November 30, 2007

Yep It's Friday, Time For... What?!!?

Hmm...The Real "Crabby" and "Mary?" You Never Know!
(Image courtesy of Plan59)

Mary: Hey, what happened? What am I doing here in Crabby's Random Friday post? Where are the beer studies and the cat pictures and the monkeys doing sit-ups?

Crabby: Hi Mary! Don't worry, you're supposed to be here. It's part of the Crab's evil scheme to enslave... er, invite you to become a regular here at the blog. The randomness shall soon return... perhaps even next week.

Mary: So you didn't drag me over here just because you forgot to find Random Research for this week?

Crabby: Um, no, of course not! Say... don't suppose you happen to have any Random Research on you?

Mary: (Patting her pockets) Gosh, I don't think so, but... Oh wait--here's a scholarly article! What a coincidence. Crabby? What the heck are you doing?

(Odd crackling and rustling noises... sounding curiously like the shedding of a thick crustacean shell)

Crabby: I'm just so thrilled to have company today I thought I'd slip out of the third person. Me, me, me! My, my, my! I, I, I-- Gosh, that feels good!

Mary: Holy @$#! Is that what a crab actually looks like without a shell? Um, I mean, hey! Good for you. Healthy self-confidence and all that.

Crabby: So do you think readers will notice that we're stealing ideas from Elastic Waist and having a little chat together the way Weetabix and Anne do?

Mary: Stealing? Let's just say we're "borrowing." Or a simple case of... co-evolution. At least that's what I plan on telling the lawyers if they come by asking questions.

Crabby: Lawyers? Yikes! Good thing I'm just a crab. I think marine creatures are hard to sue.

Mary: We'll hope it doesn't come to that. Otherwise, you might have to shell out a lot of clams...


Crabby: So what's this scholarly article you've got for us? I'm getting pretty behind in my blog reading so I'm not sure I'll have a chance to...

Mary: You mean Exploring the Mind-Body Orgasm?

Crabby: Oh! Perhaps I might have time to take a peek after all.

Mary: I know it's not your regular blog subject matter -- and some blogs wouldn't touch the topic with a 10 foot pole.

Crabby: So to speak.

Mary: Not that the size of the pole is relevant ... ahem. Anyway, I understand Cranky Fitness is not troubled by questions of regularity or even irregularity for that matter.

Crabby: No. We're always so regular here we don't even make an issue of it. It's probably all that coffee first thing in the morning. Anyway, tell us more about this mind/body/orgasm thing.

Mary: Well, what's really intriguing about this study is how much of human sexuality occurs above the waist or even above the neck. Literally, in the case of that one woman with the vibrator on her neck... Okay, now stop giggling.

Crabby: I didn't think you could hear me!

Mary: The point is that a whole lot of human experience occurs in the mind. Including fitness.

Crabby: That's right. And cupcake cravings! They occur in the mind too. Not far from where the orgasms live, I think, but I don't have a brain map handy.

Mary: I have a brain map around somewhere... I'll lend it to you. Once I find where I put it. And you're right -- cupcake cravings are a seriously under-researched phenomenon.

Crabby: We need more cupcake research! Where do I sign up? I hear a lot of studies have trouble getting enough volunteers...

Mary: I'm not sure the orgasm study had that problem.

Crabby: Ah. So somehow they have found selfless volunteers willing to have orgasms for the greater good. Even knee-orgasms! That was the best part of the article. I was very pleased to learn people can have knee orgasms and nose orgasms.

Mary: ANYway, I would argue that being able to accept yourself as a sexual creature is a sign of fitness.

Crabby: Fitness? Really? Are you saying we can skip all that tiresome aerobic stuff and just start sleeping around instead? But I suppose some people might say that's immoral.

Mary: It's not a question of morality; I'm not trying to dictate how or even if you express the sexual side of yourself. I'm suggesting it might be a good idea to accept that it exists.

Crabby: We have sexual sides? Horrors!

Mary: (Balances herself precariously on a rickety soap box) It should be possible to discuss sex without becoming Puritanical. Americans in particular (like me) tend to automatically go into Puritan mode if the subject comes up.

Crabby: Puritan Mode? I'm not sure I've ever been in Puritan Mode. Sounds like a new boutique--I bet they've got lots of practical smocks and sensible shoes! I'll have to check it out.

Mary: Just make sure to avoid any smocks with the letter 'A' on them...

Crabby: Oh, right. But scarlet is such a pretty color!

Mary: I'm reminded of a story that Helene Hanff used to tell: when the Pilgrim fathers caught a man having a love affair with a cow, they not only hanged the man, they hanged the cow. Let's try to look at this study without having a cow about it.

Crabby: Well put!

Mary: (Struggling to stay balanced on the soap box) From the point of view of the biologist, sex is the most fundamental human drive. Trust me on this. I've dated biologists. If even sexuality is to a large extent carried on in the brain, how much more should we be focusing our minds on trying to achieve other goals as well?

Crabby: Other goals?

Mary: Physical fitness, mental fitness, a sense of humor, an end to global warming, damnit... all of this starts in the brain.

Crabby: Wow. I could swear the only thing in my brain are neurotic tendencies and a bunch of old tv commercial jingles! (My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R ...)

Mary: (to herself) Hmmmn. She names her delicatessen comestibles. I think I'm in trouble here... (falls over with a crash)...

Crabby: Oh dear. Mary? Mary? Are you OK? Want to wish all the Cranky Fitness readers a Happy Friday?

Mary: Mrrhhhggrhrrrmph!

November 29, 2007

Location, Location, Location

[Written by Mary, who also blogs over at Sheesh]

No, this is not a post about house hunting. I'll spare you that.

I'm trying to determine how much of a difference location makes when you're running.

For the last few weeks, I've been slowly immersing myself into the running schedule of the Beginning Runner's Handbook. I started out extra slowly, repeating the first couple of weeks, because I wasn't sure how the knees would feel about this idea. But it hasn't been so bad. The first run was awful, but the others have been ... well, I'm not saying I LIKED it, but it was okay. Until a few days ago, which just plain sucked.

So this seems like the place to ask this question Do you ever have days when the running just plain stinks? Should I chalk this one up to part-of-the-experience? Or should I look to see if I was doing something wrong?

One thing that changed this time was the location. I was running on Thanksgiving day, and the (good sized) park where I normally run was packed (i.e. there were about 6 or 7 people playing with their children, dogs, and frisbees). So I went to run in the forest, where it was dark and the terrain was uneven, but I figured I wouldn't have people looking at me huffing/puffing/glowing red. Even there, I met people: a young couple being chased by a small black cat. (Probably a story there, but I ran past them with a polite nod.) So I went across the busy street to an area of empty-lots-and-deserted-office-blocks. It was sunny there, but the wind brought the temperature below freezing. And I was miserable. Could hardly force myself to run ... jog... move... faster than a snail on tranquilizers. It was horrible.

Does where you run make a big difference? Or wind chill? Shouldn't you still be getting an endorphin rush regardless? I'm trying to figure out if I did something wrong (didn't warm up enough? too much beer-and-bacon before the run?)

"Fun-Sized" Posts and Lemony Tea

[Posted by Crabby.]

This week, we're introducing even more Shiny Newness at Cranky Fitness. First there was the news that Mary may be blogging here sometimes, allowing Crabby to sleep in until noon and surf the internet all day adding a fresh new voice and perspective to the blog. So what's next? Well, now Crabby is pleased to announce another new blog addition: the Fun-Size Post!

