December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays from Cranky Fitness! Plus, Very Last-Minute Gift Idea

photo via James Vaughan

By Crabby McSlacker

Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, and whatever your favorite traditions are,

photo via James Vaughan

let's hope it was, or is, or will be, a lovely, peaceful, and joyous occasion! I'll be very curious if any of you are willing to share what your winter celebrations are like.

I've been blogslackin' again, but not just due to the buying-a-new-house-on-a-whim shenanigans. I'm back to working on my novel again. (Yay?)

But not being around as much as I used to be, I've been really missing everyone. You guys rock! You are part of my community, part of my family even, and I know exactly how weird that sounds. And so before I start the whole New Year's Resolution Let's Kick Ass in 2016 yada yada yada stuff, I want to sincerely wish you all the happiest of holidays. 

As you may know, here at the Crab and Lobster household, we are not religious. Nor do we believe that there is a  jolly fat guy in a red suit who circumnavigates the globe distributing presents with the help of flying reindeer. Thankfully, we have no children to indoctrinate with any improbable Christmas myths either. Because isn't that a weird cultural tradition when you think about it?  "Let's all lie to our kids about Santa Claus until they get old enough to figure out that we're full of shit. So when it's time for those "stay in school" and "don't smoke" and "be nice to everyone, even the unpopular kids" lectures, we'll have absolutely no credibility!

But again, no kids here, so what do I know?

So anyway, we celebrate "Christmas" because that's what we both grew up with. But it's a Christ-free, Santa-free, low key version of Christmas. "Christmas Lite."

It's mainly about connecting with family and friends.  And hell, let's be clear: it's also about desserts. And Presents. We've tried to be grown-ups and skip the over-eating and the presents part, but as it turns out? We like stuffing our faces with sweets and getting and giving presents.

Every year we say: "let's not do anything about presents this year!" "Let's not eat a whole bunch of cookies and cakes and candies until we're ready to explode!" And every year, we are totally lying.

Fortunately, we both grew up with the "open presents Christmas morning" tradition, not the horrible alternative, the jump-the-gun, Christmas Eve unwrapping.  I know this is customary in some countries and cultures, but WTF? You wake up Christmas morning and the holiday is already over? No, no, no, a thousand times no! That's just wrong. (For us!) 

We also drag Christmas morning out as long as possible. One person, opening one present at a time. Everyone watches and exclaims. Even if we are just opening gift cards for retailers we have specifically requested ahead of time.

This year, we are more geographically far-flung than usual, which is a bummer.  But we are hoping to have a happy Skype-mas and share the present unwrapping festivities via the interwebs.  (Fingers crossed).

But Speaking of Christmas Presents...

Do you sometimes find it hard to buy something that is useful enough not to be a total waste of money, yet not so everyday-useful as to be a bit... unexciting?

No, actually, they don't.
photo via James Vaughan

I can not recall the last time I fondled my vacuum-cleaner.
photo via James Vaughan

Or maybe you just want to buy yourself a present? But one that would actually reduce suicidal or homicidal ideation during a stressful holiday season?

Well, some of you may be ahead of me here, because as you may recall, I'm a big fan of Rick Hanson's programs, and his awesome Foundations of Well-Being Program is on sale if you sign up before January 1st! Plus, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up and then flake out.

Am I an affiliate? Hell yes! But the reason I pimp for Rick is because he is insanely smart and helpful, not because I get an occasional check. I get tons of affiliate offers (God knows why, for an almost-dead blog, but whatever) and I turn 'em all down. Because apparently I'm too stupid to be motivated by money.

I could go on forever about what a great resource the program is, because not only do you get Rick's presentations, there are guest speakers, activities, quizzes, forums etc, plus a monthly live Q&A. 

This stuff really works: you CAN rewire your brain for more happiness.  But gosh, guess what? It takes a little practice, and consistency, and effort. Most people find that without some kind of structured program, it just doesn't happen.  

(Note: if you plug "Rick Hanson" in the search box at Cranky Fitness, you can read a scary, almost stalkery number of posts singing his praises. To sum up, Rick is (a) brainy (b) warm (c) funny (e) humble (f) pragmatic (h) straight-forward (i) entertaining and (j) a hell of a nice guy.

Could you, or anyone you love, benefit from a program like this? Then get a move on, and if you pay for the year upfront before January 1, you get a big discount. More info at the Foundations of Well-Being site.

Of course I can't find my affiliate log-in info, because I am a disorganized nincompoop, and waited 'til the last minute to put this post up. So if the link doesn't work, bear with me, I'll figure it out when Rick's peeps are back in the office. Just let me know if you try to sign up and it ain't happening. Also, I'm not exactly sure how you gift it. There's always the endearing home made gift certificate approach, right? And then you figure out the sign-up thing with your recipient once it's not a surprise. (Or heck, there may be a gift option, but I can't get very far in the sign-up process to test it because I'm already signed up).

Oh, and in other business news, I just wanted to alert and remind anyone who's thinking about going to the Prevention R3 Summit in Austin with me that it's coming up before too long: it's January 15th and 16th.  Remember when I blogged about the R3 Summit? It's a women's health summit with tons of speakers, demonstrations, etc, and now they've added Joan Lunden to the line-up too.  Maybe a little motivation for any New Years goals you may be contemplating? But our discount code has changed, it's now PVNR3SDCRANKY1. (But I'm NOT an affiliate on this one, just attending for kicks and possible free food).

So what do you guys do to celebrate (or not) the winter holidays? Any other good very last-minute gift ideas?

December 09, 2015

Pack it in, Pack it out!

