December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

May you all enjoy Peace and Joy and Love and Laughter and Many Fun Things over the holidays. And because Cranky Fitness readers shouldn't have to settle for "ordinary"...

May your new year be Weird and Wild and Wonderful!
Got some of your "weird" right here!
photo upload: x-ray delta one

Oh yeah, and don't forget to enter or check back on the Plus-Sized Exercise DVD giveaway; winners announced Jan 1.  And let's all gear up to have an awesome 2015!

Got any plans for the holidays? Any thoughts on the upcoming New Year?

December 22, 2014

Can You Be Fit and Fat? (Great Plus-Sized Fitness Giveaway)

By Crabby McSlacker

Can you be both fit and fat?  An email arrived in my inbox posing that question, and I'm not a total idiot, so I knew the answer.

Of course you can!

And Cranky Fitness readers know this too. Not just hypothetically--many of you have first hand experience. You guys come in all shapes and sizes and are doing all sorts of challenging workouts and activities, and most of you could totally kick my ass were I ever foolish enough to engage in any sort of competitive activity with you.

However, going by the fitness magazines, workout dvds, and other media representations of fitness? You'd think "fit" and "fat" can't inhabit the same universe.

Well, I think that's insanely stupid and untrue.  Which is why Cranky Fitness is hosting a workout DVD giveaway from Louise Green's Body Exchange, a Plus Sized fitness and adventure company. This giveaway does NOT require you to live in the U.S., and there are multiple copies available, so given that most people this time of year are off shopping and not blog surfing, your chances of winning are excellent!

More details below!

December 16, 2014

Proper Elliptical Form: How Do You Use the Arms?

Well, that's one good use of arms I guess.
Ecard by gina1234

First off, my apologies to those of you who don't give a crap about elliptical machines.  But I'm afraid they're my go-to indoor cardio option, and I use them at the most fully caffeinated time of day when I'm having all sorts of Thinky Thoughts and am obsessively narrating in my head. So yeah, this means it's time for yet another post, more specifically about the whole "Arms" aspect.

Now some elliptical machines are mercifully armless, and these are the kind I've always preferred. There is a place you can put your arms for balance if you need to (after so many years, I don't) but they don't have the upright vertical handles that swing back and forth in time with the leg pedals.

When I use the elliptical, I pump up my tunes and get all wild and crazy and weird on it, which you can't do when grimly clutching a pair of clunky moving metal pipes. When I've had to rock out on an elliptical machine with handles? I try to pretend the handles aren't there.  But then my spastic dance moves and fist pumps get interrupted when the handles get their revenge and give me a sound whomping.

But dang it, as old machines get replaced, the armless kind of elliptical machines are getting harder to find!

Gotta love the book stand set-up too
image: wikipedia

Some of the new machines are kinda "bi" and swing both ways. There are vertical arm handles for those who like them, but at they're far enough apart to allow room for people like me who want pump their arms or spazz-dance. These I grumble about, but can handle.

But having recently confronted a couple of the narrow punitive kind, and feeling strangely averse to getting battered by the damn handles yet again, I decided to suck it up and attempt to actually use the arm handles.

(It's part of my lastest "let's loosen the hell up and and try a few new things" initiative. These come frequently and are good for about 5 minutes, but whatever).

So anyway, as I suspected, my first reaction was: Acck! The movement felt totally unnatural. Grasping onto the handles was a total buzz-kill and destroyed any sense of rhythm or momentum or joy. (Note: because my back is still f--cked up, I can only use the elliptical sparingly. So it actually IS a joy if I get to use one of the right kind and can dance and bounce and carry on.)

But I'm guessing other no-hands elliptical people, who have spent many years powering the machines with just their legs, might have a similar issue when they attempt to employ their arms. There is some technique involved!

So, how do you best use the arm handles on an elliptical?

December 11, 2014

Losing Weight on a Paleo Diet

photo: wikipedia

Guest Post By Meg White, with Intro by Crabby McSlacker

Please welcome Meg White, blogger at!  She was willing share her success with the whole Paleo thing here, despite the realization that Cranky Fitness is not exactly a paleo blog. 

Unless our primal ancestors had a few packages of this stuff stashed away in their caves?

Anyway, I know there are lots of hard-core CavePeople as well as some Primal-Curious folks among the Cranketeers, so enjoy!

How I Lost Weight on the Paleo Diet: An Ode to My Past Love, Bread

Some rights reserved by jeffreyw

Oh, ye bread. How I would have missed you. That is: I would have missed you if I didn’t toss you out along with my chubby clothes—the clothes I had to purchase post-one particular lost summer of extra carbohydrates topped with sucrose, thank-you-very-much.

That’s right: I, along with so many other people, had a very, very lost couple of months, when turning to food seemed the only option. Backed by my sure-and-sturdy comprehension of “what we’re meant to eat” via the Food Guide Pyramid, I chased every full-tier spaghetti meal with my standard helping of … Oreos. Sometimes extra helpings; this depended on my mood and how long the television program I was watching lasted.

Clearly, I needed help.

