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France was an Inspiration for a Renewed Health and Wellness Journey!

I just returned from a long visit to France. It was my first trip there and I had great expectations. I traveled to Normandy, spent a week in the Provence area and then a too-short week in Paris. I tried hard to "stay in the moment" and enjoy every experience, but I was distracted by other personal events going on. At the end I was desperate to get home and move on. Now it's more than two weeks later and I can't get the France experience out of my head. It turns out the French are right to be arrogant about their culture-beautiful people, fabulous food and wine, centuries of history, relaxed lifestyle, romantic language and more.

To be honest, the entire time I spent in France I felt like an ugly, fat toad. The French in general are a beautiful people. They are fit, dress well and ooze an elegance I will never have. They made smoking at outdoor cafes look glamorous and sexy. My Rubenesque body wedged into a chair at the cafe sipping an espresso and munching on a croissant would only have given off vibes of a Florida truck stop had you put a cigarette in my hand.

I used my "still on France time" sleepless nights to really process what the French do right and how I can implement those things to improve my health and wellness. These are the things that France does well and are inspiring me to make some positive changes.

Healthy, seasonal, local food.

There were farmers markets everywhere and all the time. Beautiful, fresh seasonal produce, food from the sea, meat and dairy fresh from the farm. Even Paris had farmers markets tucked into local neighborhoods throughout the city.

There were cheese shops, bakeries and butcher shops in every neighborhood. The French shop almost daily and buy and eat the freshest food available. They base their daily menu on what is seasonal. They do not go to Walmart or Costco and buy a months-worth of food (a lot of which goes to waste). The French definitely look down upon and do not make available the cheap processed food that Americans eat as a part of their daily diet.

Limited Eating Opportunities I did not see a lot of snacking in France. You grab a fresh bakery item for breakfast, have a leisurely lunch between 12-2 and then dinner from 7-10. If you don't eat at those times, then you are really limited as to what is available to you. There were not 24-hour fast food restaurants or diners to keep you eating and full around the clock. This is a rather smart way to condition your body to limit food intake.

Exercise and Movement is a Part of Daily Life It is humorous to read travel posts from Americans that warn all travelers to France that there will be A LOT of walking. So many posts about "20,000 steps a day" and "train before you get there".... This is everyday life for the people of Paris and France. They walk everywhere. There is an expectation that if it is a 30-minute journey on foot then you should walk it.

It is also a very old country so there are lots of staircases to walk and very few elevators. Driving a car in Paris is not really an option for most residents so their day requires walking and stairs.

"La Vie Est Belle" "Life is Beautiful" attitude.

The French have an attitude towards life that focuses on enjoying and savoring every moment. They, like most other European countries and people, have a slower pace of life. They take their time in eating, working and leisure activities. They sit at cafes and enjoy people watching, they have picnics along the river or any green space. As a child my family often had picnics, but I had completely forgotten about picnicking until I went to France and saw that everyone was picnicking, and the shops and food were setup perfectly for picnic purchases.

Is France perfect? Do I want to live there? No, but I certainly want to take the things they do right and incorporate them into my daily life.

Since my return I have cut out all processed foods and prepare my meals daily, I am trying to walk more and take the stairs. I limit myself to eating two meals a day and cut out snacking. I also am planning picnics with my grandson and look forward to sitting at some of our wonderful New Orleans outdoor cafes with friends and family. I also set a goal for myself. I would like to lose at least 25 pounds, when that happens (and I maintain it) I will buy my ticket to Paris for 2025 and learn more lessons on a healthier and more beautiful perspective on life.

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