January 30, 2012

More Snacks: Scary Seaweed! Plus Re-Giveaway Winner

Yep, we have a new winner of the HUMAN snack-pack and t-shirt giveaway!

Plus there's also a micro-post about snacking.  Because the funny thing about snacking... even after you've said you're done, finished, that's absolute it for now?  Somehow two minutes later you're all "well, hell, just one more..."

And what happened to the big ol' post I was going to do on an important, sensible, and much-loathed medical screening procedure I had done last week? Well, still waiting for lab results, and somehow it seemed like its asking for trouble to write the whole thing without knowing what the biopsy's gonna say. So stay tuned and there'll be a post later on that--because no doubt you are all just dying to know what Crabby has hidden up her... um, sleeve!  Her blogging sleeve, yeah, that's it. There might be text and pictures and videos, who knows?

But First Off, Our Re-Giveaway Winner:

The new winner is Azusmom! And I'm always psyched when the RNG gets around to recognizing long-time Cranky Fitness commenters. Congrats, Azusmom, and please check in to claim your prize before the end of day Friday, or at this point I'll just arbitrarily assign a new re-re-giveaway winner.

Got a Favorite Snack that Frightens Bystanders?

Anyone else have some go-to snacks that seem to make those around you nervous? The more new health food novelties I experiment with (kale chips? Bright orange nutritional yeast sprinkled on everything?) the more I'm discovering a great side benefit: I can freely offer to share with those around me, and no one takes me up on it!

My new favorite, which I mentioned last time, is a seaweed snack that the sinister folks at Trader Joes are seducing innocent snackers with.

I was cheerfully oblivious for many years, because I've never been a sushi fan and thought "seaweed? No way!"

And the first time I tried one of these seaweed snacks, I almost spit it out.  Eww!  It tastes fishy, what a vile and disagreeable thing for a cracker to do! Who would eat these on purpose? That's... hmm, hang on... because it seems there is this also a nice little oily salty crunchy action going on behind the fish taste.... Maybe not so gross? Perhaps one more... No, Eww there's the fish again! Aack! But wait... mmm, oil and salt, yumm!

By the end of the first pack, sadly, I was hooked.  Now, damn it, I am forced to visit Trader Joe's on an ever-escalating schedule. Because if I tried to buy a week, or god forbid, a month's, supply... I'd need a forklift and a dumptruck and it's hard to find parking for 'em in the crowded TJ's lot.

However, it could be worse: as it happens, there are lots of nifty seaweed health benefits, since sea vegetables have "anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anticoagulant, antithrombotic, and antiviral properties."

And despite the lovely oily/salty flavor, the nutritional info isn't too horrible at all:

Hate Me For Going On and On About Trader Joes 'Cause You Don't Have One?

Doesn't it suck that we can have a McDonalds on every freakin' corner throughout the world, and yet getting to your nearest Trader Joe's may require you to drive for 47 hours and cross through several large red states on your way?  Well, there are other brands of seaweed snacks at Asian grocery stores and health food places. And I'm too much of a novice to have investigated other sea vegetables, or even tried the bit sheets of nori that aren't conveniently marketed and displayed as snacks. But I suspect these may be options as well.

Anyone else know of any Scary Snacks, either that you or others around you fear? Or any thoughts on anything at all?

January 26, 2012

Lazy Linkage: Let's Mess With Texas Edition

Should we worry that this is the design on a Kids Extra Small T-shirt?
Photo: cafe press

Yep, it's time for one of those weird posts with bunch of miscellaneous stuff in it. And for absolutely no reason at all, it seems a good week to pick on Texas.  Of course we apologize in advance to all of the awesome folks who live in Texas, like Mizfit! (Though does Austin really count as Texas?)

So, want to find out how Texas college kids are getting high these days, or why the New York Times is writing about pee, or perhaps where you might be able to score some free tea? 

Join me for another lazy link roundup!

First up, do you think women who compete in World Championship amateur boxing events should have to wear skirts in order to differentiate them from men? Head over to Fit and Feminist for the full scoop and prepare to get steamed if you think that's nuts.

Everyone knows that tea has health benefits, and there's a great Fusion tea giveaway going on over at Desert Raven Art.  (And if you haven't entered yet, don't forget the Cranky Fitness Healthy Snack and T-shirt Re-Giveaway either!)

Looking for more protein in your desserts?  Why the Fitfluential folks love their balls.

Looks like a fun read: The Twitter Diet, by Rebecca Regnier from Does this Blog Make Us Look Fat? Not only does it look to be a cool approach to getting support during weight loss, it explains all about Twitter for those of us who just can't seem to get the hang of it! Definitely on my "to-read" list. Plus, it's in a nice affordable ebook format.

