When getting ready to move to Europe, the thought of weight gain (or weight loss) is probably one of the first things that come to mind, and with good reason. The endless accessibility to fresh bread and high quality, yet affordable, wine is tempting on so many levels.
Rewind to 4 years ago, during my first stint living in the country. The theme of those six months of my life was overindulgence. Excess amounts of food, bread, wine, parties... because, if I didn't do it today, I'd obviously never have the chance again. Right? Wrong.
When it was finally time to return home, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life, as well as the heaviest, but I hadn't realized, nor did it matter much to me.
When making my decision to quit my job and move back to Spain, this time to stay long-term, I entered with a different state of mind. I wanted to live a sustainable lifestyle, where I could enjoy all that Europe has to offer, while still being a healthy human being. In the past 20 months, since moving back, I've been the healthiest I have ever been in my life, as well as the happiest.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of life abroad and manage to get in the best shape of your life!
Take Advantage Of Fresh and Affordable Produce
Buying fresh fruit and vegetables is one of the best advantages about the food scene in Spain. You can run down the street to your local store or market, stock up on all the veggies you need for the week and do it at a reasonable price. The most I spend on fruits and vegetables for myself might be 8€ max, and that's an expensive week. I'm not just talking tomatoes and onions, but the elaborate stuff... cauliflower, squash, zucchini and the like. Since moving to the region of Murcia, I've become a produce connoisseur and my body couldn't be happier.
Get Your Zs
The siesta exists for a reason. Getting sleep is much more important for your health than you think. Granted, going out until 6 in the morning can be wonderful every once in a while but if you're doing it every week from Wed-Sun, your body won't be pleased. Make sure you get rest and you'll be a happier and healthier individual all around.
Limit Your Use of Public Transportation and Walk
If you don't have time constraints on your schedule, try to avoid hopping on the subway or bus. Allow yourself an extra 20-30 minutes (depending on the city you live in) and walk or ride a bike to get wherever you need to go.
Walking and biking is pretty common in European culture and the scenery is a great incentive. Use the extra time to listen to your favorite podcasts or jam out to some new tunes. Either way, I can assure you the walk will be beautiful, just remember to look up every once in a while.
Join Your Local Gym or Get Out In Nature
Take the time to join the local gym and actually go. Push yourself to stay active during the week and you might even find a community while doing so. You'll start to make small talk with people in your classes or the person who is deadlifting next to you. Who knows? You might make a new friend! Low-cost gyms can be a perfect solution for your beach bod goals.
If the gym isn't your thing, use meetup.com or other outlets to find groups to go hiking, running or exploring during the weekend instead.
Adapt the No Pasa Nada Attitude and Eliminate Stress From Your Life
Deep breaths, step back and look at the bigger picture. Your colleagues teaching plan being less than subpar isn't a reason for you to get worked up. Neither is the line at the extranjería (bring a book to pass the time). Neither is someone being five minutes late for your dinner date.
Without a doubt, the most important thing I've learned while living in Spain is that we are in complete control over what we let affect our moods. Many times, what you think is a big deal... really isn't. Getting used to the no pasa nada mentality might take a while but I honestly think it's one of the reasons why Spaniards live such long lives.
Living abroad is all about enjoying the beauty that life has to offer and being in a new country can bring out the best version of ourselves. It's possible to enjoy the European lifestyle and cuisine and still have our health in the forefront of our mind.
What tips do you have to stay healthy and happy? Find more on how to create your best life abroad here!