Message from Shellie: Traveling and Weight Gain Go Hand in Hand

It’s that time of year again when we are all making New Year’s resolutions. The same one hits my list each year: lose weight. If I went back and added how much weight I have lost collectively through the years, I am sure it would add up to an entire whole person. We all have excuses for why we tend to gain weight: stress, lifestyle, and the big one: traveling. Maybe others are more disciplined than I am when it comes to eating the right foods. I love to eat. I love the taste of food and was always brought up to not leave any food on my plate (I am not sure what cleaning my plate did for the starving kids of Africa, but I did it anyway.) I believe when you are in a place away from home, especially when it is international, it is always best to eat “local.” I have never understood why you would eat at a fast food restaurant chain when you can enjoy that delicacy at home. I have tried some wonderful foods across the world, and most of the time they are healthier and fresher than what I make at home.

Winter is when I usually do most of my traveling. This does not fit well into my weight loss plan as I am trying to get back into my “skinny” pants that I threw in the corner of my closet during the holidays. Now I am faced with yet another will-power challenge as I travel. I realize I don’t have to eat like a saint during my entire trip, but there are a few rules I would like to share.

  1. Eat before going to the airport. Airport food is never very good, and since there isn’t food on the planes anymore (domestic) I usually pack some healthy snacks: bananas, granola bars, etc.
  2. Bring exercise clothes. If you have a fitness center in the hotel or ship, use it. It will help make up for the desserts you couldn’t pass up. If nothing else, bring good walking shoes so you can enjoy the local scenery.
  3. Do stuff. Relaxing on the beach is awesome, but don’t spend all your time lounging around. There are usually fun activities in any vacation setting that can be surprisingly effective at burning calories. Even if you rent a jet ski for an hour, let me know how your muscles feel the next day.
  4. Don’t be like me. You don’t have to finish all the food on your plate. Eat half your sandwich, split it with a travel partner, or order meals off the appetizer menu. If you have willpower, skip the dessert. I promise you won’t starve if you don’t eat it.
  5. Simple deletions: order grilled, not fried. Hold the mayo, take the mustard. Say no to the cheese. Ask for dressing on the side. Pass on the fries.
  6. Watch your drinking. This is hard when some vacations start with drinks in the morning. Monitor yourself by spacing out your drinks and making sure you are getting plenty of water. Always drink lots of (bottled) water. If you must drink, use diet colas and diet fruit juices with your mixed drinks. Drink light beer.  Add ice to your white wine to make it go further. Opt for big flavor juices like pomegranate, which just has 18 calories per ounce.

Vacations are for enjoyment, but you don’t need to gain weight in the process. It is much easier to bring home souvenirs than the extra luggage around your waist.

Bon Appetit,


Shellie Andersen ’88, Director of Alumni Travel
Iowa State University Alumni Association

How to pack a suitcase for airline travel

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers a complete guide to which items passengers can pack in carry-on and checked luggage. These guidelines offer passengers step-by-step instructions on how to pack liquids, large items, and potentially dangerous items when preparing for a domestic or international flight. To minimize delays, pack luggage per the TSA’s directions.

  • STEP 1: Roll clothes and place in rows along the length of your suitcase. TSA officials can more quickly inspect the content of your suitcase if clothes are ordered in rows. This packing technique also offers an effective way to maximize space.  And it reduces wrinkles!
  • STEP 2: Pack liquids, gels and aerosols that exceed a total volume amount of 3.4 oz. in your checked luggage. This includes bottles of lotion, perfume and tubes of toothpaste. According to the TSA, medications, as well as liquids, gels and aerosols with a total volume amount of 3.4 oz. (or less) may be stored in a quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag and carried on board a plane. All liquids must be declared and inspected.
  • STEP 3: Pack footwear on top of other contents in your luggage. TSA officials may want to check your footwear, so keep these items on top for easy inspection.
  • STEP 4: Spread heavy items such as books around in your luggage instead of in piles in one location.
  • STEP 5: Pack prohibited items including tools, sports equipment and sharp objects in your checked luggage. The Transportation Security Authority restricts box cutters, scissors, knives (excluding plastic or butter knives) and other items from carry-on baggage. This rule is true for domestic or international travel.

For more travel information go to

Ring in the new year


Celebrate the New Year by giving your resume a makeover. When was the last time you had your resume reviewed? When was the last time you even looked at your resume? Whether you are in the midst of a job search or it’s just been awhile since you have updated your resume, now is a great time to get your resume reviewed…for free! The ISU Alumni Association has partnered with the Cyclone Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management to provide resume critiquing to ISU alumni. Upload your resume at Within two weeks you should receive a response back from the Human Resources resume critiquing expert.

LinkedIn: Did you know?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Do you use it very often? If not, you might not be aware of the LinkedIn Alumni search feature. Here is a quick guide of how you can access it and use this feature to aid in your job search.

