New Starts and New Habits by Amanda Davis

amanda davis

Amanda is a Baltimore, Maryland native but moved to Tampa, Florida to complete her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Leo University and her graduate degree from University of South Florida. She worked in Residence Life at Florida Southern College and Old Dominion University and has recently moved to Dubai, UAE to teach and advise Emiratis. She enjoys running races, traveling, working out at her local Crossfit Box, singing in the car, reading and cheering on her favorite football and baseball teams from a far.  


As we fully embrace summer, at time when many Student Affairs Professionals (SAP) are transitioning into new positions, I thought it would be nice to write about keeping up with healthy living during the transition period.  First, let me tell you a little about my own personal transition.  In August 2012 I made one of the biggest decisions of my life and moved to the Middle East to work as an Academic Advisor/ Instructor at a university in Dubai, UAE.  I was about to leave the comfort of my life and enter into a new culture and world, but more importantly was about to once again pick my life up and move somewhere new, a habit I am sure many Student Affairs Professionals have grown accustomed.  As usual I knew that with this move would come the ever-glooming uncertainties of life, which for me meant reverting back to my unhealthy life style.

I had already been working on changing my lifestyle before I moved to Dubai but really wanted to make it a main focus in my new Middle East Life.  In my new SAP role I was given the ability to focus on myself more and one of the first things I did when I arrived to Dubai was discover a community that could help me continue meeting my fitness goals. I also began to talk about my healthy living habits with my colleagues and as I began to change myself physically and mentally, I was receiving support from my fellow colleagues, which encouraged me to continue.

Below are four easy steps for staying healthy during a transition period.

1.     Find a healthy support group: One of the best things to help with transitioning to a new location is meeting new people.  When I moved to Dubai one of the first things I did was join  It was here that I was able to make new friends and find out about new events happening around the city.  I was able to meet people who had the same interest as me, especially with Crossfit, running and living healthy.

2.     Create goals and talk about them: I had noticed that in the beginning of my transition to the Dubai lifestyle I was starting to live unhealthy and fall into what many expats call gaining the “Dubai Stone”.  The “Dubai Stone” was a term that is used in regard to how much weight many gain from living the glamorous Friday brunch and Saturday dinners out lifestyle.  I was determined not to fall into this category, especially since I had already lost about thirty pounds before moving to Dubai.  So I decided to make it my goal for the year and I shared this goal with other people.  I started talking about what I was doing to be healthy and noticed that others want to join in and support me.

3.     Get Involved: As the extra extrovert that I am, I always like to get involved in many different activities.  One of my favorite healthy activities that I was involved with during my first year in Dubai was  my department’s Biggest Loser Challenge. I was determined, at first, to be the Biggest Loser but eventually it wasn’t about winning anymore.  I was so happy to be apart of an activity that encouraged healthy eating and being fit.  Our lunchtime conversations went from celebrity gossip to health/fitness. In the end many of us saw amazing results, especially the Dean who kicked all of our butts and lost over twenty pounds.

4.     Spread the Love about being fit:  Don’t be afraid to talk about being fit. I knew as I was embracing the healthy lifestyle that not everyone wants to hear about clean eating and working out. However, I realized that by spreading the love about being fit I have inspired others to embrace the healthy lifestyle. By sharing my challenges and successes with others I have been told that I am inspiring them to be a better them.  I feel like many people are timid about sharing their success, but I say OWN it.  It is so hard to live healthy when there are so many temptations in this world.  However, if people come together and encourage each other to make healthy decisions and spread the love about being fit it will be easier to resist and to succeed towards our goals.

Finally, remember change can be challenging and transitioning can be rough, but if you make goals and put yourself out there, in the end you will succeed.  Best of luck to all those transitioning into a new position.


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