What's a Fun-Sized Post? Well, this is, for example. Sometimes little snippets of health news come to the Crab's attention, or she has stray complaints or observations, or she has some little announcement she wants to make about the blog. Crabby used to either (a) save these to fill up a Random Round-up type post, or (b) stretch them out into a full post even though there was really nothing interesting to say about it or (c) forget whatever it was entirely.

Now, a new option! Crabby will just throw these things out there whenever she feels like it.

Like... um... now!

So here's a random health snippet that caught Crabby's eye but she almost forgot about:

More News About Tea!

So according to a new study, a lot of the antioxidants in green tea that we're always hearing about aren't actually being absorbed by our bodies. (Which is frustrating for those of us who plan to live forever and conquer all health problems simply by drinking a beverage experts claim is good for us). In fact, less than 20% of the catechins (the Good Guys) survive the digestive process.

Well, turns out, adding lemon or vitamin C helps spare those antioxidants! With the addition of citrus, the mighty (but unstable) catechins are much better at surviving the perils of your digestive system.

And what about milk? Well, dairy and soy milk both helped preserve antioxidants too, though the scientists seemed to be distrustful of these additives for complicated reasons. (You may want to read the article to try to sort that out). Previous research has sent decidedly mixed messages about the whole adding-milk-to-tea thing. Plus, sometimes they study black tea and sometimes green, further complicating things.

Crabby just wishes researchers would hurry up and figure this all out because damn it, she likes milk in her tea!

November 28, 2007

Thoughts While at the Spa

[Posted by Crabby]

Recently, as part of an anniversary celebration, Crabby and the Lobster treated themselves to a massage. Rather than go the to the cheap place down the street as they usually do, the Crustacean Couple decided to splurge and went to the Fancy Schmancy Spa instead.

The exorbitantly priced massage included the use of the spa facilities, plus unlimited cups of weak tea and cucumber water. Even aside from the massage, it was quite a treat. There were hot tubs, and cold tubs, and saunas, and strange showers with water jets at all different heights and angles that pounded the Crab in places she'd never been pounded before!

Relaxing? Well, strangely enough--yes!

Anyway, the spa facilities were segregated by gender. (Supposedly, guys go to the spa too, though Crabby is skeptical about this. Perhaps there are no tubs or saunas behind their doorway, and instead their space is filled with big screen tv's and beer and snack bars and racks of girly magazines and video game kiosks. Just a theory).

But the women's side of the spa does indeed exist, and since it's women-only, it's assumed you won't be wearing a bathing suit. You could--but almost no one does, and if you did you'd still have to put it on in the communal locker room where everyone else is getting dressed too.

So, as is true in many spas and gym locker rooms, you end up sharing space and lounging around with strangers while wearing no clothes at all.

Crabby has to ask: does anyone else find this weird?

Not necessarily bad-weird. Just weird-weird.

Maybe what feels weird about it is that our culture is generally so screwed-up when it comes to nudity. We treat the naked human body as if it is (a) incredibly powerful and dangerous; but simultaneously (b) ridiculous and comic and humiliating. Truly, what's a common Worst Nightmare scenario? To somehow be caught naked out in public. It can't get anymore embarrassing than that!

Yet somehow, if you declare an area "men only" or "women only," all this psychological baggage is supposed to magically disappear. Strangers are only supposed to feel 'strange' if they are of the opposite sex.

Crabby actually doesn't mind being naked in these situations anymore, but as a younger person she hate-hate-hated public locker rooms. At some point in college she got over it, who knows why, and now, in a certain mood, she can even enjoy it. There can be something curiously liberating about not wearing clothes in a semi-public place--like you're getting away with something extremely naughty that would ordinarily land you in jail! (Hmm... actually, come to think of it, you are getting away with something that would normally land you in jail).

However, it seems likely that at least a few people might not feel all that comfortable being naked in front of others. It seems odd that even in the most upscale locker rooms and spas, there often aren't many concessions to privacy. Would it hurt to have a few more curtains, changing rooms, and shower doors that close for people who are shy? Just wondering.

But aside from the weirdness of it, there is also something quite affirming about being around a bunch of women in an entirely natural state. For one, it totally exposes what a Big Fat Lie prime-time television is. Because guess what? Real women may sometimes look desperate, but we don't look at all like Desperate Housewives.

Real women not only have curves, we have wrinkles and scars and cellulite! We have ample bellies and sagging boobs and droopy asses. We have wide hips and knobby knees and hair where we shouldn't. We have pairs of body parts that are not symmetrical; we have birthmarks and warts and stretch marks and all kinds of stuff you never see on TV. (Unless of course it's "reality" TV and then the whole point of the show is to have an expert or a surgeon step in and "fix" it).

It's funny, though, the way so many of us women evaluate our appearance not by looking around at the real women nearby. Instead, we look at the air-brushed pictures of actresses in magazines, with teams of trainers, surgeons, and stylists at their disposal. We look and we sigh--why can't we be like them?

Why can't we? Because those pictures--and those women--they aren't real!

The versions we see are just as fictional as the movies and tv shows that make these people famous.

So here's to real, healthy, three-dimensional women. Naked or not!

November 27, 2007

Experts Say: Time to Drop Acid

[Written by Mary, who has her own very fine blog Sheesh. Crabby is currently scheming to persuade Mary to hang out at Cranky Fitness and keep the Crab company].

Drop Acid? Wait a Minute...
Yes, this is a post about fitness. Or at least a rant about fitness. And I do remember the 60s. But I remember the 70s even more.

Thirty years ago, fitness was all about goofy-looking track suits and people dutifully jogging round and round a track until their legs fell off from boredom.

Twenty years ago, it was Jane Fonda and people deliberately wearing spandex until they felt the burn.

Ten years ago, it was Covert Bailey, and LSD* (long steady distance, also known as long slow distance) work that would promote fat-burning.

Now that's all passé. Yesterday's fitness. Today it's all about high intensity interval training: hit-the-body-with-a-quick-burst to promote fitness. In a way, this idea is a throwback to the concept that you have to feel it for the exercise to be any good. It's as if these ideas seem to cycle in and out of fashion.

This is not, not, not to say that interval training is a bad idea. Au contraire.

What I am saying is that The Merry objects to fitness being treated as if it were fashionable, something trendy. The press tends to trumpet the latest discoveries as if the scientists had re-invented the wheel, when in reality they haven't even re-invented the Krebs cycle. The basic principles of human biochemistry have been known for awhile now.

These approaches to fitness all work, to one extent or another. Even jogging around a track ad boredom does help the cardiovascular system up to a point. But a lot of people, including fitness experts (who should know better, except that they're usually promoting a book), seem determined to focus on one approach only, regardless of what works best for any one individual. We hold these truths to be self-evident: just because an expert is promoting a book, it doesn't mean the expert's approach will help with your specific goals. These different approaches should supplement each other.

Should you stop LSD and start HIITing yourself instead?

Both Long Steady Distance and High Intensity Interval Training can work to increase fitness. But they are not created equal.

If you're trying to increase your endurance, you want to increase your fat-burning capability. After two hours of steady cycling, your body is going to be relying on fat-burning to keep going.

Likewise, if you've been an obese, sedentary couch potato for years, long steady exercise sessions are a much more healthy approach than sudden intense exercise. If you're not in shape, HIIT would probably be a marvelous way to hurt yourself.

On the other hand, if you are in shape, HIIT could be the perfect way to work yourself off an annoying plateau, while LSD could make you bored out of your gourd. (Unless you want to be the next Lance Armstrong.)

It depends.