December 08, 2014

The Problem With Gratitude

Photo found here: Lack of Gratitude

By Crabby McSlacker

Seriously, a blog post dissing Gratitude? Have I gone completely bonkers?

It's hard to think of a more ridiculous target for complaint. Gratitude is pretty much universally acknowledged to be the most healthy, positive, healing, transformative, awesomest mental state we can possibly cultivate. Right?

Gratitude practice is a Thing now, backed by libraries full of gratitude research. Short of advocating that we step up our efforts to club more baby seals, or start tossing crippled old people out of their wheelchairs for sport, or convert all our national parks into nuclear testing sites, it's hard to imagine a less defensible position than one griping about gratitude.

But hell, I'm up for it!

November 24, 2014

Meditation Motivation

photo: original source unknown.
Now it's all over the freakin' web.
By Crabby McSlacker

I know that meditation and other forms of mindfulness are good for me. But I have a horrible time sticking with any sort of regular practice. Anyone else?

When I do manage to make the time to meditate, I'm often obstinate, ornery, and resistant, probably because I have a very thinky mind. It loves to plot and scheme, to analyze and narrate, to fantasize about the future and reminisce about the past. The last thing my busy brain wants to do is shut the f-ck up and just be in the present moment.

So last time I checked in on this topic, I had bailed on meditating again.  Why? because I was under too much stress. Yep, what an awesome reason to ditch one of the most well-proven stress reduction methods on the planet!

But the good news is, I went back to it right after I wrote that post. (Blogging=free therapy.) And guess what? I think I'm finally getting a little more traction.

And, as you may recall from the post about why Cranky Fitness Sometimes Sucks, I can't resist sharing advice about things I am spectacularly untalented at.  So, here are a few things that helped me get my meditation mojo back again.

November 20, 2014

Helpful Hints after Weight Loss

OK, Maybe Some Hints are Not So Helpful

Guest Post by Heather Lee

Remember the awesome guest post back in August called "Goodbye Girls?" Well, Heather Lee, a favorite Cranky Fitness commenter, succumbed to my pleading and whining and has penned another post for us, hooray! She also has a lovely blog of her own, The Spotted Cat so it's really not fair of me to exploit her talents over here, but whatever--I'm kinda ruthless like that. She's so dang nice I couldn't help taking advantage of her good nature. 

So please welcome Heather Lee!  --Crabby

If you hang around the weight-loss world long enough, you’ll probably see lists along the lines of “Things Nobody Told Me Would Happen as the Weight Comes Off.” Having been on this road for a while now, I can verify a lot of them through personal experience. Some are vexing, most are funny, and all are worth it.

But why do so many of us get blindsided by these things? For me, it’s because I looked at The Start Point (overly rotund!) and The End Point (fit and sleek!) without bothering to think about that whole Middle Part. You know: The Hard Work. Most of us don’t want to think too much about that part, and that’s when we get surprised.

So here is my list, both in the interest of helping other Cranketeers and because I like to make lists. Enjoy!

November 17, 2014

Short and Sweet: An Experiment in Portion Control

By Crabby McSlacker

As regular readers are probably sick of hearing, one thing I tend to suck at is portion control.

Sometimes I just don't know when enough is enough!

Coincidentally, part of my recent blogging angst is an inability to just say a little bit about something and not keep going and going and going and going, exploring at length all conceivably related topics.

So after last week's heavy-ass navel-gazing whine-fest, this is a light, fluffy and hopefully petite-sized post about a snacking experiment.

Wanna hear a trick I figured out that allows me to keep eating a tasty sweet treat all day long, virtually guilt free?

Well, I'll tell ya! But it's also an experiment in blog self-discipline.  Can I put this puppy to bed in less than 500 words? Especially if there are compelling tangential issues?

November 10, 2014

Meta Culpa

By Crabby McSlacker

Yep, this is yet another one of those "meta" posts, by which I mean a blog post about blogging.

Oh boy, right? Bet y'all can't wait to read more of THAT shit. Because who cares about all the behind-the-scenes stuff?

But in the same way I might approach an exercise endeavor I'm struggling with, I figure it sometimes helps to:

(a)  Acknowledge fears and insecurities to any innocent bystanders, in case they might be either feeling judgey, or conversely, insecure themselves;

(b)  Set the bar really really really freakin' low; and,

(c)  Jump back in and hope for the best!

October 27, 2014

Excruciatingly Obvious, Incredibly Helpful Self-Improvement Tip You Keep Forgetting

By Crabby McSlacker

Regular readers may have noticed that I am quite fond of passing on principles for living a happy, healthy, balanced, life--while admitting that I totally suck at applying them to my own problems.

But hey, reminding myself of things that would make life easier if I would just f--cking do them? Not a bad thing! Because sometimes I actually pay attention to my own reminders if I go to the trouble of putting them in a blog post and boring the crap out of other people with them.

Anyway, I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that about 95-98% of you also occasionally forget this one blatantly obvious tip, which is applicable to almost any problematic area of life.

So which Thing You Already Know am I reminding you to Actually Go Out and Do?

