box Girl posted a very touching tribute to her mother on what would have been her birthday. Crabby got all teary reading it and you might too.

Now On To The Gratuitous Animal Links!
Otherwise, how would you know this was a Random Friday?

First off, Hilary and Frank both have some great photos (and even a video!) of a Jack Russell Terrier bravely protecting the world from the onslaught of Killer Waves.

And we must thank Chicken Girl for alerting us to all the wonderful lolcat weirdness at icanhascheezburger.

lolcat - nice bwinker jurkface

So, yeah, these cat pictures aren't really "health" or "exercise" related, but, well, work with Crabby on this.

lolcats and funny pictures -

Have a great weekend everyone!

October 25, 2007

Southern California Fires

This is just a brief post to send good wishes out to all those who have suffered losses or fled from their homes as a result of the fires in Southern California.

So no smart-assed remarks for once, or speculation, or second-guessing, or getting up on a soap box and opining about things; just a sincere hope that the last of the flames are extinguished soon; that losses are as minimal as possible; and that recovery is relatively quick and uncomplicated for those affected.

For those who would like to send more than good wishes, here's the Red Cross link to Donate to Fire Victims; no doubt there are other good charitable organizations that could use your support too.

This is an unfortunate reminder that disasters can happen almost anywhere, any time. Have you had that dorky but important safety planning talk with your family yet? Here's one random emergency planning resource to get you started; however, some of the information you may need will be local--like evacuation routes or emergency broadcast stations.

Let's hope the Southern California Cranky Fitness readers are all OK and have safe homes to sleep in tonight!

And if anyone has any good emergency preparedness tips to share, please do. As well as any other thoughts about disasters or harrowing experiences or near misses or kind strangers or good wishes. (As to prayers--Crabby refers you to TK's post on the subject).

As it happens, there will be another Cranky Fitness post later today. This blog does not excel at combining the Serious and Silly, so we won't even try.

UPDATE: (Oops! Crabby just realized there probably WON'T be a second post today; however, tomorrow is Random Friday, so see you then!)

October 24, 2007

Happy Healthy Things

This blog would not be called "Cranky Fitness" if all the things that were good for us were really enjoyable. In fact, this blog wouldn't exist at all, because what would Crabby have to complain about?

She would have to be cheerful every single day, and what an enormous strain that would be. She's just not wired that way.

Aerobic exercise--always fun, isn't it? Lean protein, steamed vegetables, whole grains, legumes--wow, aren't they tasty? Interval training followed by lifting some heavy weights? Sure, that sounds way more fun than sex with a hot celebrity. Expensive French champagne? No thanks, but could you please pass me some more of that delicious wheatgrass juice?

In other words, it's generally assumed here that "healthy" means some degree of unpleasant, while a "treat" is something Decidedly Not Good for You.

But every now and then, accidentally, something healthy ends up being simultaneously wonderful. And almost as rarely, Crabby finds herself in the mood to be appreciative of things rather than all whiny and gripey.

(Once before, for example, she admitted there were vegetables she actually liked).

So here are a few random healthy things Crabby found herself appreciating this last week. But she hereby reserves the right to go back to her normal grumpy self tomorrow.

1. An awesome aerobic walk/run around a favorite reservoir with just the right combination of caffeine and iTunes to make it exhilarating. Massive endorphin rush, hooray!

2. A delicious pasta meal made with semi-whole-grain fettuccine (Barilla Plus), loads of garlic, olive oil, nitrite free turkey sausage, broccolini, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. It was really, really good! (And as regular readers may have guessed, this was indeed the pasta that inspired this post).

3. An affectionate reunion with the Sweetest Cat in the World. (Sweetest Cat had been in the care of a conscientious house-sitter while the Crab and Lobster were in Washington). What's the healthy part? Bonding with animals can apparently lower blood pressure! The Cat seems happy too. She has been purring and drooling and sleeping on the Crab's head every night, which should be annoying, but isn't.

4. A glorious after-dinner walk with the Lobster through the neighborhood. Folks were out; the breeze was warm; everyone was cheerful. (Unfortunately, the same balmy weather that made the walk feel like "vacation" fueled the terrible fire situation down in Southern California. Perhaps a subject for a later, less cheerful, post).

5. A perfect cup of tea with the last few chapters of well-written novel (by Margaret Drabble, a long-time favorite author).

6. Dark chocolate covered almonds (until Crabby lost control and they had to be banned. Well, they were gone anyway so the 'banning' was sort of gratuitous).

7. A crisp, sweet (organic) apple from the farmer's market paired with some Fancy Pants smoked cheddar cheese and whole wheat crackers.

8. And a glass of Two Buck Chuck Merlot to go with it. (Crabby is not a Wine Snob). Mmmm, tasty anti-oxidants and resveratrol!

9. Wonderful restorative nights of sleep in our own bed, with our own cat, on our own firm mattress, after several months of exciting out-of-town adventures.

10. Fresh brewed coffee in the morning and a blog full of clever and entertaining comments to check in on while drinking it!

So, has anyone else found themselves accidentally enjoying something healthy this week?

October 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: Handy Guide to Medicine

For those of you who have never watched the popular medical show Grey's Anatomy, you are missing out on an incredible educational resource!

Crabby remembers when the show first came out, they made a big deal about employing expert advisers to make sure that everything they portrayed was realistic, or at least somewhat within the realm of possibility.

Good to know! Because Crabby sometimes watches the show in order increase her knowledge of all things medical so she can pass it on to you.

OK, so that's a lie. Really she watches Grey's Anatomy for the sometimes witty banter and to see who's sleeping with whom. (Sleazy aside: who even cares anymore about boring old George & Izzy, or Meredith and McDreamy? Crabby thinks it's time they scrambled the bedroom pairings a bit. Let's try Meredith with Christina; McDreamy & Callie; Miranda & Richard, and maybe Karev & McSteamy in a Gratuitous Shower Scene). (And for those who don't watch--no, that wasn't a typo. McDreamy and McSteamy are two entirely different doctors).

But as long as she's absorbing so much medical information during her weekly visits to Seattle Grace, Crabby thought she'd include some here, since Cranky Fitness is a serious blog about Health. So here we go, some Important Medical Info courtesy of Grey's Anatomy!

1. Hiccups can easily be fatal. Especially if contracted by a person who is nice but has hung around for a suspiciously long time considering she doesn't look like a conventional television star.

2. But falling into the frigid ocean and remaining submerged there without the ability to breathe for like, almost an entire hour, is not generally a very serious medical problem. There are of course some unpleasant side effects: you could contract nearly irreversible Relationship Tension with your brooding lover. But other than that, expect full recovery.