It shouldn't be about the latest expert's theory of fitness.

It shouldn't be about the latest expert at all.

It should be about you.

* Okay, so LSD in this post doesn't have anything to do with acid, strictly speaking. It was a cheap, meretricious trick designed to make you look at the post, that's all. I'm deeply ashamed of myself. Opinions expressed by minions of Cranky Fitness do not necessarily represent the views of the womanagement.

November 26, 2007

Make Friends With Fractions

Question: why is it so hard to remember that it's possible to eat a half, or a third, or even one and three-eighths of something? What is so compelling about whole numbers and unitary "serving sizes"--long after the invention of tupperware and aluminum foil and refrigerators that are perfectly capable of saving leftovers?

And sure, sometimes you can't save leftovers, and it seems a shame to "waste" food. But if you've got extra food on your plate that you could eat but you're not all that hungry for, then hell--it's already wasted! That food is not doing any more good sitting in your stomach than in a garbage can.

When Crabby remembers that a piece and a half of whole wheat toast is really the "right" serving size for her at breakfast, she is so much happier. Because while a single piece of bread simply does not yield enough toasty goodness, two slices of toast is more than she needs, given that she eats quite a few other things along with the toast. One and half pieces of toast: a perfect amount.

Yet far too often, Crabby throws two pieces of bread in the toaster anyway. It's as though slicing one in half would be akin to cutting her own skin open. Noooo! Toast comes in pairs, you get to have Two Pieces, it's a Rule!

Same problem with cheeseburgers. Crabby does not eat them frequently, but on the rare occasions when she does, she likes the big fat medium rare restaurant type burger, not a skinny dried-up overcooked fast food patty. But she is not a hyperactive 12 year old anymore. She does not need to eat an entire big-ass restaurant cheeseburger!

So just watch Crabby at a restaurant with her giant cheeseburger sometime, carefully cutting it in half and pushing the unnecessary half to the far side of her plate. What restraint!

The feat would be much more impressive, however, if she'd leave the extra half the f*ck alone. But she doesn't, does she? After she's gobbled up the first half, she'll eye the other half longingly, then decide to slice off just a bit more, and, then... well, you know the rest. She returns to the second half of the burger again and again until the whole thing is gone.

(Of course one of the best reasons to acquire a Significant Other is the ability to split cheeseburgers. Well sure, there's the lifelong companionship and joy and all that stuff, but--built in portion control! Alas, sometimes, one's partner isn't there or is not in the mood to provide cheeseburger portion control assistance, and if Crabby had more sense, she would never, ever, order a cheeseburger in these instances).

The good news is that just as the ability to divide things into fractions can be forgotten or ignored, this ability can also be rediscovered again! This morning, for example, Crabby had a piece and a half of toast and was very pleased with herself, so she knows it's possible.

So if you're forgetful like Crabby, you may want to keep in mind that you do not need to be ruled by "serving sizes"--they're arbitrary. Fractions are your Friends!

Is this a problem anyone else has? Or is Crabby the only one who needs to repeat fourth grade?

November 24, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving Mini-Roundup!

Why So "Mini?"
So it's traditional at Cranky Fitness to throw a few random links together at the end of the week--sometimes health-related, and sometimes... not so much. But as it's a holiday weekend, a lot of you may not actually be here reading this at all!

Instead you might be out braving crowded department stores in search of Perfect Christmas Gifts (muttering and sweating and cursing the lines, vowing that next time, you will simply use the handy search box of your favorite Amazon Affiliate). Or perhaps at this very moment you are in transit from a family visit, on an airplane--smiling serenely and reading a great novel, or downing cocktails from cute little miniature liquor bottles, or pulling your hair out in huge clumps as a sacrifice to the airplane Gods so that the plane won't crash--however it is that you choose to fly.

In any event, you may not be here. So this will be a much smaller bunch of randomness than usual. In fact, Crabby wasted a bunch of space apologizing last week for slackiness, which in retrospect, was totally jumping the gun.

But since these are great sites that could take some time to explore, fewer is better! And, coincidentally, way easier for the Crab to round up.

Word Power!
So first up is Free Rice, a totally addictive web site that Terrie from Women of Mystery featured on her blog. It's a vocabulary test, a learning device, and an easy way to donate to charity without actually spending any money. Got a great vocabulary and want to feel smug? Don't know any words and want to learn some? You can do all that while donating tiny grains of rice to hungry people! Of course you'd probably make even more of a difference by writing a large check--but, well, then you'd have to write a large check. Should that not be affordable, a few grains of rice are better than no grains of rice and it all adds up.

(And by the way--Terrie has a story featured in the mystery anthology "Murder New York Style," a compilation (available at Amazon) that looks awesome. If you're way behind on your reading like Crabby is at the moment, check it out and order it up for yourself or your favorite mystery buff for Christmas. (An ad would logically appear here now if Crabby could figure out how to do it (they've changed the instructions). But you can go to Women of Mystery or just type the title into the handy sidebar search box!)

Boomer Health & Silliness
So next is a cute little animated cartoon about baby boomers that Marijke found. And by the way, her health blog is packed with actual health information--something that has been scarce of late at Cranky Fitness.

More Teen Sex!
Already dreading all the wholesome family entertainment on tap for the holiday season? Encouraged by the news that Teen Sex may not be the Road Straight to Hell our parents warned us about after all? Well, for those of us who don't do much wholesome, here's a great viewing alternative: The Midwest Teen Sex Show.

Warning: oh, hell, do we really need a warning? It's a funny show about SEX! Dirty words are mentioned and some of the advice is sarcastic and twisted, though informative nonetheless. You can get it as a podcast or watch it on their site. And don't worry, there is something there to offend almost anyone, because it's HILARIOUS. (And thanks to Feministing for alerting us to the site).

Half-Naked Men!

And finally (speaking of wholesome), as a special present to one of our very favorite commenters, Holly*, Cranky Fitness directs your attention to Undies Drawer. Yes, it is--a whole website dedicated to Good Looking Men Posing in their Underwear!

And yeah, as you might expect, it seems pretty much gay. But lots and lots of Beefcake for admirers of the male physique, whatever gender those admirers may be.

*Note: Poor Holly made the mistake of mentioning once, in a comment, that the content-generated ads at Cranky Fitness were no longer featuring handsome men in their underwear. She is not, to our knowledge, battling any sort of male underwear ad-viewing addictions.

Hope you all are having a great weekend, wherever you may be!

November 23, 2007

Who is Merry Sunshine?

In November 2007, Mary decided to join Crabby in writing Cranky Fitness posts. The change to the spelling of her name to Merry was supposed to suggest a yin/yang night/day black/white distinction between herself and Crabby. Also, she couldn't think of a cooler name.

Why are you here?

Merry's health & fitness obsession is simple self-interest. She needs to shed about eighty sixty-five pounds. Or else grow several inches. Since the torture rack has gone out of fashion, the focus is on eating green leafy things and working out aerobically several times a week. Sounds exciting, no? No, it doesn't. Which fuels her quest to find a vegetable that she enjoys or an exercise that she loves. She uses the little blog Sheesh to track her progress.

Details, woman, we want details! Who are you?

Oh, that's like asking me (switching to first person here) what I did on my summer vacation. I never do well on the big picture questions. I'm a single, straight, GCG (good Catholic girl) who lives up in the Pacific Northwest and, unlike Crabby, rarely goes on long road trips. I am owned and shepherded by a German Shedder... er, that is, a German Shepherd Dog named Tangerine, CGC. (I got her from a rescue. She'd had so many changes already that I didn't want to change her name. So I've got a dog named after fruit.)

