August 26, 2009

The Healthy Hedonist

Photo: Joits

With a name like Crabby McSlacker and a blog called Cranky Fitness, it would be easy to assume that I'm always whiny when it comes to good nutrition and exercise.

And, okay, maybe most of the time I am. If someone were to compile a bitchy-to-cheerful ratio of my posts, it would probably be a very large number. Or heck, how about a pie chart?

Of course a lot of my orneriness is a reaction to what's out there already in the media. With so many health magazines and books shouting "Easy!" and "Fun!" and "Effective!" and "Instant!" and "Permanent!"and "Young!" and "Sexy!" you'd think adopting a healthy lifestyle would take maybe two weeks, tops. And that it would never involve sacrifice. And that when you were "done," you'd be totally fit and strong and hot and lean and smart and energetic. Oh, and immortal. Because we all know that if you eat enough antioxidants and do enough high intensity intervals you will never, ever, die.

So I try to provide a counterpoint. But sometimes I just have to come out of the Cranky Closet and admit: sure, at times it can be a pain in the ass but there's a lot to love about healthy living! And the funny thing is that so many of the pleasures feel just as self-indulgent and sensual as vices, only somehow, they're not.

So for a change of pace, here's a random list of a bunch of things I recently remembered that I love that aren't even bad for me. Some of these I've written about before, but what the heck, Cranky Fitness readers are noted for their patience with, and kindness to, repetitive Crabs.

Things Crabby Enjoyed Recently That Weren't Bad For Her:

1. Getting high on the elliptical again, and not even caring that I was making a fool of myself by dancing and mouthing the words to my iTunes songs. (But not singing them out loud. I'm not a complete ass).

2. My breakfast:

Surprise! Crabby's photos still look like crap.

Actually, by "breakfast" I don't mean the very first meal of the day, which is always liquid because to me, the thought of solid food first thing in the morning is totally barfy. Instead, I start with a gigantic cup of strong coffee that also contains almost two cups of warm nonfat milk, plus a small glass of orange juice. Then after I work out, I eat breakfast number two.

I've been obsessed with this breakfast (or similar variations) all summer. I look forward to it starting the night before! (The Lobster is often amazed at how much I love food. I truly do. Eating is one of my favorite past-times).

The first item is a fruit and vegetable smoothie. (This one: 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup raw cauliflower, 1 1/2 cup raw spinach, 1/4 cup frozen banana, 1 cup nonfat milk, some vanilla and some Truvia (the newfangled stevia that doesn't taste as nasty).

And the other item is a whole wheat english muffin with a little almond butter, a little honey, and a bunch of walnuts on top. I'm especially proud of the walnut invention, because I don't tend to like walnuts in most settings. If I'm eating a brownie or cookie and come across icky walnut pieces, I will spit the intruders right out, precious Omega 3's and all. But when paired with almond butter and honey, walnuts become suddenly lovable!

(Note: those of you on calorie restricted diets must be going: WTF??? How the hell much does she eat every day? The answer: a LOT. Weirdly enough, as I've switched to healthier foods and gotten smarter about high intensity exercise and weights, I can eat way more calories than I used to when I weighed an extra 25 pounds.)

3. Tea Dance, which will have to be the subject of a post of its own sometime. Basically, it's a high-energy summertime dance party at a local waterfront gay bar. The coolest thing? It's full of boomer-aged folks (mostly men, but plenty of women too) so we don't feel out of place on the dance floor. And, get this, it takes place before it gets dark, from 4-7 p.m. When I was in my twenties, "going dancing" meant heading out late at night to a smoke-filled bar, and it involved more standing around feeling self-conscious than it did dancing. To have rediscovered bopping around to great music for an hour or two, cooled by fresh bay breezes and surrounded by other folks having a blast? It's hard to count it as exercise it's so much fun.

(And okay, the pre-dancing low cal mojito we have before we get there may have something to do with it.)

4. Bootcamp. Well, not while I'm in the middle of doing push-ups or lunges or burpees or whatever. But the feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment more than makes up for the temporary burning muscles and the gasping for breath and the wanting to die.

5. Biking. Why am I always reluctant to climb on my bike at the beginning of the season? It takes me half the summer to get back in the habit, but once I do I spend the rest of the time congratulating myself for discovering such a pleasant, efficient form of transportation.

6. Shrimp and broccolini pasta. I make it with tons of garlic and olive oil, a bit of whole grain pasta, and I garnish it with a ridiculous amount of pine nuts and some parmesan cheese. Heaven! The Lobster opts out of this one, being a broccolini hater, so it's my go-to meal when it's Fend For Yourself night.

