Catching that thing called 'Fitness' one day at a time

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Walking Is An Underrated Activity

“You’re really going to walk ALL the way home??? But that takes forever!”

This was the worried response I used to get from people over and over again this past semester, when they would find out I was planning to walk home instead of taking the tram. In reality the walk only required about 50 minutes, but it still took a while to convince my friends that I was actually walking out of choice and kind of enjoyed it. It’s not every day back home in the USA that you get to walk through a park that looks like this.

Berger Park

Berger Park in Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Since February walking has served as the cardio component of my fitness program. Some people run, others bike or swim, but I’m a walker – for the time being at least. On an average week I’ll go on 4-5 casual walks for about an hour each. In comparison to the athletic conditioning standard that is HIIT Training – high intensity interval training – walking for an hour seems rather inconsequential. But if you had told me 8 months ago that by late summer I’d be comfortably switching from my standard medium-sized shirts to wearing a size small and largely due to walking, I probably would have scoffed.

small shirt

A gem of an option

It really is, and it’s often overlooked. But the way I see it, there are two ways to look at walking:

  • Inefficient and time consuming or
  • From a long-term perspective, a very effective approach to weight loss/management that is safe and accessible to almost anyone

For an elderly person or your average Joe it is a great way to stay mobile and avoid gaining extra weight. For someone who is dangerously overweight and wants to make a change, walking provides an effective solution that has both low impact and low intensity aspects, which will protect them from injury while getting started. In the bodybuilding community walking is a favoured form of cardio because it allows a bodybuilder to drop their body fat percentage significantly in preparation for a competition without sacrificing muscle mass. The list of benefits that come from walking goes on and on. T-Nation has a pretty good comprehensive article covering many of the benefits.

It’s easy to incorporate into daily life

That’s what gets me the most about walking. You can get all the benefits from it while incorporating it into your daily life. You can get a “workout” without feeling like you are.

Go with friends, go with family; nothing is painful when you’re with people whose company you enjoy. If the grocery store is 7 blocks away, then save the gas money and take a stroll. When visiting a new city, explore it on foot and see what you discover. If you need some time by yourself to think undisturbed, then simply plug in your earbuds, press play on a groovy playlist and just go. If you have access to a treadmill, there is always the option of walking while watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. And if you have a dog . . . well, in that case you don’t really have a choice! The possibilities here are endless.This of course is all just food for thought.

Maybe walking is for you, maybe not. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and in the end what matters most is figuring out what options you enjoy and can stay consistent with. But if you’ve never seriously considered walking before, I invite you to try it and see if it works for you.

Which form of cardio do you tend to choose and why?

-Fitness Llama


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Fitness Llama Is Rebooting

The Mission Continues

For the past 10 months my fitness has been in a state of limbo; it has not gotten significantly better, but not that much worse either beyond a bit of weight loss as a side-effect of walking more while here in Germany. By no means is this a worst case scenario, since I have basically maintained a healthy weight all year, but my workouts this entire time have been irregularly completed and half-assed most of the time. I’ve also been slowly re-developing some bad eating habits, as well as completely neglected the Fitness Llama blog! Borderline Fail. Despite the personal let down, the only option I see for myself is to start over.

So the Fitness Llama is going to experience a relaunch! I will be cleaning up my diet again and resuming my bodyweight workouts full force, but this time with a much more defined longterm vision for where I want to go with this. New posts about my own progress and also fitness related topics will be popping up soon, and I have some other ideas in mind for how I can begin making Fitness Llama more interesting to follow and fun to operate.

So stay posted!

Oh, and it seems only appropriate to upload a new before pic, so here it is:



Keep smiling!

-Fitness Llama


The Speed Bumps

I have only had a few serious injuries in my life, but another one has popped up. I won’t go into the details of it, but this injury will require visiting the doctor and potentially even need a bit surgery to fix. It’s effectively made me unfit to work out; but I can still go on walks.

If something like this is happening to you too, do give yourself at least a couple of seconds to scream into a pillow and let out the pent up frustration. It definitely helps, but don’t dwell on it for too long.

Photo on 2013-10-11 at 14.25

Photo on 2013-10-11 at 14.25 #2


Well, There Go All the Gains…

Every time I think about not being able to workout, the fear of losing gains is what immediately comes to mind. My waist line is going down a bit, which is great, but all of my strength and muscle gains I’ve made throughout the year are starting to dwindle

“You’re on a downward slope back to where you once were. All your hard work up to this point has been for nothing. Give up.”

That’s the mindset my brain keeps trying to make me accept, and it’s always difficult to ignore.

But It’s Really Only a Speed bump

I think everyone hits a health speed bump at some point that puts a halt to their ability to work out, though I’m sure  this is nothing that can be overcome with enough determination. It’s hard to accept that you are going to have to stop working out for a while, especially when you really enjoy it. But the thing that everyone in this situation, including myself, needs to realize, is that this is not the end. There is always the choice to to give and let old habits take hold again, or instead take advantage of whatever options are still available. Maybe some gains will be lost, but that’s nothing that can’t be regained.

