Traveling? No Gym? No Gear? No Excuses.

Source: Pinterest
It used to be so difficult to start an exercise routine when I was in Arizona. Working a full-time job, a part-time job at the gym daycare while maintaining a social and family life were just one of the many excuses I had to avoid exercising. Ironically enough, I even had a free membership at the gym I was working at yet rarely took advantage of it. Times have changed as well as my environmental surroundings. By the way, the picture above was introduced to me by a close gal pal which really motivated me to post this blog. Also, I recently saw some great pictures of some of my best girlfriends participate in the Arizona Warrior Dash and am so Proud of them!! Kudos girls!!

So, one would assume that being on the road, traveling from country to country, would make it even more difficult to establish a workout routine. I honestly thought so myself! I never have guaranteed access to a gym (plus European gyms seem to be quite pricey being approx 1000 Euros/year), living situation is always up in the air, and no exercise gear in my traveling pack. Now, how senseless would it be to travel with dumbbells and an exercise ball everywhere I go? Baggage check-in fees would be ridiculous!! However...

It is NOT impossible to exercise while on the Road. Why? 

I'll tell you why right now. Just get moving! Anywhere! Did the ancient Romans have gym facilities? Did the Egyptians have P90x? No, they just built the Pyramids instead! Below, I will show you my favorite workouts that you can do absolutely anywhere. Remember, no excuses!

You only need a towel for this one. No towel? A long sleeve shirt. Anything, really!

You just need some shoes.

Or how about these?

And, while you're at, check out this blog:

In addition, I never have been one to 'count calories' or completely eliminate carbs or sugar. It's quite simple, really. Eat until you're full. Don't let your stomach become your personal wastebasket. Look at food as something to savor but also a source of energy and life. And remember, 1 hour is only 4% of your day. Can't you spare just 1 hour to love your body?
Need more motivation? Here you go:
Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest
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Source: Pinterest
No matter where you are, where you're going, what your occupation is, there's never a valid excuse to forget yourself. Always love yourself because that's just one of the key ways to maintain a positive attitude and, as a result, figure out that happiness was always nearby. 

Do you have any workout tips to share? If you're traveling right now, how do you stay in shape? 

-MsCathy

 



How to Overcome Feeling Homesick with 5 Strategies.

 Stepping away I mean, leaping away from what you've known, who you've known, and all that is comfortable is one of the most exciting, amazing, and bewildering things you can do! Just the other day, I was reading this blog post about what this guy knows for sure about life. The first thing he mentioned is the following:

"We are all seekers. Our human nature compels us to explore. It is encoded in our DNA. If we claim personal freedom it is not just that we claim our right to choose, we also claim and empower our curiosity; our human drive to uncover the mysteries of our life." - John Rocheleau

His first claim about life pretty much summed up all of my reasons to embark on this solo adventure. To seek. To find. To understand. To clarify. To know. To not know. Anything and everything that I couldn't possibly accomplish from being in the same, comfortable hometown of mine. Now, don't get me wrong. I love my hometown - - it's just that itchy feeling I got after 11 years of seeing the same streets, restaurants, landmarks, everything. As of January 3rd this year, I was ready to leap away and into unknown territory. I had my bag all packed up, said my goodbyes, paid my dues, and ready as can be. Or was I? 


I did not expect to feel homesick - - two weeks into my trip!

Okay. That was a bit too soon for me.I mean, I just left! But then, I thought to myself, 'Why am I being so hard on myself?' 'I am human, right?' 

'I am allowed to feel this way.'

Really! How is anyone supposed to feel when embarking on a solo trip into the unknown? The first month I was out and about in Paris, I was constantly trying to battle my natural emotions and embracing the "strong, independent female who can do anything with zero tears". I couldn't believe that after quitting a full-time job and selling all of my belongings, all I wanted to do was to have dinner with all of my friends and loved ones. What I now realize that I was only hurting myself by not going with the flow of my emotions. 

'Solo travelers are human too. It's okay to feel homesick. Perfectly natural.'

What I also realized was that the feeling of being homesick eventually does pass. I promise. But, if you are right in the middle of feeling homesick at this very moment, maybe you can try some of the things that helped me to temporarily overcome the feeling.

