July 29, 2011

Late-Week Lazy Links

Hey, it's Friday, whaddya expect?

What have we got this week?  Well, something that may be even better for you than green tea, sunscreen alternatives, why people made miserable by allergies may actually be lucky, and the usual half-assed "health research lite" from Crabby McSlacker!

Let's get this party started, shall we?

First off, I'm making yet another plea for reader help!  You guys were so awesome about helping out the Cranky Fitness Facebook page .  Every new "like" brings joy to this Crabby ol' heart! So I feel a bit guilty asking for another favor.  But what the heck, here goes:

If in your webtravels, any of you run across a recent health and fitness post or article at another website that you think Cranky Fitness folks might enjoy, wanna send me an email or leave me a comment about it?  I'd like to start including reader suggestions in the weekly lazy links post since I'm so crappy at research you folks are so well-informed.  I know there are tons of great health and fitness bloggers out there and I'm not getting around as much as I used to, and I don't want to be stingy with the link love.

This week in Blogland:  
So I confess I'm intrigued by the Diet Blog post on Matcha vs. Green Tea.  Sounds like Matcha could be even healthier, and better tasting?  Anyone tried it yet?  Is it hype or something worth looking in to?

Do you have the vague sense that Greek yogurt is good for you, but can't remember why the heck that is?  Marsha at Fit Woman has you covered with the nutritional nitty gritty on why Greek yogurt rocks.

Love watermelon?  Find out why you can feel smug eating it at Fit Bottomed Girls

At Vitamin G there's a sneaky trick for staving off hunger without eating any extra calories.

More links? Sure!  There's a Healthy Candy link roundup that includes foods that fight fat, ways to get more out of your workout, and suggestions from some obvious crackpot on how to make smoothies.

And remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about my Stand Up Desk experiment?  Well, I'm still standing as I write this, and I'm just gonna trust that I'm getting all those nifty longevity benefits. (Though as to the supposed calorie burn? I haven't exactly been plagued with drastic unstoppable weight loss). But I was pleased to see that Carrie at FitApproach also decided to take a stand for fitness! Check out her post for some more ideas on how to stand more and sit less.

Next up: this week's health and fitness research on Twitter:

Another reason to get strong & muscular, besides feeling all bad-ass & confident: you can lower your risk of diabetes. http://bit.ly/oi7dMZ

Loss of Memory Due to Aging May Be Reversible: http://bit.ly/rmewys. Best news I heard all day! But heck, its the only news I can remember.

Only 15% Use Calorie Info at NYC Fast Food Chains http://on-msn.com/q9PLRn

Well duh: Smoking After Heart Attack Raises Risk of Dying. http://on-msn.com/nTpHQ2

Seriously? No cure for cancer yet but there's funding for: "Medieval Armor Drained Soldier's Energy, Study Finds" http://on-msn.com/mUmDuF

Just got lectured by my dermatologist, so I'm not gonna ditch sunscreen. But @Mark_Sisson has natural alternatives: http://bit.ly/oAReSp

Allergies driving you nuts? Silver lining: research suggests you may have lower cancer risk. http://nyti.ms/pDeqVL

Glad Dr. Mike is dissing "detox" diets in Shape magazine: http://bit.ly/omo2Us. But "cut out caffeine?" Ain't happening!

Is there some conspiracy afoot to get me to try yoga? Studies show yoga can cut hot flashes by 31%. http://ow.ly/5JvFI

Mmm, a great excuse for apple pie? Cinnamon compound may help prevent alzheimers: http://bit.ly/pvgD6x

This week in "Weird Ways People Found Cranky Fitness," we have the somewhat creepy: "circuit training ideas for two year olds," "cannibal rice ball," and "whales having sex."  But low-carbers may relate to this one: "atkins cranky how long?"

And finally, the most hilariously terrible public service campaign ever is apparently still ongoing! But don't ignore the message behind it.  Read this vintage CF post so you don't die this summer please.

One last reminder: Don't forget to enter this week's New Balance UV workout wear giveaway!  And I won't spoil the surprise, but next week's giveaway is really awesome: not only is it for a great, gender neutral fitness product, but Canadians will be included too. Hooray!

Happy Friday, everyone. Got any thoughts, advice, fun weekend plans, jokes, complaints? It's all good!

July 27, 2011

Giveaway: New Balance Workout Outfit with UV Protection

Wrap Skirt: just one of two thingies you could win.

Yep, in a continuing effort to bribe folks back to Cranky Fitness after a long blogging hiatus, I've got more giveaways coming. God forbid I should try to write informative blog posts about health and fitness--that's a lot more work! The winner of last week's set of 10 DVD's will also be announced below. But if it ain't you, don't give up, because there are quite a few more giveaways in the works before sponsors get wise to the fact that Cranky Fitness is not exactly a serious and influential health and fitness blog.

UPDATE: CONTEST IS OVER!  Winner's name can be found in the Aug 3 P90X giveaway post. 

This giveaway just requires a comment to enter, but it also includes a plea to help poor befuddled Cranky Fitness enter the 21st century and get a Facebook page going. If you're on Facebook and are up for helping out, you can have two chances to win. Or you can just help out because you're a really nice person, which I believe is a synonym for "Canadian."

Anyway so this week's giveaway features workout wear with UV protection from New Balance. And what's so awesome about that?

Well, if you're like me, you may have had occasion to notice a funny bump or a suspicious mole or two, and found yourself clad in a skimpy paper robe in a dermatologists office.

Even if your bump or mole turns out to be Nothing Bad, it's hard not to think about the What If's. (It also doesn't help if you, like me, are too cheap for premium cable and are just now starting to watch The Big C, in which the adorable Laura Linney is diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma.)

Now of course the nice dermatologist's advice on skin cancer prevention was essentially to hide myself in a deep dark hole my entire life and never expose myself to sunlight. And um, that's not happening. Failing that, the doc advised UV protective wear, hats, and barrels and barrels of sunscreen.

As it happens, I'm good about putting sunscreen on exposed areas of skin, but I've never bothered to slather it under my clothes and somehow doubt I'm going to start now. So workout gear with built-in UV protection? Seems like an excellent idea!

