Got this in my inbox today: 8 Reasons the French Are Slim. As usual with these lists, the focus is on the WHAT and HOW of EATING. But fitness isn’t just about eating. It’s about using up what we eat… which is why farmers of long ago were HEALTHY even on a meat-and-potatoes diet. And the farmers I know will argue that it really wasn’t strictly meat-and-potatoes either; they ate LOTS of veggies and fruits too. So going back to the French, #9 reason why they’re slim is because THEY WALK EVERYWHERE. I’m not French but when we stayed there for a bit, in the 18ème, we were struck at how easy it was to get our daily exercise. Their streets are made for walking. It seemed impractical to own or rent a car, and unless you were going far it didn’t make sense to wait for the train or bus. Very different from our neighborhoods here, most of which don’t even have sidewalks.
Two years ago, on a whim and after the Paris trip, we decided to walk to Panera in the middle of the day. A friend saw us, thought our car had broken down, and offered us a ride! People driving by slowed down and looked at us as if we were crazy. Since there wasn’t a sidewalk on the main thoroughfare we were forced to make our way through sometimes rocky terrain, crossing a small creek in the middle of one of the neighborhoods. It was only a few blocks, negligible by Montmartre standards. We entertained ourselves by flinging French phrases — including some mild insults 😀 — at each other, and pretending we were making the trek to our favorite boulangerie/patisserie. The destination wasn’t as exciting, but you try to be happy with what you have.
It’s ridiculous how our suburbs work…. to go walking anywhere, you have to drive first. If we want to go walking around our neighborhood, it’s best to do it before rush hour, otherwise we may be getting exercise but we’ll also be inhaling the carbon emissions from cars on the nearby highway. I would rather walk the streets of Paris than get on the machines at our local Y, four minutes from where I am. The genius of Paris is that you’re enticed to walk not just by the streets themselves and what you’ll find on them, you’re also led by your nose. All your senses are engaged, and rewarded at the end with some flaky, buttery stuff. While I’m all for delayed gratification, the short-term ones provided by a walk to the local bakery or pastry shop are infinitely more appealing than the thought of showing off a well-sculpted body at some crowded beach somewhere, several MONTHS later. Forget that.
There’s an idea for the Kinect and Wii Fit folks. Get us some Parisian scenes we can strap onto our heads. While you’re at it, infuse the program with the scent of freshly baked baguettes as well.