August 29, 2008

Surfer DVD Giveaway

[By Merry]

It's Friday! And there's a giveaway! What more do you need?


Well yes, a surfboard and a good tan would be nice too...

And it's a holiday weekend, which is a definite bonus. All the more reason to celebrate!

So what are you giving away?

1 core training workout DVD and 1 surfer's workout DVD by Surf Stronger.


These DVDs are designed to give you the same workout you would get from surfing, especially focused on exercising the core muscles. And you don't even need a surfboard and a beach to get the workout! You can do these DVDs at home, on the road, or even download the program to your iPod, which opens up a lot of possible exercise locations.

This site has a couple of short videos that explain more about the training, plus you get to look at a lot of people doing some cool surfing.

Why would I want one of these?

Sadly, a free tan does not come with the DVD. But the good news is that with this new, hot, toned bod you will be able to hit the beach and get a tan without feeling like a wimp.

I like the idea of getting some of the moves down before actually getting in the water and having to deal with waves, other surfers, sharks, jellyfish and snickering dolphins. (Does anyone remember the old TV show, Flipper? I swear that dolphin was snickering.)

There are already enough variables to master, it would be good to have the body prepared for the actual surfing itself.

Always carry a surfboard if you're lost in the jungle... just in case...


Also, I wonder if this would help people who want to do snowboarding. Isn't that like surfing on frozen water?


Who is eligible to enter?

Yes, it's only available for U.S. residents, but this might be a great gift for any friends you have in the U.S., so if you live in other climes you can still join in! Or just leave a comment. We're easy.

What do I have to do? When is the deadline? When do I find out that I've won?

Just enter a comment, preferably something that will make Crabby and me snicker like Flipper. The Random Number Generator will work its magic Tuesday, September 2nd at Midnight EST.

Then check back Wednesday September 3rd to see if you've won! If you did, email us your mailing address at crabby mcslacker at gmail dot com to claim your prize (by Midnight on Thursday, September 4th).

Moments in Yoga and "Real Life"


[Special Guest Post by Little M]

Note: this is another great inspirational guest post from LittleM, enjoy!--Crabby

In principle, and when I’m in something resembling shape (Hey! Trapezoid is a shape), I love extreme yoga.

Sometimes it loves me back. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I remember the first time I tried one of Bryan Kest’s DVDs. Like being in class, only more ridiculous. I’m face down, in chaturanga (that’s something like a deformed pushup, for those of you not into the Sanskrit), nose about 5 inches from the mat, dripping from my forehead onto it, and Bryan’s droning authoritatively on about: “This … yoga … has a tendency to expose our weaknesses. So that … we have the opportunity … to make those weaknesses … strengths.”

You can imagine that the blood was rushing in my ears after Sentence One so much that I barely heard Sentence Two. I wavered between nodding – in the miniscule part of my mind that was still conscious – thinking, “Yup! Suuuuure does!” and calling him something unprintable.

(Not his fault that I had no tricep or transverse strength at the time. But I digress.)

Gradually, I got better. I got through the DVD and its variations. I went to workshop. I had focus. I could do crow pose (balance your knees on your triceps, use ab muscles for control – nifty) and wheel pose (push up using the whole back of the body, from triceps to hamstrings - also nifty).

And then life happened. (Again.) And I lost it all.

I know from comments here that so many here are much better at the discipline thing. Of remembering right then – before you do the dishes or finish the report or run across town for the meeting or text someone in your family with just one more thing – how much better you feel when you’ve done your regular fitness thing.

But it gets away from some of us. I mean waaaay the way away, until you start wondering if it’s true what they say about losing a pound of muscle per year after 21 or so, and whether that’s going to affect anything besides your pant size, like blood flow to the brain since the heart is a muscle – and whether that’s – eventually - going to affect your performance review at work.

So I rearranged the schedule yet again – whining the whole time – and paid the membership to a new gym (a 24-hour one this time!). And took my resistance bands. And did my HIIT. And did a different set of yoga DVDs to prep for strength, to see if there was any possible way I could get back to that place where wheel pose, (that bada** combination of flexibility and strength) while never a walk in the park, was a challenge I had the body confidence to meet.

But I was scared. I mean, it had been more than a minute. I didn’t know if I could get it back. I didn’t know if I’d ever get it back.

I also knew – gritting my teeth a bit – that I was never going to find out if I didn’t try.

I felt my strength in my arms. I planted my feet. I breathed in deep (like they always tell you to), looked at the world – upside down – and I thought (aping the guy on my HIIT CDs, who sounds much more convincing when he says it):

“Nothing to it.”

And up I went.


So now I have a whole different question: What am I going to do with that moment – the moment between “yes I really can do this” and actually doing THE THING, when you thought you’d NEVER be able to do The Thing, or never be able to do The Thing AGAIN – once I get off this mat??

What do you do? How do you use it? How do you carry your “moments” from “fitness” back into “real life”?

August 28, 2008

Rhymes & Randomimity

[By Merry]
Where'd everybody go?

Note: because it amused the muse, part of this post is expressed in poetical form. However, for those who are not especially fond of poetry, a prose translation has been included at no extra charge.

'Twas the Thursday before Labor Day
And all through the blog
Not a commenter in sight
All were lost in the smog


I know, it's the day before the start of a holiday weekend, and the last one of the summer at that. That means the reading population of this blog has been cut in half (i.e. only 1 person is reading this). It's pretty lonely in here.

They were all stuck in traffic
On the road, not the 'Net,
Seeking vacation,
To get away and forget.


I mean, even Crabby's joined the Witness Protection program gone on holiday.


In which case, Merry thought,
Why bother with genius?
There's no one to read
Or react, e'en with meanness.


It wouldn't hurt to amuse myself. (You won't tell Crabby, will you?)


Screw it! thought she
(but poetically so)
It's Random Link time
And no one need know.


Relevant Health-related stuff

MizFit had the brilliant idea of doing lunges while cleaning the kitchen floor... and, even more brilliant, the idea of getting other people to clean the kitchen under the guise of their "getting a workout." Sheer genius, that woman.

Sure, she can do Windows, but could she handle a Mac?

This idea is being implemented on a larger scale at a gym in Portland

In this gym, you can ride an exercise bike (or use the treadmill, etc.) and the energy gets converted into electricity. As they put it "reduce your waistline and your carbon footprint."

If you're feeling more in the pedestrian mode, Dr. Mirkin has an article on how to increase walking speed.


Cows and humans have more in common than you thought

You've probably seen or heard of the new finding that, even without being herded, cattle align on a north/south orientation.


Apparently, humans do something similar:
Some studies suggest humans who sleep in an East-West position have far shorter rapid eye movement or REM sleep cycles, in which dreams occur, compared with North-South sleepers who got more REM sleep.

What's that doing in a random lineup? It strikes me as amusing, bizarre, and probably an indication that we've all been planted here for the aliens to pick up at a later date.

For some reason this reminds me of that classic early Cranky Fitness link:
Cow abduction site

Have you seen the Mothership?

CFLs are good for you!

In fact, here's a list of three of the best (in my view) early Cranky Fitness links:
- Complaint Choirs
- Cow abduction
- Free rice

Please feel free to disagree with me on this list! Send in your own favorites of erstwhile CFLs (Cranky Fitness Links).


And yes, in keeping with tradition, a cat video.