7. The Rock Walk. I wrote about this walk along the breakwater when we first moved to Provincetown, and I was afraid I might burn out on it. Nope! Still beautiful and peaceful,only now it's even better: lush and green instead of staid and brown.

8. Looking forward to running on my favorite trail again. So this is kind of a cheaty one, because I'm only enjoying the memory of it. My actual runs now take place on a high school field that hosts a flock of geese and a lot of goosesh*t. But soon I'm gonna try my old route, which is a gently rolling foresty fire road that goes by several ponds. The stupid mosquitoes stole it from me in the height of summer, but I'm ready to take it back.

9. Watermelon. What's not to like about fresh sweet watermelon?

10. The Gym! I know I've been blogging about how much I hate the gym, but getting a good break from it helped to make for a great recent workout. I know soon enough I'll be hating it again, but, note to self: all that stuff about "mixing it up" and "trying new things?" Er, not actually a bad idea!

Anyone else find stuff to love about healthy living?


  1. Crabby, healthy living is its own reward. Umm, now that I've got that remark out of the way I can say that eating oats for brekkie and doing Tibetan yoga makes me feel good. The yoga stretches, known as Rites, help me get in ond out of the truck easier, the tub easier, and I can get up off the couch and be walking properly without having to take a few steps to get the stiffness out.
    That's my healthy living for now.

  2. Loved this post & hearing all the good stuff & getting hungry by your breakfast pic even though I just had my first meal... AND YES, we can eat more if you do high intensity exercise & weights!!!! That is me!

    I love all that variety too! Ya need to keep changing not only for the bod to make improvements but to keep things fresh & new if you are one that bores easily & sounds like you got that one down!

    Loved the chart by the way!!! Especially the too weird to tell! I can relate!

    As for healthy living, I like just being healthy & having muscles at almost 52!

  3. The food! Ye gods, the food is soooooo much better with healthy living. The variety! The color! The tastes!

    I look back upon my old days of macaroni and cheese and corn and tuna (oh yes, this was one of my healthier meals at the time) and scoff. Steak and mushrooms and broccoli beats that in every single way!

    There's more, but that's the biggest one. The food is so much better on this side of the fence!

  4. That strawberry pic made me drool!

    There's so much to love about healthy living that I can't even post all of them. If you've ever spent a good amount of time living unhealthfully, then the contrast is stark.

    But if I had to choose one thing, it would be ENERGY. I have energy to do many, many things.

  5. I want that strawberry!!!

  6. Loved this post, Crabby! Healthy living evokes a grab-bag of mixed emotions and sentiments for me. While I do agree with other comments that healthy living is its own reward, it sometimes feel like getting to that reward is like venturing on a life-long trail hike following Hansel and Gretel's crumbs. It's easy to get lost and remembering the where and why can be annoying. Hmm I think I was supposed to be positive in this comment...whoops! So, I'll say what I enjoy about healthy living is the runner's high, the cool health-minded blog friends I've made, the new, healthy foods I've tried (helloooo almond butter and hummus!), the new body i shyly flaunt after a glass of red wine, the increased confidence to partake in intellectual debates at school and soooo much more!

  7. Pie charts and chocolate strawberries! It doesn't get any better than this :)

  8. weaving through traffic on my push bike coming home from work as the sun sets and turns the whole sky pink. the cars can't tell that the wind has brought a cool change through and made a huge magestic picture of the hills across the valley because they're trapped inside their steel boxes.

    healthy lifestyle = commuting by bike = complete luxury of being alive.

  9. Loved the pie chart - LOL!

    The best thing about healthy living is not feeling like I have a fat hangover. Poor eating used to make me feel like a total slug. I have much more energy now and feel so much lighter!

  10. "how about a pie chart?"

    Pie? OK :)

    The thing about being healthy is just how great you feel. I've been excited by trying new foods and new fitness things. It gives you the confidence to go out and jsut do things, even if you tip over in the middle of them (yoga...ahem)

  11. Wow, I'm feeling even more Cheerful and less Cranky reading these comments!

  12. I love the variety of foods so much more than when I was obese and just ate junk! The possibilities seem endless now.

    Love the chart too!

  13. The energy and vibrancy I feel when eating mostly-healthy foods in mostly-reasonable amounts and regularly getting out to move my body doing things I enjoy is what keeps me coming back for more.

    The complete lack of guilt. And not because I never eat from among the less-health-promoting food groups, because I often do; but for me, the first step on my journey to becoming a much healthier person was letting go of the guilt and moral judgments that surrounded food back in the bad ol' unhealthy days.