You've got the UV stuff? Good for you!

Here's all the high tech stuff that goes into the fabric:

"Icefil® fabrics are antimicrobial and wick moisture away, dry quickly and cool the body by using larger dimension yarns to physically absorb heat given off by the body. A NAC (Nano Aqua Chem) treatment of the fabric blocks the sun’s infrared rays, providing UV protection, while the application of Xylitol further enhances the process by producing a chemical reaction with moisture to maximize the cooling effect. Available in high visibility colors to ensure safety at any time of day, the Icefil® Short Sleeve and Sleeveless will keep an athlete cool and dry during a long run."

Hello? Hello? HEY WAKE UP!!!! Be honest: you got about as far as "antimicrobial" and then your head fell onto your desk, did it not?

Anyway, bottom line, the stuff keeps you cool and dry and protects against UV.

Hi there, skimpy little workout top!
You've got UV protection too? Sweet!

The only reason I didn't try to snag this outfit for myself, is that the bottom piece is a skirt. A skirt! I'm afraid I'm just too butch for a skirt. And yeah, it's a wrap skirt equipped with a new-fangled moisture wicking boy-short underneath, but dang it, it's still a skirt. However, if you're a skirty girl, or want the top and have a skirty-girl as a friend, then you're good to go.

Alas, this is U.S. only giveaway, so poor international folks can only enter if they can scrape together a U.S. mailing address. However, we do have some more giveaways coming in which Canadians can win, so if hail from up north, don't give up!

Oh, and I almost forgot: last week's winner of the 10 DVD Set is: the 10th Commenter, Jill! Please email me and claim your prize by the end of day Friday the 29th or I'll have to draw another winner. And I'll need a mailing address.

Now, on to this week's contest details:

To enter: leave a comment below. Winner will be picked by a random number generator. You can also leave your email address, but I have no idea about spambots that may troll the site. Do so at your own risk. The main reason you might want to do this is that if you win, I can email you and let you know you won and you'll have a better chance of meeting the tight deadline for claiming your prize before I pick another winner.

To enter again: "Like" the poor pathetic Cranky Fitness Facebook page I just set up, then come back and comment again to let me know that you did. You can type crankyfitness.com in the Facebook search box, or I think it's at this ugly url. (The page can't even have a name until I get 25 people to like it). So far, it just contains  recent Cranky Fitness blog posts, but eventually if folks actually sign on, I might add some random nonsensical rambling "bonus content." Plus I think you can also suggest links or say hi or whatever. But who knows? Facebook is still mysterious to me.

Giveaway winner will be announced next Wednesday August the 3rd. The winner will have until Friday the 5th to claim the prize or I'll pick another winner.

The Prize: The UV wrap skirt plus one of the two UV tops shown above. (Go to New Balance for more info on these and other New Balance products).

Thanks for stopping by, and Good Luck!

July 25, 2011

Healthy Smoothie Recipes: From Foofy to Fierce

Photo: echo0101

Admittedly, not everyone has joined the Cult of the Smoothie. Some people prefer not to drink their calories, some folks don't have a blender yet, and still others just don't see the point of tossing a bunch of perfectly good whole food items together and pulverizing them into an unrecognizable viscous substance that may vary in hue from a pretty pink to a repellant grayish brown.

But, for the rest of us: aren't smoothies awesome? You can drink 'em for breakfast or have one as a snack and, if made properly, they allow you to consume a bunch of virtuous healthy stuff without gagging! Or conversely, you can enjoy a tasty beverage that resembles a milkshake without feeling too guilty about it.

Funny thing, though: some folks may start innocently sipping milkshake-like fruity concoctions. But then concerns about sugar/fructose content, or the desire to snag potential health benefits from more adventurous ingredients, can lead to an obsessive quest for the healthiest smoothie possible that is still actually drinkable without holding one's nose.

Are you looking to start easing your way into the Smoothosphere with some sweet, creamy, pretty foofy smoothies? Or are you already well down that road and are now looking to create a fierce blender beverage that will shock family and friends with its outrageous healthiness and seemingly unappetizing combination of disease-fighting ingredients? Or maybe you've perfected your own smoothie recipe and wouldn't mind sharing some tips?

Well, let's get crackin'! Here are some tips for healthy smoothies, along with recipes and resources.

Smoothie Tips:

1. Buy a blender. Much more convenient than a sledgehammer or a wood-chipper for pulverizing produce.

2. If you're new to smoothies, start Foofy. It's more important that you LOVE your smoothie; if you start off with a recipe that calls for rutabagas, seaweed, and raw eggs you may incorrectly come to the conclusion that smoothies are not for you. Frozen fruit + reasonably healthy liquid and you're good to go. Don't have frozen fruit on hand? Fresh fruit + ice + liquid works too.

3. Other typical "starter" ingredients for smoothie newbies besides fruit are things like milk (cow/goat/almond/soy/rice etc), yogurt, fruit juice, coconut water, peanut or almond butter, sweeteners (sugar/honey/stevia etc.), vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, cocoa powder, or whatever you can think of that isn't outright unhealthy but might make the smoothie more of a treat.

4. Proportions? Well, this depends on whether you like 'em icy or just cool, thick or thin, sweet or not so sweet... check out the recipe links below for suggestions, but really, when it comes to smoothies, it's best to experiment with your own favorite ingredients until you find the right consistency and flavor.

5. Found a smoothie you like? Now add protein! If you're one of those meat-loving primal folks, then sure, go ahead and throw in a rack of lamb. But for many, the idea is to have the protein part be unobtrusive. You can use dairy products like milk or yogurt (greek yogurt in particular is high in protein). But there are alternatives too, like pasteurized egg whites (flavorless and undetectable) or protein powders. There can be drawbacks to protein powders: some are expensive, some have a grainy texture, some taste gross, and some are surprisingly high in sugar and calories. I shied away for ages, but after reading a bunch of research about the health benefits of whey protein, I finally succumbed. My favorite is the vanilla whey protein at Whole Foods, the house brand called "365." It's cheaper than most, and sweetened with stevia (which may be good or bad depending on your Stevia views).

