Do you believe in the “Heathrow” Injection? I tend to. Well, it’s a difficult question as I don’t think it is a given. You don’t move overseas and automatically put on weight. It’s entirely avoidable.
It seems to me that living abroad (or if you’re my friends, living in London) never gets old. Most eventually return home, some never look back. But if the opportunity comes your way – take it. It’s certainly recommended.
There are a lot of upsides. You get to experience life in a new country (or maybe just a new city) and if you’re anything like me, spend the weekends exploring everywhere you can. You might learn a new language and you’re almost guaranteed to make a bunch of lifelong friends. I can’t highlight the upsides enough. Invariably however, for some there are a few downsides.
Of course, you miss family and friends back home, depending on your age potentially a wedding or two, don’t have the creature comforts of home and it’s pretty common to add on, ahem, shall we say, a little extra padding.
Call it the “Heathrow” injection if you will, but unless you’re determined to stop it, I think it’s pretty universal no matter where you are. And that is certainly not to say that Australia, or any other country you’re moving from, is a “healthier” country to live in. Just that it’s a lot easier to avoid that extra padding at home (wherever that might be).
However, there are a few ways to try to prevent it. Start with packing. Pack your exercise gear, and a skipping rope and resistance bands if you have them. Yes, you can probably buy them wherever you’re going but think about it… You’ve arrived, you’ve made new friends, you’re busy and you may not even be sure where you can buy these things in said new location. How long do you think it will take you? Before you know it, you’re out of the habit and it can be a while before you notice the creep.
If you’re already there, buy the gear and then get to it. If you’re a student you may not be able to afford the gym but the amount of YouTube workouts available these days means there’s really no excuse. If you’re working, join a boot camp or a gym and try to do it in the morning. Everyone’s different so work out what works for you. Perhaps walking to the office will be enough for you and as an added bonus you’ve reduced your transport bill as well. Win. For me, it was finding an exercise buddy. We went for long walks, then did a body weight workout and extra cardio with the skipping rope.
But as with most things worthwhile, it’s not easy. And while exercise is great, I hate to report that diet really is about 70 – 80%. So how do you still enjoy yourself without going overboard?
I spent nine months living in Uppsala, Sweden. Here’s a little taste of the town that I love so much. (Trust me, there will be dedicated posts later.)
Spending nine months in Uppsala is definitely up there with one of the best experiences of my life, but maintaining my weight was certainly a challenge. For starters, there was this:
Hands down one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Ever.
Then there was this:
While I try to live a sugar-free existence these days, that certainly wasn’t the case back then.
Besides getting out there and seeing as much as you can by being active, know this: you can’t out exercise your bad diet.
With that in mind, here are some further tips to help prevent that injection:
1. Try the local delicacies and desserts. There’s no need to deprive yourself (you may just go overboard later) just use that as your treat for the week. Don’t use “new” food as a justification to try something new and unhealthy everyday. You’re living abroad, you’ve got time. Further, ask the locals what they eat. Though of course, choose your locals wisely!
2. Eating out happens a lot when travelling and it’s often similar when living abroad. Why not invite friends over for a healthy night in once in a while rather than always heading out for the local fare? Amanda at Daily Dose Fitness recently wrote a post which is relevant to this (find it here).
3. When you do go out, try to find a healthy option. Many places are catching up, even chains such as Wagamama are now serving grilled chicken, salad and brown rice (with katsu on the side). Don’t use eating out as an excuse to eat badly.
4. Limit your drinks. Reduce your coffee intake (or take it without milk and sugar). If you enjoy alcohol, opt for vodka with soda water or a small glass of wine. Unless you’re on a tropical island, say no to cocktails. If you’re on a tropical island, enjoy one (you’re on a tropical island!!) and then go back to the soda water. Say no to fruit juice. Liquid calories count.
5. Start small. If you’re really struggling to rein things in, promise yourself you’ll go one to two days a week without sugar, or perhaps try to eat at home for 85% of your week. Make a commitment and stick to it. Then up it gradually. It may not start as much but good habits have to start somewhere!
6. Finally, remember that if you have three meals a day, your weekend is 35%. Don’t ruin all your hard work during the week with a blow out on the weekend!
So, do you believe in the “Heathrow” injection? What tips do you have to stay healthy when you’re living away from home? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Healthy Globetrotter
Please note: If you haven’t exercised in a while, or if you don’t know what you’re doing, seek medical advice and enlist a personal trainer to give you some tips! You should always seek the advice of a qualified expert when embarking on a new exercise regime or eating program. The above is not advice and is intended to be general in nature only.