When we first found out we were moving to Tokyo, I was thrilled to get back to an urban environment. I’ve never been a suburbs kind of gal and couldn’t wait to have a huge new city to explore.
One of the best things about living in a place like Tokyo is that it’s walkable. Coming from Metro Detroit, where we’re pretty car dependent, I love getting outside and using my damn legs to get from point A to point B.
But, real talk time. While walking daily is essential to good health, it didn’t save me from gaining what I’d lovingly call the “Expat 15.” This reason is, I think, that when you first move abroad, you’re stuck in “vacation mode,” which means anything goes when it comes to eating and drinking. Emotions were also a huge part of the reason I let my health and fitness regimen go a bit.
After letting my first year abroad be one of less inhibitions food wise, I knew the second had to be different. Food can be a deliciously dangerous way to cope with stress and emotions and after overcoming the initial struggles of the move, I knew I didn’t want to fall into that pattern. Thankfully, I was introduced to an outdoor bootcamp class that did two important things: get me moving and help me interact with other women in my situation. That first class helped me feel a bit braver about putting myself out there as well.
Since then, it’s been all about balance, which isn’t always easy. I’ve learned my mishmash of nationalities means white rice and noodles aren’t my friends and too much soy means my jeans get a bit too snug for my liking. But I can’t deny the healing power of a bowl of spicy ramen when I’m sick or the fact everything seems to taste better dipped in tempura batter. But if there’s anything I’ve taken from watching tiny Japanese women slay a meal, it’s that it’s all about balance. This is the country with the largest population of centurions after all . . . they must be doing something right.
So, these are goals I’ve set for myself:
- Walk as much as possible
- Take the stairs more often
- Drink lots of water (counters the ramen bloat nicely)
- Exercise three to five times a week (see my at-home favorite routines here, here and here)
- Cook as much as possible
- Don’t be too hard on myself
- Keep up with my supplements
- Get enough sleep (<– still working on that one)
Following these guidelines has helped me get back to where I want to be and I feel so much better. I’ve even been able to quit my asthma meds by improving my lung capacity and stamina. Moving into this new apartment has made me excited to get back into the kitchen, too. Cooking as many of my meals as I can during the week allows me to explore new restaurants on the weekends without feeling guilty about sampling new foods. I know what works best for my body but hey, I love food and I don’t want to feel like I’m being punished.
Japan is full of absolutely incredible foods and while most people will admit to overindulging a bit on vacation, living abroad requires reminding yourself this is home now and to really enjoy it, you have to take of yourself.
[In an early version of this post, I forgot to link to my favorite workouts. Sorry about that!]