October 13, 2014

On Hating Exercise: 5 Tips for Sucking it Up (Temporarily)

photo upload: digitalNC

By Crabby McSlacker

So I don't generally advocate doing any sort of exercise you hate.  In fact, I think the most important prerequisite for attaining a lifetime of smug, annoyingly energetic health and fitness is: find activities you don't absolutely loathe!

And yet.. sometime life throws a few curveballs. Maybe it's a new job, a change of residence, a nagging injury, or you find yourself raising small humans with schedules that don't accommodate your favorite exercise options.

What do you do when faced with a choice between doing some sort of godawful thing you hate in order to get your heart rate up, or not doing anything at all?

October 10, 2014

Your Heart Likes it When You Swim

This guest post by Becky Flanigan comes at a perfect time. I've been doing more swimming than I'm accustomed to, and I'm pretty crappy at it, and am thus accumulating a rather long list of swimming-related grievances. (Which you will probably be hearing about soon). So it's great to discover that the research on health benefits of swimming is way more inspiring than I realized!  As you may recall, Becky also taught us some useful stuff about getting started with aqua-aerobics earlier. Thanks Becky!--Crabby

We know that hearts can’t actually talk, but they can sing, and nothing makes a heart sing louder or more heartily than being strong and in good health. If you are looking for a heart-strengthening, low-impact, yet effective alternative to the usual suspects like running or aerobics, it may be time to think about swimming your way to heart health. According to current research, swimming is one of the best things you can do to keep your heart strong.

October 06, 2014

Stress Busting Weapons

photo upload: x-ray delta one

So lately I've been dealing with a little more stress than I'm accustomed to. And I've been finding out some really interesting things.

Like:  My stress management skills TOTALLY SUCK a lot of the time.   Funny how easy it is to think you've got a handle on stress management when you are not actually experiencing any stress.

But on the bright side:

1.  Rick Hanson's Foundations of Well-Being Program  is starting tomorrow, Tuesday the 7th! So if you've been dithering and want to get in at the very beginning, now is a great time to sign up.

(Disclosure: I get a commission if you do it by clicking here).


2.  Some of the stuff I've learned over the years about handling stress is actually helping a lot.


3.  I have still more tools that could be helping if I would just f--cking USE THEM.  Many of these I was actually making progress with, but now that they'd be particularly useful: Hello?!?!

But we'll see, I'm hoping a whole new turbo-charged "phase two" of emotional self-regulation is about to kick in.

So here's what's on the table; I'll be curious what you guys lean on when you need to get through challenging times.

October 02, 2014

No More Control Tops--Let's Dance!

photo: uploaded by twitchery

Guest Post by Genie

So here's another great guest post by Genie!  As you may recall, Genie shared some of her inspiring progress towards healthy eating and exercise in "Deciding I Don't Want to Die" and "Half Sick of Shadows".  She hinted that there was a backstory to her weight struggles, and some of you were curious, and so here she is with a story that some of you may be able to relate to all too well.

Thanks so much Genie!---Crabby 

The first time I knew there was something wrong with my body the whole family was at the beach. I thought I looked pretty cute in a bright green two piece with orange sunglasses. I was pulling a pose I thought was all Hollywood for Dad and his ever-present camera. My mother, my seriously beautiful mother, took a long drag on her cigarette, “We’re going to have to watch her or she’s going to get chunky.” My grandmother, to whom this was addressed, laughed cruelly and said, “Well, we put a stop to that with you, didn’t we?” She looked like Rita Hayworth. I am not kidding.

I come from a long line of beautiful women. Some of my cousins were crown wearing, Southern beauty queens. I was a genetic anomaly. I didn’t look like any of them and that day at the beach I learned I didn’t measure up. I was six. Yes, six.

That began a long, complicated time in our house that I suspect is a mirror of what a lot of girls experience.

September 29, 2014

Tough Times

photo: wikimedia

So, no sooner did I proclaim "Crabby's Back!" than it seems I am not back after all. Or at least I'm not back blogging in the usual way.

I guess you call it a '"family emergency." One of those terrible situations that you hope never happens to anyone you love. It's complicated and wrenching and not likely to resolve itself soon. I hopped on a plane to the west coast when I heard, and am staying at my childhood home. I didn't buy a return ticket because I have no idea how long I will be here.

As some of you may have already discovered, there are few things in life as heartbreaking as seeing a loved one suffering through a crisis.  I haven't been through anything like this before, and I just hope I can rise to the many challenges my family is facing. I kinda suck at the whole grace-under-pressure thing, as well as the gettting-difficult-stuff-handled thing, but then I've never in my life been so motivated to be a grown up and do whatever needs to be done.

So... does this mean there will be no more Cranky Fitness for the foreseeable future?

September 22, 2014

Crabby's Back!

By Crabby McSlacker

So some of you clever readers may be fearing that the title of this post has a double meaning.

Is it called "Crabby's Back" because Crabby is finally back from an Awesome European Adventure and ready to start torturing you all with trip photos?

Or is this going to be another post about "Crabby's back," which was the cause of much cursing, whining and bitter resentment last week when she went into spasms so brutal she couldn't even get herself coffee?

