Adventure

Driving to Vegas

January 21, 2014 · 0 comments

Refreshed from real sleep, like normal people get, I was excited to be going to Vegas, via American muscle car. Sin City, here we come… of course Harue wanted to meet another family member first (which was great) and also go shopping (not so much).

Half a wasted day later, mostly in a generic shopping mall found in every developed country in the world, and I knew I had to cross the Hoover Dam off my list. Apparently outlet stores are more fascinating for a lady with some dollars burning a hole in her coach bag. Welcome to marriage life, compromising is the Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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The first day’s target of our honeymoon was a residential house. Harue’s cousin had warmly invited us to stay but it would be in the evening, so we had the afternoon to enjoy LA in. Would we visit Hollywood? Watts Towers? Beverley Hills? Venice Beach or Santa Monica? Disney Land or Universal Studios? Not quite. Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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Arriving in Los Angeles

January 7, 2014 · 1 comment

Alas, It’s been a while since I properly travelled and had something to write about (did the seemingly endless amount of guest posts give that away?) But that has changed, at least for 11 days when I travelled to the USA for my honeymoon (I may have forgotten to mention that I got married on this website before). With years of lightweight backpacking experience, and a wife who doesn’t understand the meaning of travelling light, this was going to be an interesting experience at the very least. Our first stop? Los Angeles, The City of Angels. What could possibly go wrong? Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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This is a guest post from Ashlie Bales.

Remember going to college and being warned about the freshman 15 aka the 15 pounds you seem to immediately gain as soon as you show up. The freshman 15 is nothing to the traveler’s 20. Often I wave goodbye to a friend and two weeks and many calories later I arrive back with some excess luggage tied to my body. Luckily there some awesome techniques for staying skinny while still having a blast.

Can you imagine being a beer lover and ordering water when you attend Oktoberfest? How about sitting down to a four hour, seven course meal in Italy and just having a small salad? No one wants to go on their dream vacation and miss out on the things the city is famous for just to avoid gaining a few pounds. On the other hand, you do want to fit into your jeans on day 7 of that dream vacation. The good news is that there are ways to have crazy amounts of fun and not gain a pound. Well maybe one, but not 15!

Most people view vacations or travel as time to let loose and not worry about weight loss or eating healthy. And that’s totally fine, everyone needs breaks from time to time. But what if you travel often? Or maybe you have an important event right after vacation and can’t afford to gain a ton of weight? There are a couple different ways you can maintain or even lose weight when traveling and most importantly still have a good time.

Consider Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity in both the fitness community and among weight loss experts. There are varying methods for this but the one I like the best is structured around an 8 hour eating window followed by a 16 hour fasting period. In my opinion the best way to structure this is to have your eating window from noon to 8 p.m., then fast from 8 p.m. until noon the next day which is when your next eating window begins. Following this strategy is very helpful for keeping your calorie count at a reasonable level. Some people have three small meals during their eating window, others have one large meal. It’s up to you.

This method does involve skipping breakfast which in my opinion is vastly overrated. But, if you can’t survive without breakfast, just make your eating window from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. This means you will have to hold out all afternoon and night before eating, but some people love this method.

Hotel Room Workouts

Everyone has grand plans of hitting the gym a couple times while on vacation. It rarely happens. There is too much fun to be had. So here is a simple 15-20 minute routine that can be done anywhere and will remind your body that you still care about it.

10 squats (all the way down)
10 clap pushups (or as many as you can do)
10 lunges (5 each leg)
10 single leg squats (link on how to do them)
30 second plank

hotel room

Is jumping on the bed part of the work out?

Go through this workout 5 times resting only after doing all 5 exercises. Try and decrease your rest periods as you progress. For example, day 1 rest 90 seconds between sets, day 2 60 seconds and so on.

