GFGL TRAVEL FIT BLOG: Finding Fitness Motivation While Traveling

I had a few goals in mind when I decided I would travel abroad for a school year: embrace new cultures and stay fit. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it is not as easy as it sounds. To me, a huge part of cultural emersion is trying new things, which could entail anything from social to culinary traditions. Unfortunately, the social and culinary traditions of Spain do not complement a world a fitness as I once was used to.

Note: I said “once.” I lost all of my motivation for working out. After all, running around a new city for eight hours and the endless hikes to the top of a castle and/or mountain can take a toll on the body.

I have to eat healthy to stay fit. I’m not one of those girls that can eat anything they want and still look great. If I try to eat something with a bottle of mayonnaise on/in it (such as nearly all dishes in Spain), I won’t move for a week. And most importantly, I need my sleep. I enjoy waking up early and squeezing a workout in before I have to start my day. In Spain, they like to go to bed when I like to get that early morning workout in.

In other words, late nights and an unhealthy food do not mix well with my love for sleep and my sensitive stomach.

My initial reaction was: “I’m living in Spain and I probably will never do this again.” Not a smart move. It really took a toll on my body. No longer were the stairs easy to hike and the jar (of anything) easy to open.

I needed motivation.

First, I stopped myself and wondered why I wanted to be fit in the first place?

Why did this fitness ever matter? I have been playing sports since I was (probably) 5 years-old. I got into competitive soccer around 10 years-old to burn away my baby fat, and it became a job at 14 years-old because I had a goal to play in college. No more slumber parties or late nights. Then it got even more serious when I committed to play in college, which meant lifting weights to compete on the field. I didn’t play all four years in college, but continued to work out. Now I wasn’t working out to be the strongest on the field, but for my own mental health. If I didn’t work out, I became stressed out because I thought I would gain so much weight. I didn’t gain any weight at all. In fact, I lost weight.

Throughout my life, there have been many different reasons that kept me working out. But I am now finding a new reason in Spain. I  have had muscle throughout my entire life. This is the first time that I have been really weak. For the first time, I am realizing how fitness contributed to my daily life.

Second, I stopped myself and wondered where I would find this motivation? 

With the help of social media, finding help (for free) is easier than ever. There are so many online communities and blogs waiting for someone exactly like me to encourage.

Pinterest is a good website to find motivation as well as linking you to helpful blogs.

Third, take pictures.

I have noticed that my body has changed a lot since ending my soccer life-and it has yet to stop changing. At first, it wasn’t too drastic because I was eating all the same foods and working out-just not as hard as I was before. Then I started eating different in Spain AND stopped working out. Initially, there wasn’t a lot of change, but there still was enough change. No longer did I have definition in my legs, no longer a 6-pack (alright, maybe it was just a 4-pack), and no longer was my back acceptable for a backless dress.

And lastly, the way my clothes fit changed. I had just got back into town from a long day in the sun hiking. Our local soccer team was playing Manchester United (a huge game because we beat them the previous week as the underdog) that night. The clouds quickly came in, and all I had were a pair of shorts. My first thought: shopping! Ha, if only I had Spanish legs. I’ve mentioned before in my blogs that Spaniards have a very thin frame. Skinny jeans were made for them. I can fit into Skinny jeans in the States-no problem. But here? Oh no, no, no. It hit me. Things need to change.

Conclusion: I haven’t been a complete mess since living in Spain, but I haven’t been happy with the way I’m living. Don’t get me wrong, you get a lot of exercise in while traveling by walking ALL day, carrying luggage, and hiking castles. It’s fun to go out at get drinks and eat new foods, but it’s not the life I want to live.

If this means finding motivation elsewhere, such as GFGL, then so be it.

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