Well, fear not, readers!  My back has gotten SO MUCH BETTER over the last few days that I will have to bore you with the details of that minor miracle in a future post.  Not that I'm 100% yet, but definitely doing better.  Thanks for all the kind wishes in the comments, I think they helped!

Nope, instead, let the torture begin with...

Some Highlights from the Swanky Viking Grand River Cruise + My Solo Stay in A Cheap-Ass Budapest Apartment!

September 17, 2014

Where the Heck is Crabby?

photo: wikipedia
This was supposed to be a cheerful, picture-filled, back-from-vacation post.  You know, craploads of castles and palaces and cobble-stoned streets, and the usual questionable food choices and tortured metaphors about health and fitness.

Unfortunately, while the trip was a blast, along the way my back took a turn for the worse. And then, once I got back, decided that one turn wasn't enough and took dizzying series of further turns for the far, far worse.  I tried to get up to make coffee this morning and had to abort, and ended up crawling back to bed, moaning in a most melodramatic and unbecoming way.

I have no idea what the fuck is going on and why it's not getting better.  I've been trying so hard to be careful!

A bulging or herniated disc seems pretty likely, but it has gone from there being certain moves I can't make comfortably, to there being no way to move at all without powerful drugs, some of which we happen to have in the form of expired prescriptions not originally written on my behalf. Tsk tsk, I know, that's illegal!

But take my advice: you know how they tell you always to be a good citizen and throw out your old prescriptions if you don't finish them? DON'T!!! Someday you may be really, really glad you didn't.

Anyway, I have a doctors appointment tomorrow where I hope to secure some fresh shiny perfectly legitimate drugs.  And hopefully get to a point where I can start physical therapy again.

Of course there's no reason on earth why I can't suffer and blog at the same time, right? Especially since the very theme of the blog is complaining about health-related matters. But I'm a wimp and just don't seem to have it in me.  Side effects of the drugs seem to include nausea, 3-hour long naps, and writers block.

However, when you least expect it, I'll be back!  Thank you all so much for your patience!

September 12, 2014

London: Visitor's Guide to Healthy Food & Fitness

Guest Post by Helen Foster

So this is the last of the great guest posts for a while--I'm heading home from Budapest tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to boring the snot out of you all with tales and pictures, many of which deal with the very same theme: trying to find healthy food and exercise options while traveling.

London was not on my itinerary this trip, alas, but it is an amazing and wonderful city and a popular travel destination. It's a hell of a lot more likely you're going there someday than Budapest, right?  So Helen's got you covered with some great tips!  And there are many more over at her informative and hilarious website, Health-e-Helen, because she's British and lives and breathes this health and fitness stuff.

If her name sounds familiar, it's because I wrote about her awesome (and cheap) fitness ebook Gymspiration a while back, in a post about a one-question personality test which I stole from her. Plus she's on the blogroll, and I'm hoping some of you remember to click over sometimes when her posts come up.

Anyway, I've been having a grand old time, and I will eventually have lots to share about that when I get back to blogging. Whether that's a promise or a threat is an open question.

So please welcome Helen!--Crabby

When I found out Crabby was needing guest posts I was jumping up and down waving my hand in the air faster than you can say ‘yay, I get to write for my blog idol’. Of course then the doubt set in – what can I write about? What do I know more about than Crabby? What have I done? Can I feign amnesia?........then Crabby gave me the answer herself.

I’m British and on my blog health-e-helen I’d written about a delivery service in London offering low-carb, broccoli bread pizza and Crabby was coveting a slice. The word visit was mentioned. Aha, I thought – if Crabby wants to come to London and eat low-carb pizza so might Crabby’s readers! And they might want to do other healthy stuff too while they’re here. And that I know about. See no longer is London a wasteland for the fit and healthy. Yes, we all still drink like fishes and have slightly wonky teeth but we’re catching up when it comes to the healthy stuff. So , here we have it, The Health-e Guide To Healthy London.

September 02, 2014

Death Ride Grandma Rides Again!

Guest post by Death Ride Grandma

Those of you who are Cranky Fitness regulars already know and admire the awesome "Death Ride Grandma." She has blogged before about getting a late start on her health and fitness journey, and about her desire to conquer the Death Ride, a fearsome athletic feat that Crabby couldn't contemplate taking on no matter HOW many cups of coffee she consumed in order to fuel her fantasies.

So, the Death Ride has again come and gone, and it seemed like a good time for a check in!  How did it go, and are there any lessons to be learned?

Please welcome Death Ride Grandma!--Crabby

Wouldn’t it be great?

Well, this has already appeared in a comment. I have even mentioned one of my ways of trying to keep some perspective on frustrating moments. You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful if that was the worst thing that happened in the world today? Yeah. It would.

But I have to admit. I am pretty annoyed. Okay, I am angry, sad, second-guessing myself, all sorts of stuff I try so hard to avoid by having a good attitude. Right.

Last year Crabby very kindly allowed me to vent here about my almost-complete attempt at the Death Ride. You know, that one I swore I would never do. I’d planned and trained and done everything I could think of, only I didn’t think of just how many calories I would need to finish, so I bonked just eight miles short of the fifth and final summit. Oh, well. Frustrating, sure, but I’d tried, and really, I’d enjoyed a lot of the ride. It is a beautiful setting, and in spite of its name, it is a very friendly crowd. Only a few of the riders are those crazy idiots who yell at you for occupying the lane they want – even if, technically, the law suggests that it is your lane.