3. When a patient comes in needing treatment, it's important to pick the right doctor to help them. In a hospital filled with trained medical professionals, how do you choose? Simple! You pick the doctor who is the most emotionally involved with the patient. Doctors make the best decisions when they are treating their own children, parents, lovers, ex-wives, nieces, and romantic rivals. Fortunately, during any given shift, at least one out of every four doctors will experience a close friend or relative arriving at the hospital emergency room near death, so such emotionally intense doctor-patient relationships are easy to come by. If a doctor is stuck treating a stranger? No problem! An intense relationship, often romantic but sometimes hostile and volatile, will soon develop between them.

4. If you are an inexperienced intern, don't worry about boring "scut" work. There's only a little of that you'll have to do. Mostly you will be seeing--and treating--bizarre and rare conditions straight out of the most obscure medical journals. Think you'll never see a "one in a billion" case in your career? Think again! These will be daily occurrences.

5. Alzheimer's can completely disappear! Not just for a lucid moment or two, but for days and days at a time, allowing complicated emotional dramas to play out with a completely high-functioning, fully cognizant patient. Then, at the most ironic moment of course, the disease will reappear again.

6. Most major hospitals are staffed by only five or six doctors and an equal number of interns. Aren't they amazing? The nursing staff numbers are harder to tell--because apparently nurses don't generally have names or personalities. Nor does anything interesting ever happen to them, unless they are lucky enough to sleep with one of the doctors and cause Romantic Complications.

7. Hospital staffing rules are apparently quite strict: no one is permitted to work in a hospital who is much over 40 (unless they are a Cranky Administrator or an Inexperienced Guest Intern Played for Laughs); nor is anyone allowed to be gay. But quirky and often annoying gay people can come to the hospital as patients! This enables the heterosexual doctors to demonstrate how Cool and Tolerant they can be.

8. Hospital work is dangerous! Not only do bombs go off, plagues spread and patients become violent, but at least once a year, three out of every four doctors will face a career-altering or life-threatening medical condition themselves.

So Crabby could go on and on... but she'll spare you. She used to like this show. She found the more "female" point of view refreshing; the doctors were irreverent and frisky; and the show seemed to have some smart writers who had a deft hand with humorous dialog.

But this was before they decided that the realistic life and death drama of a big city hospital wasn't exciting enough. Apparently you need to have Spectacular, Incredibly Unlikely, Ironic, and Ridiculous things happen every few minutes in order to retain viewer interest.

Now, alas, Crabby can barely stand to watch it.

Does anyone else tune into this show or other medical shows? Any of 'em good? Any particular pet peeves about the ones you watch?

October 22, 2007

When do You Buy Organic?

Do you buy organic every time you shop for produce?

Some people do, and that's awesome. But Crabby tends to be a bit hit or miss about it. It's easier when she's at the Farmer's Market, buying local organic produce that was picked that day and looks and smells fresh and lovely. (Or even the farmer's market stuff that's not officially certified organic but is nonetheless grown without pesticides. Crabby doesn't think her kindly neighborhood vendors are lying to her about that).

Buying organic, however, can be tougher at the Big Chain Grocery stores. Sometimes the offerings are limited. Often what they do have is very expensive and old and wilty and scraggly because so few shoppers frequent that section. It's always tempting to stick with the big bright pyramids of perky-looking and attractively priced fruit and vegetables in the regular section, bypassing entirely the sad little clumps of pricey organic fare off in the corner.

But who wants to eat pesticides?

Crabby really doesn't. Even if sometimes she manages to "forget" that the regular produce she's throwing in her cart could be contaminated with all kinds of evil chemicals that no amount of scrubbing will remove.

Help is here, however! If you can't buy organic all the time, there's a handy guide available that rates the best and worst produce in terms of pesticide content. You can apparently reduce your pesticide exposure by about 90% by going organic on the 12 worst items.

And here's an additional important tip: Print that sucker out and put it on your refrigerator! Seriously. Crabby has seen these sorts of lists before and always thinks she will remember which foods are really bad, but when she gets to the store she never does. Take that info from your fridge when you're making a shopping list and put a little "O" by the high priority organic stuff--because that's where you want to spend your organic budget.

Who knows, perhaps if we all stop buying non-organic versions of the Worst Offenders, produce suppliers and supermarkets will get the message and offer more and cheaper organic produce!

(OK, Crabby won't hold her breath on that one. The readership of Cranky Fitness is not that big. It will be quite a while before we can influence the selections on offer at your favorite grocery store. But hell, we're working' on it.)

So, enough with the yapping, lets bring on the list!

Note: a much more attractive, suitable-for-refrigerator-display PDF file is available for free from the Environmental Working Group; also they have a way bigger compilation of pesticide data at their site too. But in the meantime...

Pesticide-Laden Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid:
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

The "Good" (Less Contaminated) Produce:
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn - Frozen
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Sweet Peas - Frozen
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant

So how often do you folks buy organic produce?

October 19, 2007

For Moms (And Those Who Love Them)

Many of you have no doubt already seen this, but the funny video below was new for Crabby and it made her giggle.

(This is sort of an apology for not getting a Random Friday post together. Next week we should be back with the usual silliness).

On retry, after attempting to put the YouTube video in directly and having it mess up midway through, Crabby will refer you to this handy link instead. Let her know if that craps out halfway through too.

Why is Cranky Fitness the only blog in the world that can't seem to post YouTube videos? Sigh. Crabby will try not to take it personally. Anyway, check it out if you haven't already.

And have a great weekend!

October 18, 2007

Pole Dancing for Girls: WTF?

So Diet Blog (and probably lots of other fine blogs too) ran a fascinating report recently on a new phenomenon: girls as young as seven taking "pole dancing" classes. (The photo, however, is presumably not of a seven year old unless she is Very Mature for Her Age; it was borrowed from the Pole Dance page of the always informative Wikipedia).

For those who don't watch much TV or frequent strip clubs: pole dancing is what erotic dancers do so they don't have to just walk up on stage, take off their clothes, and stand there naked. In strip clubs, the moves are often quite suggestive--and why wouldn't they be? Men don't go to a strip clubs to sip tea and listen to classical music and discuss existentialism. They go to... appreciate cleverly choreographed dance routines executed by women who happen to be naked.

Now, however, pole dancing has apparently gained popularity among women who are not erotic dancers. Classes are being offered in some of the more adventurous health clubs around the world because lots of female lawyers and cashiers and housewives don't get objectified enough in their daily lives so they secretly yearn to be strippers gymnastic routines performed on a vertical pole can be a great way to build core strength and flexibility.

However, it's not just adult women who are taking these classes; young girls want to join in the fun too.