1. Meet People and Create a Community
One of the things I missed most about being home was my community of friends. The ease of sending a text message and getting a cup of coffee together. The fact that people already know who you are. But, hey, that's okay. You still carry the ability to socialize, right? Bring new people together, right? With sites such as meetup or couchsurfing, as well as Facebok (don't think I need to link that one), you can very well get out there and create a new community to get lunches with, have fun chats, and get to know one another. 
First picture: Friends I made through Couchsurfing, Second picture: A close friend I also made on CS (Both in Barcelona, Spain)
2. Pick up a Novel.
I'm a big reader. Books not only help the time pass when you're on a very long bus or plane ride or assist in hopefully warding off a not so compatible bus mate, 
I used to always love non-fiction books but lately, it's nice to read a novel to take you away. Take you away from feeling homesick, take you away from feeling anything negative that has to do with your own life, and most importantly, take you away to a far away place while being...in a far away place. It sounds like a perfect cure for me. What am I currently reading? The First Forty-None Stories by Ernest Hemingway. I love his writing. 

3. Write it Out
I keep a journal with me. Have had it since this past winter and was given to me by someone that really cares about me. He knew that I would not only want to document my travels but also to write out whatever is in my head and heart. In addition, I find it helpful to be creative while you write out your emotions - - creating a poem, writing an old-fashioned letter and sending it off, postcards, have a little fun with it! The bottom line, don't let those feelings build up and not have an outlet. It's healthy to express yourself. 

4. Start a Routine.
That's right. Amidst the chaos and ever-changing surroundings a traveler will endure, create a routine and stick with it. It will feel great. Whether it's writing in a blog, a workout regime, meditation, random acts of kindness, a new hobby, or finding a new food to try each day - - Go for it! For the past month and some days, I have initiated a pretty damn good exercise routine. It's been a great challenge because not only is it difficult to start a workout routine, it's even more challenging on the road what with no exercise gear or easy access to the gym. This has really helped me in doing something to at least, temporarily forget how much I miss my friends, family, and home. In addition, it feels so good. 
Trust me. You don't need a gym to work out. Although challenging to find ways to workout on the road, I'll be writing another blog detailing ways to get around that :) 

5. Listen to Music that reminds you of Home. 
I have had a Grooveshark account for as long as I can remember. It's like Spotify. You can listen to music online and create your own playlists! There are many songs that remind me of home and certain people in my life. Sometimes, I just like to sit back, turn up the music, and reflect on the good times to put a smile on my face - - and remind me that my friends will be at home when I get back. Here is my playlist on Grooveshark, Cathy' Playlist

I certainly hope the tips I have listed are helpful to those who are currently experiencing homesickness. The feeling sucks. But, you know what? The feeling will truly pass and just remember why you decided to embark on this trip in the first place. Remember the reasons why you left in the first place and most importantly, your true friends and loved ones - - will be there, ready to greet you with open arms when it's time to come to home. 
Taken under a bridge at the Seine River, waiting for the rain to pass


-MsCathy.


Dearest Monday Morning,

Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us

Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us
Source: Visualize Us  



Strange & Beautiful Surprises

Even though it was only 64F, a bit windy, and periodically wet - - I have not seen warmer weather in some time in the City of Romance aka Paris. Therefore, I decided to take advantage of the peeking sun and unpredictable skies, take an afternoon stroll, and enjoy whatever caught  my eye. My first destination was the Jardin du Luxembourg, which I've been to before in the winter time but this time, it was much more stunning what with the Spring flowers blooming! After slowly wandering around the garden, I didn't really have a destination in mind but rather, wanted to follow my instincts and see where it led me. Finally, I ended up in the Shakespeare and Company bookstore near the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the coziest and inviting bookstores I've ever been to in my life (while finding some of the strangest figurines as well!). Even after being in Paris for more than a few weeks now...the strange beauty of all still moves me!!

-MsCathy. 

(Best attempted self-portrait right before sneezing)


Right Now.

Taken at the top of Gallerie Lafayette in Montparnasse, Paris, France
Reading: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A pretty dark novel about a father and son desperate to survive in a post-apocalyptic, desolate world. Imagine The Day After Tomorrow meets I am Legend but much more real, as well as less Hollywood. My friend, Jack, recommended this book to me while I was searching for a good travel read. Sadly, I only have about 30 pages left until it's over and reading it slowly to cherish what little entertainment I have these days. I am considering finishing the book, Atlas Shrugged, but I'm not sure if I'm up for a classic quite yet. I have also become addicted to some great blogs over the past few months: 

Blog Milk - Amazing interior and graphic design taste, art, fashion, simplicity
Grrrl Traveler - A brave solo female traveler who captures her experiences so well through her writing
Nomadic Chick - She really knows how to put the gypsy back into traveling and life!
Sailing Around the Globe - A couple, a photographer and musician, sailing around the world to find happiness.

And that's just a few off the top of my head!

