fitnessllama

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


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The Year of Awesome

Every year come January, when we have officially crossed into a new calendar year, people start announcing to all their friends and family their new year resolutions. Up until this year, I have never even considered the possibility of making new year resolutions, nor did I ever take the whole idea seriously. But this year is different as a result of some events in 2012

Last year I committed myself to two lifestyle changes. I stopped biting my nails, and I started working out regularly. Both changes have only been in effect for 6 months or less, but have yielded great results in a short period of time. I am in the best physical shape I’ve ever been as a results of my workouts, and that is still improving, and I was probably around the age of 5 or younger the last time my nails looked the way they should. After seeing what can come from following through with set goals, making some more sounds to me like a good idea. Guess who has some new year resolutions? THIS GUY!!!

New Year Resolution

So here are my four, yes, four new year resolutions:

  •  Switch to reading a book before bed every night instead of surfing the web
  • No more memorizing dates appointments and assignments. Befriend a calendar.(this is the big one for the year, FYI)
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Drink primarily water, lots of it and often.

So there they are. So far I’m off to a good start with them all, and hopefully I will just get into a rhythm of doing all four consistently. Here’s hoping 2013 will be the year of awesome.

That’s all for now. Best of luck on achieving your new year resolutions and Happy New Year!!!

Oh, here’s a quick afterthought about making goals in general. It seems to me that the more specific you make a goal, the more likely it is you will succeed in achieving it. If your new year resolution this year is to get fit, do not say, “This year I resolve to get fit.”  That won’t help. Delve deeper. Define what “fit” means. HOW will you get fit? What fitness program will you follow? How will you change your eating habits? You get the idea. No matter the change you want to make, flesh out whatever it is you need to do in order to start achieving it, and then start doing it. Otherwise your resolution will be doomed from the start if your goal is not well enough defined.

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Don’t Let The Holidays Break You!

The holidays, I find, are notorious for effectively breaking down a workout routine in a lot of people, myself included. So you’ve been on a roll for a couple months of eating as best you can and doing your workouts, and then suddenly Christmas is around the corner, and you’re off to visit family members. Before you know it, you are at a family get together scarfing down the sweets without any sort of regulation and total disregard for the goals you set for yourself, and then you find yourself saying things to yourself like , “I should workout……..later……maybe not today………tomorrow……”

I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. It is pretty easy for me to get into such a rut, and then it takes a lot more self control to force myself back into the swing of things. I know a lot of people might just say, ” C’mon, it’s Christmas. Don’t worry about it. Just relax, let loose and enjoy yourself,” but I have a hard time buying into what such a statement is saying. While I completely understand the sentiments behind this, I do not believe that the holidays should be a time where you just throw caution to the wind with eating as much of whatever you want and do not go to the gym for 2 or three weeks in the name of, “Its Christmas, so this is ok.” That is very much a step backward in thinkingd, and if I take on that mentality, the following is GUARANTEED to ALWAYS happen:

Eh, 15 Reese's Christmas Trees isn't that many. I'll just have ONE more.......

Eh, 15 Reese’s Christmas Trees isn’t that many. I’ll just have ONE more…….

Throwing caution to the wind also means that when you finally do get back into the rhythm of things, you might be spending the next month or so trying to get back to the fitness level you were at before slacking off. And if you do this every year consistently at New Years, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, it becomes clear that you could be hindering your progress a lot collectively. So because of this, I say the holidays should certainly enjoyed in every way to the fullest, but I feel they also ought to be viewed as a challenges one’s commitment to health and fitness.  The test is to see if you can still maintain the goals you set for yourself as best you can, while still enjoying everything that comes with the season.

My goal for the rest of this holiday season is to enjoy it to the fullest, eat what I want at upcoming celebrations without overdoing it and still set aside time to burn some calories. I also to drink a lot more water throughout my day, because I don’t drink much water and really should.