First off, Crabby feels a bit sleazy herself even writing a post about this--is Pre-Teen Pole Dancing really a "trend" we need to worry about? The story comes all the way from Australia, and there is no evidence that Crunch or Gold's Gym or Curves is out there aggressively leafleting elementary school playgrounds trying to scare up future strippers. Crabby's guess is that a few girls Down Under went to a class or two and a clever reporter sensed the Outrage Potential and ran with it.

But, well, it worked. Crabby saw the headline and felt duly outraged.

Seven year old girls should not be going to classes to learn how to become sexy pretend-strippers.

Even if they're not doing the "adult" moves. Even if the instructors claim that the girls have no way of knowing that "pole dancing" has any other context besides being a wholesome athletic after-school activity.

If they don't know now, they will know soon. How will a little girl who chose Pole Dancing Class instead of Tap Dancing Class feel about her choice in a few years when she finds out what Pole Dancing is really about? Pleased? Embarassed? Neither scenario seems quite desirable. Either she know and its Icky or she doesn't and it's Unfair.

There are a bazillion other athletic activities young girls can engage in to get fit. To send your child to "pole dancing class" and think you can magically erase the context in which this kind of "dancing" came about? This attitude seems naive.

Crabby could go on a whole rant about the sexual objectification of young girls in our culture. (Or of grown women, for that matter. Crabby is still decades behind the times and is uncool enough to wonder where the hell feminism went).

But she'll restrain herself and we'll just stick to Junior Pole Dancing for now.

One of the most interesting things about the Diet Blog post was reading the comments. Crabby thought for sure everyone would agree that this was a Bad Thing, but there were plenty of intelligent comments from those who took a different point of view! They didn't change Crabby's mind, but it made her wonder if she's just being Reflexively Cranky about the issue.

So what do you folks think? Would you send your daughter (or son, for that matter) to Pole Dancing class?

October 17, 2007

Garlic: Stinky but Stupendous

Garlic is already known as a potent cancer-fighter, but apparently it's also great for lowering blood pressure and relaxing the arteries. At least that's according to this garlic study just out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The scientists say it all has something to do with hydrogen sulfide interacting with red blood cells and relaxing your arteries--or well, at least that seems to be the case if you're a rat. But, as the article points out, hydrogen sulfide is "is a toxic, flammable gas responsible for the smell of rotten eggs."

Thus the problem. (Not the toxic flammable part--Crabby isn't worried about consuming so much garlic she bursts into toxic flames). She means the smell.

Does anyone else deal with the following household dilemma? Suggestions would be most welcome.

The Crab loves the taste of garlic, and is a Big Fan of eating tasty healthy foods no matter how offensively odoriferous they may be. Garlic is just one example; this same issue comes up with regard to broccolini, cabbage, and seafood. To the Crab, these food odors are (a) not that bad and (b) worth it for the pleasure of enjoying the smelly food items and for all the bonus health benefits that come with them.

However, the Lobster is not as big a fan of garlic, or of seafood or cruciferous vegetables. She can handle a little bit of garlic in spaghetti, but nowhere near as much as the Crab would enjoy. She can do without smelly fishy things and could happily abstain from eating cooked cabbage or broccoli or its cousins for the rest of her life.

Compromise and occasional Separate Dinner Menus are needed for the Crab to get the garlic/seafood/broccolini she craves. But even then there remains a problem: the house stinks to high heaven when she cooks these foods.

(And as an aside--why do the cooking odors seek out the master bedroom, which is far far away from the kitchen, to linger for another day or two? What's with that? Even Crabby is not entirely happy to smell two-day old garlic in the bedroom).

So the Crab cooks these foods far less frequently than she would enjoy them, but still much more frequently than the Lobster cares to breathe seafood/broccolini/garlic fumes.

Alas, opened windows (no matter what the temperature); air fresheners; fans; all these help a little but none has been able to eliminate the problem.

Does anyone else grapple with this? Is there a Secret Miracle Cure for nasty/healthy cooking odors? Does everyone in your household have the same tolerance for food odors?

Six Month Plateau: It Ain't Just You

So a research review just came out that took a big bunch of previous weight loss studies (80 of 'em), threw them all together, and tried to figure out what worked to help people lose weight.

Quick answer: cutting calories.

Shocking, isn't it? But, wait, there's more.

Well, not that much more. The article appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, but you have to pay for it. Alas, Cranky Fitness has no budget for Scholarly Journal Subscriptions, nor does this blog have the dedication necessary to get off its ass and head to a University Library to retrieve further details. So let's just talk about the stuff they mention in the handy Reuter's summary and call it a day, shall we?

Anyway, the study found some things that seemed to make sense. Like:
  • Most people lost around 11 to 19 pounds over four years, but typically, participants gained a little bit of weight back over time.
  • Diet-focused approaches were most successful. Advice-only and exercise-only studies produced "minimal" weight loss.
  • Weight-loss medication seemed to help "somewhat" in keeping weight off over the longer-term.

But the study (or at least the summary) seemed to suggest that calorie cutting worked whether or not the subjects did any exercise. At least this was the wording: "Approaches that focused on trimming calories -- with or without exercise -- were most effective at keeping the pounds off over four years."

Huh? This makes no sense! How could the exercisers not do better than those who weren't exercising?

So screw science. Crabby doesn't like this part of the result so she'll just ignore it. Perhaps the people in the diet + exercise groups were lying about doing the exercise part. Not having the details from the actual study to refer to, Crabby is free to just make sh*t up.

But aside from the suspicious bit about calorie cutting by itself doing the job, there was another interesting thing they found. Check this out:

"In trials that used calorie-cutting alone and in those that added exercise, weight loss typically hit a plateau after six months. After that, participants gained a few pounds back, on average."

The researchers went on to suggest that "after six months, people should be prepared for their weight loss to taper off. Then the goal should be maintaining whatever success has been achieved."

Now many of you folks out there have managed to keep losing well past the first six months and 10-20 pounds. Hooray for you--you're exceptional! But for others of you who are finding yourself "stuck" after six months, losing the same five or ten pounds over and over--well, it turns out there's nothing wrong with you. Your results are quite typical.

Is this fact acknowledged very often? Let's repeat:

It's completly normal to get stuck and "plateau" after six months. It's really hard to lose additional weight after that.

Is this discouraging news? Or is it helpful to hear? Are any of you stuck? Or do you have any inspiring stories of how you got stuck once but broke through it?

All comments most welcome!

October 16, 2007

Belated Review: Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars

“Free Food! Yeeeehaw! Sign me up!”

This may not be an actual quote, as Crabby doesn’t use the word Yeehaw all that often. She could have said “Yay!” or “Hooray!” or “Holy Crap!” But whatever the exclamation, it was uttered because Crabby was VERY EXCITED to find out several weeks ago that General Mills was willing to send her stuff to eat for free.

