Spa schma. You want to arrest your unhealthy habits, become more active, sleep well, eat well? You don’t need a spa vacation, dearie. Just place yourself in the heart of a major metropolis for a week or two. Live like a city dweller for a spell.
I’m visiting New York for a few days, and I’m reminded again how vast the differences are in food availability and intrinsic activity from one living environment to another. I live in the middle of the country in a not-densely populated area with some cultural diversity, but not much. Living in the Midwest means I live on my butt. And my food choices are not very varied. Where I live, we consider anything that puts us on our feet too much bother. So it’s good for me to visit a city now and then, to remember what those flat things on the ends of my legs are for.
We are staying in an inexpensive hotel undergoing renovation, meaning a hotel without room service, without enough towels or blankets, and without boiling water. We must walk for a cup of tea. Walk for a paper. We must walk for everything, forced to behave like New Yorkers. And we’re feeling better for it.
Saturday morning we hit the farmer’s market at Union Square. A market that welcomes dogs is a vital and real market to my way of thinking. This one does, and we swooned over the produce and the pooches, the organic cheeses, whole grain breads, and one Jack Russell, one Bull Mastiff, one gorgeous long-haired Daschund. We walked until we worked up a sweat, collecting foods as we went. Between the open air market and the Whole Foods Market just beyond, we pulled together a couple of the healthiest veggie-prolific meals we’ve ever enjoyed for very few dollars. We walked for miles sometimes with purpose, mostly aimlessly, trying to keep pace with the natives, working up a sweat.
We saw shoe repair stores. And it occurred to us that these city people actually wear out their shoes! Where we come from, shoes don’t need repair, they just go out of style.
We saw people walking for work, walking for play, walking to market, walking for their errands. They walk and walk and walk. Quickly, too.
At home, I have to schedule time to walk, and it’s hard to squeeze it in. Walking is taken, like medicine, in an effort to get in my required miles or steps or time. No, we drive. It’s miles of trees between my house and any other thing I’m likely to do. I drive to market, drive to play, drive to work, drive to visit friends. I replace the tires on my car far more often than I repair my shoes.
And we can’t have dogs at our farmers’ market.
Clearly, I’m living an inhumane sort of existence. Any kind of life that doesn’t readily support human health and wellbeing must be labeled as inhumane, yes? I need to explore ways to reduce the amount of driving I do for every little thing. Maybe live closer to my groceries? Closer to my job? Closer to my friends? I need to put air in the tires of my bike. I need to find a town that welcomes dogs. Paris?
So. Need a vacation sure to put you back on your feet? Forget the spas, and find a city with a strong cultural center. Pack comfortable shoes. Buy your food where the locals do. Meantime, do consider how your environment affects your activity levels and the nature of the food you eat. If it’s not a friendly environment for human health, either work to change it, or move. You’re worth it.