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How to stay fit and healthy the French way

Updated: Sep 23, 2022


The French have mastered the art of maintaining excellent physical conditions throughout their lives. Find out how to maintain your fitness and health while living in France without resorting to wearing Lycra.


When it comes to maintaining a trim and healthy physique, the rest of the globe may take a few cues from the French diet and workout standards. It does not mean forcing yourself to work up a sweat at the gym six days a week and become fixated on the number of calories you consume. With these six French health secrets, you may maintain your fitness level the French way, which means doing it in a manner that is enjoyable, easy, and does not need you to give up your favorite meals.


1. Moderation is rule number one

If there is one key principle that the French follow when it comes to maintaining their health and fitness, it is the practice of moderation. Even while it may not seem like a big deal, it is, in fact, a big deal for many of us. Avoid overindulging in both food and drink so that you don't wake up the following morning with a headache and an empty sensation in your stomach. Regardless of the time, you have available or the conditions outside, you should always try to get in some kind of physical activity each day. Imagine if you can consume everything you want, as long as you do it in moderation, providing you with an incredible amount of satisfaction and pleasure, and you will never put on any weight.


If we merely exercise some self-control, we can put the French approach to happiness into reality in our own lives. That calls for a commitment to a diet of three square meals per day, with no snacks in between. Check to ensure that the meal has an appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you can achieve that, indulging in a weekly éclair or pain au chocolat will not compromise your health or cause your waistline to expand.


2. Exercise for pleasure, not punishment

Forget about attending any physical challenges or courses like a boot camp while you're in France. In France, there is one basic rule that governs all aspects of life, and that rule is to have joy in everything you do. Put an end to whatever it is that isn't giving you any joy in your life. The French will go on to another activity if they don't find it stimulating, if it's too tough, or if it's too taxing on their bodies.


The activities of skiing (fun), cycling (scenic), swimming (energizing), hiking (semi-spiritual), yoga and pilates (calming), and walking are the ones that are most popular among those who want to be active (convenient and easy). Such boot camps may exist, but it's safe to say that they're not very common. It's all about how good you feel before, during, and after your activity of choice. The age-old advice to practice moderation is applicable in this scenario as well. It is not necessary to go to either the extreme of pushing yourself too hard or not pushing yourself enough. Make it a point to engage in an activity that pleases you several times each week, and fill in the rest of the time by getting plenty of steps in.


3. Keep going

Finding the parking space that is geographically closest to one's destination ought to be made mandatory participation in all official North American sports. The French do not shy away from walking; on the contrary, they actively seek it out. Whether it's a trip to the local market for weekly shopping or a stroll to school with the kids, the French inject tiny pockets of walking throughout the day and the week whenever they can. At the end of the month, the total is high, the legs are more toned, the metabolism is fired up, and the additional sugary treat is countered with a workout that can fit into even the busiest schedule.


Include a few flights of steps into your weekly routine (or multiple times daily if you live in one of the numerous apartment buildings in Paris that do not have an elevator!) You may now understand why the French doesn't go to the gym as often as other people yet still manage to maintain a thin and fit body. They are not lean and fit because they restrict their caloric intake; rather, they are lean and fit because they eat in moderation and look for ways to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives that do not involve wearing lycra.


4. Make your abs in the cuisine not the gym

Follow the example set by the French and consume a diet that is mostly composed of foods that are natural, unprocessed, and whole. They will keep you fueled up, satisfy you, and maintain the muscular tone that you have worked so hard to get.


You can train yourself to the point of exhaustion (trust me, I did this before I learned the "French" way), run marathons, compete in triathlons, and do as much strength training as you want, but if you continue to eat junk food and overload on low-quality carbohydrates and sugar, all of your hard work will be for naught. Aside from the fact that this will happen, you will also feel terrible since you are not giving your body the essential food it needs because you are exercising too much.


5. Healthy relaxation is part of the puzzle

The French are experts at tuning in to what their bodies are telling them. They know when to stop eating when they need to walk about a little bit more, and surely know when they need to rest, unwind, disconnect, and simply take it easy on themselves. Because they get at least a few weeks off every year (usually up to about five weeks), they have plenty of opportunities to relax, whether it be through a passive pastime like going on a hike or an active one like getting a massage, using the sauna or jacuzzi, sleeping in later, or even getting a beauty treatment (facials, manicures, anything goes).


To relax implies bringing more equilibrium into one's life and regrouping to feel good, maintain one's health, and get the most out of one's life. Do not be afraid to take some time off; just mark it down on your calendar, and both your mind and your body will thank you for it.


6. No age restriction, ever

There is something invigorating about the way the French see becoming older. Your life does not come to an end when you reach your 50s or 60s; rather, it takes a turn for the better as you gain more experience, more awareness of who you are, and more sensitive listening to your body.


It is not only not uncommon for French people to begin a new sport or activity later in life, but it is also not unusual for them to do so. When you've reached the middle years of your life, it's important to keep your mind and body active by trying new things. Doing so may also introduce you to something you come to like.


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