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.
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.
Ah yes, the little voice in your head. I think we all have an intensely intimate relationship with the Tiny Voice. Somehow it manages to get you to do things you weren’t planning to do, or were even determined not to. I argue that the Tiny Voice is a grand master in the art of rhetoric.
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?
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).
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.
Working out is an essential part of fitness and health, but sometimes you just need to have fun. Hiking is one of my favorite ways to help stay fit in a way that is much more fun and relaxed. Rothrock State Park is about 25-30 minutes away from Juniata College in Central PA, and is absolutely gorgeous. so I naturally took some pics while hiking with some friends on the Alan Seeger and Mid State Trails at Rothrock. I thought I save the long commentary about how awesome this place is in this post and just let the photos speak for themselves. I think we easily walked at least 3 miles, but it took 2-3 hours because of taking constant breaks to look around and enjoy the scenery.
The weather was perfect, the scenery was gorgeous and the company could not have been better. All in all it was a great hike and fantastic day.
It’s Spring. Go on a hike. You’ll be glad you did.
For the past year or so even before starting to work out, I have done a lot of online information gathering regarding fitness. I’m always trying to find new perspectives on things like how to lose weight, how to gain muscle, various approaches to nutrition, what sort of exercises to do or not do, etc. On my quest for information I have glanced at countless obscure fitness programs that are available online, read hundreds of fitness articles on a whole array of subjects, and even subscribed for a while to various Youtube channels run by fitness gurus like Scooby from the website Scooby’s Workshop and Elliot Hulse’s Strength Camp. For a while I followed their updates with an almost obsession, idolizing them and feeling like they had the absolute answers. Despite that, I often found myself frustrated. Not a single one of the online fitness articles and videos from my guru idols could answer the seemingly most important question of all that I think a lot of people are trying to get answered and need reassurance on; “Am I doing this right?”
Despite knowing deep down that I am probably doing this fitness thing right with eating and working out on a regular basis, there is still a little voice that pops up semi-frequently in my head, and I presume the heads of many other people as well, that instills doubt. It says, “what if I’m doing something wrong?” and “I’ve made up this workout plan for the next two weeks, but is it going to be effective?”
These questions along with many other pop up in my head frequently. There is no perfect or absolute answer to them, and I feel that oftentimes gut decisions about how to proceed are the best kind. But it sure feels good to have support, advice and feedback from people who are more knowledgeable than. It is a powerful outlet for motivation that can’t be overlooked to have someone more experienced than you give personal advice.
Enter the Nerd Fitness Forum, where there is an online community of very active 700+ people who are working to improve their fitness and help each other at the same time. This forum is run through the website http://www.nerdfitness.com, which I will probably make a post about at a later date. But to describe this website very briefly, if you were to take the topic of fitness and promote it/discuss it in a way that makes it appealing and fun for extremely nerdy people through the use of comic book, video game and cult sci-fi related references and metaphors, you would have NerdFitness.com. But I digress. Back to the topic at hand!
In the past I have been turned off by many fitness forums because the members of other forums often seemed overall unsupportive of each other, and the focus was also on bodybuilding and weight training. There was a lot of ego blatantly being thrown around, which made the environment kind of unpleasant and very quickly after joining some of these communities I found myself backing out and running the other direction. This forum though is filled with awesomely supportive members who are all about functional fitness(large focus on bodyweight training, a big +), and happily give advice that is usually pretty good from what I can tell. I joined about a week ago and have seen questions ranging from, “How do I start losing weight?” all the way to “Based on my short term goals I have, is this plan of attack I’ve devised realistic?” This forum is just what I have been looking for. I have already asked some burning questions and gotten them answered, and currently my motivation is through the roof because of this site. Hopefully that will continue to be the case.
I would encourage anyone who is interested to check out http://www.nerdfitness.com. It’s by far my favorite fitness site I have found to date.
Its been quite a while now since making a post, so I’d say it is about time to get the blog thing up and running again. Upon returning to school I thought I would have plenty of time throughout the week to make a post or two a week, but apparently not. Both my blogging and online article writing on Info Barrel have fallen to the wayside side since returning to Juniata. Either there’s too much work to allow for it, or my attempts at efficient time management are still sub-par.
Anyway, working out at the gym. Indeed, I have found time on a weekly basis to head over to the fitness center 3-4 times a week to work out. For the first couple weeks of going to the gym I was surprisingly self-conscious about what I was doing, thinking that people were actively observing what I was doing and judging. That went away relatively quickly though. Its one of those things you just have to just get over, otherwise you’ll psych yourself out of getting a good workout. The other thing is to realize that nobody is paying attention to you anyway.
With all the equipment and free weights just being there at my disposal, I think it would be a waste to avoid them. So lately I’ve been delving into using some of the equipment and free weights. I’ve found that there is a lot to learn from just watching people lift. Doing bodyweight training has improved my basic knowledge of what muscle groups are worked from certain movements. Based on that knowledge, I’ve been able to make connections of what sort of lifts to do with free weights in order to work specific muscles for the day. So now I have a greater arsenal of exercises to pick and choose from. I’ve also stopped following the program in my ok day by day, and instead have opted to start picking and choosing what I want to do, while making sure to not resort to only doing workouts or exercises that are too easy. Overall I’d say I enjoy working out in the gym now. It kind of grows on you a bit over time. In the coming weeks I might see about learning how to do things like various barbell squats. It would be nice to be able to do those if I want to.
I can’t even remember the last time I talked about progress I have made from working out, so now would be a good time to do that. As of now I can comfortably do:
- 15 inclined sit ups
- 20-25 pushups
- 6-7 pull ups
- 15 military presses(body weight)
- 5-7 one legged squats (with balance support)
I’ve increased my pushups by double, my pull up reps by 2 or 3, sit ups by 5, military presses by maybe 6 and only recently have I started with the one legged squats. Here’s a progress photo I took sometime last week. There’s some noticeable visual development from the last time I posted progress photos, so that’s reassuring. Do you like my attempt at a natural smile?
I’m not very trusting of a lot of the food that my college serves, so I’ve been playing it safe for the most part whenever I go eat. For breakfast I do hard boiled eggs, some sort of bagel, and typically an orange or apple with milk or water. Lunch is usually either a decked out salad(not as good it could be because there’s no avocado and even the veggies aren’t usually the freshest or as ripe as one would like…) with tuna and cottage cheese or some sort of chicken wrap. For dinner I might do whichever one I didn’t do for lunch unless there is something like baked chicken at one of the pre-cooked stations. I don’t really have a soda addiction anymore, but the hardest thingsa to avoid are the cookies. They sweet talk me into consuming them. More often and in larger quantities than I’d care to admit (The first step to overcoming addiction is to admit you have a problem………).