Want the scoop on a challenging pilates core workout you can do in a small space like a dorm room?  College Candy has you covered!  And they rounded up this excellent video tutorial with plenty of tips on proper form:

And to finally answer the Texas Teaser question: A recent survey revealed that 1 in 7 Texas college kids admitted to playing "the choking game" to get high. Sure, it's potentially lethal, but at least it's cheap! (Seriously, Texans?)

Random Stuff Copied From My Twitter Stream:

My favorite kind of study: Moderate red wine drinking doesn't seem to increase breast cancer risk. Cheers!

Except for mini desserts, love this list. I don't do anything "mini." RT @blogomomma: 2012's Trendiest Health Foods.

WTF? After tons of research saying "boost your Vitamin D levels," this one claims the low end of normal is best.

Study suggests natural transfats in meat and dairy don't have same bad effects as industrial ones.

Owning a car or tv raises heart attack risk:  And yeah, its a global study. In the US, people have tvs IN their cars.

More memory boosters? B vitamins and folic acid. But isn't there a reason B supps are bad? @#$% I CAN'T REMEMBER!

"Coming Soon, Memory Boosting Pill"  Can't come soon enough for me! But I ain't holding my breath. #soundslikehype

Scientists discover memory loss starts by the 40's.  Hell they coulda saved the $$ and just asked me! #livingproof

Calcium + Vitamin D Supps may help weightloss: All this: calcium is good! No wait... calcium is bad! stuff confuses me.

I use my fingers, otherwise too many typos! RT @blogomomma: Should You Write with Your Head or Your Heart?

Good news for boomers who occasionally smoked pot: they scored a bit BETTER than non-users on cognitive tests.

Get more protein to keep from losing muscle, but extra protein won't "trick" body into shedding fat:

High blood levels of omega-3's, vitamins B, C, D and E may strengthen older brains; high transfats lead to crappy cognition.

Jane Brody explores the fascincating subject of: pee.  Apparently lots of clues to health issues in urine.

Random reminder:  if you've got a great link you'd like to see featured in this round-up, and aren't fussy about how long it might take to appear, please email or leave it in the comments!

And finally, this is totally irrelevant to anything above, but it cracked me up.  Spotted by our pal Leah on the interwebs:

Attempt at photo credit: Somewhere on Facebook

Any thoughts on anything above or on something totally unrelated?  Anyone know what happens to people who Mess With Texas?

January 23, 2012

Happy Trails: Thoughts on Camping, Plus A Re-Giveaway!

 All Photos by the clever Lobster

You know those inspiring photo-bloggers like Hilary at The Smitten Image who go out into the world, capture beautiful moments, and string them together with graceful prose? Not only do you get to enjoy stunning images of nature, but there's usually some sort of subtle but powerful observation about hope, or resilience, or the transience of life or some other deep topic.

Here at Cranky Fitness, we're not so highbrow.

Having just come back from a camping trip, I've been scratching my head trying to come up with some justification to post pictures, and nothing Deep is coming to mind.  Somehow "hey, look at me out in the desert with the Lobster having a great time!" doesn't sound all that health-related, high-minded, or helpful.  Especially given that some of you may be facing sleet, snow, rain, and/or locusts and plague, and may not be in the mood for our antics in the desert.

But, well, theme, schmeme, I've got a few pics to put up! And heck, you may want to stick around anyway for the Healthy Snack Re-Giveaway. Just leave a comment below if you've got a U.S. mailing address and would like to win a cute T-Shirt and Snack Assortment from the Human Vending Machine folks.  Last weeks' winner didn't check back in in time to claim her prize, so I'll redraw from this weeks comments.

OK, so some random thoughts and pictures...

Things You Should Take With You To Go Camping:

Let's see, you definitely need a tent, some sleeping bags, backpacks, camp stove, water purifier, flashlights....

Hell no, you certainly don't! Not if you're spoiled and middle-aged. You just need this:

Fran the Van Returns!

And this:

The Lobster, Most Awesome Human Ever
And Expert at Doing All That Is Useful

As a younger person, I did plenty of the backpacking, hitchhiking, primitive camping thing.  And while I still think it's a great character-building experience, I've got all the character I need now, thank you very much!  Give me a bed, an indoor toilet, a tasty grilled steak (grassfed, organic, humanely raised, and shockingly expensive), a chilled bottle of champagne, and a cup of hot coffee in the morning that I don't have to rub two sticks together to produce.

Roughing It Is Overrated.

