When I moved to France, and even now, many of my friends would comment on how thin and beautiful all the French women were going to be. I can not tell a lie; they were right. Most of the people are rather thin there, but you rarely see joggers or people exercising. At least they were not as common where I lived in Lille as they are here in Houston. Just a general observation on my part is that the French live a more active lifestyle. I don't mean they exercise, I mean they have to walk everywhere. Typically a person walks to the market and carriestheir groceries home. They just move more. Add that to smaller portions and you get smaller people. Not rocket science.
The thing is, when I lived there I only moved when I had to. When I worked I had to walk at least 45 minutes every trip. When I went to the market or to meet friends I had to walk to the tram or the store. But only once in 15 months did I lace up my tennies and go for a jog. However, I did walk with my good friend Lillian. We would walk about twice a week just around our neighborhood. In regular shoes. I always thought it was funny knowing that if I did that in Houston I would have changed and looked sporty. But she always just had on normal clothes so I matched by wearing jeans. It was always cold or at least cool so it's not like we ever broke a sweat.
I actually lost weight once I started working because of the increased walking. Well that and it took my body so many calories to keep warm on the way to and from anywhere. But I never changed my eating habits and I never once had a "light" beer. Living so close to Belgium I would think it a sin to even ask for a Miller Light. Actually I think you can only get Amstel Light or Heineken Light, but I digress. So I drank wine and dark beer and lost weight. But I never felt really healthy (shocker).
Since I have been home I have joined a gym and started a simple run walk plan. I even tried to swim laps last week! Who knew my ass was made out of lead? That sucker sank after the second lap. Solution: breast stroke and act like you belong there. I felt like a fish out of water while in the water! Let's just say I am not a natural lap swimmer. My point is though that I feel more healthy here now and have lost 9 pounds while living in Unhealthy America! Plus I really think Americans are looking more towards a healthy lifestyle, although that could just be in my neck of the woods.
Looking back I know I could have joined a gym and worked out, but I felt guilty spending 65 euro a month when I wasn't working. Then when I finally got my papers to work I had been there for 10 months and felt I needed to contribute to the bills, although Cyr always told me I didn't have to and to buy shoes. I married a good one didn't I?! Plus it was so cold from October until March that exercising outside was just too painful to think of. I didn't even bike because I just knew I would get in a crash and not be able to tell the people in the hospital what was wrong or that I would get lost and have to call Cyr for help. :-)
Lesson I learned: Looking back I did not find things to do or ways to exercise and feel healthy when I lived in Lille. I think it took me too long to feel comfortable with the language and I let that intimidate me and I sat at home too much. Thank goodness I met Steph and Marie Jose or I would have become a hermit! I should have pushed through it and found places to ride my bike. I used to ride an average of at least 40 miles a week here and then I did nothing when I moved. It was my own fault really.
Next Time: I'm going to get out more. Plus the fact that now I speak a little more French helps. But if any of you move to a place where you feel like you don't fit in, I would say take advice from Nike, Just Do It. I wish I had, it would have made my stay even better.