Living in Costa Rica: WAY healthier!

Since the 80’s, we have seen an avalanche of self help books. Many wonder aloud; If all that sage advice works, why more books & blogs on the same subjects? How does one filter out the nonsense?

Fitness magazines in particular have been around since the 60’s. How can each issue possibly contain new information? So it is a given that 99.99% of advice gets re-packaged. And most of it is still inaccessible to the average reader.

Waistlines continue to expand. Chronic disease is more widespread than ever. Every third ad on U.S. T.V. is for drugs to treat symptoms caused by poor dietary habits.

But the intrepid types who moved to Costa Rica have discovered a delightful secret. Slimmer and fitter suddenly got a lot more accessible.

The healthiest and happiest people on the planet live right here in Costa Rica. No… Ponce De Leon did not eventually find his elusive “Fountain of Youth” here. But Nicoya seems to be the epicenter for longevity. My parents and grandparents hail from there, so I know a little about it.

Brief scientific explanation:

The quality of life in any geographical area is intrinsically linked to soil, topography, and weather. While the breadbasket states of the U.S. and southern Canada fret about how long the 6″ to 8″ of over-farmed topsoil will last, Costa Rica boasts nutrient rich soils that can be as deep as several meters!

This is the result of billions of years of mineral laden volcanic ash combining with the cycle of rapid vegetation growth and decomposition.

With temperate weather patterns that have a near perfect balance of moisture, sunlight and heat units — you get the most ideal conditions on the planet.

Cartago onion fields and Nicoya melon field.

OK, so how do you get yourself some of that abundant health?

You don’t all have to move to Nicoya or even Guanacaste. You can live anywhere in Costa Rica that suits you.

Disposition and nutritional habits:

Genetic predispositions and developed habits are hard to change, but it does seem easier in Costa Rica.

Most clients tell me they chose to move to Costa Rica to embrace a more authentic lifestyle. With demanding work careers left behind in part or whole, they detach from the arbitrary stressors, and focus on new choices.

They finally became open to Pura Vida (pure life).

I have heard their accounts of dramatic improvements to physical and emotional health. Elusive weight loss for many was finally achieved in the first few months. No more colds, and chronic conditions seem to abate.

As most of us know, excess body weight is mostly about emotions. We literally wear our stress. So any change must first begin with personal insight and attitude changes, which are in this case, greatly facilitated by Costa Rica’s physical and social environments.

The basics:

A clever young blogger once wrote a 3-chapter e-book guaranteeing weight loss. Readers would download it for $5 and get a laugh. It went viral and then fizzled out, but not before the writer netted $900K.

Chapter 1: Move more. Chapter 2: Eat less. Chapter 3: Drink water.

Here’s my own 12-second explanation of the optimal daily regimen to stay fit and trim:

20% protein, 40% complex carbs, 40% healthy fats. 1.5 liters of water, three meals that contain multi colored veggies and fruits. Brown Rice and beans as a base. No corn. No diet supplements. (Expensive bunk.)

It may surprise many that body shape is determined 20% by exercise and 80% by nutrition (diet). I have gone to a gym all my life and seen only a handful of members actually change their shape. Why? The addiction to poor diets and magical thinking about supplements. (Guess where the raw ingredients for many supplements are grown? Hmmm.)

Pesky cravings:

Many of us know full well that we should spend most of our food store time in the produce department and skip the junk isle. But our emotions so often subordinate our good sense. None of us are immune.

Portion control is still at the heart of any successful weight maintenance. It is much more accessible here in Costa Rica with plentiful, field-ripened produce in easy reach. They are packed so full of nutrients that you reach satiation more quickly. Adiós cravings.

Vibrancy: Use it or loose it:

While my robust dad sadly passed away due to unnatural causes, my mother is still very vibrant in her 84th year. As of this writing, she is whooping it up in Las Vegas with my brother in the midst of her three-month visit with him at his Salt Lake City home.

Her fun is sandwiched in between 3 weekly visits to the gym, which she also maintains back home here in Costa Rica along with her gardening and other activities.

My national success as a track athlete in high school established my personal fitness standards early. I maintained them through life’s adult dramas including my seven-year immigration odyssey in Canada. I do a wide variety of exercises but when time is short, I fall back on the three basic ones that work my whole body on adjustable machines to suit strength levels. Resistance exercise is essential for bone health.

I realize such fitness standards are not for everyone. But what ever you want yours to be, it must be rooted in a well-defined reason for doing what it takes. And that reason needs to be easily retrievable in times of stressful temptation.

Costa Rica makes this all the more easy.

Get comfortable with uncomfortable:

For most seasoned citizens, weighs, swimming, cycling, running, Tai Chi, martial arts, yoga etc., sound about as appealing as pole vaulting. No worries. Start simple! Walking 30 to 60 minutes a day is still one of the best exercises you can do.

It greatly affects the body, mind and spirit, especially with prayer, meditation or creative thinking. Doing so along a beach adds the benefit of negative ions from the seawater, the back and knee-saving effect of the sand, and the sheer esthetics.

As your energy increases, so might your fitness ambitions and you will want to revisit the possibilities of the above list. Top recommendation? Tai Chi.

While on your walks, be vigilant for kindred spirits. They may come in personalities you would least expect. Recall that you came to Costa Rica to move on from same old, same old.

Peace of mind:

For much greater peace of mind and to feel like you belong, be sure to get your residency. It comes with several life enhancing benefits. With my step-by-step guidance, you’ll be surprised at how accessible it is.

Written by Laura B. Gutiérrez who specializes in getting your residency approved in Costa Rica quicker and more efficiently than any attorney.

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