Things That Seem Like Bad Things Can Be Good Things:

So the above photo is cheating, because it's from a previous trip in which we encountered the dreaded news that the campground was full. However, like our detour to Bisbee, Arizona, the Full Campground sign that greeted us this time was really a blessing in disguise. We found out from the friendly folks at the visitors center that we could just park off-road until we needed hook-ups, and they sent us to a lovely spot with a nice view that was Free Free Free Free!

Being Out in Nature is Awesome Even if It's Not Your Favorite Kind of Nature.

Confession: neither of us are huge fans of your basic garden-variety desert landscape. We prefer mountains, coasts, forests, streams, or spectacular formations of red rocks like in Bryce, Zion, or Sedona.

But I know many of you totally dig the subtle beauty of a landscape not burdened with the distraction of lush green pretty things, or pretty much any color at all except for two minutes or so in spring when the wildflowers are out.

Well, Gray and Brown are Colors Too.  Sort Of.

Yet... we're here in San Diego, and there's a desert close by, and so we went.  And we had some really enjoyable hikes! We weren't quite quick enough with the camera, but we saw dozens of jack rabbits with big goofy ears, and we almost literally ran into some big horn sheep when we came around a corner and they were standing there staring at us.  Oddly enough, they had really big horns.

And there was flora as well as fauna!  Fortunately cactus are not as speedy as jack rabbits or big horn sheep so the Lobster managed to catch one or two.

Perhaps not the best place to take a seat.

Oh, and check this out: On our last night, The Lobster not only grilled us up our lovely steaks, she also managed to generate some smoke during the process that appears to be taking over the entire universe.  Are your eyes itching right now?  Sorry, but it was worth it for that delicious dinner!

Quick Quiz! Can you guess what this next series of 4 photos illustrates?

a.  Trailaerobic Functional Conditioning!  It's the next fitness craze I was going to announce that's going to make me a ton of money once I put out a DVD series.  It requires no equipment at all, just access to a handy desert rock-strewn trail.  And heck, so what if you live in, say, Anchorage or Saskatoon or Pittsburgh? What's a little airfare and RV rental when your fitness is at stake?! Operators are standing by.

b.  A Cautionary Tale: What happens when you wake up feeling insanely energetic, proceed to drink way too much coffee anyway, hit the trail, get amped up listening to your favorite dj's awesome mp3 podcast...yet need to stick close to a more sensible hiking partner due to mountain lion warnings?  You end up acting like a complete asshole on the trail and dancing around, skipping, improvising various workout moves, and hoping the mountain lions are too freaked out by your craziness to come snooping around.

c.  Crabby Has Been Trying Hard To Get Back In Shape And Is Vain And Superficial Enough to Want to Show Off a Little.  The supposed need for some trail-side workout pictures for a blog post... was it just a subconscious excuse to lift something on camera before my newly acquired muscle definition is gone again?  Following surgery and various injuries, I couldn't hit the gym for quite a long time. Then I started dealing with some post-menopausal weight gain. So I started working out harder and even began counting calories.  Lately it seems my efforts have finally started to pay off, and I'm feeling strangely fit, healthy, and energetic.  Life being what it is, it probably won't be long before something else derails me or I get lazy, so I wanted to get something on camera ASAP!

The answer?  All of the Above!

And now on to the Re-Giveaway:

If you've got a U.S. mailing address, just leave a comment on this post and I'll re-draw end of day Wednesday, January 25th.  And be sure to check back before the end of the day Sunday the 29th to claim your prize!

Anyone else got any thoughts on mini-vacations, hiking, camping, being superficial, healthy vending machine snacks, feeling energetic, or life in general?  It's all good!

January 20, 2012

Gone Campin'!

OK, so actually, I'm just back from camping, but spending a few days in the desert means I've somehow accumulated a large and ugly "to do" list.

So while most fitness bloggers just back from an outdoor excursion would come back with a bunch of inspiring pictures and brilliant tips on making the most out of your hiking holiday... I've come back with a pile of stinky laundry and some heartfelt intentions to do some Serious Catching up over the weekend.  And gosh, with my grueling blogging schedule of a couple of posts a week, in which I'm forced to write... well, whatever the hell I want--you can see how stressful it is to keep up.

But let's just say as a professional Life and Wellness Coach, I'm trying to set an example! So use this non-post as a reminder of how laziness, procrastination, and rationalization prioritizing, confronting perfectionism, and being flexible about goals can sometimes make life a lot easier!

Looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to!  And I'll be back Monday with a real post.  

Anyone else feeling inspired to skip something you were planning, or do a half-assed job of it, in order to make time for something else?

