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Blogging Paris part 2 Health and Fitness lessons good and bad from the French
Although I wrote this in Paris, I'm posting this from the USA as I lost my high speed connection just before leaving Paris.
As I depart Paris, a few observations:
First on diet and fitness:
A. The Parisians are definitely trimmer and fitter than Americans. I would attribute this to:
1. A significantly less sedentary lifestyle. Parisians are out walking all of the time and even when they take the metro, long walks to and from the station are involved. Cars are generally not used for commuting. Bicycles are still a popular means of getting to work and running errands in the city, unlike the US where bicycles are only used for recreation.
2. Portion control. Paris restaurants are world renowned for their culinary excellence and rightfully so. But the portions served are significantly smaller here in Paris than they are in the US. Parisians eat a mixed diet and DO NOT avoid fat and refined carbs. However, they eat significantly less at one setting than their American counterparts. Many studies have shown that the key factor in how much food one imbibes is how much food is placed in front of them. Americans out eat Parisians, in part, because American restaurants serve vastly larger portions (and this is not good.)
3. Parisians care a lot about how they look both in a fitness and a fashion sense. Americans are much more willing to accept the "overweight" look.
B. A law to limit smoking in public spaces in France was just abandoned in part due to opposition from the tobacco groups. Paris has not ended its love affair with smoking and this is a major negative health wise for the French and an inconvenience for visitors--public places and restaurants can be a smoky environment. It's somewhat amazing that tobacco lobby groups still have influence here in France--compare that to their virtual pariah status in the US legislative process.
And a final non health and fitness observation.
As in past trips, the Parisians that I met casually, in business, and socially were generally polite and helpful. It's a different culture obviously and as a result of the cultural differences, misunderstandings sometimes arise. But I think that Americans are very welcome in France and will really enjoy their experiences here.
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