fitness · Guest Post · traveling

Guest Post: My Top Tips for Staying Fit While You Travel

I have always had an insatiable appetite for traveling. I’d blame somebody like my parents or an especially free-spirited friend…but then I’d be lying. When my fellow high school students were saving up money for prom or buying (old, but still cool) cars, I pinched my pennies so that I could buy myself a ticket to Italy to visit family. I wasn’t anti-social (I still went to homecoming!) but I prioritized differently. When I graduated, I it shocked nobody that obtaining my TESL/TEFL certification became the next step in my wanderlust journey.

While I was in high school various activities like volleyball and running from the cops (I’m kidding…about volleyball) kept me in pretty decent shape. Teaching abroad, however, was not as kind. It didn’t take me long to figure out that eating copious amounts of delectable local cuisine sans a regular fitness routine did not spell good news for my waistline. I mean, my stretchy-pants (we all have that one sacred pair) could only give so much, and I was pushing them to the very limits of their existence. After years (and by years I mean decades) of teaching and traveling, I have ultimately managed to whittle out a fitness routine that is both travel and waist-line friendly.

1. Step Up!

Getting your steps-per-day in is no joke–there’s a reason that we should all aim for 10,000 (or more!) per day. Being sedentary is incredibly easy to do (especially if your job requires it), but it is unfortunately terribly hard on the body. I don’t need to preach to anybody about the benefits of exercise, but the negative effects of sitting all day are a bit alarming (read more here). Since I enjoy having a healthy heart and functioning circulatory system, I decided to actively monitor my steps. I find pedometers to be strangely motivating (I intentionally park and walk now), and there are no shortage of available options. Invest in a Jawbone, Fitbit, or good-ol’ clip on pedometer (whatever works best for you) and challenge yourself to meet (and then exceed) your daily step goal. Pace while talking on the phone, walk-and-talk with friends, or (if you’re out of options) simply run in place–every step counts!

2. Yeah, I’m Putting you Down for Cardio

If you thought that I had found some magical way to leave cardio off of this list, you are about to be sorely disappointed. There is just no way around the multitude of benefits that come with getting your heart-rate pumping. If running is out of the picture for you (injury, personal revulsion at the mere thought, etc.) then find another outlet. Bike, swim, rock climb–however you decide to exert yourself, do so with dedication and enthusiasm. It’s a sad but true fact that if you half-ass cardio, you are only hurting yourself. If you’re going to be out-of-breath and sweating your butt off, you might as well make it worth it and give it all you’ve got. Plus, looking on the bright-side, this will also double as a great way to explore your new geographic location!

3. Use your Surroundings

If traveling has left you without gym access, fear not–your room is undoubtedly full of equipment that is just dying to help you maintain optimum physical health. Use the edge of your bed (or a chair pushed flush against a wall) to do triceps dips, lift your suit case (or your kitty) over-head to add some resistance to squats, and known ab-killers like push-ups and planks need no equipment (so… short of injury,  you have no excuse to avoid them). Even better, invest in some exercise DVD’s to take on the road with you. Pop one into your laptop, and let somebody like Billy Blanks or Jillian Michaels push you past your breaking point. Remember–the mind will quit before the body does!

4. Eat Mindfully

I can’t encourage you strongly enough to make sure that you take every opportunity to indulge in the local foodie culture when you travel–eat, drink and be merry folks! But, as with most things in life, moderation is key. Be mindful of portion sizes and aware of calories. You can’t out-exercise a poor diet, that’s just an unfortunately sad but true fact of life. For me, living by the 80/20 rule works best: 80% of the time, I am mindful of what I eat. The other 20% of the time, I treat myself to the indulgence du jour. Life is about balance, not deprivation.

I have found that these simple steps work best for me, and I hope that some of them will benefit you, too! Let me know if you have suggestions–I’m always looking for a new/better/smarter way to do things!

Julia Randall is has recently put down some serious roots in Boise, Idaho (but still travels every chance she gets!). When she’s not busy doing her own home renovation (hello new hardwood floors!), you can find her writing something riveting.




Guest Post

Ronda Rousey can’t be all there is for women in the UFC (Guest post)

A few years ago Dana White, a man who apparently believes in absolutes, said that he would “never allow women in his octagon.” To his own financial delight, White gobbled down his own words when he not only started putting women headliners on his programs, but decided to have season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” be exclusively all-female.

While it would be exhilarating to say that the rise of women in the UFC has been heavily publicized, the truth is that it’s the rise of a particular woman that seems to have garnered the majority of the attention. Ronda Rousey’s name is synonymous, if not currently the autonomous representation of women fighters in the UFC.

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See Audrey’s post to this blog, Can the UFC handle a Roy Nelson? Or is it all Rouseys?

It’s not difficult to see why Rousey would be the headliner for women in the MMA word; she is an Olympic medalist (Judo), remains undefeated in the octagon, and she’s an undeniably, easy on the eyes California girl. While her ascent of the UFC ladder is both respectable and inspiring, her monopoly on the sport creates an interesting dilemma. Ronda Rousey simply can’t be the peak of women’s presence in the ring.