6. Go green! The next step is adding veggies. Same advice as above: go slowly and let the fruit dominate until you start acclimating to the vegetable taste. (Weirdly enough, you do get used to it, and even start to enjoy a little bit of veggie complexity poking its head out of the fruity sweetness). It helps to start with a little bit of something mild, like romaine lettuce or spinach, or something sweet, like carrots. Then gradually add more; when it tastes yucky, back off or you'll suddenly find yourself craving poptarts for breakfast and your healthy smoothies ritual may become a thing of the past.

7. Optimize and exoticize! See how many healthy things you can sneak into your smoothie without rendering it too disgusting to drink. Antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries, cruciferous veggies,  arugula or cabbage, green tea, healthy herbs, probiotics, spices, eye of newt... (Oh wait, wrong potion recipe.  Skip the eye of newt unless you're trying to turn your boss into a cockroach).

Hmm, not bad--just needs a tad more mouse.
Photo credit: Malingering

8. So what's in my smoothie these days? Let's see, this morning it was: frozen blueberries, a few stalks of asparagus, a little arugula, a whole crap-load of fresh spinach, some carrot juice, coconut water, egg whites, ice, and a scoop of the above-described stevia-sweetened vanilla whey protein powder.  Sure, it may look like a toxic oil spill. And sadly, house guests tend to flee the kitchen if they catch me concocting one, fearful that I may offer them a sample. But I swear, it tastes great (to me!)

Recipes and Resources

For new smoothie enthusiasts, who are looking for lightweight type smoothies, here are some Foofy ideas:

There's an Orange Creamsicle smoothie, and tons more recipes at Smoothieweb.

Oprah's magazine unearthed a pair of smoothie-making twins and among their recipes you'll find the Watermelon Agua Fresca Smoothie.

There are a whole bunch of foofy smoothie recipes in Good Housekeeping too, a magazine which probably contains all kinds of good stuff but has that problematic title--at least for those of us who are Stubbornly Bad Housekeepers.

And if you like audio/visual aids, Allrecipes.com has a video on how to make smoothies. (Did I watch it? Um, no. So if half-way through it turns into an infomercial for cuticle cream or a zombie movie or something, sorry about that).

And Fitness Magazine also has some healthy yet user-friendly smoothie recipes, including one for a Honeydew-Kiwifruit Smoothie.

For the more hardcore smoothie fan, here are your Advanced, Death-defying smoothie recipes:

Raw Family not only has recipes and videos but they even have a free green smoothie App for your iPhone or Droid or whatever. Their smoothies contain ingredients like dandelion greens, aloe vera, and stinging nettles, so you know they mean business!

Blisstree and That's Fit, two well-respected health blogs (which, since I've come back from hiatus now seem be sleeping together or something, it's a little confusing), featured the same smoothie article full of suggestions for healthy power ingredients that will boost your metabolism.

And of course I have to mention Vitamix, which is a company that makes high-end blenders and is a great source of green smoothie recipes.   Oh, and should some vitamix PR rep be searching the web for  health bloggers who drink smoothies to review one of those babies?  YES, PLEASE, CRABBY IS YOUR GAL! YOU HAVE FOUND THE RIGHT PLACE!

So, do you guys have any good recipes or links? Do you even drink smoothies or do you prefer your produce some other way? Are you Foofy or Fierce when it comes to making smoothies or other healthy concoctions?

July 22, 2011

This Week in Lazy Linkage

Photo: Zenera

Seems only fitting that this week's "lazy links" post would be a couple days late, right?

First up, if you haven't entered the Cranky Fitness giveaway for a set of 10, count 'em, 10, workout DVD's, it's not too late!  Just go the workout dvd giveaway post and leave a comment.

What else have we got this week? Well, keep reading if you'd like to prevent cancer, keep from getting killed on vacation, sharpen up your brain, or, find out why that crazy unpredictable Dr. J is saying "you should overeat and be underactive at night."

Wait, what was that last bit?   Isn't Dr. J that sensible physician over at Calorie Lab who reminds us to get our exercise, eat healthy foods, and watch our portions?  Why yes, he is! So of course that quote was taken out of context. However, it's part of a great post on intermittent fasting, and if you're curious about skipping meals you should read his post.

Are you a woman looking for a shoe that will change the amount of arch support it offers depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle?  Well the Asics folks are happy to provide one. (Thanks Vitamin G and Blisstree for alerting me to such dumbassery revolutionary technology).  But for $140? I'm thinking shoes that know where women are in their menstrual cycle better be able to run out to the store all by themselves and bring back tampons, ibuprofen and big bottles of wine!

This week in Twitter:

Jealous of tall folks? Consider this odd finding: Taller People Have Higher Cancer Risk http://mnt.to/3YqZ

This amazing veggie may make your brain sharper http://glmr.me/qOt7LA (But, oh crap, it's celery! I hate celery!)

Creepy interactive trauma care map shows vacation spots where you're screwed if you have an accident: http://ti.me/r15VhG

When restaurants post calorie data, is it accurate or total bulls#t? Study says it's mostly true, but some items are way off. http://bit.ly/n0SxGT

Ears ringing? Promising new treatments for tinnitus: http://n.pr/phFHmt (Thank god, 'cause I stupidly keep listening to loud music).

Whey to lose weight! Turns out whey protein powder helps lower ghrelin levels. http://bit.ly/nTs4z0

What? A new healthy tasty snack? Sign me up! http://t.co/7TVOo8q (Sorghum popcorn! Anyone tried it yet?)

Got non-melanoma skin cancer already & don't want to get melanoma? Study: Vitamin D plus calcium reduces risk 50%: http://bit.ly/o7HKeq

Cell phones now classified as possibly carcinogenic by official-sounding agency. http://bit.ly/oyila5 Note to self: Headset! Headset!

Those who are chronically sick and use antibiotic soap appear to get SICKER. http://bit.ly/l2gNn2

Study: replacing saturated fats with unsaturated better for heart than going low fat: http://bit.ly/qyNGyS Hooray for olive oil & avocados!