  14. Great list, Crabby! You set a great example for others, except for your whining, weirdness, and other bitchy stuff, but that's why we love you :-)

  15. I love how, even after having a crappy day, the good feelings from a run can keep my mood elevated. And I love yoga. And peanut butter. And feeling all superior because I biked to work today. :)

    But most especially, I love being able to feel the definition in my muscles without flexing and I like that I can see my collar bones in the mirror.

  16. hmmm. Welcome to LOSERVILLE. Population? MizFit.

    the older I get the more I realize I love it all.

    I think back on how freakin exhausted I was all the time in my 20s and how much better I feel now and dont miss the nightly junkfood so much.


    and that may be because I still have the junk food.

    just in (alltogethernow) moderation :)

  17. Benefits for me means a lot less guilt - I eat right most of the time, so if I want to have a hamburger once in a while I totally enjoy it without the "you shouldn't be eating this, you fat cow" popping up in the back of my mind.

  18. Thanks for the recipes!!!!
    (Could you, maybe, consider giving more details on your high-intensity workouts?)

    Yesterday I signed up for a year of unlimited Bikram yoga classes. It's not cheap, but so worth it! (Bikram is my bootcamp.)

  19. The Tea Dance sounds fun! I consider it one of the great tragedies of my life that I married a man who doesn't like to dance. :(

  20. Great post and comments. Thanks for including the smoothie recipe. What kind of blender do you use?

  21. I laughed out loud when you wrote "surprise, my pictures still look like crap!"

    I've submitted about 20 pictures of mine that I thought actually belonged on tastespotting.

    The reply? "Uninteresting, dull, not sharp, poor crop." :D

    But I still submit more just to piss them off!

  22. Ooh, I want to go dancing too! Though I don't think I can follow you to the vegetable smoothie. I am full of awe and respect, but I'm just not quite there yet.

    Yes, working out and eating good things is kinda its own reward. Not always easy, but especially for us insulin-resistant types, it's a much more cheerful way of life. I was parted from my Ipod for a whole week so I was really hoppin' on the elliptical to Muse "Exopolitics" today!

  23. I feel your frustration when it comes to all of the marketing "trigger" words that are plastered all over the magazine section. Just like everybody else who's about taking action, I just keep the end result in mind when I have those sluggish mornings and want to stay in bed instead of working out.
    It reminds me of something that I heard T. Harv Ecker say. He said: "If you're always willing to do what's easy, life will always be hard. But if you're always willing to do what's hard, life will always be easy."

  24. You make me hungry and for some odd reason I want to try out the elliptical again. Not soon but maybe one day ;)
    My favorite thing about healthy eating...I do not feel like I am going to explode all of the time. You can use your imagination on that one.

  25. Sleeping like a log after an active day! Oh and I like waking up with sore muscles.

  26. Elaine, the blender is really basic, the kind you get on sale at a department store right before Christmas. I think Hamilton beach.(It doesn't do ice very well, but seems to handle frozen fruit just fine.)

    And Azusmom, that's great about the bikram yoga! I do a slacker version of high intensity--I just make sure I do some wind sprints or burpees or something all-out that makes me want to die once or twice a week. Not even that many of them, like 6 intervals of 30 seconds to a minute each, with enough rest in between to recover. That plus a couple days of regular running/elliptical and some weight training (I lift heavy but not many reps and usually just one set per thing) seems to rev up my metabolism pretty well. Definitely better than just straight jogging ever did, even when I used to do it for much longer than I do now.

    And I love all these great reasons for healthy living!

  27. I'm glad the Rock Walk didn't burn out on you.

    With me, it's not so much deliberate healthy living as that I finally got healthy enough to do healthy stuff.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  28. The things I could do to a ripe, juicy, sweet cantalope would be too obscene to post here.

  29. The feeling I get when the rower I'm on starts to creep up to the treadmill row in front of it. It's worth how hard I have to work to do it.

  30. Oh, thank you so much for this. I have been doing my own fair amount of bitching lately. This reminded me of all the things that I love about my new healthy lifestyle. Like the fact that my kids mac-n-cheese doesn't even look good to me anymore - in and of it's self a small miracle,

  31. ENERGY and NOT FEELING LIKE CRAP ALL THE TIME would have to top my benefits list.

    (ditto to the choco/strawberry droolers. Looks soooo yummy.)

  32. Oh hey, THANKS for the reminder about the intensity. I guess I forgot for while, but now I remember! I'm on it.

  33. mmmm.... i love you yummy post. i have never seen this before. thanks for sharing it with us.

  34. Living and eating healthy makes me feel like a different person. I've numb and drugged out on sugar for so long that when I first started eating healthy it was like I'd found a new drug, throw in some exercise and I'm high as a kite!

    My latest kick, sunbutter.

  35. I love trying out new, healthy recipes. And I love not feeling sluggish and tired all of the time!


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