How to stay healthy and fit during your Peace Corps service

While this might not be high on the list, it is something to consider.

Twenty-seven months is not a short period of time. As you prepare for your Peace Corps service, you may do well to consider how to keep your mind and body occupied. Take it from us, there is a lot of spare time and you’ll want to find something with which to fill it.

This article aims to be a bookmarked resource for you to come back to. Let’s look at the highlights:

  • Diet

  • Exercise

  • Mindfulness

  • Living your best life

Diet

In 2011, Michelle Obama unceremoniously kicked the food pyramid to the curb and introduced America to the simple and easy to understand ‘My Plate’ nutritional guideline. Basically it says, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut back on refined sugar and try to get more creative in your protein consumption.

Admittedly, this may come as a challenge while serving in the Peace Corps.

There is no getting around it. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or have specific dietary restrictions, your options are going to be limited during your service; the scale of which depends entirely on your country of service and ultimate site location (if you would like a dedicated article on this topic, let us know in the comments).

The best option that we have found is to confide in other volunteers and to create support groups that can compile and share creative recipes and dietary workarounds. More often than not, other volunteers have lived out this experience and can offer advice that is country specific.

Join your Peace Corps Country Facebook page to ask if a volunteer recipe book has been made. Make a care package list for friends and family to send throughout service, and communicate with your fellow Peace Corps Trainees.

One of our favorite websites, Devex wrote a nice article that offers some great insight as well.

Exercise

Chances are, your gym options are going to be slim. A good and semi-obvious workaround is to do bodyweight exercises, go running, and try some yoga. Since exercise is such a personal journey, we’re going to avoid recommending one thing over another, and instead just suggest that you google a few programs, bring a good pair of shoes, and be open to new avenues of staying healthy that your future community might show you.

In country, you will likely find that exercise equipment is difficult to come by and surprisingly expensive.

You definitely do not want to arrive in country with a portable gym on your back, but a few small, light, and strategic items can help make all of the difference.

 
UPOWEX
XYLsports
Black Mountain Products

Some volunteers make some serious health goals when in country. A friend of PathwaytoPeaceCorps had a strap gym that was pretty impressive.

 
 

But Running is by far the most accessible and therefore popular exercise choice for Peace Corps Volunteers.

Imagine yourself lacing up and running on the country road. The light taps of your shoes on the gravel and dirt is all that you hear. You see the sky open up as the sun peeks above the horizon and you feel a wave of relief wash over as you realize you are a in a foreign country, serving a community, and growing in ways you couldn’t imagine.

Thankfully, Xero Shoes has been kind enough to partner with us and also offers a discount to PCVs when they contact them (with proof of acceptance to Peace Corps).

xero - men.jpg

Prio Running and Fitness Shoe for Men and Women

Whether you’re out on a run, trying out a new trail, hitting the gym, or toeing a slackline, you’ll love the Prio’s combination of freedom and protection.

 

If you plan to get some new shoes through Amazon, consider using one of these affiliate links we provide. This site is supported when new Peace Corps Volunteers enter Amazon from one of our links and purchases something.

In return for purchasing your needed products through our links, we will continue to scour the internet for all of the Peace Corps Volunteer Discounts we can find.

Hydro Flask recently partnered with us and now offers a discount to PCVs when they apply for their ProDeal. Just click the link and scroll down.

 
Hydro-Flask-Stainless-Steel-Vacuum-Insulated-32-oz-Wide-Mouth-Jade.jpg

Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth

 

Mindfulness

They say mindfulness isn’t difficult, but remembering it is.

Far be it from us to offer concrete advice on how to be mindful while serving in the Peace Corps. Like exercise and diet, a person’s mind is inherently unique and cannot be put into a box or a cleverly written and engaging article.

After a long discussion, our team landed on two key items that we believe to be the best place to start.

The first is to journal, and journal often. The truth is, it doesn’t matter much what you decide to write or in what way you choose to organize your experience. The most important thing is to reflect on when you feel good and when you feel bad. Recognize your wins, evaluate your losses. At the end of two years, it’ll be the most entertaining read you could ever imagine.

Here are two popular journals that hold up through a Peace Corps service:

 
Moleskine
URSUNSHINE
 

The second option is to do some form of meditation. This does not require you to tap into your inner Siddhartha. The basic idea is to breath deeply, recognize the absurdly unique experience that you are living and find some joy in it.

Don’t try and do it all by yourself. Calm and Headspace offer enjoyable guided experiences that give you a place to start.

Living your best life

At the end of the day, you are only as healthy and fit as you let yourself feel. Whether you are working with youth in an urban environment or hiking to fill your water bucket at the community well, the Peace Corps is going to challenge you.

The last thing you will want is to have some archaic outline of how you should look and feel, weighing on your shoulders.

Exercise when you want to. Dig into the care package when you need to.

This is your experience to have and share with your community. Enjoy it.


Congratulations on making it through this article and preparing yourself for your Peace Corps experience. You can find more information about the Preparing for the Peace Corps, The Application Process, and Concerned Parents in our other articles. 

Remember you can support this website by clicking the "support' button and purchasing all of the items you'll need for the upcoming experience through any Amazon Affiliate link. Anything you buy, we get a small % from Amazon. It really helps us keep the site updated and running. 

Hope to hear from you!

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