May 29, 2012

Whining: New and Improved!

It wouldn’t be Cranky Fitness without whining, would it?

Five bucks? TOTALLY worth it!

Yet in my recent personal development quest (goal: transform from worrywart crankbucket into radiant beaming flower child filled with love and joy and all that crap) I’ve been trying to think a bit more positively.

Here's the dilemma: how can I work towards more joy and optimism in life while still indulging in a favorite habit (bitching), so that I still get to savor a little self-righteous indignation every now and then?

Well, I learned a handy trick from one of my many self-improvement books! (And no, not The Power of Going on Oprah Now; this is a bit too unenlightened and thinky for our pal Eckhard Tolle).

This tip is easy-peasy.  So care to watch Crabby use Whining 2.0 to handle any negativity surrounding the mostly awesome cross-country trek she just finished taking with her spouse and favorite traveling companion, the Lobster?

The Trick to "Positive" Whining:

This is one you probably already know, but just pretend along with me that it's a new idea, okay?

First go ahead and try to take a negative or ambiguous situation and reframe it as a positive one. (Oh goody! This 40 mile traffic jam will give me a great chance to catch up on 7 months of missed kegels!)

But if your inner bullshitometer goes off the charts and you realize you are SO not buying it, consider the next best alternative:

Go ahead and bitch, but be sure to end with a shiny positive thing. (You can always find something).

For example, instead of:

"We're staying at a hotel because our plumbing system backed up and our our house is full of raw sewage and we're totally devastated and who knows when we'll ever get our lives back..."


"Our plumbing system backed up and our house is filled with raw sewage, can you f--cking believe it?  But we're staying at a hotel and now we don't have to wash our sheets or vacuum or empty the trash or scrub the bathroom because the cleaning people do it all!"

Or, instead of:

"It was a great graduation party until uncle Bernie got drunk and barfed in the punchbowl."


 "Well, Bernie got drunk and barfed in the punchbowl, but it was a great graduation party!"

See the difference? Since our brains are so clueless, we tend to remember the last thing we told ourselves and feel more upbeat about the exact same situation.

As it happens, I don't need to do any fancy reverse-bitching technique to convince myself that we had an awesome time driving crosscountry in Fran the Van.   But there are always a few little nitpicks, right?


"Hey Planet Fitness in Elyria Ohio that charged us 20 f--cking dollars each for day passes (the cost of two months of membership) and then only had those sucky Life Fitness elliptical machines and not one of my beloved Precors and also had no soap in the showers... nice job on the bright colors!!!

Um, "no critics?"  Good luck with that.

(On the other hand, kudos to the Bozeman Montana Gold's gym which was luxuriously well-equipped, had reasonably priced day passes, and was stocked full of the most buffed fitness freaks I've ever run across, many of whom were actually friendly. And how cute is Bozeman?!?)

Or another example: too bad my crappy photography skills meant I missed pictures of a fox, a moose, a buffalo, a ton of beautiful birds, and even the bizarre appearance of a mink crossing a busy urban street in Seattle...but hooray, I caught one of the nineteen million prairie dogs in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota!

And yes, it was standing up in a much more adorable pose until I got the camera out.

OK, so now I'm having to stretch a bit as there weren't a lot of legitimate whining opportunities to exploit...

Too bad about that state campground outside of Coueur D'Alene that was supposed to be open wasn't, damnit! But instead we ended up staying right on a river in a different campground in which we were the only campers there and had a lovely time.

The Lobster and Fran the Van down by the riverside.

And now I have to abandon all pretense of feeling the least bit cranky about our trip. We had lovely weather the whole way and loads of fun. Some random pictures follow which should really be posted on my personal Facebook page instead of here, but every time I try they end up upside down or something. I have some sort of weird Facebook Incompetency Syndrome for which there is apparently no cure... um, but think of all the time I save not posting there!

Toodling around in Seattle...

I'm the brawn, she's the brains--works out perfectly.

