Weight Loss
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Studying Abroad and Weight Loss.


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Even though I am so excited to leave the country to study abroad in three weeks, I am a little worried about my progress and how I will continue.

I am going to Austria (leaving from the good ol' midwest), where I have heard the food is a mixture of a lot of influences, but mostly known for the heavy Bavarian and Italian and the famous chocolate and pastries and coffee.  Basically, heaven... but, stuff I try to limit.  Here, I am able to limit what I eat, count out 1500-1700 calories a day, and exercise 6 days a week.  I am worried that when I get there and am living on my own in another country with little money, the healthy food is going to go out the window.  I have heard they don't use preservatives, thus food goes bad quicker, thus me spending more money.  I will have access to a kitchen, so that does make it a little better.  Also, I have heard that they aren't required to always post nutrition facts, so I was wondering if this was true?

As far as exercise, I will probably be walking more than I do at my regular college and especially more than I do now while at home (mostly sedentary right now except exercise, while at school I am moderately active plus exercise).  Even though there will be a lot more walking, I still like to hit the gym.  But, I checked the hours for my school gym and they are only open 9am-12pm and 3pm-4pm.  So, let's hope classes don't interfere.

I have been here since the end of August and lost 18 pounds by the middle of October where I have been maintaing since (140lbs). 
I was just wondering if anyone had any advice about how to adapt to another culture without giving into all the amazing foods all the time, and how to adapt to another culture's exercise routine/options?  Maybe other people have studied abroad/travelled abroad and have had these same concerns?  Maybe I should just limit calorie-counting and just focus on eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full... or if it might be easier to keep it up this lifestyle change then I think?

-Michaela

17 Replies (last)
Ohh I'm gonna have the same problem this summer. I'm going to be studying in Costa Rica for a month! At least they'll have lots seafood and stuff though. I'm assuming they'll have healthy choices there too. You've been on here long enough to know rough estimates of how many calories things will be. I bought a diabetes book that counts carbs and calories for main foods and it has tons of stuff in there. Maybe you can buy one of those to take with you so you know the calories for major foods.
I have two friends studying in Costa Rica right now.  They are absolutely loving it, and the pictures they have shown me are gorgeous!  You'll have so much fun!

As far as the food, you are right that I should be able to estimate calories.  My only worry is being out of a comfort zone and being surrounded around foods that make my knees weak and not being able to withstand it.  Also, the beer...  which I didn't mention above.  I guess I will just really have to test my will power...   :\

Hi!

I recently went abroad to Korea for a summer program after starting my regime to lose weight last spring. Although the food there, in my opinion, is generally healthier than american food, there was still a lot of junk food, snacks, ice cream, bakeries, street food carts, candy and meals in general that of course you want to try since it is all new to you. Walking everywhere really does help a lot! I personally didn't worry too much about counting calories (but I also didn't know too much about calories anyways). Over the summer I didn't gain any of the twenty pounds that I lost before the trip. 

My advice is to try all the different things that you want to try, because you never know when you will be back there again. Just keep everything in moderation, don't give up your lifestyle completely. When going out to eat, feel free to ask what are in certain dishes and choose some healthier options.  I do not know too much about Austria, but I hear they have a wide variety of great food. Experiment, but just regulate. Take a walk around/see some sites while you munch on a pastry. I would say try to estimate about the number of calories you consume, or just be aware of what you are consuming, but don't drive yourself crazy. 

Also, when traveling to another country, true there is all sorts of good/new foods to try, but there are soooo many other things to do and see. You will keep yourself busy trying to study, go to class, and see all the sites. You'll make new friends, and want to go out to do fun stuff. Travel around. Do not make food the focus, but enjoy it when you sit down to eat.

Money most of the time is a big problem, especially with the exchange rate now. I did not do any cooking while abroad, I mostly went out to eat because in Korea meals can be really cheap, but I did buy apples/ healthy snacks to keep in my dorm room for studying/down time.

Do they have markets in Austria? Those are generally fun to go to, walk around, get nice fresh fruits/vegetables/etc.

I don't know if any of this helped, I tend to ramble and type as I come up with thoughts... 

Have a great time! Studying abroad is what you make of it and can be such a wonderful experience!

