December 03, 2007

Ask Cranky Fitness

[Written by Mary. But then Crabby came in and messed with it.]
We Get Letters! Well, No, Actually, We Don't.

You have questions.

Cranky Fitness has answers.

Not necessarily the right answers, but let's not be fussy about it. (Talk to a licensed medical professional if you want to pay a bunch of money receive legitimate medical or psychological advice).

But first, a bit of Exciting Blog Background!

Long, long ago (on her second day of blogging, actually) Crabby tried to start an Advice Column called Dear Crabby. (Because it rhymed with Dear Abbby--get it?) The column ran exactly one post, then Crabby forgot completely about it.

Then Along Comes Mary (which is also the title of a song that was totally not about marijuana), and what is one of her very first suggestions? An Advice Column! Unlike Crabby, however, Mary actually did something about it, and wrote some stuff. We like that about her.

Anyway, Crabby will join in the fun eventually, because it's easier than writing her own posts. But for now, she'll leave Ask Cranky Fitness in Mary's capable hands.

And what if you find you have an actual question for the authors of Cranky Fitness? Go ahead and send it! We'll probably just ignore it though, unless it's the sort of question we can respond to in a silly fashion. We promise to be totally arbitrary and capricious in choosing questions to answer.

Anyway, take all advice with a grain of salt and maybe a shot of tequila.

Dear Cranky Fitness,

I've read about all these people who go running with their dogs, and how it's much more fun when you have a furry companion. My dog is only interested in sniffing the bushes and saying hello to the lady dogs he meets. What should I do?
- signed Bemused with Bowser

Dear BwB,

First of all, the Cranky Fitness organization wishes to be pointlessly intrusive and suggest that you have Bowser fixed. It might help with his urge to flirt. Secondly, is your pooch the right breed for a long run? Some breeds, such as bulldogs, aren't suitable running companions. If you've got a breed like a retriever, which can go for runs, take heart. They can be trained to run by your side, given time and patience. In an effort to help those who don't believe in patience, tireless scientists in white coats that tie in the back here at Cranky Fitness are doing research into a Rent-a-Squirrel(TM) apparatus, which you can dangle in front of your dog to keep him running. Until then, if you really want to run with a furry companion, and Rover is proving recalcitrant, try jogging in remote redwood forests.

Dear Cranky Fitness,

When is it too cold to exercise outdoors? I really hate the thought of using a treadmill when I could be out in the fresh air.

- signed, Fresh Air Fiend

Dear F.A.F.

The fine folks at C.F. base their estimate of "too cold" on California/Oregon temperatures and their own Sensitive Internal Thermometers. Anything below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and we're thinking dog sleds and Eskimos. For people in less friendly climes, here's an article that might prove helpful. We especially like the instruction to "think of yourself as a triple-layer chocolate cake." Any advice that involves chocolate cake can't be all bad.

So, clever readers, any thoughts about Advice Columns? Exercising with Animals or in the Freezing Cold? Or is there anything else on your minds? Tell us all about it!


  1. i think it would probably have to be wellll below freezing before it is too cold to exercise outside. if you are moving vigorously and are bundled up enough, you can warm up pretty quickly.

  2. I have a question -- what do people do who are a)too poor to buy a gym membership and b)too cheap to buy a treadmill? In the season of snow&ice, I mean. I don't want to turn into a couch potato until April :(

  3. MaryGrace, the trouble I ran into (no pun intended) was that even with wick-material layers, I would sweat and then get cold as the sweat cooled my body.
    It's also a regional thing. My aunt lives down by Palm Springs, and she doesn't like to exercise when it's really cold, like in the 50s.

  4. I need to find a name that's cool and Short.

  5. The Bag Lady lives where it actually IS cold (right now, it's minus 23C with a wind-chill of -34C, which is around -25F) and there's no f**king way she would be running outside! Unless, of course, it was from the house to the truck! (Of course, the Bag Lady doesn't run in warm weather, either...her dog won't let her!)

    The Bag Lady DOES exercise outside in this weather, though. Chopping firewood, feeding cows, shoveling snow. Who needs a treadmill...?!

  6. I actually enjoy running when it's a bit on the cooler side, as long as it is not sleeting or snowing heavily of course! Tried to exercise with the cat, but as you can imagine that did not work out well. ;-)

  7. Oh, and she loves the idea of a 'Dear Crabby' column!!
    And she thinks we should all send in suggestions for poor Mary to find a cooler name.
    The Bag Lady's suggestion? She's working on it....

  8. I suspect MaryGrace is the hearty type, as opposed to the whiny type. As a whiner, I find I start off Way Too Cold, and am soon Way Too Warm.

    And Mary, I love that you ask questions in your own advice column! Too bad dear Abby doesn't do that or her columnn would be much more fun.

    Um... snowshoes?

    And OMG Bag Lady, those temperatures should be illegal!

  9. Oops, hope I didn't scare Mary off by jumping in all over the place.

    Missicat, if you've tried to exercise with your cat you're a braver woman than I! (And I actually like the cold too, at least down to the 20's if it's not too windy. But layers, lots o' layers!)