Guest Post by Jan Bono

Well folks, Crabby has messed up post-scheduling yet again. (Shocking, right?) She should have run this guest post by Jan B much sooner. Why? Well because it contains a December 10th deadline for ordering what could be a nice little Christmas present for a loved one, or hell, yourself! At least if you're the sort who actually aims to give Christmas presents on or before December 25th.  There's still time, but alas, not much. Crabby hereby apologizes and swears she will try not to be such a nitwit in the future.  --Crabby

In Crabby McSlacker’s recent Checkin' In blog post, she invited us to let her know what we’ve been up to, what we might be planning, and what’s on our minds these days.

Yes! She actually wrote that! So I’m taking her up on her invitation and telling you all how I’ve managed to abandon my daily fitness regime, immerse myself in a pool of self-pity, and resent the everyday exercise opportunities that have been forced upon me.

But wait! There’s more!

December 07, 2015

Healthy Adventures in... Playa del Carmen

By Crabby McSlacker

So we're back from our trip to Mexico, and to cut to the chase: we had an awesome time!

The "Mayan Coast" is kind of a weird place to spend Thanksgiving though, isn't it? Sun and sand and snorkeling and being far away from family is not exactly the Normal Rockwell version of the holiday.

This is Crabby not even THINKING about stuffing a freakin' turkey.

But we were celebrating our 25th anniversary! We figured this gave us special dispensation to bail on the usual holiday traditions.  (Our 20th anniversary was spent at Beth-Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston due to complications ensuing from my hysterectomy recovery. This sounded a little more fun.)

Anyway, if you are a normal person, when you travel you just say a cheerful "F--ck it" to the whole healthy lifestyle thing and just have a good time.

But I am NOT a normal person. Plus, we travel a fair amount. So I try to be mindful about food and exercise in a way that keeps me from going totally off the rails, but without becoming so obsessed that I drive everyone around me crazy.

So, what's cool about vacationing in Playa del Carmen? And can you do it in a healthy way?

November 26, 2015


Guest Post by Jan Bono

Crabby and the Lobster are off in Playa del Carmen feeling very thankful for just about everything, as you can imagine. On Crabby's return she will no doubt torture you with photos. But meantime, here is an excerpt from Jan Bono's, “Back from Obesity, My 252-pound Weight-loss Journey,” in which she faces her very first Thanksgiving determined to eat only “healthy” foods.  Happy Thanksgiving! --Crabby

Giving thanks for broccoli and other green things

Six weeks into my commitment I butted up against the holiday specifically dedicated to stuffing oneself with stuffing. Not even in my wildest imagination could I fathom living through the fourth Thursday in November without eating to excess.

Understandably terrified, I knew I couldn’t trust myself to go anywhere near my family of origin; there were way too many land mines to navigate. Dealing with all those life-long familial issues while precariously clinging to my fledgling food plan was too much to ask of myself. I didn’t have enough time invested in this new lifestyle to feel comfortable not using food to medicate around my relatives.

It may sound simplistic, but all my life I had “coped” with the family drama by overeating. Not wanting to get sucked back into my old, ineffective coping skills when I was just getting my life back on track, I talked it over with friends in my support group. Putting me first, and practicing good self-care, I politely declined the invitations to “go north” for the holidays.

November 24, 2015

Coming Soon: Cranky Fitness Heads to Austin!

photo upload via philip kromer

By Crabby McSlacker

As regular readers may recall, Cranky Fitness is a migratory beast, roaming back and forth each year from Provincetown Massachusetts to San Diego California. This is because Crabby McSlacker and her partner-in-crime "The Lobster," are free spirits who love an adventure! Or else it's because the crustacean couple are really just a pair of spoiled brats too wimpy to survive winter in an isolated New England coastal town.  Either works.

But this year, instead of San Diego, we decided to mix it up and go elsewhere during the colder months. And that elsewhere is ... Austin Texas!

The reason I'm talking about Austin now, when we don't leave 'til early January, is that I just got alerted to the fact that Prevention's R3 Summit on women's health is happening in Austin January 15 and 16.

A women's health conference taking place in a cool city the weekend after I arrive there? What excellent timing! So I felt compelled to do some wheedling and pleading and try to beg my way in for free to cover it for the blog. Because I am totally shameless resourceful like that.

But as it happens we've got a promo code for a discount for Cranky Fitness readers if you're in the vicinity and want to attend!

So why Austin? And what's the deal with the conference?

November 16, 2015

Whazzup? Crabby Checks In

By Crabby McSlacker

Hey there!  So here is yet another post packed with slow-to-load photos that has nothing to do with health and fitness. Even though this is theoretically a health blog.

I mean, sure, I could try to turn this post into some sort of preachy "how to stay fit when life gets distracting" thing, but my advice would suck.

Because here's the secret to how I manage to keep up my exercise routine in the midst of many adventures and distractions and upheavals: By stubbornly prioritizing exercise, slacking horribly on other self-care and creative endeavors I should be pursuing, barely earning any income at all, and relying on the pragmatic, emotional, and financial support of my super-achiever, long-suffering wife.

Unless you've won the lotto or managed to procure a spouse like mine, I suspect my advice wouldn't be too helpful.  If I lived a normal life and wasn't so ridiculously blessed with undeserved good fortune, I'd probably have gotten about 3 minutes of exercise this year, and coped with stress and/or excitement by repeatedly sticking my head in a pail of Toll House cookie dough and washing it down with a vat of Two Buck Chuck. Instead, I've been hiking, ellipticalling, biking, swimming, doing HIIT, weight training, and even my own invented frighteningly weirdo exercises. I've been pretty much keeping on track fitness-wise, even if I do tend to undo most of it by eating like a pig.