And the Nice Crunch Bar people sent the package as promised! Two whole boxes (one Peanut, one Almond) of said crunch bars; a press kit; and a Special Bonus Gift--a hideous burlap tote bag! Really, the poor tote bag is the ugliest thing you can imagine, you can only feel sorry for it.

However, Free Product Sending People, please do not be angry at Crabby's callous treatment of your homely tote bag. Crabby loves Free Stuff and wants you to keep sending more! And particularly products that claim to be (a) healthy and (b) tasty.

Caveat: Cranky Fitness can not, however, accept and keep things that cost more than $40 in exchange for a review. (Or at least not while those nifty BlogHer ads are running in her sidebar. She signed a contract promising not to!) Also, Crabby will always disclose when something she reviews was given to her fer nothin'.

This will give readers the chance to ask themselves: can you trust the Crab? Would she suck up to a manufacturer simply to get more free stuff in the future? (Well, actually, she might! Maybe for a free week at a luxury spa or something. But not for a few freakin' snack bars).

And by the way, Crabby also apologizes to the Free Stuff People and her readers for the tardiness of this review. By now, Back in Skinny Jeans (and probably lots of other blogs too) have already reviewed these Nut Crunch Bar Thingies and Crabby is way late to the party. But she's here now, so lets get to it!

So how do the Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars Taste?

Actually, they're pretty damn good.

Really--they're way more yummy than Crabby thought they'd be. They're sweet and salty and crunchy and taste pretty much like a real candy bar that you'd buy on purpose, not like an Energy Bar or Granola Bar or some other Compromise Food. Crabby's main taste objection: slightly more salty than necessary.

As it happened, Crabby's family was visiting when the package arrived, and Four out of Five Crab tasters said the same thing: Mmmm! One out of Five said: Eh. Not too bad. As for Lobsters: both Lobster and Lobster Mom said: Yumm! So it's not just the Crab who thinks they're tasty.

Almond was the flavor of choice amongst Crabs (and the Lobster) but the Peanut Bars weren't bad either. (By the time the bars got to Lobster Mom, there was only Peanut left).

What else is Good about these bars?

They're mostly nuts and don't have a lot of other ingredients. The nuts give them 7 grams of protein. And they're pretty cheap: a package of six retails for less than $3.50.

And like all Snack Bars, they're convenient. Toss one in your purse or backpack and you've got a semi-healthy treat that could keep you from making a far more disastrous snack choice instead--let's say hunger hits unexpectedly in front of a Ben and Jerry's or Pizza Hut or something. Stuff the bar in your mouth and Run Away!

What's Not So Good about them?

Among the handful of other ingredients: sugar and corn syrup. That's why they're tasty. And they're not whole food, like an apple. But you knew that--snack bars don't count as "real" food.

Also, they're about 200 calories (depending on flavor) and they're not all that big. This is a fairly high calorie budget for a treat that feels small. There are other smallish bars out there that are closer to 100 calories. But to be fair, they don't taste nearly as good as this one. Also, there are plenty of energy bars that are way more than 200 calories that taste like vitamin-and-protein-fortified, sugar-sweetened grout.

One could theoretically eat half of one of these Nut Crunch Bars for a tasty 100 calorie treat--but Crabby, despite several attempts, was unable to stop with "just a couple bites." They're too small and too yummy for that. Open the package--face it, the bar is gone.

So does anyone here even eat energy/snack bars? Have any favorites, or loathe the whole concept? What do you look for in a snack?

(And an unrelated P.S.--Crabby urges you, if you're the sort who doesn't mind surveys, to take the BlogHer survey in the sidebar. Crabby hasn't done it yet herself, but will soon. She hopes it's not too annoying! Anyway, she'd love to make Cranky Fitness look more popular than it actually is by having thousands and thousands more than two people click on the link!)


Apparently, the awesome Weetabix at Elastic Waist likes these crunch bars too! For some reason, this makes Crabby very happy.

October 15, 2007

The Crab Has Landed!

Vacation is over, and soon Cranky Fitness will go back to normal. (Not normal in the normal sense of normal; just "normal" for Cranky Fitness). There will be posts having at least something to do with health and fitness, and Crabby will stop making her readers write all of them.

But not quite yet.

Tomorrow there will be a product review or a bit of health news or more advice you don't need, but today, sorry--it's just an end-of-vacation ramble. Crabby is in Transition, and as a Crab who is easily overwhelmed, she does not tend to "hit the ground running." She hits the ground with a plop. It takes her no small amount of time to hoist herself up, get pointed in the right direction, and start putting one foot in front of the other again.

And yes, Crabby realizes that Cranky Fitness really should be posting about the Environment today because it's some sort of Coordinated Blog Thing.

But she doesn't have anything sensible to say that you all don't already know. Cranky Fitness readers tend to be green or at least greenish; you folks are eco-runners and composters and recyclers and animal rescuers and are often far better informed than Crabby is on the nuances of conservation. It would be silly of Crabby to attempt any lectures on that front.

And actually, it's interesting to watch the whole "lets stop trashing the earth and really think about the environment" movement get trendy again. Everyone's becoming fluent in Greenspeak, even the worst of the polluters and politicians. Is serious change going to happen before it's too late? Lets hope so. There seems to be some real momentum going lately and it's very encouraging.

Yet Crabby lived through the Seventies and this all has a familiar ring. When smart choices start costing big money and result in actual taxes that people have to cough up themselves; when the pop culture moves onto the next Big Thing and "green" starts sounding so "last year"; when fossil fuels start costing us what they actually cost the earth to use them, will we all happily pay up because it's the right thing to do? We'll see. Crabby remains skeptical, but is quite willing to be delightfully surprised if folks are actually serious this time.


So Crabby is way behind in her blog duties and may need a few days to catch up. There are emails to answer, dear blog friends to visit, and wonderful new visitors to get to know better. There are posts to write here and guest posts to write for other places. (Also, and this may be TMI: there is a pile of funky smelling laundry that won't just wash itself, real estate documents to contend with, and empty cupboards to stock with yummy cupcakes and cookies healthy whole grain foods).

It's also possible that even when she's back for real, Crabby may not be able to go back to the old policy of responding to every comment left on the blog. Which sucks! How do other bloggers manage to answer some but not others? It seems so arbitrary and Crabby knows she will feel guilty about it. She hopes that people who leave great comments will continue to do so even if sometimes those comments just sit there, being admired and enjoyed but not acknowledged. Comment fall-off is bound to happen, which is horrible to contemplate. Crabby will miss those of you who bail very much. But she can't blame readers for seeking other blogs with more dedicated and efficient hosts.

Gosh, this is indeed a rambly post! But one last thing: On this Six Month Anniversary of Cranky Fitness, Crabby can not thank her readers, commenters and guest posters enough. And thanks too to all the nice blogs that have linked to her. Your collective patience during the Crab's long weeks of vacation was so very much appreciated!

