Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the south korea diet

The difference between day #3 and day #10 of living in Korea--the top row would be from a week ago, and the bottom row, from today. Click to enlarge, if you simply must have a closer look.
Koreans are notorious for their concern for aesthetics and beauty. And in many respects, the stereotype holds true. Department stores allocate what seems to me, a girl who can't live with out her artificial face, too much area toward the cosmetic industry. Clothing stores sell only one size, not because the clothing is versatile, but they expect everyone to conform to the same body shape and ideals of what "beautiful" means. Always yearning to stay busy, fitness is glamourized, as far fewer Koreans lead sedentary lifestyles than their American counterparts. Out of fear of becoming "Korean black", countless people walk around with umbrellas in broad daylight so as to avoid getting a tan (ironically, I have yet to acquire sunblock here). Korea sets a high standard for their people, and many are able to meet that standard.

Stair-climbing machines in a park on campus
Although Korean society does at times ostracize those who don't conform to the template, fitness and health is a much more accessible concept here than anywhere else I've been. Although there are "junk food" options in convenience stores, the average cafeteria meal, always consisting of rice, kimchi, and some form of protein, is much more healthy than the pizza at North Avenue Dining Hall at Georgia Tech. And while the primary gym is expensive and has a lottery to determine eligibility of membership, nearly every park is adorned with fitness equipment, and nearly every residence hall has a gym with all of the machines you need to fine tune every aspect about you.

Some equipment in the main gym, which permits
 entrance based on a lottery system
As someone who wanted to form healthier habits, and become a better form of the person I am (or am leaving behind), Korea is an excellent place to establish a new lifestyle. I'm on track to get back into running 5Ks by the end of October, and hopefully from there, 10Ks by the end of the semester. Side note: people from outside of America get really confused when I refer to a five kilometer race as a "5K". This week, I'm cranking up the bodyweight fitness and ab work, hopefully undoing any damage freshman year at Georgia Tech may have done to my body. And even though I didn't expect to see visible progress after only a week of being here, I definitely have. But I guess that's what happens when you walk everywhere, eat only Korean food, dance like a maniac, and actually start putting conscious effort into your fitness.

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