CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grok vs Crabby; Primal Blueprint Giveaway

Welcome, you found us!

As I mentioned in the intro back at Cranky Fitness, Mark Sissons of Mark's Daily Apple has come out with a book called The Primal Blueprint. He believes we should all be eating and exercising the way humans did 10,000 years ago.

In fact, the role model/poster-boy over at his blog is a fellow named "Grok," who lived back in Paleolithic times. "What would Grok do?" is a frequent subject of discussion over at Mark's Daily Apple.

Hi there, Grok!

So this looks like a very interesting read, and there are many, many aspects of primal living that seem quite sensible. We at Cranky Fitness totally endorse cutting way down on processed crap, eating more whole natural foods, and getting lots of exercise.

However, longtime readers of both blogs might have noticed that Crabby McSlacker and Grok have slightly different approaches to healthy living. (In fact, back in the early days of Cranky Fitness, Crabby wrote a guest post over Mark's place defending the consumption of Splenda and cupcakes!)

So how to handle the fact that Grok followers are a bit more hard core than Crabby, and that we don't see eye to eye on everything? Well, I could embark on a scholarly debate about evolutionary biology, and question the notion that we should try to emulate the paleolithic lifestyle in so many of its particulars. But that might involve a lot of work! make for a dull post.

Instead, I'll just point out a few random similarities and differences between Crabby and Grok and let you readers weigh with your own thoughts about Primal Living. You folks (a) know a lot more about the specifics of what's involved and (b) always have the best observations and arguments anyway!

Sample Differences Between Crabby and Grok's Approach to Healthy Living:

1. Grok didn't eat grains or sugar. So Grok's followers think you should limit them--and not just junky white flour and other refined grains, but whole grains too.

Crabby says screw that. She has a hard enough time staying the heck away from Krispy Kremes. Do not mess with her whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oat bran muffins.

2. Grok ate a fair amount of animal fat--and many of Grok's followers love their lard. They believe it is good for us and has been unfairly demonized.

Crabby is more scared animal fat. Though she could happily gorge on cheeseburgers and barbecued pork ribs on a daily basis, she believes that red meats and animal fats are best kept to a minimum.

3. Grok didn't eat burritos and his followers say you should go easy on legumes as they are not all that great for you.

Crabby says WTF? She feels quite virtuous when she eats things like beans and split peas and lentils! She is working on eating more of these, not less.

4. Grok did not use an elliptical machine, go jogging, or take Zumba classes, and his followers think we should skip the 3-5 sessions a week of traditional aerobic exercise we are so often told to do. Instead, you should "move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, and run really fast once in a while."

Crabby agrees that those three things are all good, but Crabby likes to get high on endorphins. She loves to run, and bouncing around on an elliptical machine to good music gives her a rush she just can't get by torturing herself with intervals. She is not convinced yet that she'd be better off chucking her cardio workouts.

5. Grok must have eaten lots of protein, because his followers advocate eating greater amounts protein than many of us typically get.

Crabby also believes protein is important (and many women don't get enough), but she is hesitant to "beef up" (sorry) her protein intake as much as Grok's followers would recommend. She worries about medical complications like kidney disease that one can get from high protein/low carb diets.

But enough with the pesky differences. There are also many ways in which Crabby is totally willing to consider Grok a role model!

1. Grok didn't sit on his ass in a desk chair all day long and Crabby doesn't think this is a great idea either.

2. Grok never went to Friendly's, McDonald's, or TGI Fridays, and Crabby would just as soon stay the hell away from them too.

3. Grok didn't run marathons and Crabby ain't gonna either!

4. Grok didn't have a twitter account or a facebook page...and neither does Crabby!

5. Flying across the country in a metal tube 40,000 feet in the air would have scared the crap out of Grok, and Crabby does her best to avoid this too!

6. Grok wouldn't have known what the heck to make of shows like "The Real Housewives of Orange County" and neither does Crabby!

Proving that Crabby is actually very primal!

How To Win a Copy of The Primal Blueprint:

You don't have to be a U.S. resident to win!

Just leave a comment about anything to do with the whole caveman/primal/paleolithic approach to health and fitness, pro or con or confused. I'll chose a winner by Random Number Generator by Tuesday night, June 23rd . Winner announced Wednesday, June 24th. And if you win, please email us at Crabby McSlacker @ gmail dot com to claim your prize by Saturday the 27th!

UPDATE: The Winner has been selected! Go to the Cranky Fitness winner announcement post and find out if you won!


Help us spread the Crankiness!