That's so exciting! I'm leaving for Germany on February 3rd to study for a semester too, and I'm basically in the same boat as you. I'm so worried that I'll pack on the pounds because of all the potatoes and bread they eat over there, not to mention beer and Haribo gummi bears!

Here's my plan to not come back with extra baggage:

This may seem a bit strange, but I've actually been successfully experimenting with vegetarianism lately, so I think I'll continue it over there. That'll cut out a lot of unnecessary fat calories and keep me on a healthier track (who needs all that schnitzel and wurst?). Meat isn't that important to me though, so I don't feel it's a big loss. That may be too extreme for you to want to consider, but it might be worth a thought. As for exercise, my program tragically doesn't have a gym, and it'll be way too cold for me to run outside for the first few months (I'm just not that hardcore), so I plan to walk as much as possible and do plenty of what I call floor exercises, workout moves you can do without a machine (crunches, squats, push-ups, etc.). That should keep me fairly toned until it warms up enough for me to take a daily run in a park.

 

Thanks for the advice.  I will definetely try everything I want to try, but in moderation!  And, I will definetely try my hardest to not make food the focus (as I try hard to do that now too).  It will probably easier, like you said, since I will be doing so many new things and meeting new people.  It just all seems scary and overwhelming now, but it will be worth it!

And, I have heard they have awesome little markets on the weekends, from people who have traveled there before.  So, I will have to check those out.

And... yes, the exchange rate is starting to really hurt.  haha it just went down another two cents... ugh.

*edit for another response*

Props to you for trying to go vegetarian... I am too much of a meat fan to do that... and a cheese... and a fried food fan.  haha! 

And, I agree with the weather being too cold to run outside... I am not that hardcore either :)  But, luckily I do have a gym... however, doing inside workouts is pretty easy like you said.

Have fun in Germany!

You'll probably do okay.  Even though food is fattier sometimes, people in Europe tend to eat smaller helpings and less overall, and obesity is much less prevalent.  And it's not like all people eat are sausages and chocolate.  There are soups, salads, all kinds of choices.  You'll do great!

My pay is in dollars and I live in Japan, so I know what you mean about the exchange rate.  I hope the dollar bottoms out soon! 

mikerwinfan and jesscecile,

I wouldn't worry too much about being in germany and Austria. (although I don't know Austria quite as well, I have been living in Germany for the past 3 years, the info here is specifically for Germany, but I imagine things like product availablity and packaging are similar, since they are the same language)

WHile you are in Europe you will probably walk around alot/ride a bike alot more than you ever would in the States.

People here are also quite disciplined with thier eating. They tend not to overeat, meals are generally not huge, fast food is expensive, and there are now alot of different options. Most students have thier main meal at lunch in the uni mensas, not always healthy looking, but actually not as bad as they look most of the time, and there are always things like soup and salad. German food is not as traditional as it used to be. Rice is more popular, and I generally don't eat much potato or bread at all.

Discount supermarkets like Aldi, Penny, Lidl, Plus have really cheap fruit and veges, at the moment I am buying mangos for around 70 euro cents, pineapple around a euro, bananas less than a euro a kilo. Diet products are now more common (Light chese, light ham yoghurt etc) and most packaging in europe now does have nutritional information. if not you can go to sites like  http://gesuender-abnehmen.com/abnehmen/naehrw erttabellen-hersteller@de.html to get some idea.

I don't know where you are going in Germany, but at the moment it isn't so cold in the North (i'm in hamburg), running is definately no problem.

I would try and stay clear of the Milka and Rittersports though.

good luck and have fun.
Jane3001-

Thanks for the advice.  I am pretty sure Austria will be, for the most part, pretty close to Germany.

Through my University I get breakfast and one other meal, it's just that last meal I am on my own.  But, it sounds like they have a lot of options that I had no clue.

Everyone was scaring me by saying Europe hides what they put in stuff, no nutrition facts, etc... But, that definetely seems to be very off track.