So yeah, this isn't going to be advicey, just chatty. And as usual, it's just to put something out here to say hi, and try to entice some of you into letting me know down in the comment section what you've been up to and what you might be planning and what's on your minds these days. I miss you guys!

Anyway, what's been so distracting that I've barely made an appearance on my own damn blog in months?

November 09, 2015

How to Break Free of Nasty Food Additives in 3 Simple Steps

Guest Post by Dawn Riccardi Morris

Where is Crabby McSlacker? She's in Las Vegas of all places, celebrating her mother-in-law's 90th birthday.  And how cool is it to have a mother-in-law who wants to party in Vegas for her 90th? But anyway (in one of the lamest segues ever), let's remember that gambling is something best done in a casino for fun, and not in your local supermarket with your family's health at stake! This next guest post tackles the dilemma of food additives in processed products, even the supposed "natural" ones. Please welcome Dawn with her thoughts on how to make snacking less of a crapshoot.--Crabby

Why does it have to be so hard?

Every time you think you’ve got this healthy eating thing down pat, another article pops up about how toxic the food supply is.

Who has time to keep track of it all?

You thought you were ahead of the game because you can’t remember the last time you ate junk food. Geez, you even gave up your favorite chips, and your usual candy at the movie theater.
And you can’t remember the last time you drank a diet soda.

But even more frustrating is that you’ve been buying products that are labeled “all-natural” and “organic” for a while now. How can harmful food additives still make their way into your home?

November 02, 2015

The Great Columbia Crossing: A Bridge Too Far?

Guest Post by Jan Bono

Yes, the Great Columbia Crossing came and went again a couple of weeks ago. Wouldn't it be nice if Crabby McSlacker weren't so behind in putting up guest posts? The timing would have worked out way better, so sorry.

Anyway, while the host of this blog may be slothful, many of you readers are not.  So if you're contemplating a race or other athletic endeavor that seems daunting, here is some inspiration! You can find Jan's book Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” either in print or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords page. --Crabby McSlacker

A long and arduous journey

On Sunday, October 10, 1999, one year after I committed to weight loss, for real, my friend New York David had challenged me to define my long-term goals. “Dare to dream big,” he told me. “In your wildest imagination, what would you like to see?”

I had thought for a long moment before replying. “I want to be healthy. I want to lose a significant amount of weight. I want to be active and fit. I want to go dancing with you in a red sequined dress.”

“Is that it?”

“And,” back then I had taken a deep breath, “today’s the Great Columbia Crossing, otherwise known as The Bridge Walk. It’s 10 kilometers, which is 6.2 miles. In my wildest imagination, I want to do The Bridge Walk.”

October 26, 2015

Be Careful Out There

image: skyloader 
By Crabby McSlacker

This post is going to be a bit of a downer, sorry. It could be disturbing to read. (And not just in the usual way my rambling prose, illogical conclusions, and inconsistent adherence to rules of grammar are disturbing. I mean sad and sobering and depressing in a bigger sense).

But a semi-abandoned blog seems as good a forum as any for me to process stuff "out loud," right? As they say, blogging is cheaper than therapy.

And when life slaps you in the face with a graphic warning of the horrible ways in which one momentary lapse in judgment can have huge consequences, it feels important to take it in. And even share that warning more broadly, however unpleasant the reminder might be.

Gosh, sounds like a fun blog post, huh?

October 22, 2015

October 19, 2015

Weight Loss Plateau? Change Your Mindset

Guest Post by Sarah Williams 

Please welcome guest blogger Sarah Williams with some great suggestions for a frustrating situation: the dreaded weight loss plateau!

As usual, the theoretical author of this blog, Crabby McSlacker, is off doing other things besides writing blog posts. This may or may not involve travel to a major metropolis, and some half-assed futzing around on her novel-in-progress (which, in a shocking development, is going Really F--cking Slowly). Plus she has lately been distracted by some real-estate wheeling and dealing, which could be potentially quite exciting! On the other hand, Crabby has watched enough HGTV to know that the whole shebang could fall through once the house inspector arrives, so she prefers not to jinx things just yet by going public about the details. But either way, triumph or bitter disappointment, she will be back with more blog posts at some point before too long, as she misses everyone and want's to find out what you're all up to!--Crabby

We’ve all been there, standing stark naked on top of our scale staring in agony as, for the second week in a row, the numbers haven’t budged.  Like many of my girlfriends, when this happens I often throw my hands in the air yelling some type of profanity and hop off, grab a towel, and head downstairs for a couple frozen waffles with extra syrup.  Because who is going to pick a banana and almond milk smoothie over the delicious aroma of an Eggo when it’s doing nothing for the scale?

Am I right?  The problem is, I don’t stop with the Eggo.  I toast another one and then because I haven’t had protein and am still hungry, I end up blowing through half of my daily calories before the coffee has finished brewing.  Sure the scale stood stationary for a week or two, but what I often forget is that though it didn’t change, I did.  While the pounds may be stationary, my fat has been busy converting into muscle and my digestive track has been enthusiastic about the huge amount of nutrition I’ve been throwing its way.

October 15, 2015

(Giveaway!) Exercise Self Control Over Food... Without A Straightjacket

Guest Post By Michael Alvear

So this next guest post contains a giveaway, yay! Although sorry, you cannot win a stylish straightjacket of your very own.

Instead, two random Cranky Commenters can win a free copy of Michael's Alvear's E-book: Eat It Later: Mastering Self Control & The Slimming Power Of Postponement.

To be honest, part of the reason I was intrigued my Michael's pitch to contribute was not just that he's got an ebook on a useful topic, but that he modestly didn't even mention that he was the co-host of HBO’s The Sex Inspectors, a late-night sex makeover series!

