How the French Stay Fit

Written by Erica Paredes

The book "French Women Don't Get Fat" became popular for a reason. Every time we see a Parisian girl on television or in movies, and aside from being fashionable, she always seems to be healthy and fit. Guess what, the French dislike going to the gym, just like you do, but the difference is that they don't use this as an excuse to not exercise at all.

In France, people prefer to go for a run with a scenic view outdoors or play some sort of sport, but aside from that, they also find ways in everyday life to help them stay fit. Here are some ways you can do as the French to keep trim and slim:

  • Walk - If you are going somewhere just a few blocks away, put your car keys back on the kitchen counter and walk over instead. Take the stairs if only going a few floors up or if you have the choice between them and an escalator. Whenever possible, park further than necessary so you are forced to walk a further distance between your car and where you need to go. These things seem small and unnecessary but many little things definitely help when you look at the bigger picture.

  • Everything in moderation - French women don't believe in diets. What they do believe in, is healthy eating and a healthy outlook on food. If you observe them, they pretty much eat whatever they want but from a very young age, they are already trained to control their portions. Instead of banning certain foods in their diet, they indulge in their cravings in small doses.

  • Eat slowly - It takes roughly 20 minutes for our brain to realize we are full so if you scarf down your food in ten minutes, you are likely to help yourself to another serving that you don't need. By the time you finish it, you realize that you have already eaten too much. Enjoy every bite of your food so you can savor it and eat just enough.

  • Think green - A big salad or vegetable soup before your meal will help curb your appetite later on in the meal so by the time you get to your main course, you won't want so much of it. It also helps to have a tall glass of water before starting any meal to settle your stomach before eating, especially if you are starving.

  • Care for your core - If your core is strong, it helps other parts of your body stay fit. Spend about 15 minutes a day stretching every morning and try out pilates or yoga. Not only do these two exercises strengthen your core, they also teach you discipline and make you feel more balanced.

  • Try isometric exercises - In their daily lives, the French find ways to get a few minutes of fitness in whatever they may be doing. For instance, while waiting for your bus or train, lean against a wall and tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for about ten seconds each time. Or while watching television, you can sit down and do your leg stretches; while cooking, you can raise your heels up and down for a quick leg work out, and so on.


Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen
is the founder of The Parisian Diet, which is about the pleasure of eating and being able to eat all types of food.

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