September 30, 2012

Calories: Even Sneakier Than We Thought

So it's old news to many of you that all calories are NOT created equal. (Equal? Equally? Hmm, any English teachers or editors wanna help out here?)

Good Calories, Hooray!

This means there are obvious limitations to the traditional model of counting calories to achieve weight loss.

And yet, using calories a measurement is still one of the handiest tools we have for assessing the relative dietary impact of various foods and serving sizes.

For example, when you are contemplating a "healthy smoothie" at some new takeout place you've never heard of, does it make a difference if the smoothie comes in at 175 calories versus 935 calories? Well, for many of us: F--ck yeah! We may still reject the 175 calorie version if it's full of Bad Things, but I don't care how much seaweed or spirulina or other virtuous antioxidant-rich secret sauce is in the 935er, I ain't going there.

But sadly, even though many of us have had reasonable success in the past counting calories to lose weight, it turns out it's way more complicated than keeping a fastidious record of Ins and Outs. And new research has turned up even more reasons why that reassuring number on your Lean Cuisine lasagna or your Skinny Cow treat or your Expensive Organic Exotic Granola Bar may be full of crap.

On the other hand, it's not all bad news: there may be other stuff in your kitchen that you feel guilty about that you could be scarfing up gleefully.

Let's look at some interesting specifics, shall we?

September 26, 2012

Gaiam Giveaway!

So, hi there! I'm finally crawling out of my dark cave-like hole (blinking furiously and weaving a bit), attempting to re-enter the bright light of Real Life again. The first Cranky Fitness eBook has been sent off!   It should be coming out sometime in October, unless the publisher takes one look at the first effort and says, "Reeeaaally Crabby? Reeeeallly?" In which case who knows.

But it's been a while since a giveaway, and this one is kinda fun! It's from Gaiam, and they'd like to introduce you to the Gaiam TV channel.

They are kindly supplying a 3 month subscription to their streaming video service as a prize to a random winner, on which you can watch any of nine billion or so exercise videos. (OK, that number may be approximate).

It's not just exercise either: they also cover personal growth and travel and relationships and sustainability and a ton of other topics, in case you'd like help with meditation, metaphysical questions, or have a pressing need to troubleshoot your compost pile. (Seriously, they have that covered).

AND THAT'S NOT ALL! (to quote my favorite line from infomercials). For this giveaway, they're also tossing in a yoga mat or some stretchy bands or other similar accessory from their catalog for a value up to $60.

Wanna find out more?

September 17, 2012

On Being a Quitter

I was originally going to title this: "Dead Horses... When to Stop Beating Them."

But then I thought, do I really want to encourage people who are googling "dead horses" to find us here, where we prefer our horsies not dead and, in fact, frisky and rarin' to go? Oh, and sporting wings if possible.

Plus I also wanted to offer a nod over in Rick Hanson's direction, since he's a constant source inspiration, and watching one of his recent "Just One Minute" videos on accepting the limits of your influence was the impetus for this post.  Plus Rick is moderating what looks to be a very cool, FREE online seminar in October called The Compassionate Brain and I wanted to let folks know about it.  And then I thought, sheesh, would Rick really want to be found in the company of dead, depressing, and possibly rotting and smelly horse corpses when he could be in a post about the joys of being a quitter instead?  Oh wait... that doesn't sound much better, does it?  But hell, coming this blog, it could be a lot worse.

This post also contains an Exciting and Totally Premature Announcement, which I will most likely regret but what the hell.

September 10, 2012

Do I Have To? On Warming Up, Cooling Down and Stretching

There are lots of virtuous angels out there who don't just do some form of cardio and strength training, but are also religious about always warming up, cooling down, and gently stretching their various hard-working body parts.

Others may think all that sounds like a very good idea, and do it sometimes... while frequently blowing it off and just feeling guilty about it instead.

And then there is a third camp--those who just jump in cold, exercise as hard and as long as seems warranted, and then... screeech! ... come to a complete stop when they feel done. They then head straight for the shower, or more stinkily, back into their cars or jobs or lives, without doing any of that sissy in-between stuff that makes exercise take so much longer without really "counting" as exercise.

I've generally been in the second group, the guilty-semi-slackers, though as I've gotten older I've been getting closer to the first angelic-anal-compulsive category. So I was all prepared to jump right in with some tips about how to become better about doing all that stuff.

But, I figured first I better warm up with a little research, just to be able to scare you with a good list of Horrible Consequences that might ensue if you skip these pre and post workout rituals.

And guess what?  Well... crap!  Turns out it's all more complicated than I thought. I had to really stretch to reconcile my discoveries with the "expert" advice I've been reading for decades.  How annoying! But then I cooled down a bit and decided I did not actually need to report every damn conflicting research study or expert opinion on the matter. Reading and then ignoring research is something of a specialty here at Cranky Fitness.

(Especially since for some reason the malevolent blogger platform has recently been refusing to save my drafts, but passively-aggressively failing to tell me that before I innocently shut down the computer to go raid the refrigerator. So I'm now starting this over for the third f--cking time and hunting down the links all over again. Grrr.)

Anyway, here is some of the shocking information I discovered about stretching, warming up, and cooling down, as well as some thoughts on doing or not doing them.

September 04, 2012

Same Ol' Story... Hooray?

(Same Ol' Story is a great Cyndi Lauper song, although the chorus is actually Same Ol' F--cking Story, which makes it way more fun to sing along to. That was the original title of this post too but I edited as that seemed like asking for trouble. Oh, and obligatory copyright disclaimer below if you're an attorney with a mean streak.)

So labor day weekend has come and gone, summer is over, and for many people this may mean going back to old familiar routines.  The party's over!  After various adventures, vacations, celebrations, and a multitude of both reasonable and ridiculous excuses for doing things we might not "normally" do, it's time to get back to business.

I'm psyched! Anyone else?

Because as much as I believe that shaking up your routine every now and then is crucial to long-term health and happiness, it's equally crucial to have an awesome routine to shake up in the first place.

And this is not to say that I didn't have an absolutely fantastic summer.  Between travel and various festivities, I had a boatload of fun and a lot of fantastic excuses for consuming too much of the wrong things and exercising too little.

In fact I'm still buzzing from last night, where we attended the euphoric insanity that is the "Last Dance" at the Boatslip.  This is our preferred method for marking the end of the season, which we do in a most undignified fashion, packed like sweaty sardines on a dance floor shoulder to shoulder with other crazed revelers, jumping up and down, screaming, laughing, and having a grand ol' time.

Wanna see what I mean?   (Of course you don't give a crap, and I know that, but I'll post a minute and a half of last years "Last Dance" anyway to give you an idea--takes about 25 seconds for the nuttiness to ensue, and even though we were there you can't see us.  Ah, the tedious oblivious narcissism of bloggers with invisible readers!) 

Anyway, do you have some favorite healthy routines to go back to that make life easier?  Or do you find yourself making unsatisfying compromises and screwing around and being all inefficient or self-indulgent in ways that aren't even fun?

Here are a few thoughts and suggestions, all of them totally obvious 'cause that's how I roll, so I'm hoping some of you have some to ideas to share as well.