So, as the title of this post says, don’t let the holidays break you! But have a wonderful holiday season all the same! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Until next time,

The Fitness Llama


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A cheap arsenal of workout equipment

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It has been a while since I have posted anything on the Fitness Llama blog, so today I thought I would talk about my fitness equipment. Now a lot of people who workout either pay gym fees so they can use all of the available gym equipment, or they pay an arm and a leg for all the various equipment they need in order to have their own home gym. I personally promised myself from day one that I would not break my bank account in the name of getting fit, so I have embraced from from the beginning a minimalistic approach to working out which comes rather easily with bodyweight training. As a result, there is not a whole lot of equipment that I use. But there are indeed some things I can’t do without! So today I thought I would display my small and inexpensive, but effective arsenal of workout equipment.

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1. The Floor: The floor in my humble opinion is the greatest piece of workout equipment that can be tapped into. Most likely it is the cheapest too(unless you want to compare rent prices for floored spaces, but let’s not go there). To me it is a no brainer to consider the floor as workout equipment. You can work every single muscle group in the body with just the floor, and there are a countless number of exercises that can help you do that. But the best part about the floor is that it is EVERYWHERE!

Who knew that a door could help you get fit?

Who knew that a door could help you get fit?

2. The Door: One of the best ways to work the chest area with bodyweight training is to do the exercise called Let Me Ins with the help of a door. It involves grabbing both sides of the door knob with your hands, placing your feet in front of you on either side of the door and pulling yourself up to the door from a sitting position. I happen to do this one a lot. I have found though that some door knobs are harder to grab onto than others, and some doors like the one in I currently use in the basement, just plain hurt to use because of the doorknob’s shape.

3. Pull Up Bar: Ah, yes, the good ol’ pull up bar. For as simple as it is, doing pullups is pretty great for development of the arms, upper back muscles and lats. A lot of people who do home workouts use those P90X style removable door pull bars, but they cost $30 and this old plumbing pipe does just as good a job at making my life miserable as any commercial pull up can. I would like to add as a side note that watching someone crank out 20 or 30 reps of pull ups is quite impressive and plain impressive(I can do 8 or 9 so far, used to only be able to do 3 or 4).

 

4. The Other Pullup Bar: Another pull up exercise I do on a somewhat regular basis is the Let Me Up. The movement is basically that of a bench press in reverse. You pull yourself up to the bar from the ground rather than pushing the bar away from you. Mark Lauren’s book said to use a couple chairs and a thick broom handle for this, but with the help of my Dad I went a step further and made myself a couple of racks to hold a metal bar.

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5. Yoga Mat and Foam Roller: The yoga mat makes lying on the floor for certain exercises a lot more bearable and is nice to sit on while stretching. Normally these will run you $15-30 but I got mine for free. The foam roller is my most expensive bit of equipment but wasn’t really all that expensive because it only cost me $15. It helps relieve soreness the day after a workout.

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6. Gloves: These days in the gym you always see guys who are lifting heavy weights wear gloves like these. I can imagine they help keep a good grip on the bar when lifting it, but I find they help a lot with keeping my hands from hurting while doing certain exercises like pull ups. PSST! You wanna hear a secret? The gloves in this picture are technically gardening gloves from the gardening section at Walmart or Lowes. They only cost $3, but nobody will ever know just looking at them!

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To Be Healthy, Or Not To Be Healthy: We Must All Decide!

Which one is the right choice!?

          I think that for many people who commit to a healthier lifestyle in order to become fit, myself included, the hardest part is not consistently working out; its changing your eating habits that is the kicker. All of us who decide to make this change have to accept that the days of eating whatever we want, whenever we want, are effectively over. We have a decision to make, one that defines our priorities. Do we want the constant and complete comfort that comes from always eating anything we want, whenever we want it, or will we choose to strive for a healthier version of ourselves, and change our eating habits in order to meet that goal? Sadly, we can’t have both. So the question is: Which option is more important to us? Is it better health, or is it complete comfort?