On bloggers! On readers!
On commenters off-the-wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!


One more day until the weekend!

August 27, 2008

Diet and Cancer


[Special Guest Post by Christine Hanley]

Note: this is a 3-part post by Christine of Póg Mo Thóin Slán Leat. You may want to bookmark it, because it is one of the best explanations I've ever seen as to why eating healthy can reduce your cancer risk. It's very informative and motivating, not to mention amusing, which is hard to pull of when writing about cancer. Thanks Christine!--Crabby]



What is Cancer?

One way to understand Cancer is to think of your body as a nice, posh, invite-only wine and cheese ‘do at your house. When the party (your body) is functioning properly, the number and quality of party attendees (cells) is regulated. If someone turns out to be an inappropriate guest (a cell damaged beyond repair), you ask them to leave and everything is back to normal (this is your body’s natural process of cell death, aka apoptosis).

However, let’s say something has caused you to be incapacitated for some reason (your body’s natural cell death system is not functioning properly). A real jerk shows up to your party and starts off by chugging a bottle of wine, messing with the stereo and annoying your guests, but you can’t get out there to get rid of him. Then he gets on the phone and starts inviting all his jerky friends over (the bad cell, having not gone through natural cell death, begins to replicate). The jerks start taking over for real now, since all of them are phoning their jerky friends over (all the cells are replicating uncontrollably) and they’re starting to get into areas that the party was not even supposed to be in, crowding out the nice guests you invited (regular, healthy neighbouring cells) and oh look, now there’s a disgustingly raunchy threesome with all sorts of questionably legal acts happening in your marriage bed. Like, I'm talking, one of the participants is a goat. Cancer is nasty business folks, and it’s got no respect for anyone or anything.

Now, hopefully by this stage, someone will have called the cops (you’ll have noticed something has gone wrong and gotten yourself to the doctor). Because, if this situation goes completely unchecked, some of these drunkards will get into their cars and start driving down the roads and invading other parties in town (new parts of your body) and the whole thing will start there as well. This is metastasis, where pieces of the Cancer break off and go to completely new places and grows new tumors.

So in short, Cancer is caused by your cell security system (cell death) breaking down and causing damaged cells to replicate uncontrollably, invading other tissues and possibly metastising via the blood and lymph systems into new parts of the body.


Cancer Prevention

Since Cancer is basically a bunch of bad cells dividing uncontrollably without anything to tell them to take a hike, we can infer that Cancer is therefore best avoided by preventing the loss of your cell security system. This cell security system is hard coded into your genetic code, aka your DNA. All Cancers are caused by DNA anomalies: mutations.

Mutations can be caused by any number of things; you can be born with them (Genetics), or you can acquire them, through plain old DNA replication errors, (when your cells divide normally, each cell gets a new copy of DNA made especially for it, and sometimes it’s copied wrong like a badly executed Xerox) or through something physically interfering with the DNA molecule. This last cause, physical interference, is where diet comes in to play. I’ll talk about two major types of physical interference: intercalation and oxidization.

Something to remember, however, is that you have a LOT of security. In fact, your DNA’s security systems definitely outstrip that of even a post 9/11 airport. So you need a LOT to go wrong before you get Cancer. Clearly, though, it does happen.

Intercalation

Certain types of nefarious molecules can sort of slide into your DNA like an issue of Penthouse into a Harvard Library bookshelf. High falutin’ scientists call this “intercalation”. Basically, it means that your DNA is like a big huge stack of plates. Every plate is the exact same size and type so there’s no problem stacking them so high and it’s quite stable. Intercalation is like sliding a mismatched plate into the middle of the DNA molecule. This throws off the whole stack, and can screw up all loads of things. If it screws up a part of your DNA responsible for the cell security system, you can get a runaway cell that causes Cancer.

Molecules that cause intercalation are, by and large, “flat” molecules. They’re often kind of disc shaped, usually. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are one of these: you can tell by the name: “cyclic”. Like a circle. Disc shaped. They are formed when fat is burned over high heat – so when you barbeque a steak. Another is Acrylamide, which is formed when you brown starchy foods – like when you toast a slice of bread or fry a potato.

However, the body does do a wonderful job of policing the molecules that get into it: people have a family of enzymes called Cytochrome P450s that alter alien molecules so that they don’t fit into DNA, and making them water soluble so that your body flushes them out with the rest of your wee. This is why it’s ok to eat toast and steak in moderation: because as long as you don’t give your body a deluge of these toxic compounds, your body can handle them just fine, it’s got built in defences against most of what you can throw at it as long as you’re generally treating it right.

Oxidation

The second process I’ll talk about which alters your DNA and therefore can cause Cancer is called oxidization. This is a process in which your DNA gets damaged, (oxidation is the same process that's rusting your car right now). Again, if the cell security system takes a hit… I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out by now what that means.

When you digest food, you are essentially breaking chemical bonds. Sometimes the breaking of a chemical bond creates something called a Free Radical, which is missing an electron, which will sometimes search out a stable molecule from which to steal an electron. This is considered to be a major factor in DNA damage, which not only causes Cancer, but aging in general as well.

Here is where that all powerful anti-oxidant comes in: they neutralize the Free Radicals before they can damage your DNA. Anti-oxidants are bodyguards for your DNA. To prevent Cancer, you want to make sure you have enough anti-oxidants to neutralize any Free Radicals that might occur. There is NO such thing as too many anti-oxidants.


The Cancer Most Linked to Diet


By and large, the number one Cancer that you can prevent through diet is Colorectal Cancer. It is the third most common Cancer in both men and women in the US, so it’s certainly worth pausing to think about. People don’t like to talk about it though, since it’s fundamentally Ass Cancer.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that a large risk factor for the development of Colorectal Cancer is a diet high in fat and low in fibre – which is essentially the Western diet. Researchers figured this out when they found that people from Swaziland have nearly NO Colon Cancer, which they thought might be due to the fact that the Swazilanders eat hugely fibrous Betel Nuts which make them take about 3 or 4 dumps a day. Freakin’ impressive, man. (They then did a lot of fun studies on Intestinal Transit Times involving timing how long coloured pellets took to “emerge”. Interestingly, English boarding schools were the most anal retentive. I totally wish I had a source for that one besides my University Chemistry professor.)

Anyway, since then there have been a lot of studies corroborating the fibre/colon Cancer protection link. There are a number of theories as to why this occurs, the two most popular being that fibre increases fecal bulk, thus diluting Cancer causing compounds in the intestines; as well as decreasing the amount of time the crap (literally) hangs around in your colon, thus limiting your intestines' exposure to the toxins within.

Take Home Messages


  • Your body is well equipped to deal with all sorts of intruders, as long as you don’t launch a full on dietary blitzkrieg on it. Eat foods with known carcinogens (such as BBQed meats) in moderation and your body will dispatch them quite efficiently.
  • Make sure you eat plenty of anti-oxidant containing foods (by and large these are your fruits and veggies) to provide your DNA with plenty of protection from the wear and tear of daily life.
  • Lastly, eat whole foods high in fibre: they’re your best defence against Colorectal Cancer, by getting the toxins in your poo out of your body ASAP.

Christine Hanley isn't a dietician or a doctor or anyone with any fancy shmancy right to tell you what to eat, but she did study Biology for four years at McGill University and ended up with a BSc. Which has proved to be totally useless so far, but hey, she's not bitter. She usually blogs at Póg Mo Thóin Slán Leat.

