Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Facing Facts and Living French

Back in February I (sort of) reviewed French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilliano.

In case you didn't read it, or don't want to follow the link, the short of what I said is that it's a non-traditional diet book. Meaning that it doesn't give a set formula for weight loss and then claim that it works for everyone.

Also I said that I would follow up later with a more thorough review because I hadn't had a chance to put the books principles into place. What is a diet book review unless you actually practice what it preaches? So I have been, or I've been trying.

One of the main things pointed out to you is that everyone has their own set of food weaknesses, Guiliano calls them offenders, and no one is going to be able to lose excess weight and keep it off until you identify your offenders and learn how to control them.

I really enjoyed this book and I've enjoyed "living French" as Andy calls it.

The main idea is to learn self control. This is achieved by facing food head on and not by running away from it. Food is a necessity for life. You have to eat to live and why would you want to live your whole life denying yourself when it is so natural to eat and enjoy eating?

The reason I like the book so much is because Guiliano never tells you to completely cut the food you love out of your life. She says you should eat those foods and enjoy them, otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I don't believe in dieting for weight loss. It just seems like that word, "diet," has taken on such an awful meaning for people when in fact your diet is simply the food you consume. Your daily diet. Not a bad word at all. It shouldn't be scary and neither should eating.

There is so much information in the book that I can't really convey it all here. The point is that you should enjoy your food. Enjoy preparation. Enjoy consumption. All without fear or guilt.

And that brings me to my current journey and wake up call.

I have been doing my best to "live French" since I finished the book. I'm currently in the "recasting period" outlined in the book. I've been doing pretty well. I've been encouraged to try new foods that I didn't regularly put in my shopping cart and so far I've been very pleased with the results.

There have certainly been some set backs with all the birthday parties and holidays that I've been celebrating, but I'm not giving up on this thing.

My main issue has been my lack of exercise. It has become apparent to me that the metabolism from my teens and early twenties is long gone and while I still have a pretty good metabolism it needs a boost from time to time.

We don't own a scale and I haven't weighed myself regularly since... well I don't know since when. I step on the scale once a year at the doctor's office and that's it. I don't really pay a lot of attention to the number because I'm alright as long as I feel good and look how I want to look. Sure there is always that little bit of flab I'd like to get rid of, but for the most part I've always been happy with my body.

Until lately. I still don't think I look all that bad. I'm one of the fortunate few that gains weight in a somewhat even manner and though my measurements grow they all stay in the same proportion to each other. But the last month or so I can tell that I am uncomfortable with the excess weight on my body. Then yesterday I went in for that once a month weigh in and well...

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. I knew it, but seeing the scale confirm it was kind of a slap in the face.

This last year I haven't been nearly as active as usual. I did spend a good bit of time on the track last summer, but then it got cold. I don't run in the cold weather. Not just because of the record snow we had this winter, but also because of the wind. It can be 45 outside but the wind makes it feel like 30. It's miserable, so like usual I took a winter break from running. But I didn't work this year either which is new for me.

I've had the most sedentary year ever. Along with that came a lot of free time to indulge in one of my most favorite things: baking. I had ample time on my hands to bake and partake and that is exactly what I did.

All these things together have amounted to a body that I am unhappy with. Not just because of how it looks, but because I feel bad. Physically my body is failing me and it's all my fault.

So that's where I am. Last spring I was fighting a physical battle and this spring I'm fighting another one, just a different kind.

The lesson I learned from this is that I now know my body's weight maximum. I know where I need to be and what I need to do to get there.

Thankfully the winter appears to be over. Other than a few more inevitable cold snaps we should have pleasant weather from now until October at least.

I have started running again. Which was not at all bad. My speed and endurance haven't slipped like I thought they would and I feel really good. It's encouraging to know that my year of sloth hasn't completely put me out of the game.

As I continue on this journey to health I'll update you. Like I said, we don't own a scale so I won't be doing weekly weigh ins. It's just not who I am. Relying on my body is a much better guide to fitness for me. And weekly updates aren't my style. I would get tired of it and getting healthy would start to feel like a chore.

I have "before" pictures that I'm not going to post yet. Sorry, but this isn't a "tell all" and I do censor myself from time to time. Maybe one day.

I'm going to continue "living French" along with restarting my exercise routine. I hope these next few weeks bring some welcome changes. Here's to getting healthy and staying that way.

In the meantime feel free to share your own journey to health in the comments or send me an email.

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