How cool is that? Cranky Fitness doesn't get out much anymore. The opportunity to be vicariously associated with reality television, sex, and staying up past 9pm was too hard to resist.

As it happens, some of his Michael's other titles are a bit risque, so be forewarned.  One of possible interest to readers might be one of Michael's own personal favorites: 

Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat: How To Stop Worrying About Your Body & Have Great Sex.

Anyway, giveaway winners will be picked in a week so please check back. --Crabby.

Most of us think of self control as exercising white-knuckled willpower against G-force desires that leave us physically exhausted and emotionally spent.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to suit up your armor and spend loads of energy to say no to foods that make you want to leave home, family and career just to smell the packaging. I’ve discovered a much easier, calm way to practice self-sovereignty, even in the face of an “Everything” bagel.

October 13, 2015

Sweet News? Allulose: Low Calorie "Rare Sugar" Coming Soon

By Crabby McSlacker

First off, apologies to the subset of Exceptionally Virtuous Cranky Fitness Readers out there who don't give a crap about whatever new low-calorie sweeteners are on the horizon.

Some of you are perfectly content keeping it simple and kickin' it old school with real sugar. You may be one of those level-headed moderation people.

"Sure," you might say, "I have an occasional treat that has sugar in it, but I'd rather have a real brownie on a special occasion and really enjoy it! Doesn't that make more sense than settling for counterfeit replacements like you do, Crabby?"

To which I reply: Harumph.

(Well, maybe not literally. Harumph is not a word real people say. I would say something harumph-like and chances are it would be cruder.)

Anyway, I think "occasional" is a word best reserved for solar eclipses and colonoscopies. Not tasty sweet desserts and beverages. And yes--I am a child. I want to eat sweets at every conceivable opportunity if I can get away with it.

Nor am I all: "Who needs sugar? I just put molasses in my organic green tea or my homemade tempeh/flax cookies. I really don't need any other sweeteners at all, they all taste too sweet!"

I'm sorry, but molasses is no more a sweetener than candy corn is a vegetable.

When it comes to sweets, I want it all: frequency, quantity, and quality. On the other hand, I'd rather not eat too many things that are likely to kill me over time. And thus the dilemma.

My current non-sugar sweetener rotation includes a little bit of splenda, quite a lot of stevia, some coconut sugar, erythritol, and monk fruit. But they all come with tradeoffs in terms of health effects, taste, digestive issues, cost, and cooking-friendliness.

But there's a new kid in town, coming soon: Allulose, also known as Psicose or D-Psicose. It's not available directly to consumers yet, but the wheels are in motion.  The FDA has declared it "Generally Recognized as Safe," and it is already being marketed to food manufacturers for use in their products. It has 90% or so fewer calories than sugar.

So what's the deal? Could Allulose be the holy grail for 'cheaters' like Crabby McSlacker who want to have their cake and eat it too and then eat it again in a couple hours and keep eating it all day long?

October 07, 2015

Celebrity Exercise Styles: Which Is Yours?

Guest Post by Dave Chu/ "Fitness Tabby"

Cranky Fitness readers who are intrepid enough make their way down to the comment section may recognize Dave's alter ego, Fitness Tabby. Fitness Tabby is much beloved here for his wit, common sense, and all-around nice-guyness. Plus, bonus: unlike other felines, he never grosses us out with tuna-breath, coughs up hairballs, or leaves a smelly litter box to scoop out!

And since Cranky Fitness has been quite remiss about covering celebrity exercise trends, Dave/Fitness Tabby offered to tackle the topic.  (Note: Crabby McSlacker will be back soon with an actual post of her own!  Probably. Possibly. Er, you never know, it could happen!)--Crabby

Isn't it fun to find out what your favorite celebrities are up to? Or even what some disliked ones are doing?

When the drug-addled meltdowns, outrageous public disputes, and humiliating arrests have simmered down, the celebrity industrial complex may turn to a celeb's workout routine for tabloid material.

Rather than just jumping on their workout bandwagons, let's play a game. I've picked out a few personality quirks and habits of some famous people, and will relate them to workout scenarios. See if you can identify each celebrity. Maybe you can relate to them, or even gain some inspiration. I've given them phony initials, which helps my premise of making up or exaggerating details about them.

September 28, 2015

Baby Steps Back to Fitness

Guest Post by Dee

Hey Cranketeers, Crabby here! I'm all excited to introduce Dee from Break out the Skinny Girl with an in-the-trenches perspective on getting back into fitness when it feels anything but "easy" and "fun."

So why am I so excited to introduce Dee?  Well, first off, she's very funny.  And secondly, she blogs with an adorable British accent.  And thirdly, she's just started a new blog which looks to be the sort Cranky Fitness readers might enjoy.  New blogs need encouragement! So please, if you like this guest post (I know I did), think about clicking over to her blog and offering some support. Thanks, and enjoy!--Crabby

So when Crabby very graciously extended her invitation to guest-blog a few words, I jumped at the opportunity – I wasn’t put off at all by the hoots of hysterical laughter which the prospect of me writing an article relating to fitness drew from a handful of people (ok, from pretty much everyone I’ve mentioned it to). In my skinny girl blog, I talk about my own battle of the bulge and whilst admittedly the content is a bit light on theory, as someone who’s dieted back and forth with varying degrees of success over more years than I’m ready to admit, I’m at least a tiny bit qualified to offer an opinion.

Where exercise is concerned, I’m speaking from somewhat less than a position of strength.

I would hazard a guess that the most consistently well-developed muscle in my entire body is the one that operates my jaw – it’s definitely the one that’s had the most exercise. Don’t let the fact that it’s currently buried under a couple of extra chins fool you - if it was visible I’m sure it would look very toned indeed.