Its All About Attitude

Our society is infected by an attitude regarding healthy eating, that when something is “healthy”, that it is also untasty, and even worse, incredibly boring. That sentiment along with pickiness, I would guess, are the two big factors that keep a lot of people from being willing to branch out from what they currently eat and try new things. “Why should I eat that bland, tasteless looking whole wheat cereal that I know I won’t like, regardless of how healthy you claim it to be, when I could be eating this sugary cereal that tastes fantastic?” It is very true that a lot of healthy food in comparison to the food we would really like to be eating could be very uninteresting or become so after a certain point. But that’s why creativity exists! Even just a little bit of creativity goes a long way in helping to merge healthy eating with satisfaction of taste.

I Say, Be Creative With Your Food!

Why submit to the everyday boring food when you can create something that tastes good and fills a desire for something you’ve been craving.  It is completely possible to invent a healthy alternative to a food you would really like to eat, but won’t allow yourself to have because it does not meet the eating guidelines you have committed yourself to. Here is an example from my own experience. 

I most definitely like Coco Puffs!

Who likes Coco Puffs? I definitely do. Although I rarely got to have them as a kid growing up, I am “Coocoo for CocoPuffs”, and if I were not as health conscious as I have recently become, I would absolutely eat them on a regular basis. Recently I decided that I wanted to create a Coco Puffs alternative for myself that would still be sweet and chocolatey, but would still contribute to my fitness progress. So I sat down and invented a new cereal concoction that I named Choco Kashi Mix, which I now eat maybe once or twice a week. I thought I would share the recipe here on my blog so that anyone who feels like trying it for themselves can do so. The nutritional information for my Choco Kashi Cereal is also listed.

                                   Choco Kashi Cereal Recipe

Everything you need right here.

  • 1 Cup of Kashi Go Lean Cereal
  • 1 Cup of low fat milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 scoops of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Protein Powder(Trader Joe’s is my personal preference for protein powder, but you can use any one you like)

Nutritional Facts

One serving of Choco Kashi Mix Contains:

  • 390 calories
  • 42 grams of protein
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 10 grams of dietary fiber
  • 27 grams of sugars(natural sugars)

The Choco Kashi Cereal I invented is intentionally high in calories and protein in order  to meet my daily protein quota for building muscle. I eat this a couple times a week, usually in combination with a healthy vegetable omelet to complete my calorie and protein quotas. Some people may give me a hard time because of the sugar content, but lets look at the nutritional facts for Coco Puffs:

  • 120 Calories
  • 1.5 grams of fat
  • 1.5 grams of dietary fiber
  • 14 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of protein

Its Not As Bad As You Might Think

It is true, Coco Puffs has less sugar than my Choco Kashi Mix. But unlike the Choco Kashi Mix, Coco Puffs offer practically no health benefits whatsoever. The only thing you get from eating them is a sugar high and crash, whereas with my concoction you get a high dosage of protein, a small amount of fat from the milk, and a good amount of dietary fiber that will keep you from going hungry 1 hour after eating it. I feel that when eaten in moderation, there is no need to feel guilty about having a nice serving of Choco Kashi Mix in order to enjoy something chocolatey.

Thanks for checking reading and check back soon. I hope to have a new post up next week. If you try the Choco Kashi Mix, be sure to let me know what you thought.

So long for now!

Ben Sexton, The Fitness Llama


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On Getting Lazy

Well the past three and a half to four weeks have gone by quickly, and in that time, my blog has already fallen to the wayside after only four or five posts, and my regularly scheduled workouts have taken a hit as well. It really startled me this morning after getting up to realize that I have only worked out maybe 3 or 4 times sporadically in the past three weeks or so. Its crazy how fast 3 weeks of laziness and not working out can creep up on you before you really realize what has happened. I think its quite easy to lose sight of your goals after a while, especially once you start entering the stages of long term commitment to a workout program.

It seems to me that the day to day monotony of any workout program is what really trips people up in successfully sticking with. That Gung Ho attitude you approached those difficult workout sessions with during the first month is slowly over time replaced with, “This 20 minutes is really going to suck”, and so slowly you begin that slippery slope of not pushing yourself to do those last three reps. A week later you skip doing one of the exercises because you just don’t feel up to it, and a week later after that a whole workout session is skipped because you kept procrastinating to do it throughout the day until it was too late. It just goes on and on until eventually you realize you really aren’t even working  anymore, and all those lifestyle habits you wanted to get rid of are slowly returning as well.