Cranky Fitness readers truly rock.

Thanks everyone, it's great to be back!

October 12, 2007

Guest Post: Sara G. On Yoga

Today's Guest Post is brought to you by Sara Grace, who has a very cool blog called The Flying Trapeze. You should definitely check it out! Cranky Fitness is of the opinion that Yoga is a Good Thing, and Guest Posts are a Good Thing, so this works out well.

(Note: That is not Sara in the photo. Crabby does not mean to cause any confusion by swiping a stock image of a yoga pose.)

And now, here's Sara!

Light on Yoga: Five Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss

If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd be sitting here today, basking in Los Angeles sunlight, writing a blog about the virtues of yoga, I would have laughed my size-14 pants off. Yoga was for stick-thin, pretzel-bending new-age idiots who might try to read my aura if I got too close. (And while I'm at it, LA was for blondes with boob jobs, and blogs…did they even exist?)

And yet, yoga has become the single most important factor in the healthy life I live today – 40 pounds lighter, still not thin but a whole lot happier with myself. Yoga not only helped me get fit, but gave me reasons to love my body whatever size my pants were.

I encourage everyone to give yoga a try – a real try, meaning several months of classes with a real, live teacher. Or several teachers; finding the right one – in my case, one who didn't wax prolific about chakras – makes all the difference.

In case you're still skeptical, I offer some incentive: A list of five ways in which yoga will help you along your weight-loss journey.

Five Benefits of Yoga for Weight Loss

1. Yoga increases lean body mass. It builds and tones your muscles. More lean body mass means higher resting metabolism. In other words, you can eat more without gaining weight.

2. A secondary benefit of sculpting your muscles: As you see your yoga practice improving, your body toning up and becoming beautiful before your very eyes, it's hard not to marvel – and want to feed it healthy, wholesome food to allow it to function at its best.

3. Yoga has been shown in studies to reduce stress and increase beta-endorphins, one of your brain's built-in happy drugs. Besides being pretty unpleasant in itself, stress and/or depression often lead to cravings and binging. Stress has also been shown to promote belly fat storage due to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol.

4. The exercises and breathing in yoga are intended to focus the practitioner on the moment—not the past, not the future, just the sensations the body is experiencing in that moment. This mindfulness helps a yogini practice intuitive eating – that is, paying attention to hunger and eating appropriately in the moment. What you'll eat tomorrow ("when you're on your diet") stops becoming an excuse to overeat today.

5. During a class, you are your body; the Cartesian Divide slips away. Having that experience regularly makes it much harder to fall for our mind's typical rationalizations for shoveling in the junk: I've had a hard day. I'm already fat anyway. I'll work it off at the gym. With the regular practice of yoga, all those thoughts just start to sound like chatter. You learn to sit still, take a deep breath, and let them float on by.

October 11, 2007

Random Crab Facts, Part Three: Occupations

The Usual Explanatory Note: If you have just wandered into Cranky Fitness for the first time, don't be alarmed! Here's the deal: Crabby McSlacker, who normally runs a Health Blog, is on vacation. But since she couldn't bring herself to close up shop entirely, she's been posting anyway: doling out Guest Posts and filling in with random facts from her mostly uneventful life. Cranky Fitness is normally boring in a completely different way quite a bit more informative and entertaining than this. Crabby suggests you check in again after October 15th to see if things improve.

So anyway, occupations.

Like many people who have reached middle age (or Medium Age, as one clever reader suggested) Crabby has had a number of jobs and even more than one professional career. She won't go through the whole list. But she did have an interesting job before she started pursuing her delusional dream of making it as a writer, and who knows, perhaps some day she will go back to this job. She has put her professional license on ice--it's Inactive. But she could theoretically reinstate it by doing a bunch of Continuing Education and promising to stop living in other states besides California.

Crabby used to be a shrink. A counselor. A psychotherapist. (Technically, she was licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, but she mostly worked with individuals. She's always hated to listen to people squabble even when it was her job to do just that).

Weird, huh?

Isn't it hard to picture the Crab as that woman with the furrowed brow and the concerned gaze and the ready supply of Kleenex? Especially since Crabby probably doesn't sound much like a therapist. It's been a few years since she was last in private practice and she's either forgotten or avoids using most of the Appropriate Professional Jargon when discussing psychological issues. Also, she's fond of giving Incredibly Inappropriate Advice, sometimes in jest and sometimes not. She says all kinds of silly things on the blog that she would never say to a client. (In fact, this is a major reason she avoids having her full legal name associated with Cranky Fitness. Suppose she goes back into private practice someday and a client Googles her? Yikes!)

Crabby still really misses seeing clients sometimes. She worked with some amazing people. Therapists bond with clients just like clients bond with therapists--even if therapists need to act all professional about it. However, Crabby doesn't miss feeling tied down to a particular schedule or geographical location.

Originally she was going to share some thoughts today about psychotherapy and how much of it is helpful and how much of it is hooey. Then she thought she might say something instead about abandoned careers and professional identity and the struggles that come with making transitions.

But then Crabby realized she's still on vacation! So screw it. There's plenty of time for all that some other day.

Instead, she'll just leave it hanging out there as another random Crab fact.

Also it's a good time for a disclaimer: CRABBY IS NOT CURRENTLY LICENSED AS A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. SHE IS NOT ACTING AS ANYBODY'S THERAPIST. If she ever spouts off and gives any psychological advice on the blog: You are Hereby Advised to Ignore It.

So anyone have an interesting job you don't do anymore? Or have an interesting job that you still have and love? Never had an interesting job in your life and wish you did? Please feel free to share! Even on vacation Crabby reads every comment quite greedily.

October 10, 2007

Guest Post: Dr. J on Sculpting Memories

Those of you who have enjoyed "Dr. J's" witty and sometimes wise-assed remarks in our Comments section may not have realized that he's got quite the sensitive side too! Here's another non-blogger who has ventured to write a Guest Post and done a great job of it. If Crabby can keep getting her readers to write her posts for her, she may never come back! (Just kidding. She's totally addicted to the blog and will be rarin' to come back just as soon as she's settled back home. Lucky you!)

In the meantime, here's some sage advice from Dr. J.:

Sculpting Memories

With the release of the movie “The Aviator” several years ago, I started thinking about the life of Howard Hughes. I believe many people, when they hear the name Howard Hughes, think of some germ-a-phobic nightmare of a man, anorexic with stringy hair and out of control nails.