Want more random health links, to find out, for example, what body part you should wash thoroughly to keep from attracting mosquitoes?  College Candy has a weekly round up.

Do what I say, not what I do:  So it might seem ironic that when people google "proper elliptical form," they often end up at Cranky Fitness.  But this week's  "blast from the past" post does actually contain some elliptical trainer form tips, along with the usual whining.

And speaking of internet searches, what are the "keywords of the week?"  Two terms people used to find Cranky Fitness this week:   "Porn for Crabby People," and "Shaved Gorilla."

So how's your Friday, folks? Doing anything fun this weekend?

July 20, 2011

Giveaway: Set of 10 Workout DVDs!

So Cranky Fitness is just recently back from a long hiatus, and not surprisingly, has lost a bit of its previous readership.  Despite the obvious advantages of a health blog full of cursing, whining, skepticism and laziness, short-sighted readers seem to have found alternative, earnest, upbeat sources of health and fitness information.  What's up with that?!   Also, with perfect timing, Cranky Fitness has started up again in the somnolent depths of the summer season--when most sensible folks flee the fitness blogosphere for actual real-life getting outdoors and exercising. Silly readers!  Wouldn't you rather plop your butts back in your chairs and read about getting in shape?

However, this ill-timed Cranky Fitness re-launch may be excellent news for the 200,000 two folks who still manage to visit Cranky Fitness on a regular basis.  Thing is, I want to bribe welcome people back to the blog, and so I'm working on some giveaway opportunities for the next few weeks. This means if you bother to show up to Cranky Fitness and enter, your chances are pretty darn good of winning something!

So this week, you could win a set of 10 "Top Trainer DVD's valued at $89.95.-- UPDATE: THE CONTEST IS OVER AND THE WINNER HAS ALREADY BEEN CHOSEN. To find out if you won, and enter the next giveaway if you didn't, please visit the New Balance UV Workout Apparel Giveaway.

About the DVD's:

So an email arrived in the Cranky Fitness inbox last week asking: HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TEN TOP PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINERS IN A BOX?

And I thought: "Wow, that sounds cool, but what would I feed them? And if these guys are small enough to fit inside a DVD box, can they use regular indoor plumbing like we do? Or would I have to have a really awkward conversation with the guy at the hardware store trying to fashion facilities small enough so that they couldn't fall into the toilet bowl and drown?"

However, since this a giveaway, the feeding and hygiene needs of 10 four-inch-tall personal trainers will be your concern, not mine. The cool thing about these DVD's is that there are a bunch of different work outs for variety, highlighting Cardio, Thighs, Core, Buns, Abs, Yoga, Ballet, Pilates, Latin Dance Plyometrics, Interval Training, and Kickboxing. You can learn more about these videos at HealthyFitBodies.com (but turn off your audio unless you enjoy the mellifluous sound of an infomercial voiceover accompanying you as you browse).

Sadly, the winner must have a U.S. mailing address to send the DVDs to. But if you don't live in the U.S., you can still enter if you can think of anyone in the U.S. you might like to give the prize to if you win. Someone will be very grateful and it will make a nice deposit in the Good Karma bank.

To enter: just leave a comment below. Winner selected by random drawing, the results of which will be announced next Wednesday the 27th. To claim your prize, email me by the end of day Friday the 29th or I'll draw another winner.

So, want to win a set of workout DVD's, or just say hi on a summer day? All comments welcome.

July 18, 2011

Vertigo: Research, Remedies, and Ramblings

Image swiped from here.

If you are a youngish person, you may be wondering: Seriously? A whole post on vertigo? Isn't that one of those obscure old-fashioned medical complaints like vapors or consumption that modern healthy types don't have to worry about?

However, if you are a middle-aged female, you may be more familiar with the phenomenon of vertigo. Several good friends of mine have had recent bouts that lasted for days or weeks and the experience sounded pretty darn miserable.   Research on vertigo demographics backs up my hunch: sufferers tend to be over 40, with average onset in the mid-fifties.  Women (lucky us!) are twice as likely to wake up one morning and find the whole freakin' world spinning around for no apparent reason.

The most common kind of vertigo has a fancy name:  "Benign Positional Vertigo." Or if it only last for a few seconds or minutes at a time, it's even fancier: "Benign Paroxysmal Positional Disorder," also known as BPPD. Benign Positional Vertigo is to be distinguished from other vertiginous varieties, such as "Drunk Off Your Ass Vertigo," "Oh Crap Looks Like I'm Having a Stroke Vertigo," or "What on Earth Was I Thinking Getting on The Damn Tilt-A-Whirl Ride At My Age Vertigo."

So, wanna know how you end up with vertigo, or more importantly, how to get rid of it? Here's your Half-Assed Cranky Fitness Guide!

1. Symptoms of Vertigo

It's not just regular stand-up-too-fast dizziness; your first clue that you've got vertigo is that your surroundings are suddenly spinning around.  Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, loss of balance and nystagmus.  Nystagmus sounds kind of disgusting doesn't it? Or maybe it's just me who imagined it must mean "particularly nasty, gummy mucus." But no, nystagmus just means involuntary eye movements, which are due to your poor bewildered brain trying to make sense of the suddenly screwed up universe it is now inhabiting.

2. What else besides vertigo might make the room spin?

Have you been pounding tequila shots recently? Then it's probably not vertigo that's causing the problem.

Do you have weakness or numbness of one side of the body, loss of vision, or difficulty with speech? Then stop reading Cranky Fitness, doofus!  Call 911 instead; you may be having a stroke!

Do you have a side of fever with your room-spinning main course?  Could be an infection.  But watch out: fever with a stiff neck or sensitivity to light could be something serious, like meningitis or perhaps a space alien spore hatching inside you getting ready to burst out of your stomach. Go see your doctor.

