fitnessllama

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


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These are my 2015 goals

In my previous post, I explained what direction I hope to take my physical fitness toward in the long term. I would encourage you to read that post, if you have not yet had the chance. This post is about 3 goals I am setting for myself this year. I tried to think pragmatically about what skills to focus on developing that would be most beneficial to me while progressing. There is no doubt in my mind that I will end 2015 having achieved much, much more than what is listed. So consider what is listed here as a “minimum requirements” checklist and know that, metaphorically speaking, I’ll still be reaching for the stars.

Flexibility is key

I view flexibility as a great enabeler. There are some advanced exercises that simply cannot be performed without improved range of motion. That right there is enough to motivate me to stretch. But even more so, stretching presents an opportunity to tune into the body. I’ll let Kit Laughlin speak for me in explaining a bit more detailed what I meant by that latter statement.

Initially I told myself, “I should get more flexible.” Then I realized that I needed to define more clearly what for me that actually means. So I asked myself what three flexibility related skills things I would most enjoy being able to do as a result of increased flexibility, and they were the following:

– Bend down and touch my toes with bending the knees.

– The side splits

Touching my toes seems like a logical place to start, so I have found a routine from Antranik focused on building the flexibility to do just that. If I achieve that partway through the year, then the splits will become my next focus.

Strength

I am sure that by nature of following my workouts, that I will progress into some harder variations of upper body exercises. But my biggest strength related goal is to significantly improve my core strength. The first reason for this is that there are a host of advanced bodyweight exercises that are impossible to perform without strongly developed core strength to make it work. But the second reason comes from a standpoint of injury prevention. It is all too easy to accidentally throw your back out when doing something like helping to move heavy boxes, furniture, sculptures, etc.,(all of which I do for family members on a somewhat regular basis). A strong core can make the difference between remaining mobile or being out of commission for a few weeks after lifting something strenuous.

My next two goals for strength are:

– Hold a hollow body position for a minute

– Be able to hold my legs out straight in front of me for 60 seconds while suspended from the ground, both hanging from a bar, or in an L-sit. This goal makes the previous one for flexibility even more important and necessary.

12% Bodyfat Percentage

Yep, I intend to see my abs this year. But the real purpose of this goal comes down to the following: I am deciding to make deliberate choices that will make me feel good, look good and aid in reaching my training goals. But I also want to make sure that the choices I make provide sustainable results, won’t be unhealthy in the long-term and can still let me have fun and enjoy (in moderation) all the things that make life worthwhile. As such, my eating habits will naturally be changing.

I’ll be continuing to post about things I learn and do throughout the year. You might notice some habit changes next time you see me, but don’t be alarmed. All I ask for as always, is your support.

Thanks for stopping by.

-Ben

P.S. If you’ve been thinking about making a change in 2015 and have yet to begin, STOP THINKING and start DOING. Your future self will thank you.


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Leading into goals for 2015

Last year was great, and I had some good successes while learning some valuable lessons. Check out how 2014 was for me here, if you have not yet had a chance. But for as good as 2014 was, I know I can make 2015 even better. I’ve made good good progress over the past 2.5 years, and I can honestly say that right now I am the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been. But I also know that I can be much, much better than I already am. This is the year in which I am going to take my training to the next level. Of that I am sure. But before I get into the specifics of the goals I am setting out to achieve this year, I would like to preface that with something that I should have been more open about and clarified long ago when Fitness Llama was brand new.

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This is what I learned in 2014

It has been well over a year since posting any activity to Fitness Llama. 2014 came and went with only a single update, and now 2015 has arrived. I always meant to keep posting at least one post every week this past year, but unfortunately that did not happen. It’s a dangerous thing getting into the habit of telling yourself every day that you’ll do something tomorrow. Because in that situation tomorrow never comes. Despite the inactivity on Fitness Llama, my training and goals have not fallen to the wayside, 2014 was behind the scenes a successful year. Here are my six biggest takeaways from 2014.

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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:

Before_new_july2014

 

Keep smiling!

-Fitness Llama


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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

Screamingpillow

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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