Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The struggle to avoid “the abroad additions”

Before starting my first year of college, the principal question that I was most often asked was “Do you think you’ll gain the freshman 15?
. . .
Ugh, what a cringe-worthy question.

For those who are unaware, “the freshman 15” refers to the arbitrary amount of weight gained during a college student’s first year. It does not necessarily have to be exactly 15 pounds, it just has to be an abnormal amount of weight gain. The causes can vary from the following temptations: late-night study session snacking, the freedom to eat what you want/ how much you want/ whenever you want, overeating due to any type of stress or anxiety, and last but not least, consuming alcoh- *cough* I mean, empty calorie beverages. 

I, thankfully, evaded “the freshman 15”. I lucked out and got paired with kick@$$ suitemates that enjoyed working out, ate relatively healthy food, and busted out with lunges and squats during random times of the day (…ok that was just me).

Now, as a second year student, I can officially say that I have maneuvered past the possible gain-age the “freshman 15” promised by giving the temptations of college - pardon my language - the middle finger.

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As of recently, though, I have been exposed to a new type of possible weight gain that I now like to call . . . “the abroad additions”.

The implication of this phrase is similar to “the freshman 15”, however, add the temptations that collage normally brings to the temptations that other countries have to offer, and then BAM, this equals additional weight gain. 

As it turns out, the typical Costa Rican diet includes large portions of starch, grain, sugar, fruit, meat, juice, coffee, alcohol, and desserts.

Vegetables can be found at the markets but not usually on your plate (excluding casados, as shown above).

Sure, almost all of these products are fresh and nutritious, coming from organic farms with minimal chemically-enhanced food that is becoming less common in the States. But, the amount of consumption of these filling, dense, delicious, and some rather unhealthy food groups are predominant for most meals of the day.

My usual diet has gone from something like this: 

To something like this:

On the bright side, to fight against my change of diet, I have found that exercising in Costa Rica has not been as great of a challenge as I thought it would be!

Here’s what I have been doing so far: I found some running buddies to go jogging around the neighborhoods, met two girls who constantly show me new yoga moves and go with me to “todo espanol” yoga classes, I learned how to surf/ will continue to practice, I have been walking to the majority of places I've needed to go to (which includes hilly terrains and power walking past barking dogs), and live with roommates who don’t mind when I do burpees or other jumpy and loud-ish workouts in my room.
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Even though “the abroad additions” is a completely made up term, whether it’s real or imagined, this is what any future abroad-ers (or travelers in general) should take from this post:

Just eat like the locals.

You are going to be living in an exotic place for a period of time and it’s worth experiencing and savoring the food from that country.

Yes, a change in weight may occur.

Yes, you might end up creating pie charts to track your change in diet.
(ooooor maybe that’s also just me)

However in the end, traveling is a unique experience… Go taste your way around the world and come back with a full stomach, delectable tales, and new outlooks. Say heck to “the abroad additions” and just live.

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