Sunday, June 15, 2014

Can you Lose Weight on Vacation Without Trying?

Just returned from a 10 day trip to France.  I was looking forward to all their great bread and cheese.  It was a group trip, about 31 people in all: many college students and some adults.  Our first day we got off the plane in the morning, stored our luggage at the hotel and our tour guide began our tour of Paris.  Yes, we did take the metro into Paris proper but then the walking tour began including Notre Dame and many sites near there.   In a park a French teacher had a group of elementary students out for a picnic lunch.  What was striking was there were no overweight kids in the class.  Then a group of high school students came with their lunch, again no overweight students.  As we continued our walking tour, I noticed many Parisians walking to lunch, to the metro, carrying their 2-3 foot long baguettes.  Again, I observed that no one was obese and almost all were normal weight. 

That night I looked at my pedometer and we had walked 5.6 miles.  The next day was Museum d’Orsay and more sites in Paris.  Even with taking the metro to and from our hotel, to and from dinner, we walked 6.0 miles on day 2.  Day 3 was the Louvre, the Latin Quarter, the Locks of Love Bridge and 6.28 miles.  We hadn’t signed up for a walking tour of Paris but it definitely became one.  In between walking we ate good breakfasts of croissants, or rolls with chocolate, and the usual ham and cheese and fruit. We would stop for good lunches of baguettes, cheese, chicken and then their bakeries of great desserts or the chocolate store and of course afternoon coffee. 

Even when we left Paris for long bus rides into the country, we would stop at smaller towns, at chateaus and more walking.  I kept track of how much we walked: 
  •        Day one 5.6 miles
  •         Day two  6.3 miles
  •      Day three   6.0 miles
  •         Day four    6.28 miles
  •         Day five   5.6 miles
  •         Day six     4.74 miles ( a lot more time on the bus than other days)
  •         Day seven   6.39 miles 
  •        Day eight   4.7 miles

Surprising also, was the amount of bread eaten.  Every meal had a heavy emphasis on their fantastic fresh bread – usually white bread but I did find a whole grain baguette in one of the smaller French towns.  Breakfast was always croissants, rolls. Lunch was often a foot long baguette filled with cheese, chicken, lettuce and tomato (similar to a Subway but the baguette was fresh, delicious and sans all our preservatives).  Every dinner included a basket of rolls but no butter.  (Butter was never served at dinner and you literally had to beg to get a small amount).  So many people in the U.S. avoid bread because “bread is fattening”.  Well, the Parisians and French certainly prove that wrong.  They eat a whole lot of bread but they also seem to walk and bicycle wherever they go.  Despite their high intake of bread and more bread, few were overweight. Not a scientific samples but we covered a whole lot of Paris and almost every French person I saw was of normal weight.

We are home now.  My daughter lost 5 pounds on the trip and I lost two.  We weren’t trying to lose weight and we both ate lots and lots of their fantastic French bread.  It seems most French haven’t heard the rumor that “bread is fattening”.  They enjoy eating their fantastic tasting bread as they walk to the bakery to get it and then walk home with their 3 food long baguette.  (Thank goodness for Zappos and their comment section as I bought shoes that someone said they wore walking through Europe. And walk we did.)
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