In my spare time, I get paid to write very dull technical manuals on very dry technical subjects. Which is why I enjoy writing for Cranky Fitness so much. The topics may get technical occasionally, but around here it's never dull!

November 22, 2007

The Holidays - A Survival Quiz

Note: This post was not written by Crabby, but by Mary, who hosts the awesome blog Sheesh. Does this mean Crabby is heading off for another extended unannounced vacation and filling in with guest posts? You wish!

Nah, Crabby is still very much here, busy preparing for Thanksgiving -- in fact, she's probably in the kitchen this very moment pilfering marshmallows meant for the yams preparing healthy side dishes for the Thanksgiving feast. Or gosh, she might be just pausing for a second or two to recall petty childhood grievances and figure out how to work them into conversations feel grateful for chance to reminisce with family about all those good times!

(For further explanation as to Mary's mysterious presence here and other Blog Announcements, see the preceding post in which all some is revealed!

But don't go anywhere before testing your holiday readiness with the...


1. Your aunt Gussie serves the world's richest brownies. She also can whip up a formidable side dish of Guilt if you don't appreciate her food. Food is love. Refusing her brownies would lead into a treacherous quagmire of intrafamilial politics and possibly World War III. What do you do?

a) Gush enthusiastically, and put the tray of brownies on the low table, which by an amazing coincidence is exactly on the same level as your three-year-old nephew and your cousin's four-year-old twins. Look puzzled when, a few minutes later, the tray is completely empty.

b) Take one brownie. Tell your aunt Gussie that you promised your mother you would always chew your food 30 times. Lose count and have to start over again.

c) Eat the whole tray of brownies yourself and resolve to do better next time.

2. Your aunt Agnes has sent you her best regards and… cue dramatic music… her DAFC (dreaded annual fruit cake). Luckily, she lives on the other side of the continent. You can either:

a) Write her a blissfully ecstatic thank you card and throw the DAFC in the trash.

b) Write a b.e.t.y. card and save the fruitcake for the office lunchroom.

c) Eat the damn thing, which will of course make you so nauseous that you are disinclined to eat ever again, thus resulting in a negative caloric gain over the holidays. Don't forget the thank you card.

3. Your aunt Petey lives across town. There is no escape when she comes over for a holiday dinner with a pleased look on her face and a dish of a marshmallowy sweet potato confection in her hands. Do you:

a) Accidentally drop your serving on the floor and sigh dramatically when the dog eats it.

b) Eat only a few bites, mentioning your recently discovered allergy to marshmallows.

c) Eat the whole thing, rationalizing it with the theory that sweet potatoes are vegetables and vegetables are good for you.

4. The admin in your office comes in with several batches of homemade fudge in different flavors. She beams at you proudly when you walk into the office lunchroom and then she invites you to try one … of each batch. Do you:

a) Run screaming from the office, lodge a claim of caloric harassment, sue your company for millions of dollars, and end up buying a yacht in the Caribbean.

b) Take one piece of fudge, smile, and say that you want to leave some for the rest of the group.

c) Have several pieces of each batch. You don't want to hurt her feelings.


One point for each a answer. Two points for each b answer. Three points for each c answer.

Your results:

4 points: you are devious, dramatic, and/or demented. I like you.

5-8 points: you are a moderately well adjusted person who will probably gain a pound or two, but otherwise make it through the holidays relatively unscathed ( i.e. you won't have to face any scathing relatives).

9 or more points: you're doomed, but at least you're enjoying the ride. Hide the scale and all your mirrors until January.

Cranky Fitness: Blog Update!

Screw These Dumb Blocks, It's Time for Pie!

So, what's new at Cranky Fitness?

Hmm... same tired old cupcakes.... same unsophisticated design layout... same inability to post videos, create tabs, or move to a 3 fancy column format...

But wait!

What's that thing sitting there above this post? No, not the weird naked figures playing with blocks. Further up... Why yes, it appears to be a guest post, but nowhere on it does it say: Guest Post!

What does this mean?

Well, maybe nothing. It's an experiment. Cranky Fitness is trying to lure a new contributor to the blog, Mary, whom you already know from her witty comments, previous great guest post, and amusing blog Sheesh. Crabby is hoping to talk her into co-blogging, but for now, let's just say she's going to be hanging out here a bit and testing the waters.

Here's the deal: Crabby would love to have some company. She'd like Cranky Fitness to have plenty of Crab, but also other stuff too! She's thinking perhaps, eventually, a small team blog, one that encourages guest posts too, especially by writers who are funnier and better informed about Health and Fitness than Crabby is. So that readers don't have to put up with a million posts by Crabby, but can still check in pretty often and see new stuff posted.

Crabby, being both ambitious and slothful, would like Cranky Fitness to Grow and Grow, but she wants other people to do the work for her! Seems perfectly reasonable, doesn't it?

It's actually not all just laziness--Crabby would really like to spend some of the time she spends blogging getting back to her unfinished novel, or tackling her not-yet begun series of Crabby McSlacker self help books. But the blog has become a Really Important thing in the Crab's fairly uneventful life, and the last thing she wants to do is get too slacky and lose the great readers she already has.

(And yes, she is aware that normal people can do more than one thing at a time. But "normal" is an adjective very rarely used in the same sentence as "Crabby McSlacker.")

So Crabby will still be here, posting almost as much as usual, and maybe Mary will stick around too if we don't scare her off--and who knows, at some point there may be other regular or occasional contributors as well.

Of course this may be one of those ideas that Crabby announces with great fanfare and then fails to follow through on and has to retract later. But if somehow it happens, Crabby will have even more than usual to be thankful for next Thanksgiving!

(And if you haven't already done it, go read Mary's Holiday quiz!)

Have a Great Thanksgiving or a Happy Thursday!

November 21, 2007

Hell, Why Not--Everyone Else Is

Cranky Fitness was going to skip doing a "how to get through the big holiday meal" advice post, because everywhere you look, from newspaper to television to blog to podcast, someone's offering up suggestions, tips, or warnings about Turkey day.

Why add more noise? Because, well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow and Crabby loves to give advice! The temptation, much like the golden brown crunchy layer of marshmallows sitting atop the candied yams, is proving irresistible.

But rather than issue dire warnings about overindulgence, Crabby is feeling contrary this year and wants to suggest sort of the opposite. Instead, consider this:

Thanksgiving is Just One Day of the Year. So while advance planning may keep you from overdoing it to the point of puking and/or self-loathing (always good things to avoid), don't stress too much about what you eat for one dang meal!

Yes, Christmas is coming too, and there will be other holidays to contend with. But to repeat a point made previously about Halloween: the problem most people have with unhealthy eating does not come from thoroughly enjoying a holiday celebration. It comes from treating every damn day of the year like it's a holiday.

Traditional Thanksgiving dinners mix a lot of healthy ingredients (turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, green beans, fruit, etc) with more nutritionally questionable ones (butter, sugar, cool-whip, marshmallows, gravy, white flour, mayo, etc). Sometimes you have control over the ratio of healthy to unhealthy, and sometimes you don't. But as long as you don't totally pork out to the point of pain, and try to lean towards the healthy stuff that you actually enjoy, there's only so much damage you can do. So cut yourself some slack!

Maybe you can go ahead and have a roll and even put butter on it. Or pour some gravy on your spuds if you love it. Or whatever the particular pleasure is that you usually deny yourself. And perhaps the best motivation for not going totally overboard at dinner-- is so you can save some room for a small slice of pie for dessert!

