In Spain, rather than saying bless you when someone sneezes, they use the word salud, which means “health.” After spending five months in Spain, I can definitely say that this is a fitting response given the cultural context.
Coming from the land of McDonald's and the world’s highest obesity rate, I was amazed to see that practically every Spaniard I passed appeared healthy and lively. During my trip to the Picos Mountains this past weekend, I crossed paths with many middle-aged to upper-aged couples as I puffed and heaved my way across La Rutas de Cares.
Spain has taught me that I don’t want to grow old and decrepit. I don’t want my future to be limited by my body and its aches. Given the ‘immortal mentality’ of youth, I never really thought about health too much. However, after seeing how taxing traveling can be on the body, I’ve decided that it’s time I take my health more seriously.
After five months here, I’ve become infatuated with walking. I get excited to pop my headphones in, put on a podcast, and wander around the city. I’ve found that so much of my excessive eating comes straight from boredom rather than necessity, and that walking around is a much healthier and more refreshing cure for my boredom.
I’ve also discovered that I love the Spanish diet. Using olive oil instead of butter leaves me feeling more energetic and healthier, with practically the same taste. I love the amount of fruit they eat and their salads filled with olives, pickles, and eggs. I love that they eat large lunches to keep you going for the whole day and small appetizer-sized dinners to get you until bedtime.
While I still planning on indulging on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every once in a while, I now plan on taking my health more seriously. We only have one body, and we need to take care of it. Our body is a temple that God gave to us. It’s time we start treating it like one.