January 16, 2012

Tabatas: HIIT Made Evil (and Awesome)

Photo: Tim Ellis

What's a Tabata?  Simple: It's a 20/10 HIIT protocol repeated 8 times.

Wait, you want that in English?  Sorry, let's try that again!

A Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Tabatas require 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and this cycle is repeated consecutively for a total of eight times. So it really is "simple," though it sure as hell ain't easy.

And you math majors are all probably way ahead of us here... yep, that's a FOUR MINUTE workout.

Everyone knows that that HIIT interval training comes with great health benefits.  And there are lots of different approaches to doing interval training, including the program we introduced at Cranky Fitness a while back.  Remember Somewhat High Intensity Interval Training?  However, strangely enough, "doing S.H.I.I.T" never really caught on in the fitness community the same way that "doing Tabatas" has.

Go figure!

I'd been doing a rather slapdash, off and on HIIT program myself for years--but with fewer, longer, intervals than Tabatas, and with way more recovery time.  But seeing that Tabatas were getting more and more popular, and inspired by Charlotte's recommendation over at The Great Fitness Experiment, it finally seemed time to check 'em out and report back.

It's been a few weeks now and... wow, they're, um, interesting!

Tabata Basics

A few important things to keep in mind when contemplating adding Tabatas to your fitness routine:

1.  They're intense.  You need to be in good shape before you start messing with high intensity intervals, or else you need to build up to them gradually.  Check with your doctor first, and don't go suing me if you jump on a treadmill and have a heart attack your first time out.  (Note: wouldn't it be amusing if every time someone told us "check with your doctor" before doing something, we all actually ran off and made appointments and dutifully went in and asked our busy doctors?  I'm sure my PPO would just love that! But, um, seriously, it's probably the smart thing to do).

2. You should warm up for a few minutes first.

3. Choose a simple, demanding exercise. You should be using lots of large leg muscles so that you can work intensely enough to cause yourself to  gasp for breath, curse the universe, and seriously ponder whether your heart might explode out of your chest.

This means the exercise can't be too complicated, dangerous, or reliant on small muscles that can tire out quickly.  Sprinting on an uncrowded track or pathway, running up a hill, pumping away on an exercise bike at high resistance (especially standing up), cranking up the resistance on an elliptical, etc are good places to start.

Treadmills work well for some folks, but can be a bit scary for others.  I, for example, fear that if I'm sprinting all-out to exhaustion, it would be all too easy for me to trip up and go flying off the back. And while pausing to suffer major life-threatening traumatic injuries might make a nice break from the Tabatas, they do come with health complications.

4. Consider getting some sort of interval timer.  You will be amazed at how quickly your ability to count to three, let alone eight, is impaired when you are distracted by wanting to die.  There are free phone apps if you have a smartphone that will give you a visual countdown and even blow a whistle at you.  Note: not recommended for those suffering from PTHGCSD (Post Traumatic High School Gym Class Stress Disorder).  I think this is the HIIT app I have.  If you don't have a smart phone, some workout watches come with interval timers, or you can buy cheap stand alone gadgets that will keep track for you.

5.  Don't do this more than 3 times a week; in fact, I'd recommend only once or twice a week.  These get old very quickly!  And once the novelty wears off I suspect they could easily make one start dreading workout times.  You may want to alternate "official" Tabata intervals with adding other more flexible sprint intervals to your cardio workouts.

What Totally Sucks About Tabatas:

If you're doing them right, they get unpleasant rather quickly.  The ten second "recovery" period feels like two seconds.  You have to force yourself to pump harder and harder, even as your body is saying "Leave me the f@#ck alone goddamnit!"

Also, depending on where you work out, you may feel a bit conspicuous.  You will be flailing around, gasping, possibly grunting, and definitely cursing.  Doing Tabatas may make you look trendy in some settings but in others you may seriously freak people out.

What's Mind-Blowingly Fantastic About Tabatas

They are amazingly fast and efficient and gratifying.  You will feel SO damn smug when you're done!  They rev up your metabolism, blast fat, boost your mitochondria, and help you feel superhuman.  It's counterintuitive, but research suggests that somehow these super-short workouts also boost your endurance as well as your peak efforts.  They leave you with a lovely pumped-up feeling long after you're done.

Tabata Variations

You may find it easier to stick to Tabatas over the long haul if you can find ways to mix it up, either across workouts or even within a single workout. Charlotte has a great article featuring a bunch of Tabata variations over at Shape.  Or for the testosterone-soaked version, T-Nation has a big bad-ass list as well, including barbell, kettlebell and bodyweight variations.

I'm thinking if you have a workout partner, some sort of race, contest, or competition might add a bit of real-time motivation.  (Although pie-eating or beer drinking competitions are not highly recommended for this purpose).

