# Comme les Français # The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris

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.


Blondie said...

What a cute post doll! Don't forget to check out my Christmas giveaway before Thursday if you haven't already honey!


Kori xoxo

Lisa D. said...

All of this is so true! The French are so smart, and we...are so lazy. :) I promise to take the stairs (all measly four flights of them) up to my office tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

Anonymous said...

I posted similar sentiments only yesterday. I love being able to walk to accomplish my errands. And good for you that you are able to do this too--and with walking buddies, no less. : )

CashmereLibrarian said...

I loved being able to walk all over Santa Monica. Here, in my midwestern college town, I walk a lot too but it's 1) not as pretty, and 2) can get a bit chilly now through April!

Anonymous said...

Walking is great, but it didn't help me lose any weight.

MyPerfumeLife said...

I love your 'top 20 things' posts. Agree with the sentiments your express in most of them. But sadly I'm not virtuous enough to actually carry them all out.

Mystica said...

I needed this prodding badly. I hate to walk - absolutely detest it but in Melbourne right now without a car have to if I want to have a life of any kind but I resent it immensely!!! the walking I mean.

I can see the logic in this though.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Kori- Thank you!

Lisa- I realize I can't really take the stairs anymore because I always have a stroller with me. I was in Nordstrom today and had to wait for the elevator when normally I would walk up the escalator... Oh well! I suppose I make up for it carrying around a 14lb baby all day long :) Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Vintage Dreamer- Walking buddies are the best, aren't they? I will check out your post ...

Cashmere- Santa Monica is truly a great walking city because it is so easy on the eyes! Hope you get to visit again soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

TNJ- Thanks for your comment. This post really isn't about weight loss ... everyone's situation is so different. This post is more about maintenance. I can personally attest, however, that I gained 30lbs during pregnancy and have lost all but 4lbs of that weight just by walking... so it could work for some people! Best wishes...

My Perfume Life- Thank you! I am a work in progress as well and have to constantly remind myself to practice these lessons- as I always say- awareness is the first step :)

Mystica- I suggest if you hate walking to find something else you enjoy doing. Or just really push yourself to always take the stairs in lieu of the elevator or to vacuum your entire house every three days (although I don't know how appealing those prospects are either) :) Thanks for visiting.

Fiona said...

J, one thing I love about walking errands too is that you are so much more engaged with your neighbourhood. At the very least you will exchange smiles with someone, and with a dog and a baby, well, a small conversation is almost guaranteed. You notice a lot more than rushing past in a car. It makes me feel more local and French.

Tish Jett said...

Yes, indeed, cherie.

Fab-u-lous series.