Take Cristiane Justino (also based in California), for example. She is a lethally trained trained muay thai aficionado. She was 2013’s Featherweight of the Year, and is currently ranked as the #2 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter (right behind Rousey, of course).
A quick Google search for “women in the UFC,” however, will return a plethora of articles about Rousey, with only a few mentioning other women (like Justino).

Much of what arises details a feud between Rhonda Rousey (and subsequently Dana White) and Justino. White and Rousey both took shots at Cristiane Justino over Justino’s suspension as the result of a positive steroid test a few years ago. Interestingly enough, both White and Rousey took stabs at Justino’s physical appearance. White made the observation that Justino “…looked like Wanderlei Silva in a dress and heels.” However, numerous men in the UFC continue to also test positive for PED’s, without any sexist heckling from Mr. White. Justino made a mistake years ago–and paid the price. Shouldn’t she be allowed to move on with out being chastised for her physical appearance?

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Granted, there can only be one reigning champion; that’s the nature of the game. And since Rousey has had a clean, white-hot career, she deserves it. However, in order to foster the growth and development of women in the sport, there needs to be competition. If a woman looks less feminine than Rousey, but is a formidable competitor, she deserves to get the coverage and celebrity that Rousey does. If one lady is the sole face of the sport, what happens when she is gone? In order to promote women fighters in the UFC, there needs to be a continual output of up-and-coming contenders (looks NOT accounted for) that will carry the torch and perpetuate the tradition. Ronda Rousey can set the bar, but women fighters across the world can’t let her be all that there is for the sport.

Julia Randall is obsessed with fantasy football, any good Merlot, and the most recent season of American Horror Story. When she’s not singing (really well) you can find her writing for DraftStreet.

body image · diets · eating · Guest Post

Nobody Else in the World Can Be You (Guest Post)

For years, magazines and movie screens have idolized women with perfect, impossible bodies.  We know them well—tall, lean women with a soft six-pack, no hips, and full, flowing hair.  I remember listening to women idolize tiny waists and toned calves, and for as long as I’ve been aware, my mom has never not been on a diet.

I grew up hating my body because it wasn’t Victoria’s Secret perfect—my thighs were thick, my nose was big, and no matter what I did to my hair it was never full or flowing.  I started dieting at the ripe old age of 10, and spent every glance in the mirror wishing something (anything) would change.  I can recall countless evenings spent eavesdropping on my mom and my grandma, who would sit in the kitchen and gossip late into the evening about everything and nothing.  Inevitably, the issue of weight would come up, and they would discuss how much they wanted to lose and which family member had gained the most.  I would take mental notes, and promise myself that I’d never be the one that they talked about with such distaste.

I battled and abused my body for years.  I wanted to be that perfect combination of fit and tiny (I would have killed for the thigh-gap)—and it was a hard (impossible) battle.  I didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody about my struggles because I felt it was expected that I should suffer for my body.  Most of what I had read in magazines or seen on TV allowed starlets to detail how hard their diet/exercise routine was—why should I be the exception?

During a particularly rough battle with myself (my nasal anxieties rise again!) I experienced a single, awe-inspiring moment.  I was talking to my best friend about my laundry list of flaws when she looked at me and said, “You’re beautiful.  Why would you ever want to be somebody else when nobody in the world can be you?” From this single moment I derived two of the most important life lessons of my life.

1)      I think that it is our duty as women to support each other in a new way.  When my friends used to share their insecurities (I hate my feet/stomach/arms) I would counter with more negativity (Oh your arms are perfect—but my teeth are terrible!).  Instead of doing this, we should offer support and open communication.  If somebody is self-hating, consider asking them why they feel that way, lend an ear (and then truly listen!).  Don’t add fuel the self-hate by being negative about yourself; instead, offer to be an outlet of support and positivity.  Women so often put themselves under a microscope, straining to be somebody else’s definition of perfect.  We need to take pride in ourselves and our individual traits that make us who we are.

2)      In light of being an individual, we need to encourage ourselves to be our best.  We need to be healthy—not harmful.  Look at Venus and Serena Williams—their bodies are killer! They have tailored their bodies to be instruments that facilitate the success of their careers—and they are not aspiring to be anything other than their best.  Or consider Jennifer Lawrence, who blatantly refuses to conform to Hollywood’s definition of “skinny” and instead embraces and defends her body.  She surfs, shoots archery, and loves to eat—her body is at its best for her.

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The pressure that we put on ourselves to be somebody else can be suffocating.  Instead, we should embrace ourselves and support each other.  We should focus on letting our bodies be healthy in whatever capacity that is—whether you can run an ultra-marathon or run around the yard chasing your kids.  If we can be confident enough to take care of ourselves, we will have the “perfect” body because it will be ours, and it will be the best it can be.

Julia Randall is obsessed with fantasy football, any good Merlot, and the most recent season of American Horror Story.  When she’s not singing (really well) you can find her writing for DraftStreet.

Photo Credits:

Williams Sisters: photo credit: Marianne Bevis via photopin

Jennifer Lawrence:

Victoria’s Secret: