May 13, 2015

Staying in Shape in Nicaragua

I (Cassie) wanted to write a follow-up to a post that we wrote when we first arrived in Nicaragua.  Part of our transition was and continues to be how we were going to stay physically healthy.  This included finding healthy foods, which has not been hard due to the fact that we have incredible access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  It also included finding a way to get some exercise. 

For the past ten years I have enjoyed a regular daily workout.  Whether this meant a workout at the gym, a spin class, running outside in the cold MN winters or going to Curves (yes, I still believe that those were the best workouts of my life), exercising has been important for my emotional, mental and physical health.

I was a bit unsure as to how I would find a good balance in Nicaragua.  I brought down some P90X and Jillian Michael’s videos, but I knew that I could only jump in front of a computer screen for so long.  When we arrived, we looked around and purchased a yoga mat and some weights.  And we started to ask people, what do you do?  Some of our friends don't exercise, others told us about expensive gyms ($70 a month), one friend took us to the local military pool and we received mixed reviews from others on whether or not it was safe to run outside.

So where are we at now after three and a half years? 

About two years ago we decided to buy an elliptical machine with some Christmas money that we were given.  Looking back, it was a great decision.  We will be able to resell it when we move and should get about half of what we paid.  I use it on a regular basis, about three days a week and enjoy getting in a good workout each morning.  I usually combine my elliptical workout with a short video from Blogilates (amazing app for 99 cents a month) or part of a P90X or Jillian Michael’s video.

I also go to the military pool once a week.  I get to share a swim lane with members of the Nicaraguan Army, which is always interesting, but for $1.25, it can't be beat.  The pool is super clean and well-maintained.  It never ceases to amaze me that I can swim outdoors year-round and that each each day I am guaranteed to swim with a bright and faithful sun overhead.  At first, I am usually a bit apprehensive to jump in, because the water is only 70 degrees, but then I remind myself that this is much better than a Minnesota lake.  How am I ever going to be able to jump in one of those again?

Since the beginning of the year, I have started to go to a Latin dance class with my co-workers on Thursday nights.  It is a forty-five minute class, I laugh the whole time at how terrible I am, but it is a a great workout.  I look forward to going each week.

I still try to run outside one day a week.  This is something that I really miss from life back home and I wish that I felt comfortable doing it more.  Last year I had a difficult incident occur while running and while I am gaining the confidence to be out on the road again, I much prefer to run with a second person.  Another challenge is that I am not a morning person and if you want to run in Managua, you should be out on the streets around 5 am before the sun starts to shine fiercely (Kevin usually leaves our house a little after 4:30 for his daily run.)

Lastly, I always take a day or two off and swing in my hammock instead.  It is good to rest!

So while it has been challenging to develop an exercise routine here, I feel like I have found a good balance.  I wouldn't suggest that I am in the best shape I have ever been, but I am trying to be active and move a bit each day.  I am grateful for the variety of activities that I have access to and look forward to the challenge each day.

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