People have been trying to demystify the French paradox for years, including me. Really, how do all those people eat cheese, chocolate and baguettes while sipping wine and not be obese? The truth is that there are many factors involved in the slim physiques of French people (ones that I teach in the Slim, Chic and Savvy Immersion program). However, the main concepts I found carved in a set of cheese knives. Allow me to explain.
At Wednesday night’s soiree (which was over-the top fun), I gave away a set of cheese knives, each carved with a word. These three words can teach you how to become more like those French women (and members of Slim, Chic and Savvy) who maintain slim bodies while indulging in decadent food.
Want to know the 3 words that sum it all up?
When was the last time you sat down with family and friends for hours for a true gathering feast with decadent food and flowing wine?
I’m not speaking of quick Tuesday night dinners or taking the family out to Steak-n-Shake. What I’m talking about is a beautiful exquisite dining experience.
Gathering is a daily part of the French culture, with two hour lunches and weekend dinners that can go well past midnight.
When I was in Paris a few weeks ago, I also observed that you don’t see French people on their cellphones texting, checking in via Foursquare or updating their Facebook status.
Unlike American culture, the French aren’t so busy chasing success, fame and fortune that they don’t carve out time for their most treasured possessions: family and friends.
How is this slimming?
Well, I work with clients who struggle with their weight, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that they don’t typically gather, unless it’s for a business meeting or Thanksgiving.
Some of them are afraid that they won’t be able to handle being around delicious food. They are either on a diet or believe that food has control over them. So, they turn down invitations and hunker down at home spiraling into loneliness and sadness. And, what do they do? Eat.
Others claim they don’t have the time. They’ve inundated themselves with so many ego-driven responsibilities – debt, clubs, associations and such – that they don’t even have time to enjoy the people they love most. They return home in the evenings, tired and overwhelmed because they must start that process over again the next day. What do they do? Eat. And, then they wonder what’s missing from their life?
I challenge each member of the Slim, Chic and Savvy community to throw a decadent dinner party. I even give away a prize to the winner. I do this for two reasons: 1) I want women to fall back in love with gatherings and delicious food, and 2) I want to empower them to take back control of their schedules and lives to create room for the really important stuff of life: connection.
If you don’t believe my theory of the slimming affect of gathering, let’s take a look at some statistics. According to the Food Marketing Institute, just 40 percent of American families eat dinner together, no more than two or three times a week. A generation ago that number was close to 80 percent. A generation ago, Americans were also much slimmer.
In contrast, almost 85% of French families dine together almost every day of the week.
My conclusion on this matter: a lack of gathering due to overwhelm and food obsession has led to a nation of people starving for true connection and pleasure.
When I suggest to a woman that she begins to enjoy food, she looks at me like I just asked her to hand over her first born.
Upon our first conversations, members of Slim, Chic and Savvy confess that their minds are consumed with food and body image issues, on average, 60% of their day. That’s over 14 hours of her a woman’s precious life that’s spent obsessing and trying to control her food and body. But, that number does not reflect savoring and enjoyment. It’s obsessive, controlling and depriving.
I can relate. When I was in the deep darkness of an eating disorder, I’d venture to say that my answer would have been more like 90%. I was either fighting with food or completely giving into it. To enjoy food was not a part of the equation.
Yet, it was allowing myself permission to slow down and savor what was on my plate (and life) that led to a size 6 body that I no longer obsess over, and the fascinating thing is that I eat more than before. But, I know how to eat, and it’s not what you think! It’s full of pleasure, flavor and a dining etiquette that is very slimming. It’s very French.
Like Americans, the French woman’s day revolves around food, but it’s a very different energy. She’s not spending her days obsessing and trying to avoid pleasurable eating. She’s not tracking her calorie intake. She’s not shopping for sugar or fat free anything. Instead, she’s excited about what she’s going to pick up at the market to prepare for the evening. She cannot wait to meet her lover at the brasserie for a romantic dinner.
She doesn’t try to control food; she simply savors it. Turns out, savoring food is one of the most slimming things you can do.
American women are starving for pleasure. So, when you deny yourself of a pleasurable eating experience, your human nature cannot fight but for so long before you give in or go mad. If you want to stop the battle and tap into blissful joie de vivre, stop resisting Mother Nature that made food not only for nourishment but also for pleasure.
Furthermore, it’s time to start enjoying not only food, but your life. If most of your pleasure in life comes from food, it’s understandable why you may eat more than your body needs. When you begin to address all aspects of your life, not just your weight, you’ll begin to create more joy and passion.
A fulfilled woman doesn’t desire to overfill her body with food. As a result, food takes its rightful place in her life. It becomes a pleasurable piece, not the main attraction.
One of the initial issues that I see in every woman when we first begin working together is a lack of celebration in her life.
Her focus is on lack: lack of money, time, love, friends, worth.
And, when it comes to her relationship with her own body, this state is even greater. In her mind, she lacks her ideal body.
So, naturally, put her at the table with food and wine and it’s not about celebrating what’s on her plate, the gift of her body and connection with family and friends, but it becomes a battle. Her mind goes to everything she perceives to be wrong with her body and in her life. What does that type of woman do? She eats more and enjoys less.
What you focus on grows, so her continual focus on what she thinks is not working in her life continues to not work.
On the other hand, the French celebrate life, and especially food. Appreciation and celebration of what’s sur la table is part of the French culture.
But, let’s take a deeper look. French people aren’t always trying to change themselves. They accept and celebrate how life is right now. That’s part of their joie de vivre. This takes a ton of pressure off of their daily life.
If you’ll begin to celebrate more and complain less, you’ll find that your energy will begin to shift in beautiful ways. You’ll begin to place your focus on things that feel good, and as you feel better, you’ll make very different choices around your body and food.
Celebration, turns out, is one of the most effective weight loss tools out there. If you don’t believe me, just check out what they Slim, Chic and Savvy members are saying. From day one of the program, celebration becomes a mandatory daily habit. By week two, they are more joyful and dropping weight avec plaisir! Coincidence? I think not!
Which of the three words do you feel most lacking in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
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