Fitness and Health
Tips on Living Healthy While Abroad
06 Dec 2016
As far as I have been connected to moving abroad in my recent life, I have experienced that when it comes to time/money wise (let’s call it from now on just being economically smart) it is important to keep a healthy lifestyle. Only in Spain, where I come from, healthcare is provided on a free basis for almost every citizen.
That means, you better keep yourself active and well-treated when leaving home (and by that I refer, the ease of your language and the accessibility of well-remarked supermarkets at home) for some time.
In these terms, we have to look at three important factors which will definitely influence our health when abroad: sleeping patterns/nightlife, nutrition and levels of activity.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY FIRST
It is common among people in their 20's that we like getting one of the best tastes of any culture by approaching the nightlife from wherever we roam. However, there are many different ways of enjoying our free time/weekends when living abroad. We need to get to know which balance comes to be the best when being time-limited as well as caloric-reduced intake.
We, by nature, get to eat way less when abroad (at least so far I have experienced myself). The fact of not knowing much about the gastronomy of one place, along with having less time or depending more on yourself in order to run errands, definitely keep us short-handed when referring to food intake. This also provokes us to be deprived of sleeping and to have a more irregular sleep.
It is important to keep that in mind when Friday comes. We may have had a busier week and even if we just feel like to, we need to give priorities to our body and most importantly, listen to it. Whereas a nap (10-15min would be ideal) can definitely help, we also have to think whether a good night of sleep would help us overcome the responsibility frame that we held over the week. A good idea is normally to get a proper sleep on Thursday and leave the “thirsty-Thursdays” for another occasion when we occasionally will not have to work on Friday.
Normally, it would not influence grabbing some drinks (and by some, I mean not over 2-3) on Saturday. However, we know how difficult it is in some northern cultures to keep count of the tap and maintain the booze rather low. We can also make use of Friday to do so and that way we will clear our head out for the end of the week.
Also, we may benefit of having a long weekend ahead if Monday is off. However, I personally less and less recommend going “all crazy” on Saturday since it can disrupt our sleep on Sunday and might even need that night for recovering from “a rather annoying hangover”, consequently waking up all foggy on Monday, first day of our tedious week ahead.
So when it comes to partying out, I would rather recommend taking Thursday night chill at home and leave Friday to sweat it all out. That way we will count with a full weekend ahead to recover from that great night and leave other meaningful matters (let that be, delayed work, a Skype call from our beloved ones or a good book to focus on) as well upfront.
WHAT YOU EAT WILL DECIDE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
Eating can make you the slowest player in your team or the fastest and most efficient worker in your environment. It is up to you to make use of your supplies/calories/fuel, but for that we will use next section to elaborate a bit on it.
Basically, when it comes to food, I have acknowledged very recently that a good amount of protein (ca. 20-25gr every 2-3h) keeps the basis of your necessary intake per day (around 1.5-2gr/kg of your body weight). Also, it seems that a detox day (called after vegetarian diet, based on green vegetables and non-meat processed foods) can serve as a well-stomach cleaner if taken once per week. Fruits, which certainly contain fructose, should be kept under guard after 6PM. The same applies for any enriched-carbs, except that your diet has lacked them during a certain day (experts admit). And coffee, which it is quite related to different health-related prognosis, it rather works when consumed early in the morning or right after the heaviest meal, looking at the caloric intake (normally this should be breakfast or lunch in Nordic countries). Even though, it should not be consumed more than twice per day (which accounts to 10-15 ml/day), except in rare occasions (late evenings studying/working).
It is important to keep in mind that, though difficult sometimes, your productivity and activity tends to increase when larger activity is produced and less food is consumed. That does not mean that you should rather eat nothing and go for a run early in the morning. Fasting is not always well-associated with caloric intake and stomach wellness, so it is not very advisable to do it for sports. Instead, you should focus on keeping yourself active throughout the day, whereas that means not sitting for too long after a big meal (over 1h, try to keep yourself in standing up positions during daily life activity, even in the tram) or on the other hand, not resting at all (give yourself a break from time to time and seat in a place you like with a cool/warm drink in front of you).
