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5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

There are a lot of people who see volunteering as a chore; a charitable cause that takes up all of your free time with no reward (‘I’m too busy to volunteer’ you’ll regularly hear people say). The reality is, at some point in your life, you should volunteer and contribute back to society (think of all it’s done for you?), but it doesn’t have to be for charity, in fact, you can combine it with something you really want to do, like travelling.

Volunteering abroad can be a very valuable learning experience for you. Now, more and more people are signing up to websites like Help X, Workaway and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on their travels because of the enormous benefits that come with them.

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Recently, I did my first Workaway in Black Forest, Germany, and decided to write about how it enriched my life and how, if you choose to do it, can for you too.

1. Free Room & Board

This first reason is obvious: free room and board. If you’ve ever traveled before, you’ll know how much you can spend on food and accommodation. In fact, most of your money will go on this. Most (if not all) overseas volunteer programs will provide you with free roam and board in exchange for your volunteer work. I volunteered in a small country hotel and was fortunate enough to be provided with some of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten. How else can you travel the world and not have to worry about keeping a roof over your head and where your next meal is going to come from?

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2. You Can Explore

If you volunteer in a rural area (most hosts are in the countryside), you’ll be able to explore some of the most beautiful countrysides and wildlife you’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to explore a side of a country you wouldn’t usually see if you visited a city (which most tourists do) and if you do it over the summer (when most help is needed), you’ll be able to enjoy it a lot more in the sunshine. I was lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful lakes, waterfalls and mountains I’ve ever seen; the sights were some I’ll certainly never forget.

3. The People

My hosts were the nicest couple I’ve ever met. They were so hospitable and generous – I was treated more like a guest than I was a worker. My co-Workawayers were also a real pleasure to meet. It’s like a family: you eat together, you sleep in the same dorm room and you work together. You become really close because of it and you bond over the experience. You’re often all there with a similar goal: to contribute back.

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4. Learn New Skills

If you’ve never worked on a farm and/or a hotel before you’ll be able to learn and hone a whole new skill set and often to your own amazement, skills you never thought you’d be good at (or even considered before). I ended up helping a local Sheppard shear over 600 sheep–a day that only happens once a year. What an experience that was and something I’m proud I was a part of. You can also learn a lot from your roommates. One of my roommates taught me a little Russian and another taught me how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

5. The Experience

My time in Black Forest is one I’ll never forget. When you volunteer abroad you people that inspire and motivate you, you eat well and most importantly, with your free time, you reflect on who you are and what’s important to you. It’s an experience that a lot of people won’t be willing to do (because they’re too busy), but once you do it, you develop ‘the bug’ for it and want to do it again.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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