Personally, I've experimented with spinning bikes, ellipticals, a stepper, and a dumbbell/bodyweight series of 4 exercises repeated twice.  They all were great!  And by "great" I mean, of course, excruciatingly awful.

Anyone else doing Tabatas or other sorts of HIIT?  Or does this all sound like crazy talk?

[And from our friends at Maxifuel: Need a boost to get through this intense workout? Try Maxifuel sports nutrition for the extra energy you need!]

HUMAN T-Shirt and Snack Pack Giveaway Winner

And the winner of our healthy snack giveaway is... Kim!

Kim, please send mailing info, as well as T-shirt size and style (Men's or Women's) by the end of the day Wednesday to: Crabby McSlacker at gmail dot com. And congratulations!

And to those of you dreaming of healthy vending machine options at your work-place, school, or gym, don't forget the HUMAN folks are handing out $250 rewards for successful referrals.

Thanks for stopping by; new post up in a minute or two!

January 13, 2012

What's On Your Workout Playlist?

Photo by The Lobster

Looking for workout tunes?

And say, wouldn't it be nice if some blogger assembled a vast collection of awesome songs that totally transformed your workouts from a dreary chore to a blissful celebration of movement and music?

Well sorry, I ain't that blogger.  In fact, musical taste is so personal, passionate, and persnickety that no matter who claims to have the best workout playlist, it will, for most people, suck in some way or another. 

But you've got to start somewhere in locating new faves, right? And over at Shape Magazine they've got a great round-up of workout playlist selections from 13 health and fitness bloggers.  Some contributors may sound familiar to you... like perhaps Charlotte of The Great Fitness Experiment and Jenn of the FBG's?

Though of course it would also be nifty if you'd stop by Page 7 of the Shape story, to check out what The Crabby One regards as some of her favorite workout tunes.  Or actually, who cares about the songs?  I just get all excited when a media outlet mistakenly refers to me as "a top health and fitness blogger" and would send y'all over even if the article were about ear wax removal or constipation remedies.

Note:  there seems to be some disagreement as to what a "beat" is when it comes to "beats per minute" (or BPM's).  Apparently I'm playing "slow" music and going double-time. Whatever!

What do you guys like to listen to when you work out?  Suggestions greatly appreciated!

January 09, 2012

Healthy Snacks Ideas, Gripes, and a Giveaway!

I Won't Even Speculate As To What Strange Ritual Is Going On Here.
Photo: Plan 59

Hungry... but it's not quite mealtime yet?

Some folks have a "no snacking between meals" policy. If that's part of your particular dietary religion, then so sorry!  You'll have to suck it up, distract yourself, and wait until the clock tells you it's time to eat again.  Just try not to think of any of sweet or salty or crispy or creamy or rich or flavorful favorites you might have--you know, those delicious treats you absolutely love that would taste so so good right now if only it were the right time of day?  Yeah, just don't think about them or imagine yourself enjoying them, because how frustrating would that be when you can't have any?

Hey, did that help? You're welcome!

Many of us, however, embrace snacking--especially me! I am a big oinky unrestrained gluttonous pig an enthusiastic consumer of all kinds of foods (though mostly healthy).   I figure if I'm hungry, and an official meal is not imminent, then hell, it's time for me to forage up a snack.

What's my biggest gripe about snacking?

It's the lack of healthy convenient options! Most packaged or fast-food snacks are Evil, and yet I'm lazy, and I sometimes like to leave my house.  You would think with the bazillions of dollars the food and restaurant industry rakes in, there would be a few more options for us healthy types, wouldn't you?  Yet despite the claims on labels and menus, most of the snack items marketed as "healthy" are pure crap.

Wouldn't it be nice if say, the vending machine in your office was packed full of healthier options than  chips and candy bars?  Well, turns out there's a company trying to do that, called HUMAN. Annabel from Feed Me, I’m Cranky told me about their attempts to improve the sad state of snacking in workplaces and schools around the country. And they're hosting a giveaway!

So, let's talk snacks... and who knows, perhaps you may win a gift pack of healthy snacks, along with a mighty cool T-shirt!

What Does Healthy Snacking Even Mean?

Of course everyone has a different idea of what "healthy" is.

And hey, just for fun, let's let the Vegans and the Primal folks and the Weight Watchers all duke it out:

Which snack is the Most Evil and which is the Most Acceptable?

(a) A serving of fried chicken skins;
(b) A Krispy Kreme Fruit Pie; or
(c) A 140 calorie serving of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae?

