201 of 217 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: French Women Don't Get Fat (Hardcover)After spending three weeks in Paris and Provence I can tell you exactly why French women don't get fat. It's because they walk everywhere, they shop daily in small fresh food markets, and they use the stairs instead of elevators. Also, many of them smoke but that should be avoided of course.
Walking: their entire society revolves around walking. We hop in the car and drive for even the smallest distances. Why? Because that is the way most of our cities and towns are set up. My town has very few sidewalks and walking through urban sprawl, along busy highways and streets is only for hookers or street people. America revolves around cars. In France it is quite easy, safe, and pleasant to walk to most destinations. Gas is quite high, traffic and parking are a nightmare, walking just makes sense. They will walk for many many blocks and think nothing of it. Sadly, in America, the only way to travel that same distance safely is to usually hop in the car.
Utilities: Utility costs are quite high in Europe. Also many of the apartments and townhouses are quite old, even historic. Therefore they aren't fitted with big modern kitchens like we have in America. They also don't use big energy hogging appliances. Consequently, they don't have big wharehouse supermarkets where you can buy in bulk. They'd have no place to store bulk. Heck, because they walk everywhere, they'd have no way of getting all that bulk home. They buy what they can carry in a shopping bag on wheels (see the cover illustration for the book). They shop on a regular basis, every day or two, purchasing fresh ingredients and cooking them right away. No need for large amounts of cold storage, frozen foods, bulk items etc. It's sort of a shop as you eat system. Because of this they eat a LOT more fruits and veggies. And guess what, they are WALKING to and from the market several times a week.
Stairs: I'm not saying France has no elevators, I just never used one the entire time I was there. My friend complained vigoursly about how many freakin stairs there were in Paris until I reminded her most of the buildings were built well before elevators were invented. It's true. No matter where you go or where you visit, you will be walking up and down many many stairs. Even getting to and from the Metro system, you walk down underground by going down many many stairs, only to walk back up many many stairs to re-emerge at your destination.
Between the walking and the endless stair climbing it is no wonder that I ate whatever I wanted and still lost 7lbs in three weeks. And yes, there were no fat women in Paris. I never spotted a single one.
Can this lifestyle be duplicated at home in America? Only with some real effort and difficulty I think. Walking will have to be deliberate with time set aside for it, rather than it just being an integral part of you day. The same goes for the stair climbing. Eating more fresh foods is do-able, but we stressed out and time poor Americans tend to buy ahead. Perishable items are pricey and tend to go bad before we get around to cooking them. Hence our reliance on processed, canned, and frozen foods. We eat chemically laden "preserved" foods rather than fresh because it fits our lifestyle better. It's hard to adopt another country's lifestyle when everything about your own country works against you.
Buy the book and judge for yourself.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 13, 2007 7:53:30 PM PST
B. Kirby says:
Posted on Dec 7, 2008 7:53:30 PM PST
Agree with you. I was in Seoul, S Korea in the heart of the downtown for a couple of months and I would get my daily workout without going to any gym.
I would wake up at 6:30 AM, leave my apartment by 7:15 AM, walk 10 mins to the train station, then walk another 10 mins to catch a company bus, inbetween walk a flight of stairs .... Repeat the entire process in the evening. I used to curse every train station that had no elelvators, but end of the day, it was a blessing in disguise - no gym fees, no scheduling to go to the gym ...
Posted on Jan 6, 2009 6:23:48 AM PST
What you are saying is true but i think every little bit counts. I went to france when i was a teenager and lost a lot of weight eating rich desserts and walking a lot, but living that kind of lifestyle just changed the way i thought about staying fit. When i came back home i slowly started to find ways to make it work for me without having to go out of my way. Now all i do is take a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood for maybe 2 days out of the week and do my best to go shopping once a week and I pretty much stay within a healthy 10 pound range the entire year eating whatever i want.
Posted on Apr 3, 2009 3:03:04 PM PDT
Tracy C. Simpson says:
Good observations you made there. However, I do think we "stressed-out Americans" could do more to improve and even question our lifestyle.