Run Forest Run

My running strategies have changed dramatically over the years. When I was younger I would pound the pavement (or treadmill) hour after hour. That’s not happening anymore. I’m all about efficiency now, especially while on vacation. If you are dedicated enough to run, consider sprinting. 6-10 100 yard sprints will do wonders for your metabolism. And just in case you didn’t know, sprinting 100 yards is really tough, you will have a new appreciation for football players needing oxygen after a 100 yard sprint when you are done with these. The best place to do this is a track. Simply sprint the 100 yard straightaway, do a recovery walk on the curve, and then sprint the next straightaway. I have made many athletes whine and cry doing this workout, so don’t expect to be great right away. The most important thing is that these are sprints aka running as fast as you can. Not jogging, not “running”, sprinting.

temple stairs

Maybe not the best stairs to run…

*Bonus workout – Instead of sprinting on a track find the biggest hill you can and sprint to the top. Challenge your boyfriend/girlfriend to a race and make it fun. Walk down and then sprint up again! Other options include stadium stairs or at the risk of looking like a crazy person, run in the stairwell of your hotel.

Walk everywhere

If your destination is in walking distance, do it. (I’m assuming you aren’t vacationing in war zones, if so, don’t walk.) Walking can have major benefits to weight loss, especially when it’s over an hour long. So a half hour there and a half hour back will be great for you. Remember, sitting takes years of your life, so walk anywhere and everywhere.

The most important thing to do while traveling is to enjoy it! Eat something you have never eaten, climb a mountain, go out on the town rather than sitting in your hotel room. Chances are you won’t be back so enjoy the new environment!

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It seems almost a lifetime ago now, when I was working in Fukushima in a regular job when mother nature rudely interrupted my course in life and set me in a new direction. Maybe I should have taken advantage of living more because a lot of people, over 15,000 lost their life within close proximity of me on the same day. One day a regular Japanese landscape, with homes, schools, shops, gas stations, and the like. The next: acres of land swept away with the water.

While I briefly saw the damage a year ago, I was being driven around my my (then) girlfriends parents so didn’t really get to take any decent photos or follow my own path. This year however, I retuned in Sendai and rented a car for the day to have a look at the damage and see what progress has been made. Please note, most of these photos were taken off the coast of Miyagi prefecture not Fukushima, which is a bit more north, but still hit just as bad.

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The basic tsunami defence system, and an evacuation sign

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A boat where a building used to be

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This shows the new sea defences and the old swept landcape

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Manhole shows previous land level

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The old entrance to someones house

tsunami damage of swept houses in japan

Former houses

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I guess these were found during the clean up

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The only house remaining in acres

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Inside another single building which stood up among all others

As you can see, it has mostly been cleaned up now, but no reconstruction can be seen anywhere. New defence barriers are in place, but other than that nothing. The waste has just been moved elsewhere. Japan is in a difficult situation on what to do here. I mean, who would want to live here knowing what happened? The amount of people that died. For a country without much flat land to build on, it’s quite a dilemma. I have no before photos so I can’t directly compare, but it seems like this area will remain abandoned for now.

People argue from 2 perspectives – one is to leave it and keep it as a reminder to how powerful mother nature is. The other is to build over it and show strength in community and the ability to move on. Pretty much everyone wanted it all cleared up though, which is seems like it has been now. Of course there is still a lot of people who no longer have jobs or a place to live which they earnt themselves. I am unaware of the figures of people still living in shelters/halls but I don’t think it is that great now.

Finally I’d like to end this post on a photo of the outside of the building I took a photo from inside above. It is one of the few new things in this area. A sakura (cherry blossom) tree. Because this was one of the few remaining buildings standing in the area, it only seems appropriate to use it as a symbol of hope. There is nothing more Japanese than sakura so it seemed appropriate to plant it next to this building. It hasn’t grown yet, let alone bloomed (cherry blossom only blooms once a year and for a week) but hopefully it will lead this area on to new beginnings.

Hope Sakura tree next to tsunami victim building

Sakura tree being grown next to surviving building

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