As the links and the associated dietary agendas will confirm, all of these snacks are either A-OK, or Absolutely Forbidden, depending on which camp you're in.  So let's disabuse ourselves of notion of a universal solution, shall we?

But heck, since it's my blog and all, here are some of my very personal and arbitrary standards for healthy snacking. Please pass on your own better ideas down in the comments!

Crabby's Personal Snacking Principles:

1. The snack item should not contain more hundreds-of-calories than there are hours before the next meal.

Whoa, that sounds like crazytalk doesn't it? What I mean is, 100 calories buys me about an hour before I'm hungry again. If I've got 2 hours until the next meal, my snack probably shouldn't be over 200 calories.

2. The snack should contain at least some protein and fiber, and ideally it should not have a high glycemic load. Bonus points if vegetables are involved. This increases satiety, nutrition, and contributes to a pleasant sense of smugness.

3. The snack should ideally be made entirely of organic local whole foods that were cultivated, prepared and delivered by cheerful well-compensated individuals in inspiring, life-affirming workplaces. But failing that, I'd at least like to avoid toxic snacks full of transfats and known carcinogens, and I'd like to minimize sodium, sugar, refined grains, gratuitous and non-nutritive calories, and artificial flavorings and colorings. (Though I do have a sweet tooth and thus somehow rationalize the use of sucralose, stevia, and erythritol. Whatever.)

4. The snack should not taste crappy.

5. However, the snack also can't taste too delicious unless portion control measures are in place.

(For example, I can easily consume an entire days worth of calories in 10 minutes eating trail mix, and still be sniffing around the cupboards looking for more. Even the healthiest of dried fruit and nut combos can be a nutritional disaster unless I throw a reasonable amount in a baggie and march my ass straight out the door).

A Few Healthy Snack Ideas

See how small this list is? That's 'cause I need help! If you have some good ideas or links to blog posts or other resources for healthy snacks, please put them in the comments and I'll try to add them.

  • Raw Veggies with Healthy Dip (hummus, guacamole, yogurt-based dips etc)
  • Canned wild salmon (mushed with a bit of goat cheese or mayo and onion). (Trader Joe's is rumored to have bpa free linings, even if they don't promote it).
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Meat or fish jerky (naturally preserved, not the junk-food kind)
  • Fruit!
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt without a bunch of sugar added
  • Veggie chips: kale, sweet potato, etc. (And by that I don't mean potato or corn or rice chips flavored with veggies, but actual vegetable chips. These can be hard to find unless you make 'em yourself or pay the folks at Brad's Raw Chips to fix some up for you).
  • Seaweed snacks (my current obsession; I also get these from TJ's).
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain crackers with meat or cheese or a sensible spread or dip
  • Almond or peanut butter and bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • A Very Small Plate of Last Night's Leftovers

See? I need help here!

So What's The Deal With the Vending Machines and the Giveaway?

So apparently the HUMANs are trying to get their vending machines in more places.  They're offering to pay folks to find places like schools, gyms, or corporate locations that might be up for a healthier vending machine option. You fill out a referral form, and if they end up placing a machine there, you get $250.00.

Also, in order to help publicize their efforts, they're giving away "a sample pack of some of the items we sell in our machines, including Larabars, Clif Z Bars, Zico Coconut Water and more, as well as a HUMAN-branded t-shirt." Which is apparently and ideal gift for any headless friends or relatives you have who need cute clothing items!

They also have a guys-style T-shirt available.

So if you'd like to enter, just leave a comment below (a healthy snack idea would be nice, but not mandatory).  We'll hold the random drawing in a week.  (Note: this is yet another giveaway that requires a U.S. mailing address, sorry about that!)

And do remember to check back; if you win, you need to claim your prize before the end of the day on Wednesday January 18th or there will be a new drawing.

Good luck!

So, anyone have any thoughts, gripes, or healthy snack ideas? I'm suddenly very hungry!

January 05, 2012

Lazy Linkage: Making New Friends Edition

Photo: Fazen

Hey, it's a new year, and a good time for new ventures and new experiences, right?

In "real life," The Lobster and I are challenging ourselves to get off our asses and meet new friends.  We've started spending winters in San Diego, and wow, there are lots of nice people here! However, it took us a while to figure out that in order to meet these people, we actually have to venture outside of the house.  Furthermore, it turns out you need to do things like initiate conversations with strangers,  follow up when things click, and get dates on calendars... yikes!

But as you might predict, we're finding the effort is well worth it.  Cool people who are fun to hang out with live here! And as any self-improvement guru will tell you, adding connectedness and a sense of community makes life richer and more meaningful. (Plus, it's great for rides to the airport).

