Within one month of living in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, I lost five pounds and noticed leaner abdominals and legs. Sticking to some of the lifestyle principles that make this area known as a “Blue Zone,” I lost weight and felt healthier just in time for spring.
How Lean Meals Helped Weight Loss
Sticking with staples of Costa Rican diet made for nutritious, lean meals full of protein, fiber, and vitamin C. Eating three small meals daily helped keep me on track. Meals consisted of:
- A breakfast of non-fat yogurt with honey and granola, a slice of whole-grain toast, and black coffee.
- A lunch (my biggest meal of the day) of black beans, steamed rice, boiled or grilled fish or chicken, and a side salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado.
- A dinner smoothie of native fruits such as mango, orange, star fruit or passion fruit combined with non-fat yogurt, water and sometimes granola or nuts.
Daily Exercise to Tone Up
Daily exercise is one characteristic believed to make people healthier in “Blue Zones.” I incorporated exercise by eliminating car and bus transportation. Instead, I walked or rode a bike as much as possible. My routine included:
- Walking 2 miles round-trip to the grocery store every morning. Getting there was a quick mile walk downhill. But the return was a steep uphill climb, great for increasing heart rate, kick-starting metabolism, and getting a leg workout.
- Walking another half-hour in the evening or after lunch daily. Distance didn’t matter, as long as I walked briskly.
- Going for a hike, swim or bike ride at least 3 times per week. I made exercise a functional activity. For example, riding my bike to get from place to place, or swimming to cool off from the heat.
Drink Water, Lose Water Weight
I normally only drink water anyway. But I think drinking more water (and sweating a lot), helped lose the extra pound or two. The high tropical humidity means sweating a lot in general, but you especially need to hydrate during physical activity. The more water I drank, the more I sweated, helping eliminate water weight. If you’re not in the tropics, I imagine going to a sauna has the same effect. Drinking only water is also a great way to cut out unnecessary calories in soft drinks and juice, and makes me feel full, so I snack less.
“The Blue Zones” — Dan Buettner