Watching: Usually, I would be watching The Big Bang Theory but apparently, I have no access to the show online if I am outside of the U.S. However, the most recent video I watched was a 5-minute clip of George Carlins' skit on Stuff. A friend of mine shared it on my Facebook wall and I loved it!! Sometimes, I feel many societies revolve their lives around the desire for more stuff.

Working on: Many things. Further developing my philosophy by surrounding myself with positive people, finding new insights, and keen observations of all of the different perspectives I've been exposed to. My physical fitness without having a gym has been an interesting but fun challenge! I LOVE this blog post which details ways to workout while being on the road (yes, you will get weird looks from people when found doing push ups in public by the boulangerie) as well as motivating words to keep it up! Another resource for travelers who want to stay fit is this article from Women's Heath that lays out all the different exercises you can do pretty much anywhere. Lastly, I love working out to this video because again, it does not require any fitness gear and if you don't get embarrassed easily, can be done right by the Eiffel Tower. ;)

Thinking about: What am I NOT thinking about these days? So much has been on my mind lately what with the all the travels and something about the Parisian rain that makes one ponder so much! I'm thinking about my current couch host, a close friend of my mother's, and how we differ on so many levels...age, opinions, attitudes, thoughts, preferences. It just seems like she's not happy and I do everything I can to make a difference in her life. I'm thinking about how I can make her smile tomorrow (She told me her favorite soy sauce is this so perhaps I will get her a few. I'm also thinking about how I got here. I'm in Paris. I used to think it would be soo complicated to get my ass over here but it turned out, I was way wrong. I'm thinking about how happy I am.

Anticipating: This year has been so great and I feel it's going to get better every single day. I am anticipating more beautiful memories to be made, meeting new people, writing more in this blog, and most of all? 

Listening to: A variety of music, depending on my mood throughout the day. When I'm in a fun and silly mood, I love listening to "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" by Michael Telo because it makes me want to dance! For moments when I just want to sit back, reflect, and not think about anything in particular, I love "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi. My motivational work out song?? It has to be "Turn Me On" by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj. And, when I feel a little discouraged or down, this song always does the trick!

Eating & Drinking: It's been pretty consistent this past week which is great when you're traveling, actually! For the most part, my diet consists of baguettes, pate du porc, camembert cheese, shredded carrots (to place on top of pate), strawberries, almonds, and spinach salads. On special days, I'll reward myself with a chocolate truffle..but very sparingly! During some meals, my mother's friend will make me a traditional Vietnamese meal such as Hu Tieu, a clear glass noodle soup with seafood. Yum. Drinking? I don't drink any alcohol for a few reasons now. It's dehydrating, expensive, and I'm not a fan of hangovers. Although one glass of red wine is supposed to be good for the heart, I'm okay without. Instead, I've become heavily addicted to sugar-free cups of green tea because of its health benefits and a good way to keep warm!


Wishing: My family, boyfriend, and friends are here. Right Now. I miss everyone dearly and although this solo experience of traveling abroad has been more than amazing, I miss my supportive and loving community! It's okay though, just over a week ago, my boyfriend came out here (Paris and Rome) to spend a good 7 days with me! An unbelievable trip which you can read about here. And, I wish it wasn't raining every single day for the rest of the month in Paris. But you know what? Cold, rainy days are what makes sunny days that much better!!

What are YOU doing Right Now? Reading? Listening to? =)
 
A huge thank you to Danielle, who provided the inspiration for today's post!
-MsCathy.


When You Get Detained...

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Source: http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/jn/images/CP_02.jpg
...while traveling abroad! (Gasp!) What would you do if you arrived at the border of a country, stumble over a few questions at Immigrations, your inner voice nagging at you about how much you should of prepared your itinerary (what itinerary?!), and finally, get thrown into a van to be transported to the nearby Detainment Center?!?

Breathe, breathe, and do not choke on your tears.

It was right around the middle of January 2012. I had purchased a one-way ticket to Manchester, England on Ryanair, one of the cheapest ways to fly around Europe. My initial plan was to travel toward the York area of England to start my HelpX experience at a cute little English guesthouse nestled in lovely green hills paired with flocks of fluffy sheep. Unfortunately, within a matter of 10 minutes, that plan vanished into thin air and will forever play the disappearing act on me.

Once it was my turn to talk to Passport control, specifically an Immigration officer, I confidently walked up to the window and happily presented my navy blue American passport.