  10. Sheesh, Bag Lady, and I complain if I have to walk a dog in the rain.

    I'm with you, Crabby, I'd love to ask Missicat how you exercise with a cat. Walk a cat on a leash until a dog comes along, then sprint to keep up with the cat as it races down the path trying to keep ahead of the dog chasing it? That would certainly be aerobic.

  11. Actually, I try to use him as weights and do curls with him - only when I am in a mood to really torment him. hehe. :-) He's pretty tolerant but I usually can get only one or two in before he bolts.
    Yes, I need a life....

  12. I ran in -11C with a windchill of -20C (the metric system is a bitch, eh?) ...and dreamt of pancakes, not cake the whole time.

    It can be done but -15 is my cut off. You can't feel body parts at that point and you don't need to exercise THAT badly.

    No gym? Need cardio? Too cold? Walk around in the mall instead. It's warm and you're being active. Just leave the credit cards at home...or don't. Retail therapy burns calories too, right?

  13. Okay, two days in a row where Blogger ate my comment. I'm going to get a simplex if this keeps up.

    Last year during an evening bike ride a local black lab decided to accompany me. He stopped for a drink when I did and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the 12 mile trip. I was only going to go 10, but he just looked so happy I added the extra two miles.

    I have to go shovel some snow later on. That's the only cold weather exercise I do. It's -27C right now. Not sure about any wind chill.

  14. I am too poor to buy a gym membership and/or a treadmill, and what I do is a) run outside (brrr!) and b) haunt craigslist's free listings and pounce on exercise equipment that is free! I may have gone a little overboard with that, in fact, as I now have an apartment full of the gimmicky exercise machines other people bought and didn't use. You kinda need a car for that plan, though, or at least a friend with a car, so you can move your "Hot Cross Buns Machine"

  15. Why is it that none of the cold weather exercise posts inspired me, but the mention of hot cross buns made me hungry?

  16. I have found that one of the best winter workouts is snowshoeing - minus the snowshoes. If you seriously want a cardio workout with some serious leg strengthening exercises, go walking in the woods dressed in 10 lbs of snowsuit and giant snowboots in snow that goes to at least mid-thigh.

    Needless to say, this was discovered not by trying to workout, but by trying to play in the snow / get somewhere that was buried in snow.

  17. I can't talk about the cold weather problem, since I live in a state that rarely sees freezing weather. However, I can sympathize with pet owners who want to train their dog to run. I thought I'd NEVER get my two trained! (I have two Australian Shepherds) I finally got them trained properly after reading _The Dog Whispherer_. It took about 3 months before I could take them for a run without them getting distracted by squirrels, other dogs, interesting pee-pee on the sides of trees, etc. Now that they are trained, it's wonderful taking them running. My male dog helps to set the pace. He keeps a very steady trot. Hang in there. It's totally worth it!

  18. Running with dog = excellent workout, particularly if that dog wants to run faster than you and pulls you along to keep up. You either a) run faster, getting in excellent sprint training whether you want it or not or b) resist, in which case you get a great arm/back workout holding that leash. I find it helps keep me distracted and I focus less on getting done, if I'm worried about getting tangled up.
    But alas, my poor dog hasn't been running since it got Too Cold (arbitrarily chosen as October 1, though I come from the land of the ice and snow and we recently had temperatures of -30C for a full week which I'd say is too cold)

  19. I suppose I could run in the cold. According to that article I really just need the right clothing. If I wait until about 3 in the afternoon the sun will be shining and...

    Naaah. Who am I kidding. Except for the occasional *slightly* not-freezing day, I'm shelving those running shoes til at least March.

  20. Re: exercising during cool / cold weather, hubby and I have been taking wonderful walks in the woods, and the cold is no problem as long as we're dressed for it. Moving around, as Marygrace pointed out, keeps you warm!

  21. As a Colorado native and one who has always exercised outside in the winter, I say that the best bet is to layer in several thin, non-cotton layers and to wear thin gloves that don't make your hands sweat. Being a little cold at first helps me to keep pushing myself (and to keep dragging my dog who is not as well-trained as soap box girl's)

  22. i think 40 degrees is WAY too cold to run in(as it is right no in tx) and therefore i did not even get past the driveway today. and layers make me hott...than cold. id say find another workout...or gym.
    aas for dogs, i have a mini pom, she cant keep up walking. and my spoiled cat would flip out outdoors...itd be flippin hilarious!
    as for an advice column...i think that is a fabulous idea! itd be cool to see what qs people have...anyhoo...;)


  23. Hmmm... will have to see what mind-boggling questions I can come up with! I'm sure ther're A LOT I don't know about health and fitness. I'll only ask the questiones if I'm guaranteed a snarky reply!

  24. couldn't help but notice that no one mentioned exercise dvds as a way to get a workout without the gym or shivering aerobically outside. as long as you get one you like (think dance or kickboxing, if your masochistic), you should be okay/motivated enough to do it.

  25. Okay, now I'm dying to know where you are...given this California/Oregon reference.....


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