Winner of the Tight Curves giveaway is...

The Random Number Generator has spoken, and the winner of the Tight Curves giveaway is:

Therese! (of the Rothburg blog)

Please email Crabby McSlacker @ gmail dot com with your mailing address (and perhaps a full name, unless your postal carrier can find you just fine with Therese) by Tuesday night, September 2nd, midnight EST to claim your prize. (We're extending the usual deadline because of holiday weekend.)

Thanks everyone for the great comments! Therese, if after a few weeks taking this protein powder you want to send in a picture of yourself weightlifting in high heels, we will post it. That's a promise.

August 26, 2008

The 7 Types of Nice

[By Merry]

This IS mah nice face!

Here at Cranky Fitness we ipso facto don't advocate people being too damn cheerful. (Notice how I slipped a little Latin in there? That's my way of trying to make the blog look classy and impress people.)


Warning: more Latin phrases (quasi-Latin, anyway) will be appearing shortly.

But there's a difference between "too damn cheerful" and "negative to the point of being hurtful." We advocate a Zen approach to fitness: the middle path between obsequiously nice and vitriolically mean. (Or at least that's what I mean by a Zen approach on Tuesdays. On another day, the definition might be different.)

You'll find a lot of good advice on ways to deal with people who have a negative mindset and believe in sharing misery. When it's overt behavior, that's easy enough to deal with. But what do you do when you're surrounded by people who are "Nice"? Not all types of "Nice" are positive-minded or genuinely helpful -- they can even be harmful, all the more so because they operate under the cover of kindness. You need to be prepared.

There are many sub-categories, but here are the basic 7 Types of Nice:

sincerely nice [Latin: Niceous Sincerei] The really irritating thing about this type is that you can't find any reasonable reason to be irritated with them. They really want to help you if you're having a hard day, and if you're ever in a bad situation, you can count on this one to cover your back. Just avoid them first thing in the morning and everything will be fine. (They're invariably chipper in the morning.)

wannabe nice [Latin: Niceous Aspirei] Though he generally thinks you're an idiot, this person takes the time to answer foolish questions (often found in software companies working with ignorant technical writers). Will help at the gym with adjusting weights or explaining how to use a tricky piece of equipment.

because it's expected nice [Latin: Niceous DeRigeurei] She'll bring a hostess gift to a party, even if it's a potluck, because That's The Way Things are Done. Note: according to experts, it is not advisable to wear white shoes after Labor day if you are going to be in this person's vicinity.

so long as it's not an effort nice [Latin: Niceous StatusQuois] The type who would help a little old lady cross the street, so long as he was going to cross the street anyway. Will hold the door open for you if he's going into the gym right before you. Won't hold the elevator if he's in a hurry.


Watch out, anything below this line is potentially harmful.
_______________________________________________________________


passive-aggressive nice [Latin: Niceous Backstabi] This type acquiesces if you ask them a favor, but underneath they hide a seething cauldron of resentment that can spill over into acts of petty irksomeness when you least expect it. Superficially can resemble Niceous Sincerei, but can be distinguished by morose silences, hurt sighs, and the response "No, nothing's the matter." Siiiiiiigh.

whiplash nice [Latin: Niceous D'Escalieri] This type specializes in double talk that doesn't sting until you've left. You'll be driving home after the party, and suddenly think "Oh, that's what he meant."

Often recognized in the wild by the silence created when you walk into the room and the averted glances ("Who me? Talk about you? Never! Nice outfit, by the way. Those lycra bicycle pants really cover your stretch marks, don't they? You can hardly see them at all.") Typical retort: "All I said was..." accompanied by a hurt look.

Best way to deal with this species: Take their words at face value. They'll either think you're too stupid to appreciate their wit (and do you really care what they think?) and leave you alone, or they'll get frustrated into evolving into an even nastier type of "Nice." Or maybe, just maybe, they'll modify their behaviour and become a nicer person. It's possible that this behavior can be the result of a habit that degenerated from attempts to be witty. (Cf. the upcoming blog post, Types of Witty.)

emotional-sniper nice [Latin: Niceous AK47ei] When this one speaks, be wary. The words seem nice. On paper, the remark would seem harmless, or at least not-ill intentioned. But there's a look in the eyes, the 'accidental' probing of a sore spot while watching you intently, that's more like an emotional sniper looking for a vulnerable area. Never found in the vicinity of Niceous Sincerei, but has been known to associate with Niceous D'Escalieri.

Most experts recommend not engaging this type at all, if possible. If an encounter is inevitable, you are advised to treat questionable comments as humor. Nothing disconcerts this type so much as a trill of laughter and the words "Oh, you and your sense of humor!" or words to like effect. Warning: Do not show weakness, as they become remorseless at the tiniest whisper of a whimper.

It's important to distinguish between these types because they're out there... right now... maybe even lurking on this site, who knows. There have been confirmed sightings of Niceous D'Escalieri at backyard barbecues ("Are you having another piece of chicken? How wonderful to be able to eat anything and not care...") or Niceous Backstabi at the gym ("No, I don't mind if you change the channel to Wrestling ... even though it tends to make me feel ill ... don't mind me... of course, you will explain things to the paramedics when I faint, won't you?").

You might have noticed that there aren't any expert opinions on how to approach passive-aggressively nice types. That's because the experts were evenly divided between a gag (applied to the 'nice' person) or earplugs (applied to the victim). Neither sounded particularly useful to me, so I thought I'd ask the expert readers ... um, I'm looking at you ... how they deal with this type of person.

Yes, I did mean you over there. Who else would I ask?

August 25, 2008

Taking the “It’s Tooo Haaaaard” Out of Fitness


(Photo credit: dorje-d)


Note: this is a special Guest Post by LittleM, who is helping out while the Crab is on vacation. Thank you, LittleM!


I am no orator, like Mer and Crab;
I sit on sidelines while they write, and cheer.
I’ll try to offer fitness thoughts not drab;
And post – for you to comment further – here.


The dashing Merry posted a little while back about those of us who qualify unreservedly to be Fitness Squares. On bad days, I’m usually aping a Fitness Rhombus. Or perhaps a Trapezoid.

There are people who just aren’t that jazzed about the idea of fitness. Most of them probably don’t read this blog.

Then there are the genius writers who put this community together (Yay! Merry! Rah! Crabby!) and the commenters here, so many of whom exhibit staggering discipline and commitment in their efforts to put together a body that can grapple effectively with this battle, this war, it feels like sometimes--that we call 21st century life.

I’m sort of in the middle. I was an athlete in high school; there’s a record I still hold *ahem* years later. But my quadriceps, following such follies as a ripped meniscus stemming from a nasty incident in a national tournament tryout, would laugh derisively and say: “What is the point of training like that when you’re a teenager if you just … dissolve … to plasma and jelly as decades roll on?”

And the more 5's and 0's birthdays that roll by, the quicker the reversion to shapeless/breathless seems to appear, and the more sweat – and whining (and sometimes just plain profanity) is required in an attempt just to get back to that place where you were, let alone improve.

And so I struggle, like many here may, to find the time and energy in light of a responsible job that has nothing to do with sports, or training – and all that other ancillary stuff, like, you know, life – to quiet my quadriceps’ mocking, to simultaneously subdue and nurture them so that we can get on together, like a team, and accomplish yet some more stuff in the rest of this life.