But Howard Hughes had an incredible life. For much of it he lived as most of us can only fantasize. He knew all the most famous people of his day, dated the most sought after woman, and had more money than most countries! He was able to explore his dreams and desires without apparent limit. With his aging, however, life became difficult for him and he succumbed to the struggles that challenged him. I think many of us have or had people in our lives who because of various reasons, are not seen at their best in our memories. Perhaps, for many of us, seeing these important persons in a kinder light will be of beneficial. A gift to one’s self, perhaps!

It seems to me that with the ‘in the moment’ way life is experienced, it’s all too easy to see people as what they end up as rather than what they were. Life can be very challenging and many people don’t bear up well to the passage of time. Because of a personal experience I feel I have found a tool which can help one to reconnect with the loved one of your past rather that the unloved one of your present.

As my grandfather got older he became more and more estranged from the family. At one point we didn’t talk for almost 15 years. When I heard he was living in the same state as me I decided to contract and visit him. Let’s just say the visit did not go as I had expected. He had years of anger built up and used me to show it. I had been under the assumption that he didn’t want to do anything with the family, but now I understand that that was because of his daughter’s anger with his divorcing her mother. I never saw my grandfather again after this and didn’t have a very good opinion of him. I remember him telling me how hurt and angry he was that I didn’t contact him before. Of course the fact that I was contacting him now didn’t seem to mean much. I said to him, “Where is it written that the grandson has to contact the grandfather and not the other way around?” I had been under the impression that he wasn’t interested in me and I felt that I was reaching out to him. Pride can be a dangerous and foolish choice.

Some years later I had renewed my childhood interest in art and decided to do a bust of my grandfather as a gift to my mother. I collected all the photos of him I could find and began the project. To my surprise, as I worked with the clay and created my grandfather’s image, I found myself reconnecting with the grandfather I had known as a child and young man. Not the angry older man, but the kind, giving person I had known, but had forgotten over the years. I was able to remember the younger man.

I think art can be a useful tool to process, renew and explore feelings. As a sculptor, I used clay.. If one has artistic talents and desires, any medium would work. Otherwise, collage or a photo collage may serve as well. Use old magazines to find memories in pictures. Or perhaps, words from the pages will appear as appropriate to the person. Personally, it feels so much better to remember my grandfather at his best, rather than the person life challenged. I think it’s unfortunate the way one can tend to forget much of a person’s life and focus on the most recent experiences, which with aging can be unpleasant.

October 09, 2007

Home Stretch

So Crabby's vacation is winding down and she's reached the last few days of Blogging Slackitude. She will soon be back home running a real Health Blog again. However, as she hits the home stretch she finds that she's having trouble managing even these not-quite-real posts she uses as filler between guest posts.

Today, for example, she thought she might talk about some some recent health news: a new study says being in a bad marriage or having other stressful personal relationships can lead to heart problems and other health issues. No big surprise--but still, this is a great topic because Crabby has lots of opinions about relationships! She would love to host a discussion about how not to screw them up. However, a topic like that is too important for a crank-it-out-quick, gosh we've-got-a-long-drive-today post. It should be thoughtful, or amusing, or at the very least coherent, and today there's no time for that.

So, for now: have a nice relationship; it's good for your health! At some later date, we can all talk about how the hell you're supposed to do that. And stay tuned, because as promised, we still have more guest posts to come. By current estimates, Cranky Fitness will resume its official health reporting duties on either October 15th or 16th.

Until then, will there be some days when nothing at all is posted at Cranky Fitness? Well, possibly. Will there be any more Random Crab Facts? Maybe! But maybe not. Since Crabby is not all that interesting a crab, she may hoard some of her very few personal details until her next vacation. Or she may suddenly decide to spill a bunch of them, you never know.

Actually, for those still here and reading, if you'd like to discover an additional Crab Fact, pop down into the Comments. Crabby will explain down there why the title of this post has a Secret Double Meaning!

Thanks again for your patience everyone, and a belated Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Crabby can't believe she didn't know what day it was. Actually--she can totally believe it.

October 08, 2007

Guest Post: Jeffrey on Grocery Store Strategies

Our next Guest Blogger, Jeffrey Rice, is a personal trainer and the owner of Rice Home Fitness in Kansas City. He has a great blog with lots of useful training advice--advice which, in Crabby's case, might have prevented her from a painful shoulder injury. (She discovered she was doing one of her gym exercises wrong!) So be sure to check it out. In this post, however, you don't even need to get sweaty, as Jefferey is taking us on a visit to the grocery store--another place where mistakes can be costly!

Grocery Store Strategy

What you have in your house will determine a large portion of what you eat. Makes sense, right? So you need to shop smart. I eat a ton of food, so I need to shop smart for my health and my bank account. Don't grab just anything shiny like a chimp run amok with a shopping cart. We have grocery chimps for that. So let's discuss strategy:

1. Eat first
You know this is important. If you go into the grocery store hungry, you will get more than you need. Come on.

2. Make a menu
For whatever your shopping period is, make a menu. If you shop a week at a time, make a menu for a week. Choose a day that you can get to the store consistently and always make a menu of meals up to that day. Write down all the basic ingredients. Example

Spaghetti & Eggplant
Spaghetti noodles
Ground Turkey
Spaghetti Sauce

Make sure you have some like the above example: really easy. Don't get overambitious. That's just another pizza delivery waiting to happen when you get home too tired to stir a roux for half an hour.

3. Make a shopping list from your menu
Now go down your menu, and in the order that items appear in the store (I know that sounds obsessive, but it keeps you from running back and forth, and keeps your head in your list instead of figuring things out), add them to a shopping list and check them off your menu.

4. Add non-menu items to your list
Remember, the goal is to not browse the shelves looking for what you “need.” You will invariably come home with deals so good you couldn't pass them up, except you could have if you hadn't known about them. So add everything else to the list at this point, including things like paper towels and tin foil.

Put some back-up meals on there. You might have a dinner guest you didn't plan for, and now you don't have enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I keep a stock of cans of low-fat chunky soup. This eliminates another reason to go get fast food. It's healthier (I know, sodium) and much cheaper.

Everything falls apart if you skip this last step. Go through the grocery store with blinders on, looking only at your exhaustive list, trusting it, walking to each item with the precision and single-minded focus of a laser-guided laser. If you do this, you know you'll have what you need for every meal of the week and little more.

Advantages of this system
-You'll have fewer excuses to eat out and you'll be healthier for it.
-You'll save money by cooking at home.
-You'll save money and waste less by not letting food go bad.
-You'll save time wandering around the store, or going back because you didn't know what you were going to cook while you were shopping, and now that you do, you realize you need some eggs.

Happy Holiday

For those of you who are off work for Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples Day, for those in Very Progressive Communities) have a great time! Sleep in or go for a walk or go somewhere quiet to contemplate the multifaceted ramifications of imperialism. Or hit the shopping malls, whatever. (And for those who didn't get the day off at all, sorry. Perhaps you can take your own passive-aggressive holiday and spend it looking busy while surfing the internet for funny cat pictures).