Step 1:
After logging in to your LinkedIn account, go to the Contacts menu. As you move your cursor over Contacts, a drop down menu will appear. “Iowa State University” should appear at the bottom of your menu. Click on this. (You will need to have your ISU degree information included in your LinkedIn profile for this to appear. Also, if you hold degrees from multiple institutions and have them all listed on your profile, all of those institutions should appear in the drop down menu.)


Step 2:
Using the available search features, you can find Cyclones (who have a LinkedIn profile) that graduated or attended ISU during a specific set of years.


Step 3:
You can also narrow your search by a geographic region (Des Moines was used as the example below), where they work, and what they do. After making your selections, LinkedIn will show a list of ISU alumni who fit your criteria.


Planet Hoops

How a man with three countries is seeing the world through basketball

Melvin Ejim is known by American sportswriters: He’s a star forward on the buzzworthy Iowa State men’s basketball team who once led his team to the American Prep School championships and is now a prime candidate for academic All-America honors. He’s lived in three U.S. states and visited countless others.

But this American superstar is Canadian. And, actually, Nigerian as well.

“Both my parents are Nigerian — my entire family is,” Ejim says. “I’ve always identified myself as Nigerian; it’s just something my parents instilled in me. We [follow] a lot of the customs; we have a lot of the clothing; and we celebrate a lot sportsof the traditions when I’m at home.”

Home for Ejim is Toronto, Ontario — where he was born and raised and where his mother still lives with his brothers and sisters. Growing up in Canada and identifying as Nigerian, Ejim was most heavily exposed to the sports of soccer and hockey (he participated in everything he could, he says – from soccer to volleyball to cross country and track). But when Ejim was in eighth grade, his uncle took a look at the youngster’s rapidly stretching physique and suggested he try another sport: basketball.

“I was in the ninth grade when I joined my first AAU team, so I was kind of a late bloomer,” Ejim says. “My mom never really thought that I was any good at basketball, and it was also hard financially for her — at the time she had four boys and was a single mother. So my uncle took it upon himself to take on the financial part of it.”

Thanks to Ejim’s uncle and some youth basketball programs in Canada, the teen soon found himself playing in a tournament in Washington, D.C., where he was discovered by area prep school coaches and wooed to the States for what would turn out to be a highly successful career at New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy. He was named the 2010 New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year and was recruited by college programs across the U.S. – including the school where fellow Brewster alum Craig Brackins had found success: Iowa State.

“I had developed a relationship with [assistant coach] T.J. [Otzelberger]; I developed a relationship with Craig, and when I came down here on my official visit I knew this was a place I wanted to be.”

Ejim finished his sophomore season last year as one of ISU’s top players,
earning honorable mention all-Big 12 accolades and ranking seventh in the league in rebounding. A passionate history major and Phi Kappa Phi inductee with dreams of attending law school, he was a first-team academic all-conference pick who finished the season excited about his future in Ames, both on and off the court.

But there was always Nigeria.

It was a friend he knew from Canada, actually, who contacted him last summer with a simple question: “Have you ever thought about playing on the Nigerian National Team?”

The answer was no, he hadn’t, but Ejim was instantly intrigued. As a first-generation Canadian born to Nigerian parents, Ejim qualified to play for the team. He’d only been to the country once – when he was five years old. But he’d always identified with his parents’ homeland and now he was facing a chance to be an Olympian. His friend made the call to the Nigerian coach. Ejim would get a tryout.

The “tryout” actually lasted most of the summer. Players practiced and traveled with the team and were slowly cut in the lead-up to the London Games. Ejim was the youngest player on the veteran squad, which included several NBA players, but he consistently impressed the coaches. Ejim traveled with the team to China for a tournament and played in a game against the English National Team in Houston. Just weeks before the Olympics, in which the Nigerians would end up making a surprising Cinderella run, Ejim was cut.

Sure, he would have loved to play in the Olympics. But Ejim says the experience of traveling and learning international basketball was priceless. And the Nigerian coaches say they definitely have their eye on him for 2016.

“It was great,” Ejim says. “It was a whole new outlook on basketball for me — but one that can be translated to the collegiate level. Coach Hoiberg was all for it and definitely encouraged me to go out and learn from these guys.”

As for Ejim’s once-skeptical mom, who has yet to travel to Ames to see her son play for ISU in person, she’s starting to understand that her son has a bit of a talent for the game.

“The first time she saw us [Iowa State] play on TV, she was in awe,” Ejim said.

And then of course there was this summer, when Ejim represented her country on the hardcourt. “She has a full house now that she has six kids and my grandparents, but she’s definitely made it apparent to me that she’s going to try her hardest to get out here.”

And she might just find herself watching a future Olympian in action – a native son of which three countries can be proud.

About this story | By Kate Bruns, associate editor of VISIONS. Originally published in the winter 2013 issue.