Then a friend asked if I would train with her for 2014. Honestly, that was not such a tough decision. I don’t like to acknowledge this, but something in me really wanted, uh, wants, to finish that ride!

August 29, 2014

Goodbye Girls!

Guest Post by Heather Lee

While Crabby continues her travels abroad, this next guest post is by a favorite blog commenter Heather Lee. She also has her own great blog, The Spotted Cat.  Besides being one of the nicest humans on the planet, Heather is a funny gal and quite an inspiration when it comes to getting healthy and fit!

This post deals with a what might be a familiar phenomenon for many women shedding excess weight: unfortunately we can't choose WHERE those pounds are going to drop from first.

So please welcome Heather Lee! --Crabby

For many women, a notable drawback to weight loss is the possible reduction of breast acreage. I’ve known a few ladies who refused to even try because they feared losing their favorite asset. It’s an understandable reaction. Whether your opinion of your girls is “hey, not bad” or “you are magnificent,” the thought of a big change in that area is pretty daunting. But! There is hope! After losing nearly 70 pounds, I feel qualified to offer a little perspective to women worried about changing their measurement ratio. Yes, your gazongas may very well lose a little zong, but I promise it isn’t all bad. To help, let’s look at a few specific worries that might pop up.

August 27, 2014

Half Sick of Shadows

This is another guest post from Genie, yay!  You may remember the previous post about her inspirational fitness journey, and might have been wondering about some of the specifics. So she generously offered to supply a few.

(And where is Crabby McSlacker and why the heck is she so slow in posting any of the great guest posts she's received?

Well, at the moment, Crabby and the Lobster are cruising the Rhine, and while she doesn't expect any sympathy on that front, the internet aboard has been extremely pissy and mean, and it dislikes Crabby in particular and goes into hiding whenever she even LOOKS at her computer.  But she swears she's at least been trying, and every now there's a little window of connectivity which she will attempt to exploit:

But she apologizes for not finding any relevant pictures for this post, and hopes you won't wander away from the blog completely, as there will be more great guest posts coming and even possibly a few trip photos or updates squeezed in). 

Anyway, Genie's story is a great illustration of a Cranky Fitness Fundamental Truth:  the road to health and fitness is not always a smooth one.  In fact, sometimes it feels like a series detours strewn with potholes, broken glass, and roadkill.

So what do you do? Pull over at the first rest stop, scarf up a double cheeseburger and head back home? Or try to keep going?  Well, I'll let Genie fill you in on which approach she takes.

Thanks Genie!

“I am half-sick of shadows” – “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Disclaimer: I did some stupid things on my path to fitness that no one should do. EVER. I am no longer a fitness professional and I am not a physician, an exercise physiologist or a physical therapist. The message here isn’t about doing what I did. The moral of the story is at the end so you’ll have to slog through all the drivel to get to it!

So, I had an eating plan, a menu and a well-stocked kitchen. I needed a work-out plan that would get me back into fighting shape. Here’s a secret: I’ve been in fighting shape before. Hell, I was a fitness instructor at one point in my life (Best. Job. Ever!). So I had some information but that was from a time in my life before fat, age and chronic pain caught up with me. I had to make some decisions about how to handle all this.

August 22, 2014

Can Money Ever Buy Happiness?

Photo: x-ray delta

By Crabby McSlacker

OK, so I'm not foolish enough to suggest that money can generally buy happiness. Otherwise, why would so many rich people be miserable grasping insufferable poopy-heads?  But in my experience, there are indeed times when thoughtful financial investments can reap substantial experiential rewards.

For example, travel comes to mind as an awesome place to spend some cash in order to chase a bit of joy and excitement and fresh appreciation for life.  Which is the reason I am posting this the day we're taking off for an adventure in Europe!  (As you may recall, it is all the fault of the Dowager Countess of Grantham.)

True, I really did insist.

(And btw, this also means you can expect some awesome guest posts while I'm gone and innumerable tedious vacation pictures when I get back, and perhaps some mid-trip updates along the way, but you regulars already know the drill).

But here's the thing:  We got our vacation at a big discount, because we bought it way in advance, and took advantage of an early bird special.  And so any happiness we may have purchased will be twice as sweet!

So I thought I'd let you know about another great investment in happiness that's on sale:

Check out Rick Hanson's: The Foundations of Well-Being Early Bird Special!  It's $50 Off if you SIGN UP AND PAY BEFORE AUGUST 31st.

This course starts October 1.  I'm doing the whole thing too, and I'm hoping a few Cranketeers might want to join me and perhaps we can discuss along the way?  We can hang either at Rick's place (there are forums and maybe I can start a thread there) or I can riff over here and we can do the comment thing.

So what the heck is it? And why am I harping on about it when I should be finishing up the last of my packing?