But then it's probably NOT a good idea to treat the special Thanksgiving meal as an excuse to eat gravy-soaked mashed potatoes and stuffing and pie and other decadent leftovers in huge quantities for the next four or five days. Thanksgiving, like Halloween or Christmas, works best when it's celebrated as a Day and not a Season. (And sure, enjoy some leftovers later--but after the Big Day you may want to load up on the healthier items, skip the worst offenders, and supplement with salads and new veggies, etc).

Thanksgiving is already a healthy holiday in a lot of ways--it's about giving thanks and appreciating the people you care about, whether you all get to sit at the same dinner table or not. Maybe you can make it even healthier by going out for a nice crisp fall walk or run, perhaps joined by family or friends. Or not! Don't stress if it's just not practical that one day of the year.

Seems like it's a good day to focus on the positive, rather than making it a test of will power that you must not "fail" at. Just one Crab's opinion.

Crabby hopes, however you choose to celebrate it, that Thanksgiving finds you with lots of things to feel grateful about. (And high on Crabby's list of things to feel thankful for is getting to know, at least a little bit, all the wonderful people she's met through the blog!)

So have an awesome Thanksgiving, unless you are from somewhere else and are not celebrating it tomorrow. In that case, have an awesome Thursday!

There will actually be a new post up tomorrow (Thursday) and it may even contain an Announcement! So if you're around, please stop by Cranky Fitness to see what's cookin' besides turkey and candied yams with marshmallows.

November 20, 2007

Multiple Choice

Why Yes, This Is the Same Stock Photo
Crabby Uses Over and Over Again

1. The reason there is not a Real blog post at Cranky Fitness today is because Crabby was:

a) Busy preparing to celebrate the 17th anniversary of her (not-yet-legal-in-this-stupid-ass-country) Marriage-like Union with the most amazing Lobster in the world;

b) Too excited about Cranky Fitness being mentioned in Women's Health magazine to get much done;

c) Unable to think of anything good to write about;

d) Too busy dragging some of the nastiest, smelliest, heaviest, disgustingest carpet remnants and other bug-infested cat-pee-soaked items out of the basement for a dump run; or,

e) All of the above.

2. Since there's nothing much going on at Cranky Fitness today, you should go visit another better blog that Women's Health also mentioned, like:

a) Back In Skinny Jeans;

b) Sister Skinny;

c) Big Fat Deal;

d) Lose the Buddah;

e) All of the above.

3. And Crabby will be back soon with her usual:

a) Hastily-researched, sloppily-written health news summaries;

b) Questionable fitness advice;

c) Posts that have nothing at all to do with health or fitness;

d) Awesome blog comments by Smart Funny Readers since the comments are the best reason for stopping by Cranky Fitness in the first place;

e) All of the Above.

The answers to the Multiple Choice Quiz are, of course: (e), (e), and (e)!

And while Crabby will indeed be back soon, it may be a lamer, lazier week than usual due to the upcoming (U.S.) Thanksgiving holiday. She apologizes, especially to all her Canadian readers, whose Thanksgiving she missed entirely because she totally didn't even realize it was happening way back then.

November 19, 2007

Nifty Workout Tool Measures Damn Near Everything!

By now, regular Cranky Fitness readers know to pay little attention to extravagant claims made in the title of a blog post. (Because you've all figured out that it usually means Crabby's just messing with you!) But bear with her as she tells you about this awesome workout gadget.

You use it to use to track your workouts and eating plans and evaluate how you're doing. Just look at all the data it can factor in! Like: your current weight; your desired weight; the calories you consume and whether they are nutritious or junky; the amount of force your muscles exert; your heart rate; metabolic rate; your dehydration level; your available caloric reserves; the amount of sleep you require versus the amount you've been getting; your blood pressure; your stress level; and even your hormone cycles. This ginormous amount of data is all filtered, sorted, and weighed to give you incredibly useful information to evaluate your performance.

So what is this amazing device? Let's call it the "F-4", short for the "effortometer." It is, as you probably already guessed, something you already own. It resides in your brain, and it tells you whether what you're attempting to do is easy or hard or freakin' impossible. It alerts you to whether you need to stop whining and work harder; whether you're doing just great; or whether you're overdoing it and need to give yourself a break.

This complex measurement is also known colloquially as "how you feel." It's your subjective sense of how much effort you're putting in, and how much discomfort that effort is causing you at any given time. Readings range from "wow, this is easy" to "damn, this kinda sucks," to "ulp, this feels so awful I think I'm going to die, like, now... aaarrrgghh..."

If you're like most people, you've learned to ignore how you feel if it happens to disagree with a more "objective" measure of how you're doing, like the time it takes you to bike fifteen miles uphill or the number on the scale at your last weigh-in. If the gadget you bought says you're doing terrible or doing great, that's 'real.' Whereas that sense you have yourself of how hard you're working is only 'psychological,' and doesn't count as much. Right?

So if you woke up this morning feeling fatigued for no particular reason, and despite feeling dreary and unmotivated you put on your running shoes anyway and went out for a jog, but the stopwatch said your 4 miles took you longer than they ever have before in your life--well that's bad isn't it? It means you should have pushed yourself harder so you'd go faster. The stopwatch knows better than you do what you should be doing, doesn't it?

Well, no it doesn't. In every way that counts for the long haul, you did great. The stopwatch data is completely irrelevant. Your trusty effortometer says you completed a workout of extremely high difficulty--and it can factor in all kinds of complicated physical and psychological data you have no conscious clue about. So screw the stopwatch. Feel proud of yourself.

And sure, if you're running a big important race next month and running races is a huge part of your life, these objective numbers can be very informative. And Crabby is a great believer in heart rate monitors and body-fat measuring scales, and sports watches, and pedometers and all that stuff. But only insofar as they provide Positive Reinforcement for your efforts. They're great for letting you know that you're doing something real and measurable. And look, over time, you're making steady improvements, hooray!

But if you get too caught up in numbers, they can be very demotivating. In the long run, unless you're a professional athlete or have a lot of ego at stake, it's the subjective effort that's crucial and is going to pay off. Keeping going is the most important part.

So then, what about Accountability, something we were just talking about recently? If you only pay attention to how you feel and not what the scale or the stopwatch says, isn't that a sure road to denial and slacking?

Actually, not usually, if you're being honest with yourself. But your effortometer, like any piece of complicated equipment, may need periodic recalibration. Use your common sense to see if, generally, your own sense of effort is correlating with more objective measures. If it's been six months of "trying really hard" with no noticeable improvement, then maybe something's wrong. It could be a problem with your expectations, your plan, your commitment, or your goals.

Another thing that can mess with your internal effortometer is depression. Depression is a real and treatable medical condition that can make damn near everything feel effortful. Rather than berate yourself over it, be kind to yourself and think about getting some help.

So how do you guys evaluate how you're doing in working towards your goals? Do you obsess over objective measurements or even keep track at all?

November 17, 2007

Teen Sex Study: Surprise!

This is just a quick weekend toss-it-up-there post, but this study was just too interesting to pass up.

So if the newspaper articles are titled anything like this web story, are parents going to be hiding their local Journals and Couriers and Examiners and Independents for a few days?

Or are they going to clip out the articles and hand them to little Madison and Jason immediately so they won't miss finding out: "Early Sexual Activity May Curb Teen Delinquency."

Wow. This is not what everyone previously thought. In fact,we've been hearing pretty much the opposite all our lives.

