I've been thinking a lot lately about how much I've learned and grown from living abroad and I wanted to write down my thoughts. I've learned a ton about my self and life and relationships, but for this blogs purpose I am just focusing on what I've learned about health and fitness. These are just 5 specifics that I wanted to target. I hope I can inspire and share something useful from my experiences here!
- White Rice, Pasta and Bread are not going to kill you. I used to think that breads/pastas and white rice were evil and I would get fat from eating them. Well I loosened my leash a little bit while being here in Germany and have embraced the cute little bakeries that are on every corner, with the smell of freshly baked bread every morning, and have found that my bodies reaction has been over all positive. When you have the option for Brown Rice, a salad, and whole grain bread I would always opt for those, but my options have been a little more limited here. It’s ok to have a Sandwich on a french roll, or some white rice every once and a while, it’s not going to ruin your life :) I have eaten more pizza and Sandwiches here then I ever did back home, but I’ve actually lost weight here and leaned out. Along with this I will say that their are definitely differences in the quality of these products. A freshly baked loaf of bread here in Germany is similar to a loaf of bread you’ll find at Great Harvest bread in the US. Few ingredients, and for the most part they are organic. The pasta here is made fresh and the wheat they use is GMO free. So choose good quality when you have the option, but its ok the loosen your leash occasionally.
- More activity throughout your day trumps a 30-60 minute workout followed by sitting all day. Back home some days I would get in a really hard work out and then have to sit all day at a desk job or school, and expected I could still eat more because I worked out. Here, I am standing or walking I would say the majority of my day, and I feel a big difference. Even somedays when we’re traveling around I don’t even get an official “workout” in but we probably walk 4-8 miles through out the day in our travels. I haven’t driven a car in 6 months, I just walk everywhere I need to go (except when Rich is with me on the weekends and we need to go further). I have found that a 30 min walk each day at least, in addition to a structured workout and eating healthy, has created such an awesome balance in my life and I feel great! I don’t want to have to go back to driving a car every day everywhere I go. If you have the option, walk, bike, make your desk a standing desk, take the stairs, park further away. These simple changes really do make a big difference in your health and weight management!
- Sometimes being poor and on a tight budget is the best weight management tool haha. I’ve noticed here that I don’t eat as much, because we don’t buy food in excess thats just lying around. We have a budget for the bare necessities, and don’t have much room for the extra stuff. I fill our fridge with vegetables, we get some meat, some bread, eggs, and fruit that is in season. I’ll get a bar of dark chocolate to break off little pieces of throughout the week. But anything extra like ice-cream or eating out is a real treat that we save for special occasions. Being on a budget as decreased my portion sizes, and I’ve become quite thrifty with how I utilize vegetables and other healthy ingredients that are cheap. You priorities whats important for you and thats what you have money for. Food has become a way of fueling my body more than something to eat depending on my mood.
- When you train your muscles, move throughout the day, and make vegetables the majority of your diet, you can actually get away with a lot more then you may think! Haha now don’t twist my words here, but I’ve actually been surprised with the flexibility I’ve been able to have in my diet and still maintain my weight and figure. I think consistency is key here, along with moderation. When we train our muscles, we get stronger, and have more muscle fibers, and muscle naturally burns more calories than fat does in our bodies. I have been consistently training for over 5 years now, and my body can actually handle a piece of cake better than it used to be able to! I used to feel that any dessert I ate went straight to my thighs, but as I’ve trained consistently over the years, I’ve noticed my body has become more efficient with how it handles the extra calories. Whether it be fat or sugar or just unnecessary carbs, it seems to know what to do with it. Now I’m not saying that you can out train a bad diet, because thats definitely not the case (from experience), but you can have a little more flexibility when you’re consistent with being good the majority of the time. One of my favorite quotes is “Discipline is Freedom”.
- And my concluding realization to all of this that I have found is that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. This has become so apparent to me with every single client I have trained, all the podcasts I listen to, and all the articles and books that I read. There’s not one cure fits all, one diet for everyone, or the secret to the perfect body. Unfortunately it takes a little patience, but when we tweak our own diets, finding what works best for us, it will lead to a life free of dieting and full of health. For me, gluten and wheat products work, I feel energized for my workouts, and my body knows how to utilize them. For the next person, these foods may cause there stomach to bloat and they may feel lethargic. It really is a dance that we just have to figure out. Some people do great on a “diet” because it gives them structure that they need and they feel better when they have rules to follow. For others it may chase them straight in the opposite direction doing nothing but drive them to rebel agains the rules. Some people do best with 6 small meals a day, others feel that’s force feeding and rather just stick to 3 meals a day. For me I’ve found my sweet spot with a good challenging workout 6 days a week, somedays lightening it up and doing more walking or movement throughout the day, eating about every 3 hours (but mostly trying to just listen to my body & when I’m hungry), enjoying extra carbs on days that my workouts demand more energy, and pulling back on days I’m not as active. I don’t deprive myself of sweets through out the week because I’ve found that to lead to a weekend binge. Now I’ll enjoy a cookie or some chocolate during the week, and I’ve found when I do this I only want a tiny bit and I just stop rather than thinking it’s going to be my only shot at sugar for the rest of my life and stuffing my face. haha it used to be a serious concern. This sweet spot has taken time to find and I’m definitely not perfect, but I just want to encourage you to try different strategies that work for you and know that what works great for someone else may not work for you! Most important is that you feel healthy and happy and are eating and exercising in a way that provides energy and confidence for you to live your life!