Shortly there will be a Guest Post up at Cranky Fitness, but in the meantime Crabby just thought she'd say hello. Hello! She misses you all. She's heading into the final days of her vacation and will be back soon. In the meantime there are additional guest posts and perhaps some more Random Crab Facts to come.

While she was out enjoying the gorgeous scenery, fine restaurants, and other amusements of Provincetown, MA, Crabby missed a couple of things in Blogland she wanted to tell you about. For one, apparently a Guest Post of her own come up at Diet Blog. If you use Stevia in your coffee or tea, you might want to check it out. Also, a very nice Nursing Education site put out a list of 100 health blogs they liked, and Cranky Fitness was on it! Probably other things happened too, but Crabby has been doing nothing blog-related but reading her comments and giggling at them and feeling all appreciative. She hasn't even been answering email or checking up on all her favorite blogs. So when she gets back, she's going to have a lot of catching up to do!

Most of all, Crabby just wanted to stop by to thank you all SO MUCH for hanging in there during this semi-vacation. She can't promise to come back completely well-rested (she has been finding other non-blog things to obsess over) or particularly witty or informative or amusing, but she does at least promise to come back!

October 05, 2007

Random Crab Facts, Part Two: Places

Regular readers are already aware that Crabby is away on vacation, and is doing half-assed posts about nothing in particular until she gets back. Thank goodness for guest posts! Normally Crabby at least pretends to write a health blog, and she promises someday soon she will be pretending to do that again.

But today it's more random Crab Facts! This works well for vacation time, because it doesn't require Crabby to do any research other than rummage around her own musty dusty brain. She can do that while sipping chardonnay and sampling dark chocolate and enjoying an unusually balmy fall evening on the patio outside a lovely hotel room.

So why should you care to know more about Crabby and the boring details of her real life?

Because... well, because... damn. She can't really think of a reason.

But anyway, Crabby gets asked every now and then where she lives. She used to avoid answering that question, but now she's kind of thinking what the hell. None of you is going to hunt down "Crabby McSlacker" and threaten her with bodily harm just because of some stupid thing she wrote on her blog. You have much better things to do. So Crabby will go ahead and answer that question.

Crabs tend to be fond of coasts. Right now Crabby lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a nifty walkable neighborhood called Rockridge on the border between Oakland and Berkeley.

She has lived other places in the Bay Area, like San Francisco and San Anselmo. She also lived in San Diego, in Madison, New Jersey, and in New York City (in the West Village. That was really fun). She has visited Provincetown, Massachusetts and Washington D.C. for long enough to feel almost like she lived there. She is a very lucky crab to have gotten to experience all these great places.

Sometimes the Crab and Lobster ponder the possibility of relocating again. This is a favorite past-time whenever they travel. Wouldn't it be fun to live here someday? How about there? Isn't this a cute street? What a nice park! The beach is how many blocks away? Look at all those restaurants!

Canada comes up quite a bit. Vancouver, particularly; a vibrant beautiful city. But then there is the whole citizenship thing. Plus, it rains there a lot.

Right now the Crab and Lobster are in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a favorite vacation spot. They are perhaps even as you read this looking longingly at some of the condos there, whistling nonchalantly as though they didn't even notice all the Price Reduced signs. There a quite a few of those signs these days... again, not that they've noticed.

It would be a huge leap... the logistics are daunting... the two coast are so far apart! Part time on one coast with family, part time on the other coast? How would that work? A crazy idea. Completely insane. Right?

It's not like Provincetown is the only beautiful, artsy, beachy, historic, amazing, incredible, seductive town in the world.

(But the Crab and Lobster can't recall one they've ever liked better).

Does anyone else do this when they travel? Do you imagine your life in new places? Do you move around much? Or does your current home feel like it will always be "home" to you?

October 04, 2007

Guest Post: The Bag Lady on Sex and the Country Girl

Who says you have to have a blog to do Guest Blogging?

The Bag Lady, so named because she's the inventor and manufacturer of these handy items, takes to it like a pro. The photo is hers too--she didn't just swipe it from somewhere like Crabby tends to do. You may recognize her from her amusing contributions to the comments section. And now, here she is with her very own post.

Take it away, Bag Lady!

SEX and the Country Girl

Well, okay, this isn’t about sex, but got your attention, didn’t it? With Crabby away, the Bag Lady thought she would try to fill Crabby’s shoes/claws.

Actually, she started out trying to think how she could relate to a bunch of fitness buffs when she is, in reality, quite lazy, slothful, overweight and generally all-around not much good at anything in particular. So, with that out of the way, she’ll try to bluff her way through this.

Life out here in the country is challenging for someone with the Bag Lady’s limited capabilities. Being accustomed to the sedentary life, having in her previous incarnation been a city girl with an office-type job, it has proven to be an eye-opening experience. For all of you trapped in concrete, the fresh air alone takes some getting used to. Especially during the spring thaw, when it is perfumed by eau de manure.

Which brings to mind yet another aspect of country life - cows. Those big (and I do mean Big!) deceptively placid creatures who populate the countryside, quietly munching their way through life. They need to be fed, watered, and generally cared for. When calving season comes, they need to be checked constantly (every 2 hours, 24/7) to ensure that they aren’t having any trouble producing their off-spring. This task eventually fell to the Bag Lady when her spouse was away. She will spare you some of the Icky Details, but has to confess that in her wildest dreams as a singing, tap-dancing, amateur thespian-type urbanite, never thought she would one day find herself with her arm up to the shoulder inside the business end of a bovine! Especially when one considers the orifice directly above the one containing said arm.

Occasionally, those cows need to be moved from one place to another. This is where the fitness aspect of ranching comes into play. Cows are generally easy to deal with, as long as you can convince them that it is their own idea to go into that corral/barn/pasture/whatever. If they decide there’s no f***ing way, you have to be able to move quickly and nimbly, something not in the Bag Lady’s repertoire. That said, she has surprised even herself with her ability to get the hell out of the way of a charging 1500 lb cow intent on doing her serious bodily harm. Certainly qualifies as aerobic exercise in the Bag Lady’s experience. (Envision a chubby older woman, doing the 100 yard dash, yelling “What the f**k am I doing here, I’m a dental assistant, for Christ’s sake!”)

Calves are fun. They are so cute, especially when they are learning how to move their bodies. Usually around the age of 2 days, they are running, jumping, kicking up their back legs and generally goofing around. Mock bull fights with other calves or their mother, sniffing at the dog, then startling and running away when he licks their nose. They also contribute to the Bag Lady’s fitness routine. Calves need to have ear-tags inserted, and various other things done to them, which is easiest when they are small. Being small (roughly 100 – 150 lbs) doesn’t mean they can’t kick, squirm, wiggle and generally exhaust you. Wrangling some 40 or 50 calves in a hot, smelly barn filled with bawling calves, in the mud and the blood and the shit, while their mothers are outside, bawling for their babies, is something no fitness centre can compete with. Who needs Snoop Dawg when you can have a chorus of honking, bellowing cows expressing their displeasure?