And There Are Still Options

Maybe it isn’t a good idea to go to the gym. However, going on a walk every day might be the new workout for a while instead. And being put physically out of commission doesn’t mean that having proper nutrition needs to to to the wayside. It’s a great and simple way to still keep the pounds off.

So Not To Worry!

“Some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle, and this’ll help things turn out for the best. Annnndd….Always look on the bright side of life!(whistle)”- Monty Python’s Life of Brian

I listen to this song over and over again, because I know it speaks the truth. Things could be worse, and in the grand scheme of things, whatever happens to be wrong right now probably won’t even matter half a year from now.

To anyone out there who has been put out of commission. Be patient. Everything will work out in the end.

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Has It Really Already Been A Year Since This Blog Started?

For the past month and a half I have had a severe case of writer’s block on the Fitness Llama blog. For some reason I just could not think of anything to write about. There were a few topics I started working on, but none really stood out to me as worth following through with. For sure, it is good to publish content on a regular basis, but I have an issue with reverting to publishing posts that will merely count as more contributions to the overcrowded pool of generic “How To” fitness related articles that you can find all over the internet. There really is only so much you can say on the subject of how to go about losing body fat, gaining muscle and such before it has all been said, and most of those topics have already been covered quite well by other people who have more expertise on the subject. There is no point in rehashing old topics that other people have already addressed. The posts I was trying write in the past 6 weeks were starting to turn into what I just described, and it bothered me, so I figured it would be better to sit back and give more thought to my posts in order to keep from fall into that sort of rut. And besides, this blog is supposed to be about my own experiences, not generic fitness “how to’s”. But luckily, an easy topic to get me back into writing has popped up.

The Fitness Llama Anniversary!


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A Solution is Always There

I know I have mentioned this in a couple previous posts, but if there is one thing I love about bodyweight training, it’s that you can do it just about anywhere. There is nothing stopping you from doing push ups, lunges, squats, sit ups, jumping jacks, etc., at any time of the day no matter where you are. While at times bodyweight training does have some requirements for things like needing a pull up bar, unlike using specific equipment in a gym like free weights or machines you can oftentimes find a way to adapt what is available in your current environment to your needs. This past week I found a way to do this when I needed a pull up bar.

The Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center in the Adirondacks, where I am working for the Summer, has a weight room on campus here, but unfortunately no pull up bar. I recently decided I wanted to start working to increase my pull up reps, so I went on a search around campus for someplace suitable to do pull ups at. It took a while, but 9 times out of 10 I find there is a solution to something I want to do if I look hard enough.

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My Least Favorite Phrase

In the past year or so I’ve begun to embrace the concept of locus of control(Vocab from a past business course I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use. BAZINGA!), which is a fancy way of saying that you believe you have control over your life and what events take place in it. But that is not my least favorite phrase. So what is it then?

 “I hope.

Sometimes I hear people say things like, “I hope I can start losing some weight and getting into shape.” Now don’t get me wrong here, there is nothing wrong with having hope, and in fact it is a very good thing to have. This would be an extremely bleak world indeed without hope. The problem I have with this statement in this context though is that the phrase “I hope” indicates wishful thinking for things to change, but little to no commitment and determination by part of the person saying it to actually start making a change.

 Be bold I tell you! Say, “I will!”

Now here is a statement I can get behind. I see the phrase “I will” in the context of fitness and health as meaning someone is taking responsibility to change an aspect of their life that will only get worse over time until it is properly addressed(This is where the locus of control connection comes in).

blog post meme

 But it’s definitely harder to say.

A lot of people choose to just say “I hope” over “I will” when talking to others about personal dreams. And to be honest, I can understand why. The former doesn’t require you to prove anything to other people when you say it. Oftentimes it’s an empty statement. Anyone can say in conversation to a friend or family member, “I hope to lose some weight in the coming months” and the person they are talking to is likely going to nod their head in agreement because it is a good thing to want to be healthier and many people can relate to that. But the moment you say to a close friend, “I am done being obese, and I will make changes today to start losing weight”, the person is going to raise their eyebrow a bit and say, “Oh?”

That “Oh?” is a challenge. It could be a negative one that really means, “I bet you won’t” or truly a friendly supportive challenge, but it is a challenge all the same. Either way, it is a challenge worth not backing down from.

It takes a great deal of courage to switch from always making wishful “I hope” statements to just flat out telling the world “I will”. If you are someone who makes a lot of “I hope” statements, I openly challenge you to have the courage to say, “I will” and simultaneously accept that challenge that others present you with when you tell them your plans.

 Mark my words that you’ll be glad you did. 


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