So do you think the local school boards, PTA's, Church groups, social service organizations, etc, now armed with this new information, should start handing out condoms instead of anti-sex morality lectures? Hmm... that'll probably happen, lets see... when hell freezes over.

The study followed 534 same-sex twin pairs between 1994 and 2002, which would seem to filter out some of the confounding social and economic factors that you'd get if you just compared "kids who end up having sex early" with "kids who ended up waiting."

Said one of the study's authors: "There is a cultural assumption in the United States that if teens have sex early, it is somehow bad for their psychological health. But we actually found that teens who had sex earlier seem to have better relationships later. Now we want to find out why."

This being a Saturday, Cranky Fitness hereby absolves itself from checking out whether this was a peer reviewed study from a reputable source or something less reliable. (We will just note that it came out of the University of Virginia and was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence--but that the lead researcher is still a Ph.D. candidate.)

Cranky Fitness just liked this study, even though it did not, itself, "start early."

However, those of you who are the parents of teenagers may not find yourselves quite as amused and pleasantly surprised by this information, should it turn out to be true.

Any thoughts?

November 16, 2007

Friday Menu Special: Plenty of Bologna!

Ever Notice? Everything Just Tastes Better on a Tray!

Actually, it's "Bologna Lite" this week (did you know it even comes Fat Free?).

Unfortunately, Crabby is finding that Real Life Responsibilities are interfering with her compulsive web surfing scholarly research on Health Issues. Will she get back on track or is she heading down the slippery slope of Blog Slackitude? Only one way to find out--stay tuned to Cranky Fitness over the weeks and months to come! In the meantime, here's the usual Friday Fare, with far fewer calories but packed with tons of healthy preservatives.

Nitrites and Nitrates: Our new Best Friends?
Hidden within an article with the innocent title "Eating Your Greens Could Prove Life-Saving If A Heart Attack Strikes," was some news that Crabby found totally freaky. This study (which involved administering nitrite to mice) apparently suggested "that the chemical nitrite, found in many vegetables, could be the secret ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet."


Isn't nitrite (and nitrates, which are some sort of precursor or something) supposed to be really Evil and Carcinogenic and a good reason to either avoid processed meats or seek out special fancy expensive brands that don't have any?

The article went on to quote the researcher, Dr. Lefer as saying: "recent research has found no convincing evidence that nitrite and nitrate pose a cancer risk." He also noted that Europeans consume nearly 100 times the amount of nitrite and nitrate daily because they eat so many more vegetables. "This large intake of nitrite and nitrate poses no known risks and could certainly help explain why the Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy despite its relatively high fat content," he says. (Lefer hails from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Crabby has no idea if that's impressive or not, not being much of an Einstein herself).

Crabby actually ran into this issue before, when she reviewed some tasty nitrite-free lunch meat. She was sure there would be a ton of recent research saying nitrites were evil, but couldn't find much. She just put it down to her lack of Google skills. Still--seems best to take the "eat more vegetables" part to heart and don't go racing out to load up on lunch-meats. For whatever reasons, heavy consumption of red and processed meats is still thought to raise cancer risk.

Got Milk Thistle?
According to a recent study, silibinin, a compound found in milk thistle, may reduce cancer cell proliferation and help kill off cancer cells. Milk thistle is already a widely used folk remedy used for liver disease. But, well, what does it taste like in coffee?

Something They Don't Show Nearly Enough of On Grey's Anatomy:
The shows self-absorbed doctors-in-training very rarely accidentally poke themselves with needles--but real residents apparently do it all the time. Problem is, they're not reporting it. A survey by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that "99 percent of surgeons-in-training suffered an average of eight needle-stick injuries in their first five years. Of these surgeons, only 49 percent reported the injuries. “We know also that many residents resist reporting because the training culture suggests that needle sticks ‘go with the territory’ and reporting them may lower peer esteem,” said one of the authors. (Via That'sFit).

And so on to Randomness... after only three items of actual Health Research? Yeah, well, Crabby got distracted the pictures of Tree Root Man, which seem to be both disturbing and authentic. Next time you find yourself complaining about your stiff joints... a little perspective.

Hide the Falafel...
So Mary at the always-amusing Sheesh alerted Crabby to this bizarre FBI scheme to catch terrorists by tracking their tahini. According to Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly, "the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists... The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area."

And What the F*ck, More Research on Swearing! You can also thank Mary for finding us a high-brow article in The New Republic, revealing everything one needs to know about cursing, including how the interplay between the neocortex and the limbic system make it particularly effective! As it happens, obscenity is one of Crabby's favorite hobbies, so this was an excellent find.

Perhaps Not as Highbrow...
But not to be missed: Amy's hilarious illustrated account of social discomfort at the gym.

An Exercise Video with No Animals In It?
Crabby tried hard to find some animal fitness footage, but too many of the possibilities this week either seemed (a) boring or (b) a little cruel. So instead of animals, she'll direct you to this strange but amusing competition . And yes, it is Japanese, how did you guess?

Oh Wait, Do These Count?
If you have gotten this far down and are still sampling links, you might be goofy enough to appreciate this bit of cow weirdness. Or you could always take your cursor on a walk with a feisty little dog.

And sadly, that's all for this Friday, but notice how energetic you feel when your not totally stuffed? Anyway, enjoy your nitrites and have a great weekend!

November 15, 2007

Getting Rid of Stuff You Don't Need

Is this an inspirational post about letting go of anger and petty resentments, embracing joy and forgiveness, and moving forward to appreciate every moment of a more spiritual, generous, and unencumbered existence?

Nah. Let's not get carried away here.

Crabby just has a bunch of crap in the basement that she's gonna have to sort through before she and the Lobster can sell the house. So that's what this post is about.

(Health-related? Well, um, there's always "mental health" and so... hmm... something about honoring the past while moving forward and avoiding procrastination and tackling things and you'll feel better blah blah blah?)

The real reason for the post is that Crabby needs to try to figure out how to take pictures and put them on her blog and stop using stock photos all the time. Eventually she wants to learn how to be more like her blog idol, the world-famous Bossy. (And you MUST go check out Bossy's blog if you haven't recently, especially this post. It's even fitness related!)

But here's the problem with aspiring to be Bossy one day: Crabby is crap at taking pictures. And she's never learned how to do photo editing because it looks really complicated. Today will be the first time she ever even attached a camera to her computer and downloaded a photo--before, the Lobster just emailed her stuff.

However, Crabby is feeling all inspired by the advice she got yesterday--many of you pointed out that you really need to try New Things sometimes. (Plus, it is time to start sorting through all those piles of junk stashed all over the house so she and the Lobster can get ready to move to Disneyland Provincetown!)

Of Course This Isn't Crabby's Photo
(Just Seeing If You Were Paying Attention)

So let's get started, shall we?

When sorting through your own personal belongings, whether for a move or "spring cleaning" or whatever, do any of you struggle with deciding what to keep and what to toss?

Like there seem to be some items that are not the least bit useful but somehow you can't bring yourself to throw them away:

The Recycling Guys Won't Take Her Anyway

But then there are other items that are a little easier to part with:

She Did Watch it, Once

Sometimes, you don't even know what the hell the thing is:.

It Probably Cuts Something, but What?

And then there are items you can't throw out, but you really shouldn't move them either. You may have to suck it up and deal with them.

This is Money, but Not the Fun Kind

And others items have only sentimental value and you probably shouldn't move them again one more time. (Especially if you no longer own a turntable).

So What if They're Warped? So is Crabby!