September 21, 2015

Take a (Korean) Hike

Guest post by Jan Bono

Crabby is still in blog-slacking mode; she swears she is working hard on her novel-in-progress, though with her obsessive tendency to rewrite, and the distractions and demands of even her easy life, the pages do not seem to be piling up very fast. But be assured she is having fun, and continuing to plod along, and she will eventually complete the damn thing--which she will then try to wheedle you all into reading. Gosh, how you must be looking forward to THAT fine day! 

However, even with Crabby gone AWOL so much, Cranky Fitness simply will not die. Crabby is very grateful for the help of guest contributors to keep things going until Crabby gets her act together better as a blogger. So this week Cranky Fitness contributor Jan Bono is up to bat again, with another tale of her far-flung fitness adventures.  Jan is author of Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey”and you can get it in print or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords page) --Crabby.

My American friends living in Korea are avid hikers. And so, apparently, are the vast majority of native Koreans. Naturally, during my visit in June to this lovely country, I joined right in, although hiking the hills of Korea to stay fit had never crossed my mind when I packed for my trip!

September 15, 2015

Quick Trick for Preventing Emotional Meltdowns

image: wikipedia
By Crabby McSlacker

So this is a "Quick Trick" in that it doesn't take too long to implement it, but as usual, I wrote a long-ass blog post to provide some context for it. As regulars know, I am pretty much incapable of getting straight to the point.

And the usual disclaimer applies: this may only work for me and my odd brain.

Plus it's only a shortcut to help you access all the emotional regulation skills you've already mastered as a thoughtful, responsible, adult human. If you don't have them to start with, and you've been blowing off all that personal growth and/or therapy stuff your entire life, it probably ain't gonna work.

It's basically a metaphorical tool I've been using to create an almost instantaneous mindshift in difficult situations. Simplistic and goofy? Sure! But I find it really helps. And there's even a fitness angle too, so I thought I'd pass it along here.

September 11, 2015

Sugar Won't Fix It

Guest Post by Jan Bono

(Jan B. is frequent guest contributor here at Cranky Fitness. And don't forget to check out her book! It's Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey”and you can get it in print or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords page).

On September 11, 2001, at exactly 6:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, I entered a small local convenience store to pick up a cup of coffee on my way to an early morning faculty meeting at the high school.

Several men stood clustered together beneath a wall-mounted television set just inside the door. They were staring up at the screen, open-mouthed. The whole store, usually a hub of activity, was eerily quiet. I could tell by the looks on the men’s faces that something horrible was being projected above their heads. My gut clenched, and I knew I didn’t want to know what it was that had their attention so intently riveted. If I didn’t look, maybe it wouldn’t be real...

September 11, 2001. A day in which we saw, with all too much clarity, the high level of American vulnerability. Our country had been attacked. We had been attacked. None of us would ever feel as safe again as we had when we’d gone to bed the night before.

I stood beside the men in silence. With a growing lump in my throat, nausea welling in my stomach and tears blurring my vision, I gathered some form of small comfort standing there among the delivery truck drivers, the store owner and a few early-rising regular customers. It was not a time to be alone.

Soon, however, I realized I had a job to go to, and tore myself away from the repeated views of the unimaginable destruction on the television screen.

I got my cup of coffee. Then I hesitated in the candy aisle. If the world were truly coming to an end, why not indulge one last time? Couldn’t I at least be “comforted” with the sugar to boost my stamina?

September 08, 2015

Exercise vs. Diet for Weight Loss: Is There Any Reason to Get Off the Couch at ALL?

By Crabby McSlacker

Those of you who are still pissed off at Cranky Fitness for exposing how easy it is to overestimate calories burned by walking may not be happy about some of the information I'm going to discuss in this post.

But as I was following up on an interesting comment that appeared in that last post (thanks JessicaB!) I came across some more depressing research, at least for folks like me who justify caloric indulgence with increased activity. Because according to a bunch of recent health and fitness articles, experts have concluded: when it comes to weight loss, it's pretty much all about diet, not exercise.

A couple examples:  "Exercise Alone Does Not Help in Losing Weight," and "To Lose Weight Eating is Far More Important than Exercising More."

It's not too far a leap to imagine some folks concluding there is almost no point in exercising at all! Especially people who don't like to exercise anyway and are hoping for a free pass to say the hell with it and settle down on the couch with a Lean Cuisine and a crate of Diet Pepsi for a 5 hour Netflix binge-watch.

Do I have some cranky things to say about these articles and the "screw exercise it's useless" school of thought?  Gosh, perhaps I do!

On the other hand, I don't believe in failing to report important research because we don't like what it says. I fail to report important research all the time, but it's out of sheer laziness and ignorance, a far better reason, don't you think? Anyway, more thoughts on the whole Diet vs Exercise debate below.

Plus, Labor Day has come and gone which means it's the beginning of a new season, right? So it would be awesome if any of you were willing to pop down into the comments and check in with what you've been up to over the summer, or what you're dreaming and scheming about these days, or how the heck you feel about life right now.

August 31, 2015

Off Horsing Around, But About that Giveaway..

By Crabby McSlacker

So, we're on the road in our campervan, heading north towards the Gaspe Penninsula in Quebec (where we hear it's pretty), when all of a sudden it occurs to me:

Crabby, it's Sunday. You often put up a blog post on Mondays, just so The Google doesn't forget you exist, even if mostly some nice guest-writer actually puts all those nouns and verbs together these days.  So you might wanna think about finding some internet and at least formatting a guest post or something and slapping together an introduction?

[OK, it's possible I do not address myself quite that way, but let's just go with it, shall we?]

Anyway, then, being the responsible health blogger I am, I reply to myself:

Screw it, we're camping.