How we cope with stress would be a good example.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2009 5:24:31 AM PDT
D. Upchurch says:
Yes. I realized that when I was in college I was walking a lot across campus and breaking into a sweat several times a day. I wish there were more places to walk in the US. A year ago, I gained 15 pounds after the loss of one my dogs that I used to walk twice a day in the field by my house. It was more like meandering than strolling. I'm thinking about starting the habit again with one of my other dogs. I'm amazed at the difference a little bit of walking can do. I'm on my feet all day in the house, but it doesn't seem to be the quite same thing. I'm sure it helps, though. Maybe the enjoyment of being outside is part of the secret.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2009 1:47:22 PM PDT
Christopher Tricarick says:
I agree with your review (although it doesn't really say anything about the book). In fact, it shows our American "intelligence": (I can say this since I'm American myself)--we put elevators everywhere so we never have to take stairs, we create cities where we not only don't have to but in fact CAN'T walk with any convenience--and then we drive to gyms and PAY MONEY for the privilege of running on treadmills and sweating on stairmasters. Brilliant, right?
Posted on Mar 18, 2011 12:26:20 PM PDT
John D. Ryan says:
i know exactly what you are saying. this is true for many parts of Europe other than france as well. In Austia most people ride bikes, especially because there are any areas where it is illegal to drive. the same goes for a large portion of italy, and France.
Posted on Dec 8, 2011 10:53:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 8, 2011 11:16:22 AM PST
I agree w/ most of what you said b/c I have seen much the same thing in other European countries I have visited, for instance when in Germany they had outdoor Christmas shopping fairs you would see babies in a buggy or sroller w/ a cover for rain or cold~ This is * normal* for them , in our country you would be hard pressed to find a new mom take their baby out in the rain for several hours,,willingly.
That said, these are the differences, I* can *everything we grow, and bake all our baked goods so to NOT get the junk that is in so much of our food! I enjoy French cooking ( and German) so I do cook on the " heavy" side but believe food is to be a pleasure,,, and taste good all the while taking time to eat slowly` now THAT is something that has gone to the wayside but guess what?? In Germany fast food is very popular !
I would never trade living on the property that I live on to walk everywhere!
Americans do not lack inteligence, they lack the desire to exercize and eat foods that have no chemicals in them! ( easily solved,,,,, make a good , yet quick meal by using a pressure cooker!)
There are bread machines also if you do not wish to go thru the process. Lets not throw the baby out w/ the bathwater and not be grateful for appliances that make our lives easier!
Personally,, I am thrilled to use a food processor to make pie dough!
I will admit this, I eat the way I do b/c I was brought up here w/ parents that came from Europe so I learned early to make and do lots of things myself~ I see this happening again, with a huge growth in the sewing/knitting / do it yourself resurgence!
I love to see young people " thrift" things and while I would not make a dress out of a old thrifted shower curtain,a( I kid you not!) I WILL sew most of my dresses using * good* fabrics ( now that is pretty French come to think of it LOL!)
I will take the ability to have lots of flower and veggie gardens over sqeeezing into small places , which is how most European people live ( a dear friend lived there for 7 yrs) and she was very happy to be back living in the US! I dont think we should in ANY way try to say that they have the best way of living, all we have to do is to make time to walk outside (best option b/c you get fresh air )or on the tredmill and be done w/ it and to TEACH our children how to cook and eat properly ( my grown son's are all foodies and would not consider eating in any mediocre resturant b/c they themselves can cook better! While I do love French food,,,,,French fashons, I would not desire to live the kind of life they do,,,,,,,it may be " cute or trendy" for awhile,,, long term?? Give me my car please I'll keep it!
There is no advantage to taking a step backwards,,,just remember to eat well and get your 30 min ( at least) in a day of good walking ok?? If you really want to do your body a favor walk 45 min a day,,
Posted on Mar 23, 2012 11:24:40 PM PDT
LOL I went to Paris and thought the SAME THING! I've never walked so much IN MY LIFE! Even when we got to our apartment we had to walk 8 flights!
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2012 11:27:50 PM PDT
Whatever happened to eating raw, living whole foods...learning to love them instead of dead baked breads and pies?