This happened to me over the past couple weeks. I think a lot of it came from moving to my family’s new house and having a whole lot of things I need to do, like organizing my room, which a couple weeks ago looked like a tornado and  a hurricane had hit it on the same day. But even still, the workouts I do rarely ever last longer than 30 minutes tops, and I chose this program for its short but intense workout sessions. So there is no excuse. But  I am very glad to have at least realized I’ve been on a slippery slope for a couple weeks because now with writing this blog post I’m feeling more motivated again.

But here is what really has me motivated to keep going; I can now do diamond pushups!!!! A couple months ago in my pre-workout life, I couldn’t even lift myself an inch off the ground with my hands in the diamond position. I can do 10 of them with proper form, and maybe a couple more than that if I really pushed myself. In the words of Borat, “Great success!!”

Here’s a clip of me doing it if anyone needs to see proof to back such a claim:

Oh, and here’s a current photo of my llama self:

Its not very noticeable yet, but there is a tiny bit more muscle mass on the arms than there used to be.

In order to help myself get back in the groove of things, I am finally going to undertake the task of making myself a workout music playlist. Somehow up till now I still workout in silence, and it very much becomes a motivation killer after a while. I also want to set a specific time to workout out each day, probably in the morning shortly after I get up. Well, with all that been said, its time to go workout.

Just as an FYI the Fitness Llama blog should begin receiving regular updates again starting with this post…….NOW!

-Fitness Llama

The Crab Walk

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The other day I was flipping through my book in the exercise list section and came across the Crab Walk and the Bear Walk, and had to try them out. I remember doing these as a kid, so out of boredom I got down on all fours to try them out. WOW! Who knew that crawling around on the floor for 10 minutes could give you a really good workout? Not to mention, they’re kind of fun too. So while doing this I thought I would goof around with the camera a bit, and here’s what came of it.

The Groovy Crabwalk

Till next time!

Ben Sexton, aka The Fitness Llama


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Fitness Update

Its been been around two weeks since I officially started my blog, and a little over a month since starting my workout program. I have to say, I am very happy with my decision to try out bodyweight training. Since starting, I have noticed an increase in strength and flexibility and feel much less tired during the day. I’m also very proud of myself for having gotten into a rhythm of consistently working out four times a week. Somewhere around the second week in the past has usually been where I get lazy and stop heading to the gym due to one excuse or another, so I find this to be ground breaking in terms of sticking to my fitness goals.

I am now in the 2nd and 3rd week block of the program, which switches the first two week’  on muscle endurance to now muscle strength, which is achieved through doing workouts in the form of traditional sets like you would with lifting weights. I spent 3 weeks in phase 1 instead of two like you’re supposed to, so I just started phase 2 this week. Its a lot like doing sets with lifting weights in terms of structure. You do three sets of each exercise, performing between 8-10 reps for each set, with four exercises for each day. It generally takes me about 20 minutes to finish each of these workouts. In terms of difficulty I think the first two weeks were definitely more intense than the current workouts because of shear amount of reps I had to do for each workout in the first couple weeks. However, there are some exercises this time around that I find very difficult, like the military press and a variation of the pushup in which you put your hands close together.

So what sort of results have I seen so far? I would love to be able to say that there have been major physical changes, but no such luck. As far as I can tell there has been no noticeable physical change, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening! On the contrary, I have indeed begun to notice an increase in strength. I can comfortably do about 3 more pushups than I could two or three weeks ago, making it now 13 pushups, but what really got me was when I picked up my heavy suitcase with one arm, and even though it was about as heavy as it was at the beginning of the summer, I didn’t have to use a second to carry it down the hall like in the past. So I’ve made some progress. Nothing huge, but its a step forward and I find it quite exciting!
Thanks for reading and check back soon!

Ben Sexton, aka The Fitness Llama