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. I’ll start by saying this, while living in Spain I’ve been the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life, as well as the healthiest. Hear me out...
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 moving back, 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. Slow down, there wine will be there tomorrow… and the cheese… and the paella… and the copas… you get the point.
Since moving back 18 months ago, 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 yet and get in the best shape of your life!
Take Advantage Of Fresh, 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 one person 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 Murcia, I’ve become a produce connoisseur and my body couldn’t be happier.
Limit Your Use of Public Transportation
If you don’t have time constraints to 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.
Get Your Z’s
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.
Join Your Local Gym
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 ends up on the treadmill at the same time as you. Who knows? You might make a new friend! AltaFit and other low-cost gyms can be a perfect solution for your beach bod goals.
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 still have our health in the forefront of our mind.
What tips do you have to stay healthy while living abroad?
This was originally posted March 7, 2016.
Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas de España. From New York to Murcia, Spain, she is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. See more of her work here and follow her adventures on instagram.