A Polish healthy lifestyle blogger friend of mine asked me what I do to lead a healthy life style in Beijing. Here are some health tips and daily routines that I follow 🙂
Here is my response to her healthy living in Beijing blog survey
Pollution, crowd, work pressure…
You felt many times on your own skin how intense the population of Beijing can get: gigantic crowds on streets and in subway, crossing the street might be a torture, air is polluted so you cannot go to the park wherever you wish to, at work you might sometimes feel pressure, because everyone is working so long hours….How does it impact you mentally? Did you got a negative mindset due to this, when you first came to China, and if yes, how did you overcome it with passing time?
photo I took of Beijing hongmiao in 2003, I remember most days were like this
It definitely impacted me! I lived in Beijing from 2003-2004, 2006-2007 and 2012-now. When I moved back three years ago, I found it challenging to adapt to the new ‘grey and polluted’ Beijing. Two biggest challenges for me are air pollution and food safety issues. A year ago when I couldn’t see blue sky for more than 2 weeks straight, I found myself becoming less social and depressed to the point that I wanted to leave Beijing, a city that I came to love. To my sadness, some of my friends did move out of the city because of the unbearable air pollution and all the food scandals.
most of the days in 2012-2014 were like these… 🙁
However, over the last few months, I slowly realized, worrying about things that we can’t control or improve will only make us feel worse and even though we do not have control of things like pollution and traffic, WE DO HAVE control over how it affects us mentally (optimism is great remedy!) and how we react to it. That’s when I decided instead of locking myself inside home with all windows closed and eating delivery foods, I decided to live smart and healthy. It also helps knowing the government is making the effort to solve these problems.
What exactly did you change in your life to make it better & healthier…?
What exactly did you change physically in your life to make it better, healthier, to improve its quality?
Here are somethings I did to lead healthier and more enjoyable life in Beijing:
– downloaded Air Quality app on my phone, when the index is below 200, instead of worrying, I go out and enjoy all activities as I would do in any other cities. above 200, I wear mask, when it hits above 300, unless it’s important dates/events, I stay inside and enjoy a movie night with friends instead.
– made a little window garden and bought air filtering plants (snake plant and areca palm are non-toxic to pets and very easy to handle) if you have pets, check to see which plants might be poisonous to your pets. Where to get them? There is a big flower market near Liangmaqiao on Women’s street called LaiTai Flower Market (莱太花卉市场)
Tip – if there are no written prices on the plants, make sure to haggle！ If you are buying larger plants, you can get truck drivers just outside the market for a small fee.
my little window garden (snake plants, cacti, rosemary which I sometimes use to cook!)
more info on air filtering plants
NASA clean air study
air filtering plants that are not toxic to pets
more info on another BJ health blog website
-bought two air filters (Blueair and SmartAirFilter) Blueair is quite expensive (4000+rmb) but very effective and quiet, great for bedrooms. Since my purchase two years ago, lot of new brands came out (IQ air, Airgle Air (they have this at my gym, seems like a good option too…etc). If you are on a budget, there is DIY type of air purifier you can get without drying out your wallet (200-450) I got the canon model (it gets the air clean within minutes, the only thing is the noise is quite loud, but hey, for 200-450 this is a great bargain and very easy to set up)
Smart Air Filters
in 2014, Blue air filter after just 6 months of use OMG!
-joined a gym and attended many free classes (yoga, body pump…etc)
– Visited many farms, farmers markets to find organic produce in Beijing (more info on that on my previous post – Buying organic Food in Beijing
Now onto Foods and Diet
– As much as I love my 煎饼 (street style egg pancake) late at night, I try to stay away from all the street foods with questionable ingredients in them (especially with the recent sewage oil scandal) and only dine at reputable and clean restaurants (I use my stomach’s reaction to gauge the cleanliness of the food… hehe)
– Cook more at home now with non-processed and wholesome, seasonable foods and host monthly potluck parties
– Instead of drinking soft drinks (this includes overly sweetened bottled green tea), I try to drink more water, and make my own simple drinks at home (tea, lemonade, naturally flavored water). I just got a slow juicer (Hurom) as Christmas gift (thanks Nanazhu) so now I will come up with more interesting homemade drink recipes 🙂
– Instead of buying packaged Chinese medicine, I try to make my own home remedies using the principle of Chinese/Korean medicine. I majored in Biology and Culinary Arts, so I read lot of books (mostly cookbooks) and do research on what to eat and what to cook when you get sick. For example, when I get a common cold (I brew myself a very strong ginger tea with brown sugar, white part of spring onion and a peel of orange) and usually it works, when it doesn’t, that’s when I resort to western medicine or go to an international clinic. I also use electronic acupuncture (that my parents bought me from Korea) for muscle aches and common body pains.
Simple Chinese Home Remedy
– when you feel like you are just about to a cold, boil Coca Cola with julienned (or chopped) ginger (it’s a common cold remedy used in China called 姜丝可乐 I use this all the time and it’s quite effective)
What activities in Beijing would you recommend…?
On those blue sky days, I recommend you to goto local parks (Chaoyang park, Ritan park, Jingshan park at night, Olympic park… etc) to walk around and just watch people. (I sometimes run into ayis and shushus group dancing…instead of just watching, I joined them for a song or two). Bring a book to read. Have a picnic! Rent a bike and bike around hutongs. If you have a friend who has a car, go on a weekend getaway. Or invite friends over and have a potluck!
things you would have missed staying inside your apartment on a nice day
Two of my BJ blogger friends’ healthy lifestyle blogs (check them out)
Even with all the above mentioned life-improving actions I take, on those specially gloomy days when I feel down – I sing along to my favorite songs and bake sweet things 🙂 Just like the song of the same name – I also try to think a few of my favorite things and write down the things that I’m grateful for everyday. I hope this post can help you make healthier choices in Beijing and make someone’s day a spoonful more delightful! Enjoy life, viva la vida!
just 40 mins by a car, you can getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, hiking near Huairou
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