Healthy Living

Food for Thought

Christiana Lang, 126

Drinks and Starters
Think about it. Your ideal day in your ideal life. No doubt there would be chocolate fountains, a liberal budget for excursions, a loving partner, uncontrollable laughter, important contributions to the betterment of humanity…to name a few.

Committing to Peace Corps service means we know our ideal lifestyle will not be possible, that our skin may break out, our weight will fluctuate, our safety isn’t guaranteed and our mental health will be put through a hot-water-only dishwashing cycle of madness. Knowing all of this, we still sign up with enthusiasm. We create a personal mantra that usually has words like development, peace and connection coupled with cliches. We believe in what we are doing and the impact we can have. The fact is guys, we are here for different reasons but hold the same belief that we are capable of making a positive difference in this world.

Days after swearing in, months after reconnect, over a year into service, you may find that this pure and beautiful idealistic mantra you planned on using when times got rough, is actually one you need everyday. You may find that your mental health is stuck in the soap cycle in the hot-water-only dishwasher. Or, you may be reading this on a good day and find this all a bit pessimistic, dramatic and irrelevant. Wherever you think fall on that spectrum is fine, valid and fantastic…mostly because if you can identify where it is that you are, that means you are able to be present. (Sahry I’m not sahry for all my yogi-hippie references).

Now that you are present, continue reading.

Soup and Salad
In the context of life that is Peace Corps, our habitual norms are definitely difficult and sometimes impossible to keep exactly as we had them in America. Lifestyle is a distant word we tend to focus less on than oh say….integration. This may not be true for you but it damn sure was for me: When the goal of integration overshadows necessary lifestyle habits, life becomes a rabbit-hole. That rabbit-hole may lead to bigger and better places or it may lead to places we aren’t even sure what to call.

Two months before I left for staging back in 2014, I began to incorporate meat back into my diet. The welcoming package had said that Thai people were keen on connecting through food so I made the decision to get a jump on preparing my body for this shit…I mean shift. My first year of service I tasted and tried everything, I ate whatever was put in front of me. Weary of seeing pig heads at the dta laat nat and missing my vegetarian lifestyle, I came up with a sneaky plan to seamlessly create a lifestyle change without breaking too many faces. As the January rolled around, I announced loudly to everyone I knew for about a week, that this year I would like to “tamboon” or make merit, by not eating any meat or seafood. My site has a heavy influence of villages who “gin jae” on monk days so there was a ready understanding and vehement support. In fact, some of my community members were thrilled by this decision and often did advertising about my dietary change for me. The shift became a positive, not a negative and no faces were broken. Though I was willing to spend my first year with a change in lifestyle as it allowed easier integration, I’m grateful that my choice to regroup was accepted.

So what does this story have to do with you? Well, if there is something that you miss doing or having or being in your life, can you create it here?

Check out these questions for consideration:
-What is your ideal lifestyle and what from this lifestyle is possible in your current residence?
-What is not possible?
-If a lifestyle habit is not possible, what choices are available for you to make?

Meat and Potatoes
Living healthy requires you to pay attention to yourself, to know what your body needs and to do the work (cooking, cleaning, laughing, reading, exercising) to get there. Only you know what you need-and though numbing is sometimes a needed respite, it is not a solution. #obviiiiii

Now that you have an intentional idea of how you’d like to live in the Peace Corps based on what is possible and what you’ve come to recognize as not possible, I have found three resources to present. Use them preferably before you are red-faced curled up in the corner of a SAO bathroom, 5 pints in at Cheap Charlies or on the verge of plotting how you can continue binge-watching #OITNB for the third week in a row. (I said third week! Two weeks is acceptable #maybe #nojudgement)

These resources address concepts that are branches of the same tree. Some of you may be sick of hearing the words goal-setting come out of my mouth, and others of you may identify better with a logical step process.

Choose your poison:

Goal Setting



To those of you wanting to continue work/life/adventures at the level of world consider this: if you aren’t able to create a lifestyle that you love while you are here (yes even in the Peace Corps) will you be able to in another country?

I had an aha-moment a few months ago as I was popping a vibrant saffron colored Thai kanom in my mouth. My valid excuses about why I should eat the snack varied from gren-jai to sabai sabai. The next thought that popped in my head was this: will these excuses be valid as an English teacher in China, a FSO in Portugal, a INGO worker in Senegal?

My answer was yea, those excuses will still be there and they will still be valid.
My aha-moment was that excuses had replaced my intentional healthy eating habits.
My resolution was: My lifestyle here as a PCV in Thailand is a balance between integration and good health; the moment those two cease to co-exist is the moment I re-evaluate where I am at, what I am doing and what choices I need to make.

Thoughts, challenges, questions, requests? I like all of those things. Put them in the comment box below if ya like.

Want more?

-I am always available for personal coaching sessions through Skype, phone or email.

-So your face is already red and you’re 6 pints in? -PSN literally means peer supporting network…like it exists for your support.

-If you are currently going through some gnarly shit, PC Thailand has the best of the best professional medical staff on hand. You can email them or call for help 24-hours a day.


Craig’s article: What Does Your Ideal Lifestyle Look Like?


Susan Conrad’s igolu Communication Series

Best selling author James Clear’s website

The 3 R's of Habit Change

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