One of my biggest, actually one of my only worries about coming to China, was my desire to stay healthy, keep off the weight I had already lost, and continue to progress to new fitness goals. I’m no longer worried, and here’s why.
1. I’m in Control: It would be easy, in no time at all, to gain back each and every one of those pounds I lost. But there is a simple reason why I won’t, and it’s because I’m in control. There is food everywhere. On my five minute walk to the bus stop I pass three bakeries, two snack shops, at least four restaurants, and endless, endless, endless food carts serving anything from barbecued lotus root to steamed sesame bread with peanut paste filling. How in the hell do I pass this by every time I have to go anywhere? Sometimes I don’t, and I try something new and delicious like a red bean pastry, but most of the time I head to the markets and stock my fridge with bok choy, eggs, tofu, snap peas, and more veggies and fruit. For me, I have to make my spaces match my goals. That includes preparing for hunger strikes by stocking up on healthy food in my office space, kitchen, and my on-the-go backpack. It makes it easier to walk past those steamed buns when I know I have veggies and tofu waiting for me when I get home.
2. Cheap!!!!: Just like in Cambodia, it is way cheaper to cook fresh produce than it is to buy junk food or eat out. Yesterday I bought about six pounds of fresh produce for about 22 rmb which is about $3.75. To put this in perspective, a bowl of rice with some kind of protein is usually about 12 rmb, or $2 depending on where it’s bought.
3. Naturally Active: I have no choice but to be active every day here. Whether it’s jumping, lunging and squatting with my students, or running to catch the next bus, I am always moving. It’s wonderful. In Illinois, I was extremely sedentary because of my desk job. Now, it’s rare that I get to sit still. I’m also finding it easy to get work outs in because I do what I like, and I try to do my workouts in the morning. I live right by a park that was built for action. It’s basically a playground for adults— elliptical-like structures instead of swings, chest press machines instead of monkey bars, a beautiful track instead of soccer fields and giant open spaces where the mature crowds dance or do Tai Chi at all hours of the day. I’m pretty much set.
4. Support Group: Finding a support group is a big deal for me. Back home, I had Weight Watchers backing me up, and I will forever be thankful for that group of ladies (and a fella or two) that helped me through my ups and downs on program. I do miss them, but it’s also exciting finding out what fitness means here in China, as well as what health and fitness mean to all the active, health-oriented people I meet. Finding friends with the same goals motivates me to push myself beyond my comfort zones, work out harder and try new things when the old isn’t working.
5. Hot Pots: Last but not least, hot pots. I love hot pots. It is by far my favorite street food. What is a hot pot you ask? Simple. I walk up to a vendor on the street or in a little shop, take a basket, throw in some bamboo shoots, seaweed, white spinach, cucumber, and other veggies, a little tofu, and some imitation crab. Then, I set the basket down next to the cook, she cooks it in a couple different boiling broths, and gives it back to me a few minutes later. Then I add some gingered veggies, vinegar, some soy sauce and dried peas— and BAM. It’s a hot pot. And completely delicious. The price varies based off of how many items there are in your basket, but I’ve never been charged more than 12 rmb.
In other news, I’m happy, healthy, and very busy. Loving life and learning a lot!