Officer: How long do you plan on staying in England?
Me: I'm not sure...perhaps, one month or so?
Officer: Which one is it? One month or more?
Me: Well, it depends on how much I enjoy it out there, I suppose.
Officer: Do you know who you are staying with tonight?
Me: No..
Officer: How much money do you have?
Me: $xxxx.xx, more than enough.
Officer: Where is it?
Me: In my bank account...I don't carry that much cash with me, of course.
Officer: Prove it to me.
Me: Do you have wifi internet? I can log onto my Capital One account?
Officer: I don't think so.

That was the basic gist of how awful the conversation went. Apparently, Passport Control absolutely despises travelers like myself who tend to fly by the seat of our skirts! You may be wondering why I did not initially tell her my HelpX plan? Prior to this event, my HelpX Host advised me to NOT to disclose the work exchange program because a previous girl had the unlucky experience of getting deported to her home country. Yikes! Although I followed his advice, my mistake(s) involved not fully preparing anything else. Over the next few hours of this particular episode, customs went through my bag and found my official Master's degree. I was carrying this document to pursue an English teaching job AFTER my volunteer experiences in Europe.

Boy, did that look baaaaaaaaaaad.

THE EVENING:
Immigrations searched me, handcuffed me, fingerprinted me, medically examined me (non-physically) to ensure I was not insane, and finally, arriving in the detainment center. Upon arrival, the staff was actually quite friendly...complimenting my 'willy's' aka boots, attempting to console me (I was a hot mess), and proceeding to prepare me a traditional English meal -- Fish & Chips. After swallowing my food whole (by this point, I had not eating in about 9 hours), I looked up and found myself surrounded by a sea of foreign men. With the exception of 2-3 girls in the corner of the cafeteria, the ration of men to women was something like 5:1.

I had no idea what was going to happen next. And, to be completely frank, after discussing with a few other detainees, some were detained for as long as 2 MONTHS!!! 

After eating my meal, one of the officers showed me the "Free Drink Vending Machine"...he says to me, 'You see, all you need to do is push the button next to the picture of the item you want, and it will magically appear!'...My exact thoughts were, Cathy is NOT in Kansas...or any normal place right now. Finally, an officer escorted me to where I will be sleeping that night, in a dormitory-like setting, with four other beds which happened to be unoccupied. That very night, a young woman arrived in my room and we talked passionately into the late hours of the evening about our lives...and how we even got here. I thought it was one of the strangest ways to meet a person, let alone make a new friend.

THE MORNING AFTER:
I received notification that I would need to stay overnight once again but will fly back to Paris, France the following day. As much as I wanted to believe this, after hearing some bad stories, I was still skeptical. The next few days spent at this detainment center involved the following:

1) Taking advantage of the Free Drink Vending Machine
2) Eating all traditional English meals (despite the irony that I now carry a restricted stamp to enter the UK)
3) Making new friends, sharing meals together, showing each other things on the computer (Yes, we had all day and night internet access to our email accounts)
4) Saw there was a WII Bowling and Tennis in the leisure room
5) Read the newspaper with friends

When it was time to finally leave this place (which ended up resembling a pretty nice hostel anyways), the handcuffs were placed on my wrists yet again, escorted to the plane back to Paris, and reunited with my Navy blue American Passport given to me by the Captain of the plane.

Needless to say, this was probably one of the crazier experiences I encountered along my travels thus far. There were good times and there were challenging times. To this day, I don't think I could fully describe this experience as bad but more so a very interesting learning experience!

Has this ever happened to you??


HOW TO AVOID THIS SITUATION:

1) Try to avoid buying one-way tickets. It will almost always raises eyebrows at Passport Control. However, if it is economically more sound to do the one-way route, continue reading for more tips.
2) Even if you don't truly know where you will be sleeping upon the first night of arrival, come up with something. Write down a hotel name and address.
3) Have a definite answer as to when you are leaving the country. Again, even if you don't know - give them an exact time-frame.
4) For the love of God, Zeus, Buddha, Shiva...do NOT carry your official documents with you.
5) Carry a good amount of cash with you (100-200 bucks) OR print out an accounts history page from your bank account for proof you are not seeking a job in that particular country.
6) Always research Visa requirements for each country thoroughly. Some countries require having pre-approved immigration documents!
7)  Stay calm and look at the Immigration Officers in the eye while answering those questions.

So, there you have it. Because I had planned to volunteer in England for a whole month and a half, this experience really flip-flopped my entire traveling itinerary. What's great about this is that I was able to adapt to the circumstances and continue on with exploring the world. That's all we can do - - Adapt.

Have you ever had issues with Immigrations while traveling?
Any tips you can share for other current or future travelers? 

-MsCathy.


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