We saw lots of cute old mining towns, which we were too lazy to try to photograph, but the Lobster couldn't resist this sign:

And blah blah blah more frolicking along the way...

Until we arrived in Provincetown Massachusetts with tons of dirty laundry, boxes to unpack, stacks of mail to sort, accumulated dust and leaves and weeds to clear out, furniture to haul from the basement and shed, overflowing email boxes and other miscellaneous items that needed attention...

This lovely specimen had a grand old time in the back of our cupboard while we were gone.

...but it's GREAT to be back!!!

Missed you guys, since obviously my efforts to stay in touch with the online world were a total FAIL. But can't wait to get caught up with what you've all been up to!

Any thoughts on reverse-whining, or interesting stuff that happened while I was gone, or just wanna say hi?

Whining sign photo credit: Russell Reno
Planet Fitness shot stolen from the Planet Fitness people, please don't sue me!


  1. Hi Crabby! Glad you and the Lobster had a good trip!!!

  2. The trip looks like a blast. Glad you're safe in your summer home. I love that horror movie loaf of bread.

  3. The potatoes had a good winter. [Looks up. Leah thinks it's bread?] Whatever it is that sprouted, is it too late to plant it out and see what happens?

    Welcome back to the eastern time zone!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  4. Somehow Rainbows out my ass Fitness doesn't have the same ring.

    Where would we be without some crankiness in our life.

    I try to see things positively but sometimes you just have to let it out.

  5. Glad you had a good time, glad you are back safe, and i love the idea of reverse whining! Allows me to be cranky and sarcastic and yet not have it get me down.

  6. After a couple days away visiting my daughter and some friends I came home to a broken oven and my husband telling me the computer hard drive was full. You can bet I bitched. But I did manage to say, "Well the oven is broken and won't be fixed until Thursday but at least we have a grill, or we'll get take out - less cooking for me!" The computer thing I just whined and bitched at lol. I consider that a healthy balance.

  7. I am totally with you on reverse whining! Anyone who says that we should never ever complain is missing the point...we need to vent, but it's also true that finding the silver lining is what turns it around for us!

  8. Wonderful column!!

    No question that reframing a situation can make the lemon into lemonade!

    I've considered the possibility that some of the bitching that people do is their way of dealing with life situations. Whether or not this is wise, I'm not sure, especially in cases when they use this mechanism rather than making a constructive change in the situation.

  9. Loving the reverse whining, especially the Planet Fitness one! That was hilarious!

  10. Ahhhhh! I dated a navy guy back in my youth who went on a 6 month deployment. While he was gone, I'd check up on the place, deliver his rent checks, etc. One time I was in there cooking myself some dinner, and opened the bottom drawer in the kitchen...

    ..AND OUT CAME HORRIBLE BRANCHES OF POTATO EYES OH MY GOD. This had to have been halfway through the six months, and who knows how long that bag of taters had been in there before he left?

  11. It was a wee bit early for me to be identifying starches. Those spuds really looked like bread to me. If I had any sense I'd be embarrassed, but what the hey. I wrote it. I own it.

  12. Yep, it was spuds gone crazy, not bread,and dang,shoulda thought to plant it!

    and OMG, "Rainbows Out of My Ass Fitness" would be an awesome new blog name should I ever get too cheerful for the Cranky. But doubt that's gonna happen anytime this century.

    Also love all your great whining suggestions, thanks for the tips! And as usual, you guys CRACK ME UP!

  13. Oops missed your comment Leah, but heck it could have been potato bread, and how awesome would that be if the taters could burst their way out of the bread like mutant superhero spuds?

  14. OMGosh I love the photos.
    and, especially, the brains and brawn.
    Im not the brains---but Id rock sitting in the boat drinking!!

  15. Ahh the prairie dog is cute! I've never seen one in the wild - you only get them in zoos today. So I think thats a cool piccy.

  16. I didn't mean in zoos "today", I meant "over here". Brain not engaged...

  17. Reverse whining:
    "I am sick and my stomach hurts"


    "I am glad I have TRILLIONS of cells in my body right now that do their job right!"