The nice thing about the Blogosphere though, as opposed to real life, is that you can be the laziest health and fitness blogger on the planet, and rarely leave your blog "house," and fun helpful people will come visit you and entertain you and point you to new resources!

So, wanna meet some new webfriends, plus find out why you should eat more zombie food, and stop gorging on spandex no matter how delicious it tastes?

Say hello to...

The webcomic The Juanelo Show, brought to you in English by a talented and hardworking team of "translation monkeys." Nice folks behind this strip, and at least one of them reads Cranky Fitness, hooray! (Click to enlarge).

And meet the awesome Mary Sisson! She has a cool looking sci-fi ebook for sale, called Trang, as well as lots of info (and encouragement) on the DIY self-publishing front. She's the inspiration behind one of my new years resolutions, so you'll have to blame thank Mary when I start using the blog to pimp for my novel as well as my Life and Wellness Coaching practice!

The website Fitnessbeans, which is aimed a bit more at guys.  Why is this awesome news for this blog, even though it has tons of female readers?  Well, because (a) guys exercise resources like this one are often more straightforward and challenging than the "tiny pink weights" stuff aimed at women.  Plus, (b) with a bunch of hetero female readers I love to find sites crammed with beefcake photos so I can slip them in totally gratuitiously!  And they've got tons.

And finally, reader Our Lady of Forever Homes introduced me to a cool concept: Just1Moon, which hooks you up with a yahoo group and Facebook page to try to provide goal sharing and encouragement.  And who doesn't need support and encouragement?

Now on to...

Stuff Copied from my Twitter feed 'cause I'm so damn lazy:

(Note: I've heard reports that my twitter feed isn't showing up on the blog, but I see it fine on my computer. Anyone else not seeing it on the right sidebar?)

Eat your way to a better brain!  Study touts leafy greens, fish, nuts, and zombie food (organs).

Controversy:Is spandex making Americans fat? Wow, I had no idea people were eating that much of it! Oh wait, you mean... Never mind.

Study: eating fish boosts brain volume if you don't fry it.  ("It" meaning the fish--but don't fry your brain either).

"Cancer Survivors Should Take Steps to Keep Healthy During Holidays"  So the rest of the year, just say screw it?

Study: taking brief walk decreases desire to shove "fun-sized" chocolates down your gullet at work.

Vitamin D helps prevent fractures, but only with help from calcium.  I'm guessin' Not Falling Down helps too.

Ab exercises for throughout the day--if you're don't mind looking like an ass in public.  (btw, I've been that ass)

2 for 1: Active nonsmokers with good BMI, diet, cholesterol, BP & glucose at less risk of heart disease AND cancer.

Study: less risk of dementia for women who are active early in the day.  So go early birds, chase those worms!

Study: gender differences in math/science due to cultural, not genetic factors.  So time to get geeky, girls.

Low carb wins another round in diet wars: may work better than low cal for weight loss and lowering insulin.

Nice roundup of natural ways to lower blood sugar, if you've got the patience for a slideshow:  (Or, hit print at top )

Marathon running can damage right ventrical: More study needed, but meanwhile, awesome excuse for not running one!

Study: upping fiber more crucial than nixing saturated fat to avoid metabolic syndrome.  Thus the bacon kettlecorn spotted at Whole Foods?

Way More New and Old Friends to Thank!

As you might have noticed, I tend to be terribly lazy and thus totally random about visiting blogs, responding to comments, passing on links etc. I would love to get better and translate all the gratitude in my head to actual public acknowledgement, because I LOVE all the folks who leave comments and email etc. I just sort of hope that those of you who brighten my day through the blog are psychic and totally get how much your comments and readership and support and ideas mean to me! And feel free to nudge me with an email or a comment if you have a special post you'd like to share in a future roundup, because I might well miss it on my own.

Anyway, has anyone else met any new friends or helpful resources lately, whether IRL or through the web? Thoughts on anything else? And again, thanks everyone!

January 03, 2012

Got New Year Resolutions?

Photo: creepyed

I've never been much of a believer in New Year's Resolutions. Such a ridiculous ritual! Let's dither around all year, then go totally hog-wild with self-indulgence over the holidays. Because never fear: "resolving" to change our ways will somehow confer magical powers come January 1!

A lifetime of crappy self-defeating habits will be vanquished effortlessly, to be replaced by a shiny new healthy and virtuous lifestyle. And all we have to do is promise ourselves to try harder as soon as the calendar says it's 2012.  What's not to like about such crazypants logic?

But what the hell. For some reason I'm totally into it this year.