Like this post? Please Buzz up, Stumble, or hit bookmark for more choices.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, June 12, 2009

The End of Overeating Review and Giveaway

Ever wondered how you could be such an "adult" in so many other areas of your life, yet respond like Pavlov's poor drooling dog when cued by the sight of crispy french fries or creamy frosting, or the smell of a bacon cheeseburger sizzling on the grill?

We know this stuff is terrible for us... yet some of us find it so difficult to resist.

Why the heck is that?

Well, according to Dr. David Kessler (who served as the FDA commissioner in two administrations), part of the reason we overeat is because our brains have been hijacked! In the book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite," Kessler exposes some fascinating tricks the food industry has for making their products incredibly, unnaturally enticing.

He also explains why our brain chemistry makes us so vulnerable to the cheap thrills provided by sugar, fat, and salt. (So for those of you hopping over from the intro back at Cranky Fitness wondering what the heck "orosensory self-stimulation" is, this it where it comes in: it's "the cyclical process in which eating delicious food tells the brain to make us want more of those foods." And similarly, the "hedonic hotspot" is not a nightclub but a tiny part of the brain about the size of a head of a pin that "causes us to really like something.")

The book also describes a problem that so many in our society seem to struggle with: that of "Conditioned Hypereating." Kessler proposes a treatment theory that involves "food rehab," featuring sensible concepts like like "planned eating." He also advises people on how to make the "critical perceptual shift" necessary to regain control of our diet and our health. (And Crabby promises to stop quoting practically every word the poor man has written "any minute now.")

So this is the part of the review where Conscientious Co-Blogger Merry Sunshine would provide the thoughtful analysis. Whereas I'm going to present instead a gratuitous photo of an Italian Men's Soccer Team in order to distract the heterosexual female portion of our demographic. (But this time, instead of their white undies, the boys are wearing black!):

Did that work? Are you distracted enough that I can get by with a really quick take on the book?

It's actually a fascinating read, and has a lot of great details about how our brains and current food manufacturing technology conspire against us to defeat our best intentions. No wonder we're so tempted to eat such unhealthy stuff! It's one thing to think abstractly "My those Cinnabon rolls sure are tasty" and another to read how carefully they were designed to make us helpless to resist. So the book is really useful in providing perspective on how tough it is to avoid unhealthy food, and to appreciate the power of the forces that lead to "conditioned hypereating."

This would be an especially great book for a friend or relative who does not frequent health blogs and is only just beginning to appreciate how totally f*cked up our society is when it comes to "normal" eating habits.

But for many of us who have long been aware of the Ubiquitous Evil we are up against at our restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping mall food courts... it's a bit like preaching to the choir. And while we all grapple with temptation, many of us have developed our own common sense strategies for indulging only occasionally, in moderation. Kessler's "rehab" techniques, while certainly sensible, are not all that novel or detailed. Because while stating the problem is helpful, it's the "solution" part that's tough to implement.

That said, he does make at least a good start on it, and while many of us may feel we know this stuff, we can always use reminders. Plus, there is obviously a huge segment of the population (no pun intended) that does not frequent health blogs. Many folks are in the dark about how pathological their eating behavior has become, how unhealthy that is, how it's not just a matter of "willpower," and what some good techniques are to regain control over what we eat.

So, want to win a copy?

Leave a comment by Thursday. Unfortunately, this giveaway is limited to folks who can receive mail at a U.S. address. The random number generator will pick a winner Thursday June 18th, which will be announced by Friday, June 19th. Please check in by Wednesday June 24th to claim your prize or we'll have another drawing. (NOTE: I'm going to be out of town for a few days which is why the entry period is longer than we normally do.)

Special Update: More chances to win! Sagan over at Living Healthy in the Real World and Rupal over at 101 Exercises are also doing a giveaways of this book, and they explain it all much better than I did!

Any thoughts on the obesity epidemic, the role of sugary, fatty, salty, processed foods, the menus as restaurant chains, the methods you use to eat healthy in spite of being surrounded by junky temptations, or the Italian men's soccer team? Comments of all sorts welcome!


Help us spread the Crankiness!

Like this post? Please Buzz up, Stumble, or hit bookmark for more choices.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, June 5, 2009

SleepPhones Review and Giveaway

So as I was saying (back on the main blog), I sometimes need some help getting to sleep when it's noisy outside.

But before I tell you what's so nifty about the SleepPhones system, I'd like to whine a bit about other available methods of dealing with this problem. Because if there weren't some whining and complaining, how would you know that you were really still at Cranky Fitness?