It seems to me, that - barring elite athlete status – whenever you come up with a grand fitness plan, other than motivation the biggest, hugest, meeeeanest obstacle when it comes to execution is:

LOGISTICS.

Like Traffic/the Gym Commute. Work hours. Minor injuries. Or one of my favorites: when you get to the store just before they close to buy your favorite protein powder or low-fat dairy whatever, because the manager promised you that they were going to order it in, and they don’t have it in the store! Even though they promised you they would!! And you don’t have one nanosecond to shop for another three days!!! Now what???

*insert favorite epithet here*


I’ve Filed a Formal Pleading Request with the 28-Hours-in-a-Day Division

I recently attended a fundraiser supporting a Well Known Senator (Male) and another Well Known Senator (Female).

The WKSF mentioned that while she so admired the WKSM’s drive and ability to be in the gym, daily, on their respective campaign tours, that she had to utilize that same drive and ability that she would have used for such activity in order to make sure – in an effort to withstand the press’ microscopic scrutiny— that her wardrobe, hair, and makeup were impeccably done.

Given the fact that the press has profiled her as both a former athlete with a professional coach for a brother, and possibly Jackie Onassis’ potential style heir apparent – I can’t help but wonder, how the WKSM’s wife manages to do both.

So we have the two directives.

“Be impeccably groomed. Especially when in business/in public, but mostly all the time.”

“Be in impeccable shape.”

And the inevitable head-on collision – complete with crash and noise – when they intersect.

Crabby has made vivid reference to the prep and the post-dismantle of working out – and if flipping U.S. Senators are having trouble measuring up to these standards, that none claim to have set, but nonetheless seem to be living, breathing, writhing things all around us – well, I say that we get right down to the nitty of the famed gritty.

I have read that Secretary of State Rice gets up at around 4:00AM to complete her daily run prior to her daily day.

That your hair is still wet from the workout/shower but you have a meeting – in an hour - with the board of directors that demands a blow-dried upsweep –-

That because you didn’t have time to stop sweating before you had to get in the shower, and you couldn’t take a cool shower because otherwise you’d cramp, so you had to take a warmer one, when you got out of the shower you were still sweating and so your makeup proceeded to melt right off your face --

That the fitness sites go on and on and ON about how proper sleep is required for proper muscle development (you know, in order to burn fat and actually get stronger and all) – and then they talk about how “proper sleep” really means 7-9 hours – and you laugh in the article’s face because, in a desperate attempt to get everything done for job plus family plus workout, you haven’t seen more than 5 and a half hours any night in the past 5 and a half years --


How do you manage it?

Stay Tuned for Great Guest Posts!


[By Crabby]

Yes, it's the suitcase picture again, which long-time readers recognize as a sign I'm out of town. But Merry's still here (thank goodness!), and there will still be a Friday Giveaway for those interested in winning Stuff. And then I'll be back next week.

Also, instead of my usual tiresome whining, we've got two great guest writers covering for me: Little M, one of our witty commenters, and Christine from Póg Mo Thóin Slán Leat.

They each submitted multi-part guest posts, carefully respecting the word limits I suggested for each post. But then I thought: "this stuff is too good to try to save any for later, I want to run it all this week!" So I took their carefully organized multi-part series and crammed them back together into longer posts so I could post 'em sooner rather than later.

So much for following instructions, eh?

So stay tuned this week for a refreshing change of pace! I'll be off camping, coping the best I can with blog withdrawal, and will be very happy to see you all again next week.

(As many of you have figured out, Cranky Fitness is much more fun when the Crab is gone!)

August 22, 2008

Tight Curves Giveaway

[By Crabby]

Want some Tight Curves?

Now before you skip down and find out what the heck we're actually giving away, I'd be curious what comes to mind when you think about "tight curves."

Hmm...





Or maybe...



Or lets see...




Yikes!

But don't worry, we have no reptilian giveaways planned this week.

Nor are we going all Oprah and screaming "Everybody gets a car!" We're too eco-friendly for that, otherwise of course we'd be giving away race cars for everyone.

So then, what is "Tight Curves?"

Tight Curves is a protein powder designed specifically for women!





The fitness model pictured above, Kristal Richardson drinks the stuff, and she does indeed come equipped with Tight Curves!

(She also, like other fitness models, appears to favor high, high, heels. One would think this footwear might be inconvenient while doing squats? But I'm no fitness model, so what do I know?)




The full pitch is here, and I can't evaluate the science behind it, but it sounds like it might be a really useful product for you protein powder fans who are female. I can especially get behind the idea that products are often designed with men in mind first, and that women are something of an afterthought.

(Remember the first version of air bags for your car? They designed 'em to protect the average sized male, never mind that they were killing kids and "smaller adults.")

(OK, admittedly that digression was totally out of left field. From protein powder to airbag fatalities??? I'd say this Crab is indeed due for a vacation!)

Anyway, if regular boy protein powder seems like it has too many calories, or makes you feel bloated or has too many carbs or isn't giving you enough calcium, then this stuff may be just what you were looking for to put in your smoothies or pancakes!

So, according to a very nice PR rep, we've got a "good sized bag" to give away, and the best news? They can ship internationally, so non-U.S. folks can enter this time.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post before Tuesday August 25th, midnight EST. (Merry will run the ol' Random Number Generator, since the Crab will be off in the wilderness hiking dozens of dozens of miles and communing with nature roasting marshmallows). Then check back Wednesday August 26th to see if you've won! If you did, email us your mailing address at crabby mcslacker at gmail dot com to claim your prize (by midnight Thurs, Aug 27).

And feel free to comment about any old thing, whether protein-powder related or not! We always LOVE comments!

August 21, 2008

Runners -- a surly bunch

[By Merry]

cat



Did anybody notice anything different about this week?


Abducted by aliens whilst undergoing rehab

Whaddya mean nobody noticed that I've been gone? Poor Crabby has been stuck carrying the whole blog for over a week and nobody noticed?
Hmph.
Fine.
Be that way.

I was going to write up a big dramatic story about being abducted by
aliens, or going into rehab, or going on strike, but the heck with it.


Crabby goes camping, Merry starts carping

No, I don't mean fishing for carp. I'm whining because work has been
taking up valuable time that I could have spent dating, dining, dancing,
or dallying on blogs. There's been no time for such frivolities. But I
still have been making time to go to bed each night.


Sleeping with Bob Costas
For the last week or so, I've been putting myself to sleep by watching
the Olympics. I go to bed with Bob Costas, and wake up with Matt Lauer.
(Not the image you wanted? Sorry.)
Didn't mean to churn your stomach with that image...


Research, that's what it is. I've been tirelessly researching how cranky Olympic athletes can get.

Those gymnasts are so perky and positive that it's scary.
Happy, happy, happy day!


They all hug and congratulate the evil scumbag rival athlete who just beat them out of a medal what were the judges thinking by a fraction of a point. The swimmers pound each other on the back after a match, rather than trying to shove the opponent's head under the water for a few hours seconds. Real or Memorex, they're all at least trying to be good sports.