August 18, 2014

Swimming Lessons

By Crabby McSlacker

OK, so regular readers may recall that:
  1. I recently hurt my back;
  2. I am hilariously inept at my physical therapy exercises and seem to be making little progress yet in the back-healing department;
  3. I've been bemoaning my lack of back-friendly exercise options and bitching about how I am getting less fit by the day;
  4. I discovered taking up swimming might be a feasible option; and,
  5. I have always loathed everything about swimming.
(A quick review? Let's see: apparel requirements; chlorine; my lack of natural floatiness or coordination; being forced to arrange breathing opportunities instead of snarfing up air any damn time I want to; and sharing a pool with other people. And of course most excruciatingly: having to initiate the activity by submerging myself voluntarily in cold nasty evil frigid wetness. Acck! For a warm-blooded mammal such as myself, this feels like a profoundly unnatural act).

Seriously, the only great thing about swimming is that eventually it is over with.

So, one might wonder, given my wonderful positive attitude towards the whole enterprise: how is the swimming thing going so far?  Can an Old Crab learn some New Tricks? And are there any tedious lessons said Old Crab can share from her experience?

August 11, 2014

Injured? Hooray!

By Crabby McSlacker

So yeah, this is me trying to do the whole positive reframe thing.  Can I stop whining for a few minutes and attempt to consider that having a back injury is not something to kvetch about? Perhaps it is even a wonderful growth opportunity in disguise?

But no worries, fellow crankypants skeptics. I'll excuse you for a moment if you want to step outside and barf. (Just remember for the sake of your coworkers or loved ones to mop up afterwards, and be sure to brush your teeth).

The weird thing is...  this is not just some a total bullshit attempt to cheer myself up.  I can actually see both sides: When you want to be active and are sidelined, injuries suck! And yet injuries can also lead to really freakin' good stuff.

The trick, I'm thinking, is deciding whether to cope with injuries in Typical Dumbass Ways, or try to be more Clever and Sneaky about it. Having tried plenty of the former techniques, I thought it might be time to experiment with something different for a change.

August 07, 2014

Seen in NYC

So this isn't a real post, just a handful of photos I took on the road in New York. I'm heading back home today.

And I will try to forgo extensive whining about my back injury, whatever the hell it is. A Progress Report (or an Amusing Lack of Progress Report) on physical therapy may follow at some point, but I'm really hoping to write one of those cheerful "my triumphant return to working out!" sort of inspirational things, not another bitchstravaganza of frustrations and gripes. So I'm thinking I"ll give it a bit more time.

Meanwhile, no running or biking or ellipticalling or weights. But lots of walking right past notable NYC landmarks and not photographing them! Only to capture weird shit no one else would possibly want to look at instead.

August 04, 2014

Deciding I Don't Want to Die

By Genie; posted by Crabby McSlacker

I am seriously psyched to bring you this guest post--it’s quite inspiring and motivating, as you shall soon see. And another cool thing? This was sent by a heretofore anonymous “lurker,” who challenged herself to tell her story in a more public venue. 

However, I need a favor here. I'm hoping that when you get to the end and think to yourselves: "I want to hear more from Genie, she should have a blog of her own!" that you keep your big traps shut about that, ok?  Say instead, "I hear starting a new blog is kind of a pain in the ass, but you should really keep contributing posts to Crabby's blog!"

Got that?

OK, I'm off gallivanting in NYC but I leave you in good hands today; please welcome Genie!


When Crabby sent out an invitation for guest posts, I thought, “Why the hell not?” So I mustered my courage and sent out an email with a short version of my story. Her response was so warm and immediate, I had to “screw my courage to the sticking place” (apologies to Lady Macbeth) and do it.

For better or worse then, this is the short version of how I decided I didn’t want to die anymore.

July 30, 2014

Will Restricting Carbs Make You a "Fat-Burning Beast?"

photo: pixabay

By Tiffany Reiss; With a Long-Winded Intro by Crabby McSlacker

So for years I've been intrigued by notion of "Fat Adaptation," a concept advanced by Mark's Daily Apple and others. The idea is that by strategically restricting carbohydrates, you can reprogram your body to use fat as fuel instead of glycogen.

According to Mark:

If you’re fat adapted, the genes associated with lipid metabolism will be upregulated in your skeletal muscles. You will essentially reprogram your body. 
With that comes great benefits!  Like more energy available during exercise and throughout the day, and an easier time burning fat and losing weight than if you are a "sugar burner."

However, most mainstream nutritional advice says almost the opposite: Watch the fat, eat more carbs. These experts claim you need a crapload of carbs for optimal nutrition, especially if you are doing something athletic.  

And yeah, everyone agrees you need protein and that you should avoid refined and processed foods as much as possible and you should be eating plenty of produce.  But as to what else you should be fueling with, the "Are Carbs Good or Are They Bad" debate rages on.

I got so tired of hearing the contradictions that I asked Tiffany Reiss what she thought.  As regulars may recall, Tiffany is a smarty-pants professor type who knows a lot about exercise physiology. (Her bio is below).

So, is her answer simple and straightforward?

Hell no! Because it turns out it's a complicated question!

So those of you who like to geek out, here's Tiffany take on the whole "Should I restrict Carbs" question.