There are also other conditions that can resemble vertigo, like labyrinthitis, Ménière's disease, or migraine. So during your exam, your doctor may perform a Dix-Hallpike. Do not be alarmed: though it sounds like a tricky Olympic high-dive, the Dix-Hallpike is just a movement test used to confirm a diagnosis of BPPV.  Your doctor checks to see if your eyes do that creepy nystagmus thing in certain positions.

3.   What causes Vertigo?

Sneaky little crystals in your ears break loose and do something unseemly down in the mysterious depths of your inner ear.  This can happen from a head injury, from rapid or repetitive head movement, infections, medication side effects, nervous system disorders, ear surgery, alcoholism, or most often, for no good reason whatsoever.  It can be made worse by lack of sleep, stress, dehydration, and changes in barometric pressure. For a more coherent explanation you obviously need to go elsewhere-- like to this illustrated explanation of vertigo causes.

4. What should you do when you first notice the room spinning?

Lie down if you can, with your head slightly raised.  Drink lots of water.  The more you can avoid moving your head around, the better. Don't drive, you may kill someone.  No tight-rope walking between skyscrapers either.

5. How do you treat vertigo?

Interestingly enough, one of the best ways to get rid of vertigo is to remove the offending ear crystals via a series of weird head contortions.  There are different kinds: Semont  and Epley maneuvers, which your doctor or physiotherapist my do on you in their office, or Brandt-Daroff Exercises which you can do at home.  One source implied that these are a pain in the ass but effective.

As to pharmaceutical vertigo remedies, one idea is to try motion sickness medications. Or, there is a surgical procedure called "posterior canal plugging" (insert your own off-color gay porn joke here). The procedure is often effective, but the downside is a 20% chance of hearing loss.

6. Where can I find a less ridiculous guide to vertigo?

If you prefer a more informative approach with absolutely no untoward references to gay porn, you can check out the Healthline article on Benign Positional Vertigo, or the eMedicineHealth vertigo article
In addition, Medline Plus has a big honking list of dizziness and vertigo references and resources, or you could check out the Vestibular Disorders Association or even good ol' wikipedia!

So, anyone out there ever had vertigo or know someone who has? Or ever done tequila shots? Or hey, how's your Monday?

July 13, 2011

Lazy Linkage: Cranky Fitness Midweek Roundup

Photo: ucumari

What's new in lazy blogging this week? Well, there's shocking news about your navel, and some helpful links from fellow health & fitness bloggers who were taking the time to write thoughtful blog posts and host giveaways while I was off napping.

Note: Cranky Fitness is working on a giveaway or two as well in order to bribe people to come here better serve loyal readers!  So stay tuned and you may score some free stuff.

And now, on with the show...

There's a one-year anniversary celebration at Fit Bottom Mama's, another fine site from the Fit Bottom Girls. And they're hosting a DVD giveaway.

Our favorite Canadian mouse has a thoughtful post questioning the notion that weight loss makes you pretty. Agree? Disagree?

Do you skip breakfast because you're not hungry and then feel guilty about it? Do you dutifully eat many small meals a day to boost your metabolism? Over at Mark's Daily Apple they've put together a great post collecting and analyzing research about meal timing--and guess what? Turns out Krispy Kremes are good for you after all! A lot of conventional wisdom is NOT supported by research.

So why is Crossfit just like Rachel Maddow? For new Cranky Fitness readers (or old forgetful ones), here's a recap on some pro's and con's of Crossfit workouts.

And now, this week in the Twittersphere:

High blood pressure linked with lower socioeconomic status: http://on-msn.com/nWvWzS (but article implies correlation=causation, grrr)

Study: high salt, low potassium diets are deadly: http://reut.rs/nwwE5r  But wasn't there another study 2 minutes ago saying hi salt ok?

I confess: I use a bit of splenda & stevia. Should I rethink? "Diet Soda Makes You Gain Weight" http://bit.ly/n76wSO

And I thought eating AT my desk was bad. RT @PreventionMag Eating your desk several times a day? Make those meals healthier http://ow.ly/5BodG

Sneaking Healthy into Your Vacation http://bit.ly/omq1JO via @joycecherrier Cool, I love being sneaky! But umbrella drinks=nonnegotiable

Not sure I wanted to know this: Study: Belly Buttons are loaded with 1500 Strains of Bacteria. http://bit.ly/2jAjRG

Ah, good-news coffee research, my favorite kind! The Brain Benefit of Your Regular Cup of Joe http://bit.ly/pP1OeH

In happier news, I was psyched to open Prevention and see great article on @GreenMtnFoxRun featuring @MarshaHudnall. Go Marsha! (Here's the Prevention Magazine online version.

Crabby got hacked! I just discovered/deleted a tweet "from" me linking to a slimy website, saying I made $360 bucks from them.

Turn a walk into an aerobic workout! 1.grab wifes pricey new camera, sans cover; 2.walk 2 miles; 3.get caught in rainstorm 4.runlikehell!

Didn't think obesity rates could get much higher? Well, think again! 16 states rose yet again. http://bit.ly/r31F7P

Egg yolks have lots of antioxidants, who knew? Even more if you eat 'em raw. Yikes! http://bit.ly/pUo0Zn

That's it! And say, how's your week going? Lazy or Crazy?

July 11, 2011

Push Ups and Pull Ups for Women, Too!

What, you can't do this wearing a weighted vest? What's wrong with you?
(Photo: Amber Karnes)

Finally--the updated 2011 women's guide to pull-ups, push-ups and/or press-ups has arrived!

If you landed here via search engine and are trying to figure how to do your first "real" pullup or pushup, congratulations, you've come to the right place.

But what if you're a regular at Cranky Fitness and saw a post covering very similar ground that I wrote a few years ago?  Well, no worries! If you're a typical Cranky Fitness reader, you have trouble remembering your own phone number. There's not a chance in hell you'll remember what that post said about push-ups and pull-ups, so you're good too.

As to the guys? Well, it's the same instructions, but there's a dude-friendly resource included too, so you won't die of estrogen poisoning trying to figure out how to do these exercises. 

Anyway, so what kind of moron says women can't do pull-ups and push-ups?

Well, I guess I did--the first time I wrote a post about this back in 2008.