Did you see the end of the women's marathon? The winner, okay, I'll give you that. She won, so it's understandable that she should wrap herself up in her country's flag and run another lap just to show off. Fine. Not sure why the 2nd and 3rd runners also felt they had to do a victory lap wrapped in their country's flag. But did you notice how isolated they all seemed? They waved to the crowds and smiled at the cameras, but completely ignored each other. At one point a couple of runners who were cooling off almost walked into each other, but even then they didn't make eye contact.

I'm not counting the relay teams -- they're one unit, essentially.

cat

But while competitors in other sports interact with their rivals, individual runners don't. After a race, they face straight ahead, or up at the sky, down at the track, anywhere but at a competitor. They are alone. They are communing with their inner coaches. Or they are a bunch of surly anti-social bastards.

I knew there was some reason I like hanging out with you guys.

Runners are a surly bunch

What is it about running that makes it such an anti-social activity? At least anti-social at the Olympic level. People running a 5k seem cheerful enough. Maybe that's because they've been getting lots of perks and goodies. (Note: we need to check with our European researchers to determine the ratio of cheerfulness/goodies in European runners. Xenia was lamenting the lack of goodies in the races she's run in Britain. The phrase "cheap bastards" was used.)

Are runners at the Olympic level different from other other athletes? Or is it the whole track-and-field atmosphere that's somehow less jovial and jolly than the gym or the pool? Or even that Bob-awful endless beach volleyball. (It's always on! Every night! You can't escape it! It makes me want to use exclamation points! Excessively!!!!)


Anyone have any good examples of interactive cheerful runners? Please feel free to leave a comment saying "Merry, you fool! What about that runner who was cheerful and perky and went around hugging all the runners who just beat him?" I might have missed him whilst I was sleeping with Bob.

Okay, I did see one runner hug his compatriot who just won a race. Just one. But I consider this to be an anomaly designed to weaken what was otherwise a damn fine hypothesis. I haven't seen any cheerfulness or huggy behavior undertaken by one runner to another who was from another country. So there.

August 20, 2008

Act Your Age?

[By Crabby]


The swell folks at That'sFit alerted me to this story about Madonna turning 50.

Turns out, Madonna held a Fiftieth Birthday party at which no one was allowed to mention the fact she was 50 years old. (Confidential to Madonna: better idea? Just don't have a freakin' Fiftieth Birthday party. Are you really still in dire need of attention and presents at this point in your life?? )

Oddly enough, none of us here at Cranky Fitness were invited to the celebration, so we don't know if she was successful in squelching any of that nasty Fifty-Year-Old talk. But my guess? She probably pretty much gets what she wants.


Yeah, I swiped a photo just this once.
Sorry! Please don't sue me.


Now when I first heard this, I thought: well, sounds kinda vain and immature. Aging is a tiresome, depressing, yet natural and inevitable part of life--you can run but you can't hide, no matter how many personal trainers, surgeons, chefs and publicists you employ.

Get over yourself, Material Girl.

But then it turns out this was totally unfair of me, because Madonna's not really Fifty years old at all--she's only turning Thirty Six!

"Using ancient techniques known only to a select few, the high priests of Kabbalah have calculated her spiritual age to be 36, not 50."

So, um Happy Thirty-Sixth Birthday, Madonna!

But goodness, if I'd only known these sort of arrangements were available, I'd never dithered around being agnostic all these years.

Calling Kabbalah**: it's Crabby on the line! Can I have a new age too, please? Let's see, older or younger, which will it be... um, gosh, let's make it younger, 'k?






Oops... maybe not THAT much younger. Teething was a bitch.

(And I'd sooner drink drano milkshakes for breakfast than go through Junior High again, thank you very much.)

The thing is, though, I can totally relate to Madonna's dilemma. As a Boomer myself, just a few years behind the Material Girl, I too feel I shouldn't ever have to grow up, let alone get old.

I workout, I feel (mostly) great, and I want to think that most of my life is still ahead of me. There are still so many places to see, books to write, cupcakes to eat...

And I don't FEEL old, damn it! I feel about thirty. And I like being thirty, despite what the calendar says. Yet unlike Madonna, I can't seem to remain as effectively in denial. When I look in the mirror, I see plenty of evidence that I am indeed advancing in years. Every day there's some new wrinkle, age spot, gray hair, crease, crevice, or floppy bit.

So this would be a great place to write something inspirational about how the surface stuff really doesn't matter much in the scheme of things, and how I really don't give a crap that I'm not actually 30, either chronologically or when I look in the mirror. And gosh I'm SO looking forward to turning 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 myself...

But that would be complete horsesh*t. I'd rather be 90 than dead, but I'm not really looking forward to being either.

(But who knows, according to some folks, aging may some day be optional!)

So how do you folks feel about your chronological age versus your actual age?

**I know no more about Kabbalah than I do about Zen, so feel free to flame away in the comments about my ignorance!

Stability Ball Winner

The Random Number Generator has spoken, and the winner of the Stability Ball giveaway is:

Praying Horse!

Please email Crabby McSlacker @ gmail dot com with your mailing address (and perhaps a name, unless your postal carrier can find you just fine with Praying Horse) by Thursday night, Aug 21st, midnight EST to claim your prize.

And there were some hilarious comments on that post; thanks everyone!

August 19, 2008

Bad, Bad Crab

[By Crabby]

Alert readers will have noticed that Intrepid Co-blogger Merry Sunshine has taken a couple of days off. (She is rumored to have an actual JOB, which unfortunately tends to cut into one's blogging time, especially when work matters get hectic).

So instead of one of Merry's great posts, you're going to get an apology from the Crab, who was supposed to get a post together for today but did not.

[Photo credit: Flikr ]
And yeah, I just used this photo a couple of weeks ago.
See how lazy I'm getting?




Instead, just a brief blog announcement and a few links:


Next Week: A Nice Change of Pace!

Perhaps today's failure to get a real blog post together is a sign that it's time for a brief blogging break? Well, whether it's a sign or not, the Crab and Lobster are taking a camping trip next week, heading off in Fran the Van to visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Whoopeee!

Merry will still be here (yay!) and we will have guest posts, so you'll barely notice I'm gone. But then Cranky Fitness will be all out of guest posts! So as a reminder, we're always on the lookout for health & fitness related posts, maybe 750ish words or less--and funny is best. Or if funny isn't your thing, then maybe you actually KNOW something about your subject and can supply helpful information. (Something of a novelty at this blog). So Email if you've got something!


A Look Inside an Eating Disorders Clinic:

Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment writes another compelling blog post about the heartbreak of treating eating disorders. Whether it's a humorous topic (not this post) or a serious one, I think Charlotte is one of the most talented writers out there in blogland.


Will Laughing Harm Your Fetus?

Gazelles on Crack, another blog you should check out if you don't already visit regularly, answers a pressing health question with all the seriousness and expert knowledge readers of Cranky Fitness have come to expect of health and fitness blogs.


