(Half) Frenchwomen do get fat
Or at least this one does.
There has been a lot of talk the past year or two about the "French secret" or the "French Paradox" and how French women stay so slim. I'm not going to go into that - though I will say that most of the French women I know here are average-sized, and the ones who are very slim follow the cigarette and coffee diet.
But this post is unfortunately about me, and how one day late last summer, I had a wake-up call and realized I'd gotten to be quite fat. You see, C and I had recently gotten back to the US and we were heading over to 10th to take advantage of the last summer days in Paris and to catch up with a few friends. As we exited the metro, a guy (who was obviously homeless and drugged out of his mind) did not appreciate us following him up the stairs. He turned around and started spewing insults, mostly at me, telling me I was fat as a truck and ugly and that I should be ashamed of myself. This went on for a few minutes. C was preparing to punch the guy, but I convinced him it wasn't worth it (and as an ex-policeman, he knew the paperwork that would lie ahead), so we slowly backed away and just let him continue up the stairs ranting and shouting more insults.
As we finally exited the metro, I looked at myself in the store window across the street and realized what even a coked-out homeless man could see - I was fat. And I immediately felt utterly and severely ashamed 1) that my husband had to witness that exchange, and 2) that I had sort of let myself go without realizing it. I remained semi-distracted for the rest of the day, clouded in shame. Seriously, la honte. Even thinking about it today stresses me out.
The next morning, I went out and immediately bought a scale, and my heart dropped after stepping on. How did I let things get so out of control? Sure, I work from home, which makes snacking a lot more tempting, and sure I travel a lot, which means I spend about half of each month eating in hotels and restaurants. But how could I not have noticed? And my poor husband - he was so handsome and fit, and here he was with a fat wife. Maybe I was just in denial the whole time, refusing to see what everyone else saw?
A lot of you might not know, but I practically lived on ice skates from the time I was 4 until I graduated from high school. I've never been a naturally skinny girl, and being in the spotlight in an itty bitty skating costume made me very self-conscious, so I spent the majority of my high school years living off an apple and a bag of skittles per day. How I ever had the energy to skate several hours a day is beyond me.
That continued on into college, where I studied nutrition. As a side note, in my experience, 90% of people who study nutrition do it because they are control freaks and manic about food. Only a minor 10% have a normal, healthy relationship with food, and are in it because they are actually interested in helping people. The rest all have food issues and/or just want to know how to stay skinny.
When I moved to France and realized that 1) my town did not have a gym and 2) low-fat foods didn't exist (remember, this was 10+ years ago - things have changed a lot since then), I decided to give myself a break. I ate what my ex and his family ate, and I drank what they drank (which in Bretagne, was quite a bit lol). And thus began the start of a very slow weight gain. We didn't have a scale, so I didn't monitor my weight at all, but looking back now, I probably gained 2-3 kgs a year. Those darn kilos can really get you - when you grew up in pounds, one little kilo just seems to be so much less to worry about.
However I was oh-so-wrong, and it all added up to an almost 25kg weight gain. There, I said it. And yes, it still pains me to put it out there. But if I'm writing this today, it's because I didn't want to make any more excuses. It was time, I wasn't getting any younger, and it was just going to get more and more difficult to do as time went on. So starting at la Rentrée, I put myself on a very strict diet, and combined with a whole lot of exercise, I lost every single one of those kilos plus a few more. It took me 25 weeks, or a little over 6 months, with an average loss of 1kg (2.2lbs) per week.
So voila another reason posting has been light the past six months - it wasn't just school, or work, or our apartment purchase, it was also the very little free time/energy I had after all the calorie counting, meal planning and working out. I flat-out simply didn't have any brain power left to think up interesting blog posts!