And, it's funny because I checked the weather for Austria yesterday and it was the same temp (37 degrees F) that it was in Tennessee (where I am right now)  So, not freezing like I would expect!
Things have changed alot in europe the past couple of years, especially in germany. WHen I got here 3 years ago, buying peanut butter was almost impossible, so was alot of asian stuff (at least in the normal supermarkets) and except for maybe weightwatchers there were almost no light products. Now there are so many more choices, and nutritional information is really on almost everything. (not in great big letters, but a little table, around an inch square with the cals, fat etc, (of course in german)

where in austria are you going? My boyfriend was studying in Vienna for a trimester, and i went and visited a couple of times, i really loved it.

anyway don't stress, and have a great time!! Doing a semester abroad is great fun. Enjoy it!!!!
Well, small or not, atleast there is nutritional info!  And, I am going to Salzburg, but I plan on visiting Vienna as well!  I will enjoy it as much as I possibly can! :)
#11  
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This was a MAJOR concern of mine this past summer when I studied in Venice from May until late June. I treated myself (especially to gelato and tiramasu), but still made wise food choices (still bought my danon light n' fit called la vita snella and my Wasa crackers and special k bars)...but I still had pasta, pizza, panini's (come on I was in Italy) plus got a TON of exercise since there are no cars there....I got home and cringed before I got on the scale, only to find out I lost 6 pounds...it was def. the walking....

now I am going to Brussels/London/Rome/Paris/and Berlin all next fall on a study abroad of the EU and am not worried at all anymore about this...

enjoy your trip!
omg this was the thread i was looking for!

i went to brazil this summer and gained 15 lbs! ahhh ... im going abroad again in three weeks... india, s. africa, bosnia, and amsterdam and i have no idea how im going to eat healthy.... the food in india is mostly fried and i wont even have access to a gym since im interning full time... anyone have any exercise ideas? or portion control ideas?

o by the way, plane food is REALLY unhealthy... call the airline and request a special meal (vegetarian, low calorie, etc) and its healthier and it doesnt cost anything!
lalce-  losing 6 pounds is awesome, especially with all of that awesome Italian food!  Hopefully, I will be the same :)


georgia465-  I didn't know you could request a different meal for airplanes, but I might just look into that!  Thanks for that tip. 

And, I think when it comes to the countries you are going too, they are very into portion control, atleast from the people I have met who have gone there or are from there.  I do know India is into the fried food, but they also eat a lot of fresh stuff that you don't get anywhere else... so take advantage of that, and walk everywhere!   I hope to take that advice as well to help me keep the pastries from sticking to my thighs!

And, like jesscecile86 suggested, do crunches, pushups, jumping jacks, and even jumping rope in your room. 

I have never been to brazil, but again, what I have heard, the culture there is definetly to be bigger and happier, as opposed to the other places you are travelling.

Good Luck! 


I agree with the advice you've been given.  Also, watch how much you drink if you like alcohol!  Drinking habits where you're going may be different from where you're from. When I was in college I was used to people drinking to party in the US, but I was surprised in Europe how much alcohol was consumed at regular meals or just casually, and those calories do add up.  You'll want to go out and be social, and often it's tempting to drink a little too much, especially when you're just getting to know the people around you.   

 Try to accept that you may gain or lose weight while you're there, but don't let it be the focus of your experience.  I'm not saying to go crazy, but it will be such a whirlwind at first that it's easy to lose sight of your health goals.  Do your best until you get settled into your life routines and then take stock of your resources and limits.  Studying abroad is incredibly fun, but it's also really challenging and stressful in a way that's hard to comprehend when you're actually going through it and almost impossible to prepare for beforehand.  A lot of people's weightloss or gain has more to do with their emotional state than with diet plans. 

Tahiera-  Thanks for the advice.  I definetely think right now I am starting to freak out about the packing (trying to bring four months of stuff in just one suit case...) more than I am the food.  So, I will take it easy and just enjoy the culture... and a glass of wine with food atleast once a day! haha
#16  
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hey i found this after looking up how to lose weight while studying abroad. I noticed that it was from like 3 years ago (so you probably wont see this) but if you do can you tell me how austria went for you? did you gain anything? lose anything? what was your typical cuisine for a day there? ill be studying abroad in germany in 3 days so i probably wont get a response in time, if any, but it would be cool to see a follow up and what you did!

 

thanks!

mikerwinfan hasn't logged on since 2009.  But if you start a new thread and put something like "going to Germany" in the subject line I'm sure someone will be more than happy to answer your questions.  I know of one member of CC that lives in Berlin and I'm sure that there are others as well.  

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