Other Solutions to Night-Time Noise That I've Tried:

A "sleep soother" machine like they sell at Sharper Image, the kind that play white noise or various other sounds that are supposed to lull you to sleep.

I hated it.

Not only did it prove I am a schizophrenic because I heard voices in it, but the sound quality was really crappy, and the sounds were recorded loops that only lasted a few seconds. I couldn't help but pick out repetitive noises and then wait for them to come back around again, and again, and again. Neurotic, who me?

Earplugs. They creep me out. (I don't do earbuds on my iPod either. I hate things inside my ears.)

Closing the Window And Turning on the Air Conditioner. This works but makes me feel incredibly wasteful. We get a nice cool breeze most summer nights, and I hate to shut that out and use a power-guzzling machine just because some obnoxious idiot is out there slamming down tequila shots, cranking his stereo and crooning along to I Shot The Sheriff.

Lying There Feeling Angry and Frustrated. Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually enjoy being Cranky. I'd prefer to be relaxed and happy and blissful!

So, What are Sleep Phones and Why Do I Like Them Better Than These Other Options?

They're headphones embedded in a soft fleecy headband that you wear over your ears and plug into your mp3 player, cd player, or other audio device. I use my iPod because it's pretty unobtrusive. (And did you know your iPod has timer and alarm functions? I didn't!)

The headphones are designed to be comfortable enough to sleep in. The package also comes with a lavender sachet and a CD that has three tracks--the one I'm partial to is 30 minutes long and it's called "Rowayton Stream."

Okay, I'll confess, "Rowayton Stream" is the only one I downloaded. The other two are called "Harriman Birds" and "Wake Up!" Since I've already got cacophonous birdcalls waking me up at 4:30 am , I thought I'd pass on any dang birdies chirping. And "Wake Up!" didn't sound all that promising as a track for putting me to sleep.

These soundtracks feature binaural beats, which through a complicated process that I've never quite understood, are supposed to affect your brainwaves and help you to sleep. Over at the SleepPhones site they've got a round-up of some of the relevant binaural beat research. They also offer several more free sleep-inducing mp3 downloads over on the SleepPhone downloads page.

The downside of binaural beats? Well, they sound odd. It's sort of like a washing machine is sitting in the middle of my peaceful Rowayton Stream, on spin cycle, thrumming away.

Excuse me, washing machine, what are you doing here?
Don't you have some dirty clothes to tackle down in the basement?

Actually, at least it sounds like an expensive, possibly European washing machine is sitting in the stream, not a 15 year old Kenmore with a pair of tennis shoes in it. So after a few seconds I don't tend to notice the binaural beat aspect anymore, and I like the idea that it might be messing with my brainwaves and helping me sleep. But if that creeps you out or annoys you, you can use any old CD or MP3 you want to lull you to sleep.

Besides drowning out obnoxious neighbors, the SleepPhones are also supposed to help with tinnitus, insomnia, anxiety, and are probably a good alternative to divorce if you have a spouse who snores.

Additional Options for Dealing With Insomnia

The SleepPhones people have conveniently put together a nice list of sleep hygiene tips, saving me from gathering them up.

And I also thought I'd mention that there was a recent study out endorsing an online cognitive behavioral approach to insomnia. Time Magazine has a good article on the study and on web-based insomnia treatments. Apparently some health insurers like Blue Cross and Aetna offer free anti-insomnia programs, and there are cheap retail versions at or I see no reason not to try both the SleepPhones and an online CBT program, but what do I know? I don't have insomnia, just noisy neighbors.

How To Win Your Own Set of SleepPhones:

Leave a comment on this post by Tuesday night, June 9th; the winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced sometime the next day on Wednesday June 10th. If you win, please send an email with your name and mailing address to Crabby McSlacker at Gmail dot com by midnight Saturday June 13th.

The good news: if you live outside the U.S., you can enter! The bad news: if you win, it may take longer for your SleepPhones to arrive. Also, depending on where you live, you may be required to pay import tax. But if you're okay with that, please leave a comment!

So does anyone have any issues getting or staying asleep, or do you just drop right off? Any good tips for beating insomnia?



Help us spread the Crankiness!

Like this post? Please Buzz up, Stumble, or hit bookmark for more choices.
Stumble Upon Toolbar


The authors of Cranky Fitness have opinions about fitness and weight loss products.

And we like Free Stuff!

This Review and Giveaway Page was the temporary home for product reviews, which now appear in full back at the main blog.

While we've randomly included some old posts from Cranky Fitness concerning products in these archives, we weren't all-inclusive. So if you're looking for something particular, you may want to search back at the main blog too.

For more information, check out About CF Product Reviews.