Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Healthy Lifestyles

During PST, we talk a lot about "healthy lifestyles" or, more specifically, how to maintain them once we get to site. We are told at the beginning that if you were very physically active before coming to your host country that you'll likely gain weight during your service, whereas those who were less active will lose. For me, I was in the "very active" group, choosing to go to the gym and to snowboard, take long bike rides, and generally be outdoors. I expected to gain some but also wanted to keep a lifestyle that kept me feeling good about myself and spry. Most of us vowed similarly but, unfortunately, this was usually not the case.

Many pick up bad habits to kill the time. Some people start smoking or drink too much or fill the empty hours with learning to cook new foods or waiting for a care package with tasty treats to remind us of home... and then binge eating them. Although I have still never ever smoked a cigarette, I did fall prey to overindulgence. I learned how to bake bread and fell in love with the smell as it filled my kitchen and I struggled to say no to kind neighbors when they over-filled my plate with Setswana foods. But eating what I like has rarely been something I denied myself.

Working out is infinitely more difficult when living in a village. For one, there are no gyms to go to. And second (and perhaps more importantly), we are an absolute spectacle if we go for runs outside. My fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and I have often said that we feel like a zoo animal with everyone watching us and studying our mannerisms. While a daily run would feel great on the body (and likely spur a parade of children trying to keep up), the soul takes a beating when you are constantly scrutinized. Most PCVs opt for indoor workouts of the likes of Jillian Michaels, Hip Hop Abs, or Insanity. That is, until the unbearable heat kicks in and getting up to fill your water bottle makes you sweat like you just ran a marathon. Oh yes, it is a hard life... Oh woe is me. But, really, I have tried on many occasions to get back into the swing of things and re-kindle my workout routine but bloody blisters and torrential downpours and nearly four months without water always kept me at bay. (Would you really want to hang out with me after nine workouts without a shower? Cuz that's how many days I had to go sometimes when I was out of water... GROSS!) I mention all of this because many of my compatriots and I have started to feel the wear and we are determined not to let anything else stand in our way. With less than seven months left in our contracts, we are finally taking a stand for our health.

Last week my mom bought me an elliptical as a Christmas present and for over an hour my boyfriend and I worked to build it. I put it smack dab in the middle of my bedroom so that it would stare at me in the face every morning when I wake up and every evening before I go to bed. And, I am pleased to report, I have been using it every day. I am so happy to have it (this was my favorite workout at the gym after all) but, at the same time, it is A LOT harder to do now than it was 19 months ago (I know, surprise surprise...) and I can really see how out of shape I have become. The occasional workout video has definitely not kept me in the type of shape I am used to. I literally struggle to make it through three songs on my Zune before having to take a break and walk around my house then get back on and go again. It is really sad to me. But I have it now and, as a Bots 10 family, we are going to get our healthy lifestyles back! We are motivated (both for our returns stateside and for upcoming trips - who wants to sit on the beach in Mozambique with a beer/bread gut?! not us!). Plus, at least for me, seeing how hard it has become (much harder than doing a Jillian Michaels video that's for sure!) has re-inspired me and is a huge wake-up call. So I'm going to just push onwards, minute by minute if I have to, until I am, as a PCV friend of mine put it, "a fast little gerbil on that thing"!

So I ask of you, my family and friends, every so often ask me how my elliptical is treating me... hint hint Tija!

1 comment:

  1. Ok, my elliptical is now sitting outside on the porch begging me to use it....maybe we can inspire one another!