You are not expected to gain the same caloric intake from a mixed drink or the ones lately promoted by such companies as HerbaLife just because it includes every nutrient you need. Instead, you might want to get those healthy fats (let those be, HDL or high density lipoproteins, such as the so great Omega 3 found in olive oil and salmon) some carbs and well treated protein in your stomach in a single bite, so it will not account as many calories all together but instead, high quality proteins which will definitely rest your stomach for up to two and a half or even three hours (doctors recommend not to leave longer than 3 hour intervals between meals).
A good example of the above discussion could be a turkey sandwich, salmon or tuna. We add the fiber and carbs contained in a good piece of wheat bread together with the protein and omega 3 offered by the salmon as well as some other protein sources such as pumpkin seeds (these are though not be eaten alone except that you really like their bitter taste). We could add some light mayo or olive oil as well as not we do not want to burn them on a pan or another material. I realised while living in Norway that you rather fry or cook your meal with water or coconut oil, but not such a high HDL fat as oil, since it will lose its quality. You rather add it to your salad or sandwich as raw, and it will be better consumed by your stomach and not make you as slow for the rest of your day ahead.
GYM EQUALS TO BEING ACTIVE?
Nowadays there is a wrongly misconception between being active and joining a gym. Whereas the former falls into an imperative category sort especially for a sports professional as me, the latter is just a matter of where or how you want to spend your free time. For example, there is an increasing trend towards looking “build up” or “too physically well” in Spain in the very recent years. However, as mentioned in the above sections, we need to leave behind again what it can suppose a great cost in our health, because whereas you are joining a gym and the reason behind it, you rather think deep before turning what can be your hobby into an early step to aging and health deterioration.
Given that, I personally encountered myself with stomach related problems and of all sorts due to a high protein intake. For certain sports or strength modalities, you need to build up a protein intake of above 200 gr per day or what the equivalent is, 1.5 to 2 gr per kilo of your body weight. However, I still do not regard strength training as such a necessary protein intake sport as elite athletes do. The difference again, we are not supposed to earn money by looking good. Whenever we aim to achieve a rise of self esteem early every morning by staring ourselves at a mirror or simply we like building up muscle and feel all pumped up, both of them fall into another category of needs/ambitions. However, it is very clear that except your goal is competing in bodybuilding and by that, get some economical reward afterwards, you can probably be spending money on “looking fit” for a month and “feeling sore” for a year.
The scientific literature, and more and more every day, confirms about 20 gr of protein not later than half an hour after strength/aerobic training it is highly recommendable as far as muscle recovery and building concerns. From this point, we can think of including 20gr of the same in every 2 spare meals every day and increasing that quantity maybe on big meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) can satisfy those needs commented formerly. On the other hand, consuming too much can make us slow or just hurt badly such crucial organs as the kidneys or even the stomach, which we also may require for the weekend.
Taking all of the above into account, it is advisable for those beginners to endurance/aerobic training to spare it twice per week and try to increase it up till 3 times per week. However, it will never exceed 30 to 40 mins daily. Highly recommended sports related to endurance are cycling and swimming. Wherever the former can be performed by a busy worker as transportation for going to the office, the later might require more technique in order not to hurt ourselves while doing it. Running has generally been looked rather as a worse endurance method than the previous ones.
All said, we would leave two/three other days for those activities we love performing (being calisthenics or some exercise with a great strength component is preferable), and doing it outdoors except in busy cities (pollution), will reinforce our self esteem and wellness being.
I hope all the tips before serve as a tool or guide to keep in mind rather than taking it as seriously when moving abroad. There is no complete evidence in everything said in this article; however, taking account my experience, nothing mentioned before could hurt your health if not taken drastically (that is, eating salmon every day, for God’s sake, there are OTHER PROTEIN SOURCES, NOT ONLY THAT REDDISH fish!).
For any other information, feel free to contact the source of this website or myself to the info below. Cheers and keep it up!
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