Um, sorry about that.

In my defense, I was really only trying to say that women (or men for that matter) shouldn't have to do full-on "boys" push-ups or unassisted pull-ups in order to feel that they are fit and strong. After all, your ability to lift your own bodyweight depends on how heavy you are! There's no reason for someone on the big side to feel badly because they have more trouble defying gravity than someone who is naturally skinny.

Thing is though, there are a lot of female googlers who come here looking to learn how to build up to their first "boys" push-up or unassisted pull-up. Why should they have to wade through a long whiny post about how mean and unfair these exercises are? We want them to hang out here with us, where it's safe and warm and cozy, and not leave discouraged only to get caught up in some evil acai berry colon cleansing scam elsewhere on the interwebs.  So here is a new improved push up and pull up post: now with 50% more instructions and 90% less whining!

Let's get crackin', shall we?

First off, there's an Obvious Secret to mastering the push up and pull up.

(And yeah, I know an "obvious secret" is an oxymoron, sort of like "painless dentistry" but whatever.) Anyway, here's the secret: You have to build up to them gradually.

Well duh, right? That's what you do with any tough exercise. The problem is, both these exercises require lifting your body weight up off the ground. Just how are you supposed to do that gradually?  Start amputating various limbs and then sew them back on one at a time? That doesn't sound like much fun. The trick is, then, to find easier versions you can handle now and then build up to the "real" exercise.  (And no, sprawling on the couch reaching for a bag of Doritos does NOT count as an easier version!)

How to learn to do your first push up.

1. Step one: wall push-ups. Place your hands on a wall a bit more than shoulder width apart and do push ups from there. Find a height where you can just barely crank out 8-12 in a row. (And as with all varieties of push ups, keep your body straight and stable; don't bend over at the waist and stick your butt out, nor should you let your ass sag against gravity.  Your lower abs should be pulled in.)

(Note: should family members interrupt you as you are doing this, just explain that you thought you'd save money remodeling your house by knocking out a few walls the old fashioned way.)

For a great demonstration of these, MizFit, the most inspiring fitness blogger on the planet, is our go-to gal;

If you can do 3 sets of 12 with no problem, you need to get lower on the wall; if you're as low as you can go without risking a face plant then...

2.  Step two: Table top push ups.  Same as above, but put your hands on a table or counter top, stabilize your body, and do pushups from there.  Probably best not to do this at a fancy restaurant during dinner hour no matter how enthusiastic you're feeling. Once you've getting good at those...

3. You'll want to get lower still.  Do you have a staircase in your house you can do push-ups from? Keep choosing lower and lower stairs to put your hands on until you get to the bottom. Otherwise, have you got any heavy immobile objects in your home of varying heights, like armchairs, couches, teenagers, coffee tables?

4. So what about bent-knee "girls" pushups?  Well sure, throw these in the mix too for variety!  They are also explained in MizFit's video above.  But you'll get more core work (I think!) by doing the full extended version from higher up than doing bent knees off the ground. 

5. By the time you can do a bunch of almost-to-the-ground pushups, you'll be ready for your first "real" pushup. Do one and feel smug. And congratulations, you rock!

6. Do more.  And then some more! And then more after that!

How to learn to do your first pull up.

(Personal Aside: In my experience, these are really f#cking hard to do. However, you will feel so damn bad-ass when you get there, it will be worth all the pain, suffering, frustration, sobbing, exhaustion... wait, where are you all going? When I finally got up to 3 or 4 pull-ups, I managed to work this superhuman feat into every single conversation I had last summer, to the delight of all my friends and relatives, I'm sure. But then sadly, I got sidelined with surgery and a broken arm, so now I'm starting over myself. I stare up at that little steel bar above my head with equal mixture of loathing and yearning, and am working hard toward that joyous day when I will once again be able to claim mastery of the Unassisted Pull Up.  But enough about me...)

1. Step One: As with push-ups, you want to build up your strength with easier versions of the pullup.  You may want to vary your grip to include chin ups too--palms facing inward rather than outward.  Chin-ups are slightly easier that pull-ups, and help give you a cute little bicep bulge.

Also, you want to drop and retract your shoulder blades so that you can show off your boobs you can better engage your back muscles.

Easier pull-up alternatives include:
  • A lat pull-down machine at the gym;
  • A pull-up bar with a chair under it to put your legs on to support some body weight;
  • An exercise band looped around a pullup bar to put your foot in and lighten the load;
  • A friend, spouse, personal trainer, indentured servant, minion, or other cooperative mammal with opposable thumbs who can hold your legs and help hoist you up; or
  •  One of those gravitron thingies at the gym. (The main option I used the first time; very helpful.) From the name it sounds like it should be able to launch you into outer space, but it's just this contraption that allows you to adjust how much help you need getting up to the top:

(Hey, what the heck, build one of these babies yourself! Couldn't be that hard, could it?)

Step 2:  Negatives.  (These are aptly named, because that's the way you will feel about life while completing them. They are weirdly unsatisfying even as they are kicking your ass.  But they do work well).  To do these, use a chair (or if you're really fit, jump up) to start at the top position of the pull-up.   Lower yourself down slowly.  Start again at the top.  Repeat until exhaustion or suicidal thoughts, which ever comes first.

Step 3: Start "playing" with tiny real pull-ups while building up more fake assisted pull-ups and negatives. You can start at the top and lower yourself an inch or so and then heave (no not the barfy kind of heave, the muscle kind) your body back up. Or you can start at the bottom and inch yourself up as far as you can go and then repeat. Or, if you try that and don't go anywhere at all, you can hang for a while at the top, middle, or bottom, it's all good!

Step 4: At some point, possibly when you least expect it, execute your first pull-up! Personally, I plateaued for ages and ages, needing 30 lbs of assistance as seasons changed and time marched on and I about gave up. I have NO IDEA why all of a sudden one day I was up and over the top!

Advanced Versions of the Push Up and Pull Up

There are lots! But that's the subject of another post. Please check back at Cranky Fitness every two to three minutes for the next year or so to make sure you don't miss it. Or I suppose you could subscribe to the blog by feed reader or email on the left sidebar...