To Carb or Not to Carb

It’s such a simple question: Are carbs good or are they bad? Should we eat them or shouldn’t we?

July 28, 2014

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

By Crabby McSlacker

So, a couple things to run past you guys this morning.

First up...

Can I coax you into sharing your thoughts with lovely appreciative Cranky Fitness readers in a guest post?

And yes by "you" I mean YOU! ... You there, who are reading this right now, whether you are blogger or a regular commenter or a quiet lurker.

Not if you are too busy, of course.  Or if you have a commercial site and have been harassing bloggers relentlessly with "did you get my email" follow-ups in order to find a home for your generic prose and spammy links. Or especially not if you were the person who arrived here googling "nude girl fuking in gym mashion."  (I do love checking my google search keywords). Can you imagine? This is a high-class site! We can NOT tolerate blatant spelling errors.

July 25, 2014


By Crabby McSlacker

So the last week or two I was in a bit of a funk.  And I'm still struggling with minor transitory stuff like injuries, and the resultant lack of exercise, and a potential new restrictive diet. (FODMAPS anyone? Copious whining about that to follow, if it indeed happens). Plus of course there's the usual dreaded Crapload of Stuff That Really Freakin' Needs to Get Done But Where The Hell to Find Time?

And yet? Funk gone for now!  Perspective returned.  Back to feeling mostly good about life. (At least for a congenital pissypants grouchbucket).

I know that research says gratitude is one of the best tools for getting out of a crappy mood, but for me it's no magic pill or anything. Efforts can seem kinda hollow and forced, and even if the "thinky" part of my brain gets it, the "feely" part just feels worse for being so lame that it doesn't recognize how lucky it is.

But sure enough, just pluggin' away and noticing good stuff where I can really does help!  (A good go-to source on how is pretty much anything by my fave geek/guru Rick Hanson). And then, voila, once I start feeling more myself again, the gratitude all comes rushing back for reals and everywhere I look there is all kinda stuff to feel grateful for.  Cranky Fitness readers in particular!

So please allow me share some appreciation and some fun links.

July 21, 2014

Study: Fascinating Way to Beat Pain

By Crabby McSlacker

OK, maybe no one else would be quite as intrigued by this study as I was.  It still leaves many questions, and it's a bit impractical in its current form. It isn't a magic pill that the pharmaceutical companies can exploit. So who knows if anyone but avid Do it Yourselfers will take advantage of it?

But it's the implications of this study that got my overthinky brain churning away.

And, unfortunately for you guys, these implications led me to much speculation and theorizing about pain and personality and neuropsychology! Even more ominously, it got me thinking again about the whole Subjective versus Objective reality question.

Be very afraid.

July 18, 2014

Elimination Diet Workbook Giveaway Winners

The giveaway winners are...

Paulina and Amy G.!

Congrats!  Please email me within the next week and I'll hook you up.  And whether you won or not, hope you all have an awesome weekend, free of hives, wheezing, bloating, barfing, or digestive unpleasantries of any sort!

July 16, 2014

Whine Not?

My last post was a whiny one, full of petty complaints. And I knew that when I posted it.

It was sort of a therapeutic exercise for me.  (And, I hoped it might be helpful for anyone else who found themselves likewise discouraged about whatever they'd been trying to achieve).

But I left all kinds of things out! Like for one, how wonderful and patient the Lobster has been while I've been such a grump.

And also, the larger context of how insanely lucky and privileged I am, and how grateful I am for so many blessings I have.  Seriously, how annoying must it be to be facing true hardship and hear someone who is healthy and well provided for bitching about their inability to keep their workouts "fun" and their waistline under control?

And yet... isn't it weird how sometimes knowing that you are ridiculously fortunate and are being petty doesn't make you feel better, it just adds another level of feeling crappy because you realize what a superficial ungrateful asshole you are?

July 14, 2014

Grumpiness, Lumpiness, and Goal Support

photo: peter m
By Crabby McSlacker

Anyone else feeling a bit frustrated and thwarted these days?  Could you  use a pep-talk and some perspective, or is it just me?  When I wrote most of this post yesterday, I was in a majorly crappy mood and I probably shouldn't hit publish on this thing. We'll see if today is any better--too early to tell.

But I'm hoping that however you're doing, whether you're kickin' ass, getting your ass kicked, or are somewhere in between, that you might let us know what's up!

So anyway, what's the reason for this  extra whiny post?

The problem  is lumpiness.

July 11, 2014

Elimination Diets, Food Allergies and Giveaway!

Do you or a loved one ever suffer from unpleasant reactions to the foods you eat?

For some people, the culprits are clear. If you break out into hives and lose the ability to breathe every time you eat peanuts or shellfish, you probably are pretty freakin' well aware of this and do everything you can to avoid these triggers.

However, for many of us, symptoms are vaguer. (Let's just say massive and almost comical postprandial bloating, purely hypothetically). And perhaps the episodes are more variable or sporadic. And also, not so clearly attributable to one specific food.

Anyone want some helpful information on that?

As it happens, we have a giveaway of two copies of Maggie Moon's Elimination Diet Workbook. And Canadians are eligible too!