There's probably no internet at the campsite tonight, and the world isn't exactly going to come to an end if nothing appears on Cranky Fitness this week, right? Plus, you've already done a million posts about healthy traveling. Does anyone really want to hear yet again about rest-stop calisthenics and gym day passes and tricks for finding healthy food at crappy chain restaurants? 

Until I remember:


August 24, 2015

Fat and Fiction; Guests and Giveaways

Intro by Crabby McSlacker; Guest post by Mary W. Walters

So hi there, it's Crabby McSlacker, barging in with another extended guest post introduction. Sorry about that! But we've got a giveaway going this week, and a couple of other things I need to mention before we get to the good stuff: in this case, a real-life tale of inspiration, written by the author of a fictional work I think you will love.

Mary's newest novel, which we will be giving away to two lucky readers (details below) is called Rita Just Wants to Be Thin.  If you are not one of the readers who wins it, then I think you should buy it ASAP, because it looks to be fun and insightful and entertaining and well-written. Or heck, even if you're planning to win it, go ahead and buy another copy anyway and give it to a friend!

So, how come I'm all: the book "looks to be" awesome?'Rather than the less weasley, more definitive, the book "is" awesome?

It's because I am not allowing myself to read the novel any further than the Amazon preview pages will allow. Which is killing me, because it's off to a great start and I would really love to finish it.

But as many of you know, I am currently working on a novel myself, and as it happens, one of the two main characters is a woman trying to lose a great deal of weight.  Reading someone else's take on the same topic would mess with my head and thus my writing process for a number of reasons which are weird and hard to explain but nonetheless very real.

More on the giveaway below, but also, we have some other combo guest post/book giveaway posts coming up, so if you don't win this time, you'll get more chances!  Cranky Fitness likes to support spunky authors by giving them a forum here, and it's only a HUGE COINCIDENCE that every guest post I put up means one less post for me to write!

Two more totally unrelated things:

(1)  Can anyone in Europe tell me if there is now a warning on Cranky Fitness that the blogging platform uses cookies?  It would be awfully expensive for me to fly there and find out myself. Apparently if it doesn't say that I'm in big trouble and have to do something technical. Ick.

(2) Cranky Fitness is a big fan of Jennipher Walters excellent blog Fit Bottomed Girls, which is always sensible and informative without being dull or preachy. Well, it's had a dramatic mobile-friendly makeover so be sure to wander over there if you haven't recently! It also contains a mind-reading "Recommended for You" feature which for some reason thought I might need some tips on mindful eating and dealing with cravings. Um, who, me??  Sigh. How can they see through the computer like that?

OK, anyway, now on to the main attraction...

Becoming the Person I Want to Be
(Instead of the One I Was Afraid I Would Become)

by Mary W. Walters

By my late twenties, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to be a writer. Not only did I love to read and write, I also loved the whole idea of being a writer. I imagined myself in the future, living a writer’s life – long days of creating fiction interspersed with occasional public readings from my newest book to audiences who hung on my every word.

I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but no matter how long it took, I was determined that I would get there. I would become that woman.

August 17, 2015

Walking for Weight Loss? Some Possibly Sucky News

image: pixabay
By Crabby McSlacker

First off, let me just make clear that I think walking is a very healthy activity.Walking a lot is an awesome idea.

However, if you are hoping to rely on walking craploads of miles as a primary strategy for weight loss, I may have some bad news for you. I came across some research a few weeks ago that was kinda depressing.

Note: this research is not bad news for everyone, just some of us!

August 10, 2015

Cross-cultural Stair Climbing

Guest post by Jan Bono

Blog contributor Jan Bono recently snuck off to do some traveling, and what's your guess: did she loll around the whole time in a lounge chair sipping exotic cocktails? Or did she find ways to get exercise even while dealing with a hot climate and a foreign culture?

For those of you new here, Jan is an intrepid weight-loss warrior, who despite the statistical odds, shed an enormous number of pounds and continues to maintain her healthy habits.  You can check out her book Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” in print or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords page.

Meanwhile, the purported host of this blog, Crabby McSlacker, has been having a great summer! She has been working hard on her novel, except when she is not working on it at all, and she been traveling a bit herself, and having awesome sessions with her lovely life coaching clients, and enjoying all the wonders of Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Has she been getting lots of exercise? Yes she has! Even though she doesn't seem to be blogging about it much anymore.  She senses she is overdue, especially since she has discovered some fun new toys to play with.

But in the meantime, let's take a vicarious trip to the Far East, shall we? --Crabby McSlacker.

A former colleague of mine has a son and daughter-in-law currently teaching in Seoul, Korea. Using their apartment as a “home base,” (a.k.a. “free place to stay!”) we were able to spend the full month of June in Asia, including a week touring southern Japan and another week in China, split between Beijing and Xi’an.

I’d worried that I wouldn’t be active enough while “on vacation,” and that without spending two hours on my recumbent bike each morning, as per my regular routine, I’d not be burning enough calories to justify all the exotic foods I was eager to taste.

August 04, 2015

Inner Energy: Harnessing the Blissful Forces of Weird

photo via James Vaughan
By Crabby McSlacker

Being a self-absorbed nutball, I've embarked on boatloads of psychological self-improvement projects throughout the years. And while there's still a ton of stuff left to improve on, I gotta say, it's kinda working: I'm now way less of a worrywart party-pooper than I used to be.

So with all this introspection and reading and listening and practicing, I've come to learn some interesting things that my crazypants brain can do, if I have the patience to give it some room to play. And some of it is proving helpful and/or amusing, even if it's a little hard to explain.

But, you may wonder, is any of this relevant to your fine brain?