Additional Pull Up and Push Up resources, some with pictures and actual experts:

Experience Life: "Clear the Bar"--instructions on getting to your first pull-up.

Women's Health Magazine: Do 15 "real" pushups

NerdFitness: This one's more a more manly, rugged, dude-friendly guide to doing pull-ups.

Our pal Jody at Truth2Being Fit explains and shows what it means to drop and retract your shoulders.

Anyone trying to master the push up or pull up? Already there? Don't give a crap and just want to say hi or whine about something annoying? It's all good!

July 07, 2011

Random Round-Up: the Yep, Still Lazy Edition

Why yes, I believe this IS the same picture as last time!

What's happened recently in the health and fitness world that I was too lazy to blog about?

Well, favorite Fitness blogger Charlotte from The Great Fitness Experiment did something childish, various research studies said something or other about things that might either kill you or help you live to be 100, etc,  a poll revealed a surprisingly lame thing men find particularly attractive in women... all this and more!


So our pal Charlotte from The Great Fitness Experiment took Shape Magazine by storm with a playground workout!

My kinda cooking demonstrations:  Jack Sh*t does battle with a mango, and Hannah Hart demonstrates her patriotism by baking apple pie the 'Merican way at My Drunk Kitchen.  (Note: Hannah is adorable and cracks me up; however, if you have loved ones with alcohol issues or strong feelings about Apple Pie, Baking or Patriotism, you may want to skip this one).

And what health research did Crabby Tweet about this week?  Well, sure, you could look at the sidebar to find out, but then you'd have to scroll.

Painkillers Linked to Heart Rhythm Disorder: http://bit.ly/oSLk9K (yikes! Not just prescription NSAIDS--stuff like advil too)

Will going to a chiropractor help your back? This study is no help: http://on-msn.com/pmfvpA Bottom line seems to be: maybe?

I wear a size 10 shoe so I'm TWICE as hot right?  Poll: Women with Size-5 Feet Most Attractive to Men http://bit.ly/2jAjRG

Any other health bloggers just get an email that it's National Fried Chicken Day, with ideas for pairing wine with KFC?   #WTF? #PRFail

Are you getting enough good bugs in your diet? Probiotics may be good for your mental health as well as physical: http://bit.ly/nIzNVz

Does it seem like there's a new "hooray for vitamin D-3 study" every 3 minutes? This one says good for elderly women. http://bit.ly/pX0lMG

Awesome slideshow on finding ideas for blog posts by @nomorebacon. http://slidesha.re/pKXids (Great timing for this here lazy blogger !)

1 more reason I say stand up! @HeartsHealth: Sitting for Long Time Linked to Pulmonary Embolism http://bit.ly/r3fRfo

Annoying study: moderate salt reduction won't decrease your chance of dying. http://bit.ly/ojfrAY So: reduce more, or don't bother at all?

Though this study seems mainly relevant to mice contemplating spaceflights to Mars, love the headline: "Red wine: Exercise in a Bottle?" http://bit.ly/l9YwB2

Eating lots of veggies? Yet another reason to feel smug: leafy greens help build muscles! http://bit.ly/mCnQ3N

Biggest surprise: black tea lowers cortisol? Surprising Signs You'll Live To Be 100 http://bit.ly/mOMVst

You already knew to do strength training for healthy aging; this study says lift HEAVY for best benefits: http://bit.ly/jYAkKq

And now I believe it's time for a nap!!

July 05, 2011

Standing Versus Sitting Burns HOW MANY Calories?!?!

But sitting is so darn comfy! (Photo: thetimechannel)

UPDATE! There is a more recent 2012 post on Stand Up Desks if you want to find out how this experiment went and get a few more ideas!

As you may have heard by now, sitting down all day long can kill you. This is true even if you arise from your desk when the workday is done, walk briskly to the gym like the virtuous, dedicated health and fitness superhero that you are, and then proceed to exercise like a maniac for the rest of the evening. Doesn't seem fair does it? But yet another new study confirms the unfortunate connection between sitting and dying, even among those who don't smoke and who get regular exercise.

And many of us have seen these studies, and promised ourselves to get out of the chair more often, and maybe even googled stand-up desks or treadmill workstations and then... forgot all about the whole deal two minutes later and somehow found ourselves watching a youtube video of a baby laughing uncontrollably at a fluffy white kitten wearing a tutu.

But wait... what's even more motivating than not dying? Well, for most people--finding easy ways to lose weight!

So a couple weeks ago, I was reading yet another article warning about the dire consequences of plopping our butts in chairs all day, and contemplating alternatives like a stand up desk, when I saw a surprising and exciting statistic:

The article said you could burn 50 extra calories an hour if you stand up while you work rather than sit down.

So... if I replace, say, 6 hours of sitting a day with standing, I get (in addition to the nice perk of not dying) 300 hundred extra calories to snarf up cupcakes increase my intake of nutritious lean protein and vegetables?  Or alternatively, I could eat the same amount and lose 300 calories worth of extra flab a day??

I set off on a google search, and the news only got better!  One standing versus sitting article said "Standing two hours a day can burn up to 280 calories daily (depending on body size and other factors); over the period of a year, this can add up to a weight loss of 20 lbs."

And another white paper on weight loss at work proclaimed that "by adding only two-and-a-half hours of standing to an employee’s workday, 350 extra calories are burned per day," and holy moley, if that's true, then six hours of standing would get me many many cupcakes even more health benefits!

Now of course, I'm a female human of average height, and am used to having to adjust caloric studies on "normal people" to reflect the fact I won't burn as many calories.  Whatever.  If I've got to knock off a bit from the 840 calories that six hours of standing would get me, well gosh, I could live with that!

The next thing I did was to go looking for the actual studies behind all these lovely pronouncements and... well.... I couldn't find any of the actual damn data anywhere for the 140 calorie an hour figure.  Did folks start forgetting to subtract the amount of calories sitting would have burned during the same hour?  Did the researchers only pick 600 pound subjects to experiment on? Who knows? (And if anyone has a good link to a reputable research publication, please let me know!).  In truth, I didn't pursue the hunt for corroboration very far because it finally dawned on me:

So what if it's not 140 calories an hour?  What if it's 80, or 50, or even 25 calories an hour?