Zen and the Art of Grocery Store Lines

A comment following yesterday's post took exception to my use of "Zen" as an adjective, and in a follow up comment TK of Rough Road Studio, one of our favorite commenters here, writes an eloquent response. Then she puts those Zen principles to work while stuck in a hypothetical grocery store line. Here's an excerpt:

"...I look at lines and stuff that throws my day off track with as much equanimity as I can muster with the tools I have learned in my Buddhist studies. I can choose to suffer when things go differently that what I wanted (ego judgment) or I can choose not to suffer, to maintain my equanimity, which then turns it all into practice in letting go of the ego-self and it's resultant clinging. It really is a choice we make, but we have to begin with the awareness that we do actually have a choice, and that we do subconsciously make it. If I can see that it's not personal, that it just is (whatever "it" is), it's easier to subdue the ego that wants to fume and fuss, and find someone to blame. For example, when there are two checkers and 25 people in line and I was supposed to have dinner on the table in 20 minutes, I can choose to let my blood pressure climb and be a shit about it, or to instead have compassion for the clerk stuck there with 15 fuming people in line, and he's going as fast as he can, or not because he's freezing up in fear. When I have compassion then I am practicing. The more I practice, the more easily I attain equanimity. It's so much less stressful to choose to not have a tantrum."



Are You A Dick?

Heavens no, none of our readers are dicks! But if you want to find out what they're up to, head on over to Dickipedia. Latest dick: Ted Stevens.


Optical Illusions!


If you didn't see these over at Healthbolt last week, check 'em out, they're very cool!


"Ambigram" T-shirt:

For those who have "mixed feelings" about life, or just want to mess with people's heads... these T-shirts say "Have a nice day" viewed right side up.



Upside down? Not so much.



Some Exercise Do's and Don'ts!

And finally,Urban Critter sent this to me, as we have been remiss in meeting our monthly lolcat quota!


cat
more cat pictures

Sorry folks, that's all I got. Will try to do better tomorrow!

August 18, 2008

Ready, Set,... Ah Hell.


[By Crabby]

Is Transition Time Eating Up Your Day?

Does anyone else find that a really huge and annoying percentage of the day seems to take place not actually doing things, but getting ready to do things and tidying back up after the things have been done?

"Going to the gym," for example, may consist of working out for an hour or so, but is that how much time you need to budget for it?

No, of course not! Not unless you work as a personal trainer or have a home gym and happen to spend all day in your gym clothes, ready to go at any moment. Oh, and you'd also need to manage to work out vigorously without perspiring.

Depending on your routine, "going to the gym" could also consist of finding your car keys or bus pass, collecting all your gear, getting out the front door and remembering you've forgotten something, starting all over again, driving, finding parking, waiting in line at the front desk, chatting with friends, changing into workout clothes, using the restroom, working out (which could also including waiting for machines or class to start or whatever), going back to the locker room, trying to remember which day locker you put your stuff in, stripping off your sweaty clothes, showering, drying your hair, applying deodorant/lotion/sunscreen/make-up or whatever you tend to slather on yourself, putting on your clothes again, getting back into your car... and then, finally, getting ready to do the next thing.


Don't You Hate It When You Realize
You've Forgotten Something Important?
Photo by NataliaEnvy

And yet, some folks stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that life is like this. They are surprised, every single time, when things take so much longer that they should. How come the day is over already and so many things didn't get done?

It's my theory that people who tend to be lead healthy, balanced, productive, yet stress-free lives are often really good at mastering transitions.

Alas, I am not one of those people.

I would further hypothesize that there are at least two important components to mastering transitions, both of which I suck at. But if you, unlike me, actually want to work on these two things, perhaps you can be one of those Successful, Balanced, Healthy, Stress-Free Productive People!

1. Prepare Ahead or Improvise?

Some people are natural "prepare ahead" types; others may have to try to teach themselves this skill. Pack your gym bag the night before your workout! Make a list of things you need to pick up after work! Have a single place to keep your keys so you don't put them down all over the house and then forget where! Think through meal planning, shop for days/weeks/months in advance, cut things up for the week ahead, make extra portions to freeze for later, and have lots of matching food storage containers that are not warped and actually have tops!

There are people out there who actually do all this stuff, consistently, and you rarely see them at work all wild-haired because they forgot to bring a brush to the gym, or guiltily scarfing sad vending machine items because they didn't manage to pack a healthy lunch.

Those of us who wait until we're hungry for dinner and then stare into the refrigerator and realize we need to go shopping unless we want to make a meal out of microwave popcorn and canned tuna and raisins? And then three hours later we're back from the store and actually finally eating something and wondering if the dishes will just this once agree to do themselves because, damn it, it's bed time already?

We're the ones who don't tend to get stuff checked off our "to do" lists very often. (Not that we're very good about making them in the first place).

2. Philosophical or Frantic?

Whether you prepare well or not, there's a certain amount of transition time that everyone has to go through. We need to gather things up, we need to get ourselves places, we must wait in lines and endure delays and deal with things that break at the wrong time or people that don't do what we want them to.

Some people take a very Zen* approach to everyday transitions. Life is life! Might as well enjoy each precious moment! So what if those moments are piling up and you're stuck in a long line at the grocery store and the cash register does something funny but the clerk doesn't know how to fix it and the supervisor is busy elsewhere and no one is opening another checkstand and a little boy is screaming Mommy Mommy Mommy Lookit Me Lookit Me over and over and over but Mommy is still not Lookitting?

Smile! It is what it is. You'll be out of there soon enough. We'll all be "outta here" soon enough.

Anyway, others of us are not so Zen. We get frustrated and make ourselves miserable; we rush and so we forget things; we get anxious and frantic and fumbly so we drop things and lose things and break things. We try to extract revenge on obstinate inanimate objects or, better yet, find culpable humans to blame when things go wrong. We rage and fume and fret and worry, which doesn't get us through our transitions any faster or more happily. Yet to change our approach? That would mean effort!

Perhaps some day I'll join the Stress-Free Healthy Balanced Productive People Crowd, and life will seem like it's all Doing! and not so much the Getting Ready and Cleaning Up!




But then it just wouldn't be Cranky Fitness, would it?

How about you folks, are you all Prepared and Zen, or do you struggle with all the extra crap that gets in the way of Doing?


*Like many health and personal development bloggers, I often invoke "Zen" principles without having any idea what Zen is about, liking the sound of it but being too lazy to educate myself. Actual Zen people--feel free to make tsking noises, if you Zen folk are allowed to do things like that.

August 15, 2008

Stability Ball Giveaway

[By Crabby]


Yes, we have a big plastic bouncy thing to give away this week! Thanks, Sportsmith!

Plus a little pump to go with it--because, alas, the balls aren't nearly as useful when there's no air in them. I know this first hand, because when our little stability ball pump got lost during our move, all I could do was stare sadly at the deflated puddle of plastic for weeks and weeks.

(That is, until the Lobster located a little plastic adapter that would work with our bicycle pump. Clever Lobster! She accomplished this by buying:


which she has been longing for for quite some time. Fortunately it did not come pre-stocked with a happy little hetero family (what would we feed them?) but even better, it had a little pump adapter that worked perfectly in the Stability Ball! Or perhaps she got one from the neighbors when she inflated the pool. Anyway, I came home one afternoon to find the Lobster splashing happily in the backyard and my big bouncy ball back again!)

Attention Giveaway Skimmers, you can come back now! We're done with the Crab/Lobster/inflatable wading pool digressions.

Oh wait... One quick question, before we get into exciting technical details and the contest instructions and the multitude of useful things you can do with your big bouncy ball.

Why the heck are they called "Stability Balls?" Aren't they really the opposite? Isn't the whole point of them to make you feel like if you don't pay proper attention keep everything squeezed tight you might fall over and cause bodily injury and make an ass of yourself?

Just sayin'.