  18. I shall whine that you chose that inferior North Dakota over my Dakota. Pbbblllt. We have 5 National Parks in a 100 mile radius! And plenty of prairie dogs along with Bison and Antelope and all sorts of other wildlife. (Not to mention an awfully cute "chipmunk" (ground squirrel really) who comes up on my porch to eat peanuts.) Next time, next time. One of these days I will drag you and the Lobster out here.

    Also - I'm suspicious you think that sign is hilarious because you are pronouncing it wrong...

  19. Oh Enlightened One: I hear you, BUT... I'm sure we all agree that that some of the best travel stories about all those things that went wrong. Why else are there a couple of books titled "I Should Have Stayed Home"????
    So - I think the key is to whine and laugh at the same time. Plus - if you get TOO good at looking at the positive, you will have to relinquish your nom de plume :(...

  20. "Rainbows Out of My Ass Fitness" - I'd read that :)

    SOunds like you had a great trip :)

  21. Even when you DO know how to pronounce "BUTTE" it still can garner a bit of a snerk.

    My husband grew up in New Mexico, and there's an Elephant Butte there. When we drove past it you KNOW I was laughing!

  22. Yep, know how to pronounce "Butte" but suspect "Butte beer" was probably a challenging product to market outside of Montana.

    Love "Elephant Butte" too!

    And can't believe I mispelled Bozeman. Twice! Will go fix.

    And sorry bdaiss, I was rooting for a South Dakota stop but the Lobster couldn't resist crossing the last state off our list!

    Oh and no worries anon, there will always be enough crabby and cranky to go around!

    And I'm way impressed with the reframe of getting sick Maria, and Sarah, there were TRILLIONS of prairie dogs, they were everywhere! Very cool.

  23. So when are you going to include Alberta in your cross country foray? I think you should plant those potatoes if it isn't too late.

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  25. I have the prob with pics when I post to Twitter - they always end up upside down or sideways & I have to delete, go to my pics & save the pic a different way, like sideways - so weird!

    LOVE your pics of your trip too - what fun!

    Now to the point of the post of whining & bitching - heck, you are taking away all my fun - I love to bitch, just ask the hubby! ;-) Great advice though!

  26. Welcome home! Looks like you had a grand time. I think the fact that you try to find something positive to say means you are on the right track.

  27. I would rather pay the $5. I might even pay you $5 not to reverse whine as well...because it is so damn funny when you just let loose!

    I love that you did kayaking (I assume at the aquatic center by the UW?) Good for you! But seriously? You didn't photograph a turtle? They are as plentiful as the prairie dogs!

    Welcome home!

  28. @ Somehow Rainbows out my ass Fitness might want to just go ahead and reserve that one...just in case. :)

    You could just shorten to "Rainbows Out My Ass" and put both fitness and life coaching under it. "Combining businesses seamlessly" problem solved.

    Total opportunity here...

  29. Studies show this can actually work. Thanks!

  30. QD... turtles? I didn't even see one of them, darn it!

    And will definitely need to think of something like rainbows out my ass for a blog identity if i get cheerful enough!

  31. Once in a while I try to go against my nature and reverse whine. Frankly it leaves me feeling hollow. I have a bitchcentric personality that can only be satisfied with what I shall hence forward (or until something better comes along) call bile-bias. Yeh, that needs work.

    Positive talk is highly over rated and sometimes downright annoying, but I did enjoy the hotel scenario and may steal that bit of snark.

    Prairie dogs look suspiciously squirrely. Yick.

    I love when you find an awesome camp site after being disappointed by your chosen one being closed. High five positivity on that one!

  32. Great trip and a great read :)

  33. When I try reverse-whining, it sounds beautifully sarcastic, which makes me smile. Smiling is positive, right? I guess it depends on what you're smiling about, but still...So I guess my trick is to do my bitching with sarcasm and an evil grin. Heh heh heh.


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