July 27, 2015

Death Ride 2015

Guest Post by Death Ride Grandma

A gripping tale about a grueling endurance ride, ascending 5 mountain passes with over 15,000 feet of climbing? You KNOW that's gotta be a guest post.  Because there is no way in hell that Crabby herself would undertake such craziness.

Death Ride Grandma, a beloved commenter here, recently attempted for the third time to finish this brutal ride. I know many of you regulars may be curious about whether she succeeded, and how things went along the way. So please welcome the always-inspirational Death Ride Grandma! --Crabby

Each year I said I would never, ever do it again. This year I had an ironclad excuse. I was to attend a wedding in London in mid-July. Then I double checked, and it was not until August. Then my niece announced her wedding date: July 10, at Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is about 40 miles from the Death Ride, which was on July 11 this year. It almost seemed like fate.

July 20, 2015

When Life Give You Lemons...

By Crabby McSlacker

Yes, it's time for another petulant post! This one is about an evil product I buy sometimes, one that totally pisses me off.

So why is it an incredibly stupid and annoying product?  And if it is indeed an abomination, why am I such a dumbass that I'd buy it in the first place?

July 14, 2015

What’s on YOUR Drivers’ License?

Guest post by Jan Bono

Yes, Crabby is still blogslacking. Instead of posting here she's off playing with her imaginary friends. (I.e., futzing around with her novel-in-progress). Anyway, it's a good thing we have Jan Bono to help us out! Remember you can find her book Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey” in print if you like things old school, or as an ebook on Jan's smashwords pageEnjoy! --Crabby

Today, I weigh 145—exactly what my driver’s license says I do. My license has, in fact, had the same weight listed on it since the day I got it, at age 16. Don’t ask me how that happened. In between 16 and 61 I spent nearly a decade tipping the scale as high as 396, but here in Washington, you can often get your license renewed by mail or online.

But back in June, 2000, I was 46 years old and weighed 272 pounds. I noted this event with some quiet introspection. Thirty years earlier, in my junior year of high school, my participant number at the state track meet had been #272. I still had the placard.

What goes around, comes around, I mused.

July 10, 2015

A Guided Meditation I Can Live With

By Crabby McSlacker

Anyone else trying to work in some meditation every day?  If you haven't seen this yet, it's perfect for a work break. But: USE HEADPHONES!  Or your work break may be a bit longer than anticipated.

July 06, 2015

Free Online Workouts and Other Gym Alternatives

Guest Post By Dave Smith

It's true, you don't have to be a gym rat to get in great shape! For gym alternatives that don't cost a penny, please welcome back Dave Smith who has some awesome suggestions. --Crabby

Gym Memberships Are Overrated: How You Can Get In Great Shape Without One

Last week I received an email from a woman who desperately “needed” to lose weight and had only a few weeks to reach her goal. She explained that while she was willing to do whatever it takes, she realized that her situation might be hopeless because she doesn’t have a gym membership.

A gym membership is a prerequisite for getting in shape? Really?

I know this woman is not alone because I’ve heard sentiments like this from many others in the past.

“I’d like to get in shape but I have no time for the gym.”

“If I didn’t hate going to the gym, I’d exercise all the time.”

For some reason going to the gym has become synonymous with fitness. I’d like to offer a few reasons why this notion is far from reality.

July 01, 2015

Happy July! Celebrations, Ramblings, and Oh Yeah, Goals!

photo via x-ray delta one
By Crabby McSlacker

So as promised, even though I'm in full-on blogslacking mode, I'm going to try to slap together at least one blog post a month. Mainly so I can jump down into the comment section and catch up with all my favorite Cranketeers!

But I guess first I gotta actually write about something.

Hmm, let's see. Something about celebrations? We've got the fourth coming up, plus I have to confess I've been in a pretty celebratory mood. Because it's probably no surprise to anyone familiar with this blog that I was pretty psyched about a recent United States Supreme Court decision.

Pretty cool what they said about the unconstitutionality of the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act, right??!!

OK, maybe not that decision. Being an Armed Career Criminal sounds like it would require a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, and guns scare the crap out of me, so I didn't have a huge stake in that one. No, I'm talking about a different Supreme Court decision.

Need a hint?

June 22, 2015

No Greater Gift

By Jan Bono

We're all grownups here, right?  Because this post by Jan Bonoauthor of Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-Loss Journey concerns adult subject matter. But I have every confidence that mature and worldly Cranky Fitness readers can handle it!

As for the contentious crustacean, she will be back soon, hopefully early next week.  She is very much looking forward to finding out how everyone is doing!--Crabby

Although I consider myself a “healthy weight” today, I spent more than a decade weighing above 370 pounds. Back then, it had been literally years since I’d felt like any kind of sexual being, and I considered that perhaps I had “outgrown” the wanting to feel sexy and desirable.

Perhaps all that extra estrogen lurking in the fat tissues had taken away my libido. Truth be told, it had been about a decade since I’d gotten naked and horizontal with anyone. I wasn’t just hormonally challenged—I was hormonally comatose.

Nevertheless, in June when I wrote my “birthday resolutions,” I haphazardly penned “have sex” on the bottom of the list. Not “fall in love,” mind you, but simply “have sex.”

June 15, 2015

Antioxidant Supplements: Bad Idea?

By Tiffany Reiss

This is a post by Cranky Fitness contributor Tiffany Reiss, a university professor who, unlike the slothful Crabby McSlacker, actually knows a lot about nutrition and bothers to go beyond the headlines with some actual research and thoughtful analysis. As I've mentioned before, Tiffany is one of the innovators behind the website The Hub Edu, which lets users to build a digital library of resources and share with others.  (In beta but very cool, and free!) More about Tiffany can be found by scrolling down on our info page.  --Crabby

Antioxidants: the pros and the cons: This concept is something that more often than not confuses my students, and at the very least is very eye opening for them.

