Before I begin, I think it needs to be clarified and brought into harsh light that I am not ironically writing about keeping healthy and staying fit while abroad, but the very act of writing this blog post is ironic.
1) Freshman year, I was that girl that solely survived on stale off-brand Lucky Charms, chocolate milk, and Kraft Mac & Cheese. And yes, if I’m desperate or miserable enough, I still revert back to these dismal nutrition habits.
2) I haven’t stepped inside of a gym to carry a weight since… I don’t even think our president was Black.
3) My version of yoga is deep breathing as an attempt to breathe while stuffing my face with Lunt Café’s nachos.
4) I’ve legitimately dreamt of creating a work-out video that consists of me doing squats while double-fisting Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts in each hand as a twisted form of confectionary bicep curls.
As of late, though, I have been thinking more seriously about what I consume and how much I move. It has had nothing to do with #NewYearNewMe resolutions to stick to a hallucination inducing diet, because I’m all about that bass and that treble.
I blame this change of my typical mindset on health slightly on my obsession with acquiring a Fitbit (I was infuriated when I couldn’t find a discounted Fitbit during Spain’s rebajas month), how gleeful the Apple Health app makes me, and on begrudgingly accepting the advice of my psychiatrist and of my physician to [VERB] the physical and emotional stress away instead of drowning it in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Ice Cream (my favorite flavor, in case you were wondering).
I also blame this change of my typical mindset on health completely on the amount of bread Spain gorges on. Bread, the seemingly harmless carbohydrate toasted phenomena available in this season’s trendiest neutral shades cleverly deceives us in multiple disguises: multi-grain, baguette, whole, wheat, gluten-free, white, sesame seed… With one warm bite, our hearts soar into Cloud 9 dimensions, letting the comforting aroma and taste consume us as we devour it. But like all magic, it comes with a price. PLOT TWIST: Too much of a good thing can make it bad.
Yes Scott, you preciously naïve ignorant fool, yes it does. But, like I mentioned previously with my advantageously positioned Meghan Trainor pop-culture reference, bread making you “fat” isn’t the problem here. It’s how sluggish bread makes you feel. Foods with a high-glycemic index (and, honestly, pretty much any food that has a “high” anything), start you off with a scrumptious feeling of euphoria, but slowly trickle you downwards to sleepiness. And what does sleepiness make you do? Well, in Spain, where it’s almost too easy to live solely off of jamón iberico, queso, and bread, you siesta, and you siesta hard. Ain't nobody got time for thaaaaaaat.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with your once-in-while nap or your once-in-a-while ultimate bread consumption marathon, but when once-in-a-while becomes your daily routine, you’re not going to be at your 100% best. With all of the hustle and bustle required of a satisfactory study abroad experience, keeping it 100% is the only way to survive late nights, early mornings, connecting flights, endless cobblestone walks, and speeding rails.
Anyone that has studied abroad knows that staying healthy and fit your semester away in some of the world's culinary gems is easier said than done. What with the endless stream of restaurants and patisseries boasting gelato, croissants con xocolate, bizcocho de naranja esponjoso, cheap sugary cocktail concoctions, and pizza with all the toppings you never knew you needed in your life, your nutrition ambitions are continually met by Hunger Games-esque obstacles.
After somehow surviving without acquiring scurvy or becoming too morbidly obese to walk out of my front door, I consider myself an expert on how to be un-nourished and un-buff. Fallacious as it may be, logic naturally leads me to believe that I am just as capable of considering myself an expert on how to be nourished and buff by doing the exact opposite of what I've been doing for twenty years of my existence for this Spring Semester in Barcelona:
- Stop drinking Starbucks coffee. What the hell are you doing with a Venti Mocha Gingerbread Soy Frapuccino in your hand when you could just get a café con leche with superior flavor, a fraction of the price, and waaaaaaay less sugar. Keep your Pumpkin Spice affición back in the States.
- Remember that cerveza is just another costume choice of bread for Carnival 2016. Just because something is liquid doesn't mean that it won't affect you as much as a solid. Virgin drinks like soda and juice aren't as pure despite their nonexistent alcohol content. Keep track of how much of these substances you're putting in your body throughout the day.
- Choose ONE meal a day that includes ONE item with: high-fat content, high-sugar content, high-glycemic content, and/or high-magnesium content. There's no need to protein smoothie craze your way through your time in Paris, Viena, or Milan, but you can keep in mind that no nation will run out of crepes or churros during your fourish months in Europe, Asia, or Australia. Take your time to savor treats.
- Walk or bike to class whenever possible. You'll be able to discover more in your city with your feet on the pavement than underground in a musty metro.
- Most gyms offer free passes or introductory sessions. Take full advantage of these sweet deals that can curb your need for sweets by naturally producing the energy and endorphins you crave. Besides, gym-hopping with friends is almost as fun as club-hopping with friends. Almost.
- When you're out, break it down Hotline Bling or Chandelier style to sweat and strut your stuff. Everyone loves that one person that is brave enough to bust a move while everyone else is awkwardly standing there. Always be that one person.
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<p>Magic City chick viviendo la buena vida in The City of Brotherly Love, and jet-set for fast-times at Barça. My hobbies include crying while watching Disney's animated classics, trying to make crop-tops acceptable in the dead of winter, and hunting for sweet deals like a good Groupon queen does. Writers that inspire me and this whirlwind of a blog you're about to enjoy are: Mindy Kaling, Mariah Carey's lyricist, and Jodi Picoult. In that order.</p>