In fact, Crabby promised she wouldn't move her humongous box of unplayable lp's ever again. She hadn't opened the box since two moves ago.

She swears she won't just re-label the box: Important Tax Records; Must Save! Because that would be sneaky and dishonest and very, very wrong.

So is Crabby the only one who has Trouble Getting Rid of Stuff? What do you folks do about keeping, tossing, or moving your worldly possessions?

November 14, 2007

Take My Advice--I'm Not Using It

So the title of this post was once a refrigerator magnet or a bumper sticker or something, one that was meant to be funny. But, well, it's true, right? It's so much easier to give advice than to take it. We see other people doing stupid things to mess up their lives, and we feel almost a physical urge to slap them upside the head and tell them that they should be doing smart things instead.

Then at the same time, we go around doing the same kind of stupid-ass things ourselves, just a slightly different version.

When you're young people give you lots of advice, most of which you ignore. And then you get older and you wish you'd paid attention to at least a little of it. So then you see a young person about to make the same mistakes you did and you naturally want to scream: STOP THAT! YOU ARE GOING TO BE SO F*CKING SORRY LATER, I SWEAR!

But either you hold your tongue, or you tell them what they should do and they just ignore you. Sort of like you did when you were young and people tried to warn you about things.

And as we grow up into adulthood and middle age and old age, we keep doing things that later we may regret. You know that saying about youth being wasted on the young? Well maybe all the life stages are wasted on those who are living them, because we get too caught up in what's happening in our daily lives to make smart decisions about the Big Things. Or even the little things. What are we all doing now that we'll regret twenty years down the road?

If someone actually told us now, would we pay any attention?

So here's a chance for any Cranky Fitness readers, of whatever age, to pass along Unsolicited Life Advice to others. (Note: you don't have to actually follow your own advice yourself. That's way harder.)

And Life Advice can be about Big Things or Little Things. Because the Little Things are important too! Remember the "sunscreen graduation speech" that was widely circulated a decade ago? (It was written by Mary Schmich, but falsely attributed to Kurt Vonnegut at the time). Well, part of the reason it was so popular, aside from the attribution error, was that it contained Smaller Truths as well as the Bigger ones. (And because one of the huge regrets many of us have as we age is, actually, that we didn't wear enough damn sunscreen.)

Anyway, this is one of those posts that will happen mostly in the Comments section, because readers always have the best advice! (And it would be particularly useful if people had advice for middle-aged and older people as well as youngsters, because some of us are actually not so young anymore. We need age-appropriate advice that we can ignore too. So, youngsters, don't feel shy about telling us old farts what we should do, since we're always handing out plenty advice down your direction).

Anyway, here are a few initial random pieces of unsolicited advice. And lets hope it gets better than this when you folks weigh in!

1. Ignore almost everything you learned as an adolescent. Adolescence is not like the rest of life--just grit your teeth and get through it and try not to let it permanently damage your self-esteem. Adolescent popularity often seems to involve: obsessing over your appearance; having the "right" clothes or gear; conforming to what everyone else around you is doing; disdaining anyone in authority or anyone below you on the social ladder; and taking lots of reckless chances just for the hell of it.

This is not, strangely enough, the best formula for happiness later in life.

And sure, there are few lucky folks who succeed at being popular and successful both as teenagers and as grown ups--but often there is almost an inverse relationship between teenage happiness and any other kind.

2. Don't slouch. Even if you are embarrassed by your height, your boobs, your lack of boobs, or whatever--you will regret your lousy posture later. There will come a time when you don't even have the option to pull your shoulders back anymore or stand up straight if you don't get in the habit when you're younger.

3. Don't smoke cigarettes.

4. Don't marry or have kids young. Unless you are (a) incredibly lucky or (b) unusually wise beyond your years. This is because there is almost no correlation between what makes someone seem incredibly attractive to the average, say, 19-year-old, and what makes a person a caring, reliable, loving partner worthy of a lifetime commitment.

Play the field first, however you might define "play." Learn whether you are naturally attracted to people who are good to you. If not, teach yourself to find good people attractive before you commit yourself (and possibly your children) to someone who isn't kind or stable. It's not fair to your kids, or yourself, to marry an abusive or neglectful or just-plain-crazy person in order to fulfill some kind of romantic fantasy. The stakes are way too high.

5. Don't fear exercise--get used to it early and it becomes like brushing your teeth--something you may not always feel like but that is so ingrained you feel sort of ashamed and dirty if you don't get around to it.

6. Start saving money and earning interest on it as soon as you are able. If you are five years old and your mommy is reading this blog to you right now and the tooth fairy just left you a dollar? Then make mommy give you change for that dollar and put a quarter of it right in the bank. Seriously, that whole compounded-interest thing is totally amazing. If you save a big chunk of those tooth fairy quarters and babysitting dollars and foregone Starbucks lattes and first paychecks and holiday bonuses and let it all earn interest for a few decades? Voila: financial security. (Or at least a lot less debt!).

7. Hang on to memories too, not just money. Keep those old pictures of yourself, your family, your friends, your exes--even some of the unflattering or painful ones. As time goes on you really will forget what you looked like, what you wore, who you hung out with, where you went and, well, who the hell you were. Later, you will be curious.

8. Put more effort into being kind and pleasant to your loved ones than you do your boss or your clients or your co-workers. Not that you should be rude to or abrupt with anyone. But too many people seem to feel that their own partners or family members don't merit the same patience and courtesy they extend in "social" situations to colleagues or even total strangers. This is backwards, really common, and kinda screwed up when you think about it.

9. If you have safely reached middle age with some cherished long-term friendships intact, and you find yourself telling a funny story: realize that you already told these people this story. Yes, you have, even if you don't remember that you did. If it is indeed funny and it happened more than 24 hours ago--yep, they've heard it. The reason they are smiling and laughing and asking questions is because they like you, and because they're really nice people. So go ahead and tell it again and enjoy the warmth that their laughter brings--but make sure to appreciate those people who make your old stories feel new each time.

10. Notice at least a few things you feel grateful for every single day. This is one of those hokey, saccharine, syrupy, trite, sometimes tiresome bits of advice that is nonetheless incredibly powerful if you follow it. Life is not predictable and it certainly isn't fair--but the part we can control is how we feel about it.

So folks, please don't be shy with your words of wisdom--some of us could really use a few hints!

November 13, 2007

Overweight and Living Longer: Why the Scowl?

So our last Random Friday Roundup discussed (really briefly) a recent study on weight and mortality. You remember--it's the one that looked at what people tend to die from, depending on how heavy they are. Want some more info on the study, like what might up and kill you one day? Check out the JAMA abstract, the AP summary, or one of a couple of interesting NY Times articles, here and here.

But the types of diseases and their prevalence are not what this post is about.

Here's the thing: it wasn't the particular causes of death that got most people talking on the web, though those are pretty interesting too. The thing that surprised everyone (including Crabby) was actually announced two years ago during the first part of the study: people who were overweight had an overall lower risk of dying during the study period than those of normal weight. (People who were underweight or obese, on the other hand, had a higher risk of death than normal).

So the study that's in the news right now is just a follow-up study, adding another year of mortality data and sorting out which things each group actually died of.

Which leads to the question: If this all came out a couple years ago, why are so many of us surprised? The fact that non-obese overweight people live longer than slimmer ones must have been in the news back then. Yet Crabby has no memory of it.

Why did that interesting bit of information seem to disappear entirely from the ongoing (and constant) media discussion of health and weight?

