The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #9 Exercise is Incorporated into Every Day Life
I used to be the type that would park my car as close to the grocery store entrance as possible to avoid walking any further than I had to. In my mind, exercise was for the gym only.
Living in Paris truly was the anecdote I needed to shake up my laziness (because, let’s be honest- I was lazy!)
Do you remember my story about my first visit to Madame Bohemienne? The enormous flight of stairs I faced before reaching her front door? My disbelief at how she didn’t have an elevator in her building… Did she and her sons climb this mountain of stairs everyday- several times a day- to get to their home?
Yes, they did. Because in Paris, exercise is incorporated into your every day life.
French people walk everywhere. They climb stairs in lieu of taking the elevator (a lot of the time they have no choice). If they do drive, they are not hell bent on getting the closest spot to the entrance. They are really conscious about incorporating exercise into their day, not necessarily because they have more energy than us, but as a necessity to maintaining those famously svelte figures.
And as for those famous figures… it is important here that I explain the mindset and philosophy behind fitness and figures in the French mind. French women really don’t have a negative mindset with regards to their bodies. As I have mentioned before, if they have eaten a particularly decadent dessert, they are enjoying it, not agonizing over how fat it will make them. They do not sit and plot about how they’ll have to work in an extra kickboxing class at the gym to atone for their culinary sin. Rather, they have made a silent and unspoken agreement with themselves that they will maintain an active life- every day- so that they can enjoy culinary decadence whenever they’d like, without guilt (A good thing to keep in mind for Thanksgiving this Thursday).
Madame Chic demonstrated this really well. Famille Chic only had one car and rarely used it. Monsieur Chic commuted to work and Madame Chic walked everywhere she needed to go. For shopping, she would bring along a cart and fill it with each shop she visited. And a note on that… Madame Chic preferred to visit specialty shops (like the local patisserie, chatucerie or boulingerie) instead of going to one giant supermarché probably for two reasons- the first being that the quality of goods she got at the specialty shops was superior to what one would find in a supermarket and the second being that she got more exercise out of going to more than one shop.
My life now, back in Santa Monica, is definitely an active one. I walk all over the city (with baby and Gatsby in tow, of course)- to go shopping, for groceries, to meet friends and even to go to work. I also practice yoga and qi gong and try to take the stairs in lieu of the elevator whenever I can. Not only does it keep my figure on track (and has definitely aided in my losing the majority of baby weight I put on), but it really makes me feel alive… and decidedly not lazy.
For those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy every last aspect of your family meal… and if you’re feeling a little guilty about any overindulgences you might have had, perhaps a good idea might be to talk a walk after the feast. ☺
Won’t you stay tuned for #8?
The above picture is of Mont St. Michel, the medieval Benedictine Abbey in Normandy. Not only is this famous abbey a spiritual and sacred destination but there are also 900 steps to climb before you reach it! Talk about incorporating exercise into your day…
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.