So what's the deal with elimination diets, and why might you want to win or buy a copy of this book for yourself or an intolerant loved one?

July 09, 2014

Three Annoying Questions For: Jen Sinkler!

Interview By Crabby McSlacker

"Three Annoying Questions" returns as we ambush the awesome Jen Sinkler!

I've been a fan for years--Jen was the Editorial Director at Experience Life, one of the few non-crappy Health and Fitness magazines out there.  Her articles were my faves, as she was generally way ahead of the curve and yet had a no-bullshit down-to-earth take on fitness trends.   You can get her "Thrival Guide" free over at her site, and with that comes a newsletter that is actually something you want in your inbox as there as always cool stuff in there.

More details on what Jen's been up to at the end, but meantime, please welcome Jen and stay tuned for her Three Annoying Questions!--Crabby

July 07, 2014

Does Watching TV Give You Cancer?

Retro TV
By Crabby McSlacker

So we've all seen the studies that say the more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to acquire various dire diseases and croak at a younger age. (Which is part of the reason I'm writing this post using a stand-up desk).

However, a recent research review of 43 observational studies suggests there is a particular association between time spent sitting watching TV and cancer.


Apparently there is a much higher correlation between sitting time and colon or endometrial cancer if you plant your ass in front of a television set, as opposed to sitting around doing other things besides watching tv.

So how seriously should we take this?

July 04, 2014

Happy Fourth!

According to MessyMimi who is a great source kooky calendar events (and adorable cats): Today is also St. Ulrich's Day!

This is good to know given that he is the Patron Saint of peaceful deaths, pregnant women and weavers. Plus, he can protect you against birth complications, dizziness, faintness, fever, frenzy, mice, moles, and vertigo.

Anyway, whether you are Canadian and are still recovering from your national holiday, or are American and are going to do something Fourthy today, have fun!

We're going to be having dinner with some lovely neighbors and dodging Hurricane Arthur, who is being a butthead and causing our fireworks to be postponed until tomorrow night.  

Anyone actually around today? Got any fun plans?

July 02, 2014

Obesity and Life Satisfaction: Surprise!

postcard at 

Guest Post By Dr. J (with Additional Contrarian Input by Crabby McSlacker)

Many of you are already acquainted with the knowledgeable and amusing Dr. J, who blogs over at Calorie Lab. He's a maxillofacial surgeon, as well as a dedicated runner and a pilot. Dr. J kindly sent me a very interesting article he wrote and let me share it here.

And in return for his generosity?  I'm gonna jump in afterwards and wrassle with him a little, offering a slightly different take.

Obnoxious? Sure! Stupid? Possibly! Because Dr. J is an actual physician plus he has a black belt in karate.

But Dr. J is also an old blog pal who knows I agree with him on about 98% of health and fitness matters and I suspect I'd have to work pretty hard to get him riled.   He's just more of a Tough Love kinda guy than I am when it comes to certain questions of lifestyle and health.

So what's the tussle about?

study of obesity and life satisfaction that Dr. J dug up suggests: in communities where obesity is common, being obese has little negative effect on life satisfaction.

Wow, right? This I did not know. 

Going by everything I've read, I thought it was kinda tough to be obese, and that a lot of things just sucked more, and that people were generally more satisfied with their lives after they'd lost weight.

So, if you're curious to see what the Doctor and the Crab think about all this...

June 30, 2014

Bringing the Cranky to Fitbloggin' 2014: The Good, The Bad, and the Weird

By Crabby McSlacker

So I'm just back from the Fitbloggin' conference, a large annual gathering of fitness and weight-loss bloggers which was held in Savannah Georgia this year.

Being a cheap-ass tightwad thrifty sort of blogger, I've never sprung for a conference before, so this was my virgin experience. (It's not so much conference fees, which are very reasonable for all that you get, but it's the damned travel and hotel expenses I hate to cough up).

So, what did I learn? What was awesome? What was really surprising? And, this being Cranky Fitness, what kinda sucked?

And yep, as usual I couldn't seem to blog, post to facebook, or tweet more than a quick thank you or two while the event was happening... so the whole live-blogging thing didn't happen. But welcome to the Official Cranky Fitness Deadblog of Fitbloggin' 14!

June 25, 2014

Best Time of Day for Everything

By Crabby McSlacker

First off, I love the auto-fill suggestions search engines come up with, don't you? Because google thought I was wondering about "best time of day to do enema."

(And I'm afraid I didn't hit enter on that one, so I can't tell you when that is. My sincere apologies to any random enema googlers who found their way here).

But anyway, I kept seeing articles saying there's a "best" time to do stuff, so I thought I'd collect a few.  Just in case you were wondering when you should exercise, take your vitamins, think creatively, ask for a raise, shop for super-discounted peanut butter Oreo cookies when no one is there to see you fill your basket, rob a convenience store, or whatever the heck you're trying to plan and optimize.

There's some useful advice to be had, I guess.  My productivity, minimal as it is, has improved greatly since I discovered some tricks along these lines.

And yet... I also find some of these generalizations, particularly the circadian rhythm ones, pretty damn annoying.

Crabby McSlacker... annoyed about something? Shocking, I know!