We have all heard it, read it, been bombarded with it over the past couple of decades. Aging is bad. And what causes aging?  Why it's those little free radicals (or Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) flying around in our bodies that damage cells and even our DNA that in turn, cause aging and possibly any number of physiological dysfunction (including cancer).

June 08, 2015

Time to Change Up Your Game?

photo via x-ray delta one

By Crabby McSlacker

So when it comes to health and fitness, I'm generally a big advocate of showing up and doing a shitty job of things rather than not showing up at all.

Something is almost always better than nothing.  A grudging, sluggish 10 minute workout that you actually DO is way better than the 90 minute kick-ass workout you can't motivate yourself to tackle, right?

And yet, other times, we may have to take a look at our goals, and what we're doing to accomplish them, and ask a tough question:

June 04, 2015

Gettin’ Fitter Diggin’ Dinner

By Jan Bono

"Exercise" doesn't always have to involve pounding out miles on a treadmill or slogging through squats and pushups at a crowded gym. There are sometimes tasty alternatives! So please welcome back contributor Jan Bono with more tales from her amazing 252-pound weight loss journey.--Crabby  

Living at the edge of the continent along the southwest Washington coast has its distinct advantages, not the least of which is the ability to get out there and “catch” your own seafood dinner.

Salmon, sturgeon, surf perch, oysters, crab, steamer clams and razor clams are all seasonally available here, and I’m not one to pass up the opportunity to enjoy them “so fresh, they’re still squirming in the skillet.”

But along with the hunt, there’s also the added element of utilizing various muscles (not to be confused with mussels, which are also plentiful here) that can often appreciate a new and/or different workout.

I’d been on my recumbent bike for almost two hours when the phone rang unexpectedly one morning a couple weeks ago.

“You’ve got your clam license, right?” my friend Eddie asked me.


“It’s two hours before low tide. How fast can you get over here?”

June 01, 2015

Save Your Strength

photo: David Mark
By Crabby McSlacker

So this is just a strange little post about a sneaky motivational trick that's been working well for me lately, but it may be Absolutely Useless for a normal person.

The tip deals with a persistent problem that can derail the most sensible, well-researched, brilliantly designed exercise program.

The problem?  In order to work out, you have to show up.  Often at a specific place, and possibly at a specific time, and generally wearing some sort of appropriate clothing. There may even be equipment and gadgets and gear to haul along.

Even if it's as simple as standing in front of your own television set in your spare room with the intention of doing an exercise dvd... you still have to get yourself in front of that tv and turn the damn thing on.

May 27, 2015

Summer's Here: Cheers?

photo: jamesmlink
By Dave Smith

This next guest post is brought to you by the awesome Dave Smith, who has helped us out before with great fitness advice such as his beginners' bodyweight workout routine. He was also a great panelist back in days of yore when Cranky Fitness had an"Ask The Personal Trainer" feature. Check out his informative site at Make Your Body Work, full of useful information and encouragement. And please welcome Dave as he presents some thoughts and research on Summer Adult-Beverage consumption!--Crabby

What I Learned About Mindfulness From My Birthday “Drinking Bender”

I've never been much of a drinker. I’m usually that guy who sips a glass of water at a restaurant (yup, every waiter or waitress’s dream customer). But on my recent 35th birthday I let loose and drank three entire beers (two of them being light beers) in one evening! A wild night, I know.

May 26, 2015

Fitbit Alternative: Pivotal Living Activity Tracker for CHEAP!

By Crabby McSlacker

So my usual motivation for product reviews is simple: greed.  I get stuff free to try out, and I get to express my many opinions about everything I like and dislike.  WIN!!! So yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I got to try this for free.

However, this fitness tracker from Pivotal Living would only cost me $12 to buy myself, and I am far too lazy to write up a review solely to save myself that amount of money.

I just thought the concept was too cool not to pass along. A fully functional activity monitor for TWELVE DOLLARS?

I know there are a lot of fitness minded folks on a budget who must get tired of reading about the latest wrist-candy that can set one back, in extreme cases, hundreds of dollars.

Hi There Apple Watch!
Are You Really Worth a Thousand Bucks??

So when I got a pitch for a product a wrist-tracker much like a Fitbit that costs less than an umbrella drink at a fancy upscale restaurant, I was intrigued.

What can this thing do? And is there a catch?

May 21, 2015

Ready for Swimsuit Season?

By Jan Bono

There are few people--or at least very few women--who do not feel at least a little angsty and self-conscious about the whole swimsuit issue.  Even supermodels often resort to photoshopping or bizarre diets to cope with unrealistic societal expectations of women's bodies. What about those who are overweight?

Yet swimming and other water activities are healthy, and it's hard to do them wearing street clothes. Contributor  Jan Bono shares some recollections about swimwear and other challenges she faced on her journey to shed an insane amount of weight and embrace a healthier lifestyle --Crabby

Following a well-balanced food plan will eventually result in weight loss. But as everyone knows, at least intellectually, exercise is the key to burning maximum calories and taking the pounds off just a little bit faster.

Exercise and I were no strangers to each other. I had participated in a variety of organized sports throughout high school. And even after an absence of many years, my muscle memory was still intact.

I wrote “Get more exercise” on my list of New Year’s resolutions the first of every January. And every year I made a good stab at sticking to it by setting up a daily walking schedule. Some years I was still walking regularly into late February or the first few weeks of March.

May 18, 2015

Car Trouble

By Crabby McSlacker

Yes, this is another gripey post, bringing yet more Cranky back to Cranky Fitness. Um, yay?

Our subject today: New cars and why they suck.