So sign me up for a full slate of Sincere Self-Improvement Initiatives!  And don't forget to include my complimentary gift basket full of Inflated Expectations: I'm thinking the traditional delusions will do nicely, so I'm looking forward to Enormous Willpower, Endless Patience, A Totally Supportive Environment, Flawless Execution, and Amazing Results.  What could possibly go wrong?

Anyone else got some self-improvement plans and thinking about actually following through this year?

Since I almost never make New Year's resolutions, I'll keep the advice brief.  What the hell do I know?  You're probably much better off ignoring this whole section and just consulting Jack Sh*t's  New Years Resolutions To Avoid list. But if you've already read this far, a few tips on...

How To Stick To Your New Year's Resolutions

1.  Don't make them.

2.  Just make a handful, not a few dozen. (Unless you've got handy clones or robots or multiple personalities, then go ahead and delegate).

3.  Set "baby-step" interim targets--the babier the step, the better.  "I'm going to eat nothing but vegetables and lean protein from now on!"... Er, good luck with that, especially if you're starting from the ludicrous Typical American diet. Adding one additional vegetable a day and swapping out healthy snack for the 5,000 calorie Starbucks concoction you try to pretend is just "coffee?" A much more achievable goal.  You can always add more virtue later.

4.  Most folks who are not psychotic find that a resolution works best if it is somewhat reality-based. 

Note: "The Biggest Loser," while a 'reality' show, does not actually set forth examples of reality-based goal-setting.  Losing half your body weight or going from sedentary to superhero in a matter of months is not a reasonable expectation.

5.  Spend a crapload of time planning, scheduling, anticipating obstacles, working up contingency plans, devising rewards, and pumping yourself up when your motivation flags. (Which it will, trust me.  Learning how to get 'back on track' over and over again will lead to eventual success. Shooting for perfection and then bailing when setbacks happen is an enormously popular alternative; sadly, it doesn't actually work.)

6.  Track your progress and hold yourself accountable. You can use a journal, spreadsheet, online calendar, smartphone app or whatever.

7. Get support! If you've got a sympathetic family member, buddy, coworker, imaginary friend, or online community that will cheer your accomplishments and encourage you when you're struggling, take advantage of  'em!

And speaking of support and accountability...

As I mentioned, I'm weirdly fired up this year to tweak some old goals and take on some new ones.  But heck, I could use the prospect of public humiliation on the blog as a handy motivational tool.  Isn't that why they invented health and fitness and weight loss blogs in the first place?   I'm also curious about whether anyone else has some ideas in mind for the coming year.  And won't it be fun to check back in 2013 and see how we all did?

Wait, where are you going?

Seriously, is anyone else up for sharing some of their plans for 2012, whether Resolution based or not? I'm a pessimist by nature, but for some reason I'm thinking this is the year we're all gonna kick ass.

A few of my goals for 2012:

1.  Meditation. I swear this is the year I'm going to get better!  I've kinda started again despite the fact I suck at it, but I'd like to get consistent and do an average of 1/2 hour a day. Of course I've been saying this off and on for at least two decades, but damn it, this time I really mean it. I've found yet another new resource that seems to be helping a lot! (And no worries if you're curious...of course I'll be blogging about it).

2.  Handstand pushups.  A goofy goal somewhat like my quest to do pull-ups.  I love the idea that if I ever ended up in prison or a locked mental health facility, all I'd need is a handy wall to work my shoulders. (Is this my only fitness goal? Nah, I got a slew of crazy-ass schemes and aspirations, but this one is probably the most realistic and the simplest to explain).

3.  Get a colonoscopy.  I'm a year late, and gosh, how could I have waited this long when the whole thing sounds like so much fun? Even spellcheck thinks a colonoscopy is really just a "cloudscape" or a "kaleidoscope," so how bad could it be?

4.  Get more productive online: Update the blog, do a better job promoting my Life Coaching site, and write at least a few blog posts that don't suck so that more people will come here and hang out.

5.  Find more healthy tasty recipes and actually make them rather than just save them for "later."   Magazine clippings look pretty but don't taste all that great.

6.  Self publish.  To start with, I've got a not-actually-terrible novel I wrote a few years ago.  I'm still weirdly attached to the characters, and feel like I'm letting them down by keeping them imprisoned in the back of a closet along with a pile of smelly old tennis shoes I can't bring myself to toss out.   I'm hoping to dig up a few kind beta reader/reviewers and then put out an ebook.  And if that process turns out to be doable, perhaps a launch of a series of Cranky Fitness Self-Help ebooks for 2013?  A crab can dream...

So is anyone else up for sharing a few 2012 goals? I was totally impressed by all your 2011 accomplishments in the last post, so am very curious what you might be up to this year!