Anyway, this is an "anti-burst" Stability ball, which seems like a really good feature when you think about it. In fact, I bought my ball years ago, and I wonder, could I have purchased an earlier "pro-burst" model that's likely to explode if hop on after a big meal? Yikes!

So it's also important to note that these things come in sizes. There's a 55 cm Small One, for people 5'0" to 5'6"; a 65cm Medium One for those 5'7" to 5'11"; and a 75cm Big Honkin' One for you tall folks 6 feet or over.

What does one do with a stability ball?

Well, I'm actually lazy and unimaginative, so I use mine mostly for stretching. I heard somewhere that flopping over the top of one, face up, and dangling your head back so that you're in an upside down U will not only stretch your back, but decompress your spine and keep your back from gettting all squooshed and scrunched when you're older and might even keep you from shrinking. Is this true? I have no idea, quite possibly not! But I have no motivation to go out and find out otherwise, since it motivates me to stretch out my back.

But, you can do ALL KINDS of exercises with these things, even a complete workout!

Here is a Cute Perky Female Sparkperson video; alternatively, there's also one with a Handsome Guy So Secure in his Masculinity He Uses A Bright Pink Yoga Mat.

For people at work who do not want to broadcast panting exercise video sounds to their neighboring cubes, we have some written instructions here.

But by far the BEST GUIDE EVER to proper use of a stability ball is this instructional post, brought to you by the fabulous Bossy of I Am Bossy.



Contest Instructions:
So wanna win one? Just leave a comment on this post before midnight, EST, Tuesday August 19th and check back the next day (Wednesday 8/19) to find out if you've won. (Or else someone else might get your stability ball!) And feel free to comment about any ol' thing--stability balls, inflatable pools, how your summer is going, if you're getting S.H.I.I.T. done these days, whatever... and we'll choose a random winner.

And, crap, I forgot... afraid this is another U.S. residents only. Sorry!!!!!

August 14, 2008

Disaster Strikes Cranky Fitness!


Oh my God, what was THAT!

Do you feel it? The earth is shaking!

Oh dear... That roaring noise? Is that the howl of a mighty tornado getting closer?

Whoa, is our plane losing altitude? Uh oh, I smell smoke--our building's on fire! Holy Cow, come look--the dam has burst and the floodwaters are rising!

Yikes, lets get out of heeeere!

...

Um, so--does anyone know where we're supposed to go? Did anyone happen to pay attention to that pamplet/lecture/drill/tv special that told us what we're supposed to do now?

Oops.



So, like many other worrywarts who torture themselves by pondering Worst Case Scenarios, I spend precious little time actually preparing for them. (Fortunately, the Lobster is much more practical, so we have many of the bases covered).

But it was interesting to read a New York Times article about a new book, “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why,” and discover how much one can increase one's chances of survival in a disaster with just a little preparation. And, of course, by not Acting Like a Freakin' Idiot. (Note: there is also an interesting interactive quiz, but if you wanna take it, do so before reading this post as there are SPOILERS below).

The book is by Amanda Ripley, a reporter for Time magazine who has covered, well, lots of disasters. You can also read this NPR summary and excerpt if you're curious.

Some highlights:


1. Fire Drills are Not Just Designed to Torment You.

They actually really help! So don't skip 'em. "Your brain will perform best in a stressful situation if you have already put it through a few rehearsals. ...It’s important to get into the stairs and actually go down them. Your brain relies on that memory and responds to it much more quickly and fully than words."


2. Leave Your Shit Behind And Get Out--FAST.

Note: This is true even if you have to leave behind valuable items stashed in your belongings, like wallets or passport or even CUPCAKES!

Actually, as much as I would hate to part with important documents or tasty baked goods, doesn't this seem like kind of an obvious suggestion in a life-threatening disaster?

But the author noted that during emergencies "people often move surprisingly slowly and find reasons to delay evacuation. ...Even on burning planes, where passengers have only minutes to act before smoke becomes toxic, passengers routinely open overhead bins to retrieve their bags."

But being aware of this "gathering instinct" can help you. "You need to move quickly, but it won’t be your first impulse."


3. Before the plane takes off: Look for exits and read those Stupid Airline Safety Cards.

When was the last time you read one of those thingies in the seat back next to the barf bag? Or counted the number of rows to the nearest emergency exits? (I'm usually too busy engaging in important rituals designed to keep the plane from crashing in the first place. These rituals may involve closed eyes, tight clutching of the armrests, and possibly the sacrifice of a cheap domestic candy bar or a plastic cup full of Chateau de Crappo Airline Merlot).

Think there's no chance of surviving a plane crash anyway, so why bother?

Well, it says that approximately 60% of people involved in serious plane crashes do survive--and those tend to be the ones who know what to do and where to go to get themselves the heck out. So you're supposed to read the safety card every time so your brain is programmed to respond.


4. Panic is less of a problem than "group think," especially if you're with a leisurely group.

This was a surprise to me, as I am someone hard-wired to panic at the hint of any sort of emergency.

But most people become passive, not frantic, and tend to like to be ordered around.
"People stick together, follow one another and are civilized and painfully slow during evacuations."

The excerpt was silent, however, as to the etiquette involved in rushing past these painfully slow civilized people and getting the hell out. If they're calmly making their way out at a snail's pace, down perhaps dozens of flights of stairs, how do you speed them up or get around them? Is sprinting, elbowing, shoving, cursing, cursing some more, and slapping considered bad form?



5. Prepare at Home, Too

Why save all that disaster preparation for work and for airplanes when you could be having tedious evacuation drills at home?

Sigh. You also gotta replace smoke detector batteries, have a plan for where to meet, keep emergency supplies on hand, blah blah blah.

What are the things people in actual disasters wished they'd had handy?

Fresh water, information sources, necessary medication, and cash. (The list doesn't even mention coffee, cookies, pizza or tequila. Who the heck did they ask???)


6. Know your neighbors

It's probably best if you don't routinely piss 'em off, either. In major disasters, it's usually a while until "outside" help is available. Close, friendly, non-homicidal neighbors may be a tremendous resource, both physically and psychologically, if something terrible happens and you're stuck for days waiting for help.


7. If a hurricane or flood hits, you're best off acting like a chick, not a dude.

More men perish in hurricanes and floods--not only because they spend more time outside, but because they take more time to evacuate, and are more likely to try to drive or walk through water. ("Honey, stop worrying, will ya?! You can see the water's only a few inches dee... ahhggggghhhh!)


Feeling paranoid now?

Here's another helpful article on how to save your own life in a variety of emergency situations.


Need some emergency-related cheering up?

Our friend the Anxious Exerciser reminded me about these hilarious interpretations of the ambiguous graphical warnings the Homeland Security Department uses for various emergencies, like, for example, nuclear blasts.



"After exposure to radiation, it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions: watch your head."
(More here).


So, anyone else worry about disasters? Do you prepare for them?

August 13, 2008

High Intensity Intervals For the Rest of Us

[By Crabby]


Exciting Announcement: A Revolutionary New Exercise Program from Cranky Fitness!

Have you been hearing about all the incredible health benefits of High Intensity Interval Training?

Benefits like:
  • Raising your Resting Metabolic Rate;
  • Increasing Your Strength;
  • Burning More Fat;
  • Increasing Endurance;
  • Adding more Mitochondria to Muscles;
  • Building Lactic Acid tolerance;
  • Increasing the Release of Human Growth Hormone;
  • Raising your VO2 Max;
  • Sounding Really Cool when you Throw Around Terms Like "Resting Metabolic Rate" and "VO2 Max";
  • Getting Your Workout Done in Under Twenty Minutes So You Can Watch More TV Devote More Time to Saving the Planet.


