Living intentionally and maintaining our values in Indiana

Moving from DC to Indiana is a huge cultural change. For any of my readers that aren't from either of those places, I cannot stress enough how huge a cultural change this is for us.

One thing that made me really nervous about moving from DC back to Indiana is the fact that we don't really live like "typical" Hoosiers (I'm speaking broadly here, I realize there are some Hoosiers with similar values to us). I was really concerned that, when we moved, we would have a tough time maintaining our lifestyle and our value system because of the cultural differences between DC and Indiana.

1. Eating healthy

In DC (recently dubbed America's fittest city in the American Fitness Index), eating healthy is a way of life. It takes little to no effort to eat a diet low in fats, empty carbs, and sugars, because places that serve those things are simply not as readily available as they are in the Midwest. You'll have a much tougher time finding a McDonald's, Burger King or Taco Bell than you will in Indiana. In DC, there are a multitude of healthy eateries and groceries stores on every corner - Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, salad shops, and vegan restaurants abound. Hoosier food culture is just very different, and is one centered more closely around steak and potatoes topped with ice cream. One of our biggest concerns moving back would be that, while we are surrounded by people tempted to eat quick, on-the-go and unhealthy foods, we would have to intentionally maintain our desire to fuel our bodies with healthy food (and thus, eat in for nearly every meal).


2. Exercising

People in Indiana don't exercise at all, especially when compared with the rate of exercise in DC. Part of that is the issue of city planning - you have to drive literally everywhere in Indiana, whereas in DC you can walk nearly everywhere. Exercise is built into the culture in DC - people ride their bikes or walk miles to work rather than drive, or they walk, then take public transit, then walk some more. Sports (like rock climbing, hello) are much more prevalent on the east coast, and people are more into spending their leisure time being active (hiking, biking, paddle boarding, etc.) We knew when we moved that we would have to be intentional about maintaining a high level of fitness focus in our lives, so that it didn't fall by the wayside in a culture that doesn't emphasize or value it nearly as much.

3. Being green

People in DC are all about their recycling. Possibly because they don't want to end up like NYC with stinky garbage lining their streets every night, residents pride themselves on having more recycling going out on trash day than they do garbage. More people in DC have embraced the idea of alternative sources of energy - such as using solar power in their homes. I recently read an article about a girl that had decreased her waste so much that she was able to fit two years worth of garbage into one 16-ounce mason jar. That's a little extreme for us, but I would love for us to get to a point where we are only creating that amount of waste every week. We like being green, even if folks in Indiana think we're a couple of tree-hugging hippies.

4. Caring about issues

Obviously, DC is hyper-focused on politics. Conversations you have with friends and colleagues during leisure time often naturally center around big-picture issues and current events. Indiana just isn't that way. The pace of life here is slower, people are more laid back, and they tend to not be as engaged in serious political or current event discussions (or even think that they matter). We really want to stay engaged with significant issues, and stay focused on education and learning as we grow and plan to start our own family.

This post is in no way meant to dog Indiana. We moved back here for a reason. We wanted a slower pace of life, less focus on competition, less overcrowding, a lower cost of living, and to be closer to our parents. We just knew, when we made the decision, that we would have to be very intentional with the way we lived our life in order to maintain many of the values we picked up in DC. These are all aspects of the East Coast lifestyle we hope to carry with us here in the Midwest.

15 comments:

  1. Sounds like a bit of a difference!

    Pardon my British ignorance but what is a Hoosier?

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  2. Sounds like a bit of a difference!

    Pardon my British ignorance but what is a Hoosier?

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    1. A Hoosier is just a term for someone who lives in the state of Indiana.

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    2. Haha yupp! It's like Californian, but a Hoosier is just someone from Indiana. (I don't know the origin of the term but I'm sure there's a backstory, haha!)

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  3. This was an interesting read. I've never lived anywhere but the Midwest but I've noticed the differences in other areas when traveling. Best of luck with your move. I hope find happiness in your new place!

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    1. Thanks Anna! We've been back a week, and so far so good! Only time will tell though! Living away totally changed our views and habits, and we'd like to maintain what we picked up!

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  4. I've lived in Indiana before and it is absolutely culturally different from many other areas. I think the fact that you are cognizant of what your values are and the cultural difference in your new home, you will do just fine at maintaining those lifestyle points that are important to your family.

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    1. Thank you, I hope so! We decided to get up early today and go hiking (yes, hiking in Indiana, haha!) so I'm hoping that started us off on the right foot!

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  5. Yup, that's a big difference. I'm trying to live healthy, but I am in the state of Kentucky... lol.

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    1. Good ol' Kentucky! You have to be so much more purposeful to live healthfully out here, that's for sure!

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  6. I think that there will be differences anytime that one moves state-to-state. However, you get to live however you choose. :)

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    1. True. There is lots of freedom in that choice!

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  7. What healthy goals! I think we have to find our communities wherever we go. I've found like-minded friends wherever I go, and I now live in a Michigan city that does value these things more than most. It helps me to have support with my goals. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes I agree! I'm a rock climbing coach, so I think being in that community will definitely help us keep on track with these values!

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  8. I and my family have lived overseas for more than a decade, but we always say that our first cross-cultural move was from Michigan to Kentucky--different regions of the USA are different enough that you can certainly experience culture shock right when you arrive. Finding the right balance of holding to your most important values while still being able to adapt to the culture maintained by your new community is, I've found, a key part of being able to live happily in any culture. :)

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