"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
How French Women Stay Slim (Without Starving)
We Americans love to eat. We love our fast food, greasy diners, food courts, all-you-can eat buffets, and just about anything out-of-the box or on-the-go. Yesterday my coworker and I needed a little pick-me-up, so we headed across the street to the our local specialty coffee shop for a delectable treat: an ice-blended mocha with ground chocolate-covered espresso beans, an extra shot of espresso, and topped off with whipped creamyum!
But the gratification that comes from being able to get exactly what we want exactly when we want it does have its drawbacks. Consider these facts:
The guilt (not to mention brain freeze) I felt after slurping down that 600-calorie drink before I even got back to my desk is something I'm sure many people can identify with. But it doesn't have to be this way.
In her best-selling new book, French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano examines the French "traditional" approach to eating and provides us with useful tips for rethinking our very American "all or nothing" approach. We're either loading up on super-sized portions or trying to cut out entire food groups (remember Atkins?).
While Guiliano's account is highly romanticized (the French may have an edge, but their overweight and obesity rates have also doubled since the 1980s), there are some things we can learn from the French and from people in other parts of the world, especially the Mediterranean and Asia, where obesity rates have been historically low. In these areas, good, healthy eating and fitness have traditionally been integrated with their lifestyle. Here are a few specific practices we Americans would do well to follow:
From my own experience, I agree that Americans can learn from other countries' approaches to eating. Growing up overweight, I found that the easiest weight I ever lost was during a summer I spent with relatives on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Each morning, we'd ride our bikes to the market for fresh bread. Then we'd play at the beach for a few hours before our two-hour lunch that always began with soup. Finally, we'd have a light dinner before going out at night. I lost a ton of weight without even trying or noticing.
Unfortunately, playing at the beach all day and lingering over two-hour meals isn't really an option for most working Americans. Yet, there are things we can do. While it might be impossible to visit an open-air market on a daily basis, it is possible to select the highest-quality, nonprocessed ingredients during your weekly visits. While it might be difficult to weave fitness into our daily lives, it is possible to find at least 20 minutes during your day to pop in a video and Press Play. I'll do the Turbo Jam 20 Minute Workout when I'm short on time, and I find that getting my heart pumpingeven if it's only for 20 minutesdoes wonders for my overall health and well-being. And the next time I need a late afternoon pick-me-up, I'll think about what the French woman from Guiliano's book might order, and opt for a delightful cappuccino instead.
Monica Ciociola is the Director of Marketing for Beachbody.
The Skinny on Bread
The low-carb craze may be over, but not without leaving behind a few positive side-effects. For one thing, it raised our awareness of the difference between good, unrefined carbs, such as whole grain breads and cereals, and bad, refined carbs, such as white bread, muffins, and cookies.
The bread industry took notice. Faced with dismal sales as Americans swore off refined carbs, bread makers launched a plethora of new products loaded with fiber, nutrients, and flavor. Not only is it safe to eat bread again, it's beneficial for your heart and your health.
Generally, your best bet is any 100% whole grain bread. Some mostly whole grain and lower-carb breads are also good for you. But try to stay away from any partially whole grain or white breads. Specifically, here's what to look for: