Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always so easy (even for us Mangos). Occasionally, there’s a slice of French galette des rois (king’s cake) that looks too good to avoid or a threatening storm cloud that makes forgoing the usual workout all the more appealing.
For assignees abroad, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be more difficult still, especially when you take into account the regular special on panettone (candied bread) at their local Italian eatery or the seemingly endless quantities of cheese in Asturias, Spain. Here are just a few tips you can share with your assignees to make sure they keep their health (and their waistline) in check.
Walking the walk.
While we love to help you talk the talk, we can’t discount the importance of walking the walk. For better or worse, a stringent exercise routine is often the last thing on your assignees’ mind when relocating to a new country. Not only is their normal workout routine likely shaken - who wouldn’t want to tour the Mikhailovskiy castle in St. Petersburg over simple cardio? - but foreign exercise equipment can be a lot different than what assignees are used to stateside, especially with those tricky mile-kilometer conversions.
Prior to your assignee’s departure, level their expectations on the accessibility of gym memberships in their neighborhood or at work. In some cases, a gym membership may not be quite feasible, especially if your assignee has found themselves living in the middle of the population sparse Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. Fortunately, exercise and a gym are in no way mutually exclusive. Suggest combining cultural activities with exercise. While the Great Wall of China might not be marketed as a gym, not many would argue that walking the Great Wall’s 13,170 miles isn’t exercise.
When in Rome…
International cuisine can be another troublesome variable when trying to stay healthy abroad. While chowing down on some of the most decadent cuisine in the world isn’t necessarily a bad thing, assignees who find themselves regulars at their local pasta e gelato restaurant in Italy may soon find themselves with 99 problems and all of them are kilograms. Fortunately, Italy bound assignees also have access to some of the freshest produce in the world, making eating healthy not just wholesome, but a cultural excursion in its own right.
Unlike the preservative rich food stateside, many countries in Europe refrain from additives in produce meaning your assignee is likely steps away from some of the freshest ingredients in the world. Encourage your assignee to explore their local farmer’s markets. Even fruits and vegetables they’ve never considered like cardi e melanzane (cardoons and eggplant) may tempt your assignee and lead them to try new things they never previously considered. Bonus: your assignee can also add them to those occasional pasta dishes they’ve been craving for an extra savory treat!
Leading a holistic lifestyle.
While abroad, your assignee will have access to many opportunities in their local host country to transform their mind, body and spirit that are in no way limited to cardio and healthy eating. Especially if they are used to being involved with their local pilates class and have a hankering for regular meditation, getting involved abroad may be exactly the right way to develop a new healthy habit and help them get immersed in a new culture.
Encourage your assignees to explore their local surroundings and figure out what to get involved with in their area. While a Hungary-bound assignee may be enthralled by the nearby Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő (or the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath), assignees in India may prefer to participate in an Ashtanga yoga class. Before they know it, they may have Vipassanā meditation classes worked into their regular schedule and a few new friends to go along with it.
Living a healthy lifestyle is filled with cultural opportunities for your assignees. With just a little bit of encouragement and some resources to fill them in on the best opportunities in their area, your assignee will be one step closer to becoming a lean, mean, cultural machine. Take a look at the HR Manager’s Toolkit for more tips to pass along to your assignees.