If sitting for a good part of the day is gonna kill me, and if I can motivate myself to stand up using possibly exaggerated data on calorie burn, is that a bad thing?  And no one seems to debate that standing indeed burns more calories than sitting--it's just hard to find out exactly how many.

And so, guess what I've been doing for the last week or so?  Standing up at my computer!  Wanna know how it happened, what I've observed about the experience?

What, you don't?

Well, that hasn't ever stopped me from sharing before.  So here we go:

The Low Tech DIY Standing Desk Experiment!

I decided that the first step before spending any money would be to see how uncomfortable it is to work standing up.

(What I can't figure out is how on earth that empty case of Two Buck Chuck got into our house?  Hmm, we must have borrowed it from a friend to cart fresh organic groceries back from the farmers market.  Yeah, that's it!)

Anyway, aside from the ergonomic faux pas of having the laptop keys too high and the screen too low, the experiment was a success!  I thought I'd be too distracted standing up to concentrate, but I started with just a half hour at a time and built up to a couple hours standing, interspersed with sitting breaks. It was fine!

Well, my lower back was a bit sore for a few days, but it adjusted.

Now here's the really weird thing.  So I'm not one of those "The Secret" types who are prone to attracting the things they focus on.  My general experience with the universe is that it's all pretty much a random crapshoot.  But check this out:

A couple of days after initiating the standing desk experiment, I had just snapped the above crappy picture and was writing a blog post in my mind as I headed out for a walk through town.  And guess what?  There by the side of the road was an ugly little table about two feet tall with a sign saying "Free" on it.  This forelorn looking excuse for furniture (it had brutally utilitarian pipes for legs, and was covered in rippled fake-wood-grain vinyl), may have not been sleek and tasteful, but it did have an adjustable base.   The top of the table was adjustable too--split into two panels that could be tilted at different angles. Hmm...

I stopped. I circled. I extended. I tilted.  I adjusted. I stood back a few feet and cocked my head.  I adjusted some more.

It was too freakin' much of a coincidence!  It could never work, right?

But I schlepped the thing home anyway:

And then put my monitor on it and my lap top under it:

And voila! I now I have a perfectly serviceable stand up desk FOR FREE!!!!

Thus far, I've gradually worked up to about 4 extra standing hours a day, with no ill effects.  So let the calorie-burning bonfire begin!

(And I'll be sure to report back if I have to start eating thousands of extra calories a day to keep from wasting away to nothing).

Note: if you start googling stand up desks, it's a little depressing.  They're not generally free.  However, there a few different options for stand up desks, including some DIY types like this one.  If anyone knows of any good resource links or helpful blog posts, please mention them in the comments and I'll add 'em to the list.

I'm thinking next ergonomic experiment, after I'm totally comfortable with standing most of the day? Maybe a Treadmill workstation.  Or better yet, I could move to the Bag Lady's ranch and start herding cattle!

Anyone curious about standing up or walking while working? Anyone already doing it?

July 01, 2011

Health & Fitness Research Round-Up, Lazy Blogger Edition

So I'm thinking I may start a weekly feature that pretty much just recycles recent health research and other miscellaneous stuff culled from my Twitter feed.  Health blogging doesn't get any lazier than that!

Why stoop so low?  Well, it occurs to me that (a) not everyone on the world is on twitter (b) my sidebar twitter widget probably isn't visible from most blog readers (c) even people who do follow me on Twitter may be following thousands of others folks and sadly, may not be holding their breath every moment of the day waiting for the latest from @CrabbyMcSlacker, and finally (d) if I'm going to waste away hours tweeting about health and fitness anyway, maybe I can leverage an additional blog post with almost no effort!

These little snippets will be edited a bit--I notice that Twitter staples like RT's, @ symbols etc  tend to make non-Twitter types cranky. Some hashtags may stay just 'cause I like 'em. But it means that credit for finding links probably won't be given where it's due. Sorry 'bout that, tweeps.

So here goes practically nothing!

I love when a study says to eat MORE of something!  Study: soluble fiber may reduce belly fat http://tinyurl.com/6kyvy9t

Study says working out an empty stomach won't burn more fat & may deplete muscle: http://nyti.ms/lamUtO

Hey, no fair: older women with more wrinkles also more likely to have low bone density. http://bit.ly/kNpyV7

Weird (but fascinating) study: Ovulation boosts women's "gaydar" http://on-msn.com/jgaWuX. Seems to be about mate choice; only works on men

Study on low-carb vs low-fat diets say both effective: http://on-msn.com/lOuL2h. Low carb faster at first, low fat catches up.

Average American gobbles up 580 calories a day in snacks. I'm guessing that's probably not veggies & hummus? http://on-msn.com/mjMQj1

Y'all have no doubt seen this, but if you missed the Whole Foods Parking Lot video, it's hilarious: http://youtu.be/2UFc1pr2yUU

Florida medical board says rape conviction no reason to keep doctor from practicing medicine: http://cbsloc.al/mNatek #gladIdontlivethere

Silver lining department: if you're over 65 and get breast cancer, you're more likely to die of something else. http://on-msn.com/k1ziyu

Calcium supps may help (a little) with weight loss: http://bit.ly/kiDM0m But they can mess with heart health: http://bit.ly/jX08qa

Study: folks who scarf chips, fries, sodas, red meat & watch tons of tv are fatter. http://on-msn.com/jW1DMi Gosh, who woulda thunk?

WTF? Fat substitutes actually lead to weight gain? http://bit.ly/luzMbs

Note: new post coming out early next week (I think!) and it's actually (a) new and not recycled and (b) health and fitness related!  And it will be appearing here at Cranky Fitness and will not be another sneaky attempt to send you over to my life and wellness coaching website.

Th...th...th...th...that's all, folks!  Have a happy Canada Day and a festive fourth of july weekend!