All these benefits simply from incorporating a few bouts of extreme torture high-intensity exercise into your workout? It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

But you may have looked into H.I.I.T. before and thought to yourself: "Gosh, that sounds great! But sprinting like hell until you can't breathe and want to die, then repeating that cycle over and over again until you want to puke? Thanks, but ... Are You F*cking Nuts?"

Yes, actually, quite bonkers--but we do understand. Very few people wants to feel like puking on a regular basis, least of all us.

So that's why we invented an alternative, the H.I.I.T. that's for everyone! Our brand new patented* program:

"Somewhat High Intensity Interval Training!®"

Yes, you too can join the fitness revolution and do some great S.H.I.I.T® for your health!


So what's this S.H.I.I.T® all about?

It's quite simple: Almost everyone agrees H.I.I.T. works, but it's hard. And no one really seems to "own" it, so there's no money to be made off of it consensus about how to do it.

Some folks say sprint for 8 seconds and walk for twelve seconds and do it over and over again for twenty minutes. Other folks say sprint for 30 seconds. Or 45 seconds. Or several minutes. And accordingly, rest longer in between.

Some say do dozens of cycles per workout. Others say do 4-8 cycles. Do the whole thing once a week . Do it every single workout. It's so confusing!

But with S.H.I.I.T® we say: do whatever the heck you want! Just set aside a workout every now and then to focus, in what ever way you want to, on pumping it UP! And then resting. And then pumping it UP!

But this is crucial: if you're absolutely miserable and traumatized, then TURN IT DOWN A NOTCH, DOOFUS! Doing one or two Incredibly Kick-Ass Invigorating Interval Workouts, then never ever doing them again because they suck, will get you surprisingly limited health benefits.


How Do I know if I'm doing this S.H.I.I.T® right?

If you've tried to do H.I.I.T., you may have noticed that there's no "right" way to do it. Whatever you are doing, someone will tell you it is wrong.

Try one approach you've read about in a magazine somewhere, and then read something totally different in another magazine, then go visit fitness bloggers and find out that they're all totally kicking your ass by doing ten times whatever you were doing.

Who needs that aggravation?

With a S.H.I.I.T® program, you know you're doing it right. Because if you're trying-- then you're doing it right. By definition! It's our program, and we get to define our own S.H.I.I.T®


How Do I Stay Motivated to Keep Doing S.H.I.I.T® For the Long Haul?

Mix it up! Some days, do your S.H.I.I.T® on an elliptical. Do S.H.I.I.T® running up hills. Try 8 second intervals; two minute intervals; longer rest periods; shorter rest periods, whatever. The more you mess around, the more you may find that S.H.I.I.T® happens!


To Learn More About How Fit
S.H.I.I.T® Into Your Healthy Lifestyle:

Just ask us! After all, Cranky Fitness is your expert resource--because we're proud to say we totally made this S.H.I.I.T® up!


*Patent Pending. (Pending our getting off our asses and patenting it)

Workshop Winners

So the two random winners of the "Why Diets Don't Work Club" membership giveaway are:

Claudia and... The Bag Lady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Note: I'm always excited for all our winners. But sometimes the Random Number Generator seems reluctant to land on some of our most loyal commenters. It insists on being, well, random! So for the RNG to recognize a Cranky Fitness institution like the The Bag Lady was a pleasant surprise!

So please email CrabbyMcSlacker @ gmail dot com with your email addresses, and I'll put Talia in touch with you to arrange whatever needs arranging.

Thanks for commenting everyone!

August 12, 2008

The Lazy Woman's Guide to a Healthy Diet

[By Merry]

A lot of people think eating right is a good idea. At least in theory.

Me: More vegetables, fewer cupcakes.
Them: Yeah, good idea.
Me: So, do you eat right?
Them: Hell no.

Why don't people eat food that's good for them?
I took an informal poll, i.e. stopped people in the hall at work. Typical comments ran something like this:

  • "Sure, I know I should eat veggies, but I don't have time to cook -- there's too much else to do."
  • "Yeah, I feel guilty about eating those danish pastries, but I was running late this morning and didn't have time for breakfast."
  • "What? I can't talk now; I'm late for a meeting. Don't you have some work to do?" [Note to self: for future reference, do not ask the boss to participate in an unofficial survey.]

People tend to eat junk food because it takes too much time to prepare something healthy. But does it have to take all that long?

Healthy Food for the Chronically Lazy

I have some suggestions for lazy people. Or at least for people who are short of time. I wouldn't recommend these ideas as a long-term solution, but there are ways to grab quick healthy food that you can munch while you are driving or sitting at your desk.

Kathryn, over at Limes & Lycopene, is running a series called 31 days to a Better Diet. The other day she mentioned one essential principle: make it a point to eat vegetables. Specifically, she says try to eat a vegetable with every meal. That's my goal.

By the way, I don't care what the gubbermint says. Ketchup is not a vegetable. Yes, it contains tomatoes, but it also contains enough high fructose corn syrup to choke a moderate- sized German Shepherd Dog. (In theory, anyway. This statement has not been tested. Cranky Fitness has a firm policy against animal testing, unless the test is multiple choice.)


When I first saw pre-cut vegetables, I scoffed. "What, are they going to chew the food for me as well?" But that was when I was young and stupid so healthy that I could live on fast food while pretending to study during the day, and going out on the town in the evening. I figured I could always cut my own vegetables for myself if I had to eat the dang things. Now, when it's crunch time at work I'm counting every minute. My best friends are baby carrots. (Yes, I do need to get a life, why do you ask?)

Anything that helps me to eat healthy food without taking much time is welcome. Or, I've been known to take a whole cucumber and a sharp paring knife to work with me. (Note: don't do this if you work around paranoid bosses, psychotic co-workers, or toddlers.) Any veggie that I can cut down to size while staying virtuously at my desk is a good idea.

Also, soup. Unlike most fast foods, you can generally find some kind of soup that contains more vegetables than meat.

It's easy. Speaking as the Queen of the Lazy Women, I love easy.

And if you need something more substantial but don't have the time to cook, there's always the pre-packaged healthy stuff like Amy's Kitchen. I hate the idea of frozen dinners, but even so there are nights when I come home too tired to cook any damn thing, or even to chop any damn thing. Nights like that, Amy's my bud.

Lastly, if all else fails, there's... Enrique.
Okay, so Enrique might not be his real name...
As a last resort, you could hire a hunk in trunks to stand behind your chair at work and feed you peeled grapes. Very healthy, peeled grapes. Or at least that's my story.

You can eat healthy food even if you're rushed off your feet.

These suggestions are really nothing but a short-term fix, and it's really not so much for lazy people as it is for people who are strapped for time. But even as a quick fix, it's good because if you've been living in the fast-food lane for awhile, just eating healthy damn green leafy things, even if they come pre-chopped, is going to accustom your body to eating healthy food. Which is a good thing.

The lazy way to a healthy diet isn't cheap. You know how they say you can have it fast or cheap or good? You can eat fast food or healthy vegetables. You can't have it all at the same time. And I hear Enrique's raising his rates.