It seems like these study findings should be welcomed--as a society, more people are moving from the normal to the overweight category, so if being overweight actually keeps you from dying younger, isn't that a good thing? Crabby is not overweight herself, so has just now discovered that statistically she's actually more likely to croak early, but she still thinks this sounds like good news for the population in general.

Is the problem that the data came from a dubious source? Uh, nope. While we're always being bombarded with news reports about tiny obscure studies saying bizarre things, this wasn't one of those. It was a humongous CDC study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Which ain't Parade magazine, right)?

Yet it seems that most health experts don't especially want to acknowledge this result. In fact, there's been an immediate rush to explain it away and minimize it. As apparently happened the last time too! Which might be part of the reason the message got lost and we all went back to thinking that moderately overweight people (who are not obese) are at greater risk of death, not less. Which happens to be wrong.

So what's the deal with that?

Sure, one reason could be because "overweight" can be a stage people pass through on the way to obesity. Obesity is still a big health risk. So you don't want people to get confused and stop caring what they eat or how much they consume. And you still want to encourage everyone to exercise and eat healthy cancer-fighting heart-protecting whole foods--which, as it happens, will also likely lead to weight loss in folks who have been previously sitting in front of the tv every night eating mostly crap.

And it's true there are particular medical conditions made worse by even moderate excess weight--diabetes come to mind. People who are at high risk for one of those kinds of conditions should definitely take that into consideration.

But why do so many health experts seem so eager to cling to the "heavier body weight will kill you" idea? It's as though they'd almost be disappointed if it turned out not to be true. Do they see fat as a moral issue? Is there some inherent appeal to the notion that skinny must be healthier than chubby because it seems more "virtuous?"

As a practical matter, the study probably won't make that much difference anyway. Because many people, particularly women, aren't motivated to lose weight because of their health. They may say that's why, but it's really mostly because they want to look hot. And our culture, for the moment, insists that skinny is hot. Curvy or beefy is not.

On the other hand, some people who are somewhat "overweight" do care more about their health than their appearance. They're exercising, eating their vegetables and their lean protein, and they're not scarfing down junk food on a regular basis. Yet they can't get to "normal" weight no matter how hard they try because they're just not built that way. And their doctors continue to scowl at them like they're irresponsible children or greedy criminals.

This finding may be contradicted by another study, as often happens. Who knows. But what if it turns out to be true that going from a non-obese but chubby size to a tiny little skinny size doesn't buy you anything health-wise? What if being a bit overweight is all just about appearance?

Then Crabby may have to rethink her approach to things a bit. Eat all the healthy stuff, do all the exercise... but don't sweat a few extra calories? Or at least acknowledge that to forgo them is purely about vanity and not about health or longevity?

Hmmm. Further pondering may have to take place in the tiny Crab brain.

Anyway, Crabby might well be missing something obvious here. She's very curious what you all think.

(Also, Soap Box Girl had a great post on this study too, which you all should definitely check out.)

November 12, 2007

Time For More Rhyme!

When Cranky Fitness changed web addresses last week, Crabby wrote a little poem about it. She hoped the appalling weirdness of her verse would shock you all into changing your bookmarks. She even fantasized that the announcement would generate some Technorati mojo for her brand new, Zero-Authority blog.

And, well, it helped! Thank you, all of you who have re-linked and re-bookmarked to the new

So Crabby is not going to let herself get depressed about starting all over from zero. She's not even sure what Technorati numbers are supposed to be good for, other than boosting one's bleego. (Bleego is a word Crabby just made up for "Blog Ego," an easy-to-injure sense of blog-worth. Someone else may have already coined the term but Crabby hasn't read of it yet, so it doesn't count. Bleego is sort of like self-worth, but more twisted and geeky. Excessive bleego can cause undue fascination with stats and resentment of other more successful blogs; best to keep bleego well in check).

Anyway. After subjecting poor readers to her tortured rhymes about blog URLs last week, Crabby asked if anyone else had any to share, and guess what?

The answer was yes!

Many witty poems appeared in the comments section to that post. Go here to read the awesome contributions of Marijke, Kristen, Missicat, Melissa, P.O.M., Jim, Mary, Susan, and The Bag Lady!

(And make sure you click some of their links, too, and sample further cleverness on their very fine blogs).

But a couple of great poems were also sent in by email, and Crabby thought she'd share them with you all since many of you already had the chance to read the earlier ones. (And pssst: Got any more? If any of you have health or blog-related silly poems or haiku to share, please email them to Crabby and she'll hang onto them for future postings!)

So first up is a poem by our good friend Hilary at The Smitten Image.

I'll Diet Tomorrow

Went grocery shopping and what did I buy?
Nothing fattening at all - so stoic was I,
'Cause I saw all the cookies and pistachio nuts
And I knew if I bought them, they'd go straight to my butt

I ignored all the ice cream and potato chips
And all of the junk that just inflates my hips.
I was ever so strong, and my resolve was the same
When I heard the dark chocolate call out my name

I came home again, put the groceries away
Proud of the willpower I had summoned today.
I made a light lunch, nothing fattening of course.
I was bound and determined I'd have no need for remorse.

I thought I'd see what my next blog post would entail
But first I remembered to go check my mail.
A plain package was waiting, a simple disguise,
I had no way of knowing it would do harm to my thighs.

I opened the wrapping and dug deep down inside
Where lots of my favourites were trying to hide.
I saw fudge chunks and cocoa and dark chocolate chips
And I knew it meant trouble if they dared touch my lips.

There was Hershey and Baker's, Godiva and Lindt
And sweet Ghiradelli with almonds and mint.
My willpower weakened in the course of a blink
And I could already feel my jeans start to shrink.

So I'll diet tomorrow, or next week, month or year
I'll approach it with purpose, be firm and austere.
I'll go back to the right food, the veggies and greens
And hopefully then, reunite with my jeans.

Awesome, thank you Hilary!

And so next is a poem by another Cranky Fitness pal, Vanilla at Half-Fast. Vanilla explains that his poem was inspired by one Shel Silverstein wrote called "Sick." And though Vanilla ran this on his blog before, he allowed me to steal it and run here too. Enjoy!


"I cannot run this race today,"
Said Half-Fast, while in bed he lay.
"I pulled my hamstring and my groin,
I have a serious swelling in every loin.
My feet are blistered, my ankle's sprained,
And what if I have over-trained?
My arches have fallen to the floor,
My body feels like it's ninety-four,
I've got shin splints, athlete's foot and stitches,
And now my kneecap really itches.
My heel is burdened by Achilles Tendonitis,
Or it might just be Plantar Fasciitis,
Either way I should stay at home,
And not risk Patellofemoral Syndrome.
My feet are too slow, my legs are too fast,
And what if I keep getting passed?
I once heard that running can cause arthritis,
I'm already developing Hip Bursitis.
My quad's are too loose, my hamstring's too tight,
My left leg's faster than my right.
My calves have turned a dark shade of orange,
I got my toe caught in a door-hinge,
It caused a muscle tear, just partial,
And I know it broke my metatarsal.
I have Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or I.B.S.
And look! My hair is such an awful mess.
I dislocated my funny bone,
I'm sure I suffer from Plica Syndrome,
I have Tennis Elbow, and my belly is -- what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today's the scheduled pre-race rest day?
G'bye, I’m off to carbo-load and eat soufflĂ©."

Another great one, thanks Vanilla!

Problem is, these folks are setting the bar for health and fitness poetry way too high. It's time for Crabby to lower it again!


Oatmeal with flax
May prevent heart attacks.
But pastries with icing
Are far more enticing.

Have a silly Monday, everyone!