Has the Bag Lady bored you to tears yet? There are other aspects to her fitness routine. For example, you have those step-thingys in your gyms – the Bag Lady has her tractor. Feeding the cows every day in the winter means getting in and out of the tractor roughly 14 or 15 times. (You get in to drive the tractor out of the shop, you get out to close the shop door, you get back in, drive to pick up the big round bale, get out to open the gate, get in to drive through the gate, get out to shut the gate, get in to drive to where you put the feed, get out to cut the strings off…you get the picture.) This is every day – there is no Not Doing It Because I Don’t Feel Like Exercising Today.

Gee, the Bag Lady just checked her word count—she’ll just have to save all the other fun stuff for another day! Hope you enjoyed your foray into country life. (Next time we'll have the sex part…)

October 03, 2007

Crabby Doesn't Meme To Offend Anyone!

For those of you who don't have blogs, this post may not make any sense at all. Don't worry! There will be another amusing guest post coming soon, and you can always check out the archives or visit one of the great blogs on the Random Rotating Blogroll. But for today--sorry, it's Memes.

So a "Meme" has been defined as "a theoretical unit of cultural information." But for blog purposes, it's just a game, and it works sort of like a chain letter. Someone 'tags' you and you're supposed to write a post about the meme, and then link to other blogs to keep it going.

Crabby tried to do memes for a while. (She even tried to invent her own but failed to get it off the ground). But now she doesn't do them any more.

There are lots of reasons for that, but they're boring so she won't go into them. But once she started saying "no" to very nice people who asked, she wanted to be consistent about it. It wouldn't be fair to say yes to some and no to others.

However, this inflexibility has its downside! A very cool (and very popular) Personal Development Blog has a meme going. Somehow Cranky Fitness got included, even though Crabby's advice on the subject of Personal Development is sometimes so silly one might think her inclusion on the list was meant ironically. Anyway, now she's getting all kinds of meme-related links! Her Technorati rating is being puffed up nicely (though it will crash dramatically again when these links drop off).

She's feeling terribly guilty about this. She has not included the big list of several hundred Personal Development blogs here at Cranky Fitness--yet she's getting all the benefits as if she had played along.

So: apologies to all the Well-Developed Persons who have linked to her!

The least she can do is direct you back to the source. Go to Priscilla Palmer's site, and check out some of the great personal development blogs listed therein. (In return, Crabby promises you she will never mention the word "meme'" here ever again. Or at least not until the next time she needs to apologize for not doing them).

So bloggers, do you do memes on your blogs? And non-blogging readers, have you encountered these things on your favorite blogs and if you have, how do you feel about them. Interesting? Confusing? Do tell!

October 02, 2007

Guest Post: Talia On Working With An Emotional Eater

We're very lucky to have, for our next Guest Post, a Case Study by author Talia Mana. Ever wondered how mental health clinicians work with people with eating disorders? Well, here's an example! You may know Talia from her helpful and informative blog at The Centre For Emotional Healing-- which has WAY more actual information than this blog does. Be sure to check out the blog and her books.

Anyway, so, here's Talia!

Through The Eyes of An Emotional Eater

Jennifer has tried just about everything. She's been to Overeaters' Anonymous, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and counsellors. She has even tried fasting for long periods though this isn’t an approach I recommend. While Jennifer lost a lot of weight during her fast, not long afterwards her old eating habits took over, and she started bingeing.

We talked about her perceptions about herself. For most of us our identity is wrapped up in the 'labels' we give ourselves. These labels can be anything from the job we do, to our relationships with others, our goals, our passions, our strengths or our weaknesses.

Are you a career woman, a mom, an accountant, a politician? Are you a failure or a winner? Are you a "fat girl" or a "pretty girl?" Think about how you describe yourself to others and how you think of yourself. When I ask students in my workshops to write down the labels they attach to themselves, many will identify themselves with their size or their eating. This is especially true if they have an eating disorder. They will say, “I’m a compulsive overeater.”

With Jennifer, it soon became clear that her identity is wrapped up in her opinion of herself as a wife and mother. Any time that she perceives problems in this area, she reaches for food. For Jennifer the state of her house is a barometer of her internal health. When her house is spic and span she feels confident and in control of her life. When dirty dishes accumulate on the bench and washing piles up in the bath she feels like a failure as a wife, a mother and a person.

In short, Jennifer overgeneralises. When something goes wrong in the area of her life that she identifies with she personalises this, and judges herself as a failure in all areas of her life. So if she’s a failure, she might as well eat, right?

You guessed it. When she doesn’t feel like doing housework, or is confronted with a messy kitchen she eats.

Here are some of her comments:

"If my house is a mess and I can’t keep up with the housework or I can’t get motivated to get it done I feel like I’m not coping in life."

"If my house is tidy I feel like I’m coping."

"For me cleaning my bench is a big deal. Some days I look at it and I have no idea where to start. Yet my daughter can come along and in less than five minutes she sorts everything out, wipes down the bench and it’s done. I don’t know why I can’t be like that. So then I start telling myself that I’m lazy, or that I just didn’t get taught right by my mother. She did everything for me as a kid, and I find it hard to do all this stuff. I don’t enjoy it so I put it off."

"I start feeling dumb and inadequate and then I need food to make me feel better."

"Even when I do clean the bench I feel like I should treat myself because it’s such an effort. I feel exhausted, so I sit down with a big plate of unhealthy food or a packet of biscuits and scoff the lot."

That’s only part of the story. Jennifer also has very distorted ideas about her role as a perfect parent. So Jennifer's homework is to examine her distorted perceptions.

We started at the beginning, by challenging her assumption that an overindulgent parent who did everything for her has created a lazy monster who is incapable of doing housework. Jennifer is still having trouble convincing herself that she can break free of old beliefs. She is very attached to her family and is having trouble separating today's Jennifer from the Jennifer of her childhood. She accepts logically that she's not the same woman--but emotionally she's still letting go.

She's also promised as part of her homework to not immediately dismiss positive feedback. When her husband and friends tell her she is a good wife, a good parent and a good person, she's too quick to find fault with herself.

Finally, she's working on understanding that the state of her house is not a reflection on her as a person. We know this is going to take some time but Jennifer feels that knowing that people "get" her and understand where she is coming from will help.

I hope sharing Jennifer’s story will help illustrate the impact that your beliefs have on your eating and give you some pointers to change.