The basics of losing weight sound simple: eat less, move more. It’s not rocket science; it’s practically primary school science.
The complications begin almost right away though. What are you eating? No, what are you *really* eating?
If you’re not ready to commit to an exercise routine yet, start by tracking what you’re putting into your body by keeping a food diary. There are a lot of apps for this, but it’s almost easier to just keep a list on your phone, make a spreadsheet or jot it down on a piece of paper. If all of those still sound too complicated, you can print one.
In Paris, it’s hard to pass up a delicious croissant, fresh from the oven, or a pain au chocolate when the chocolate is calling out to you from the window of the dozen bakeries you pass on an average day…so, when you start keeping a food diary, don’t deny yourself anything you would normally eat. Just keep track of it.
Very quickly, you’ll start to see the culprits and you’ll be surprised. How many pastries did you eat in one week? Are you starving yourself in the morning and then over indulging in the afternoon? How many meals had bread on the side? In France, it’s pretty standard to accompany many dishes, even pasta, with a crusty baguette, but is it necessary so many times in one week? The answer is definitely no, but it’s hard to see until the information is staring at you right in the face.
Individually, your food choices may not sound terrible, but look a little closer: muesli for breakfast, pasta for lunch, chicken and rice for dinner. That’s a lot of carbs with no chance to burn them off. The weight’s added on and it’s not going away. Fruit all day seems like a good idea, but that’s also a lot of sugar (in the form of natural sucrose) you’re taking on and not using.
The good news is that, unlike in the US where a study found that 74% of products in grocery stores have added calories in the forms of sugars and sweeteners, here in Paris we have fresh food markets all over town throughout the week. If you don’t know when or where your nearest market is, check out the official marchés site for the details. The food available here is usually sold by the people who produce it, so they can tell you everything about its creation, care and best use. Eating fresh foods will make you feel better and feeling better will make you want to continue feeling better.
In terms of the actual food tracking, it’s not necessary to count calories but it is important to be accountable. If you need an outside system to keep you in check, post your food diary to Facebook. If there’s something you’re too embarrassed to share, you know you shouldn’t have eaten it and keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted. Who knows, you may inspire other people to do the same or find support for yourself from unexpected sources. Many people struggle with maintaining their weight, but not everyone lives in Paris where food is a genuine religion and delicious, often fattening, things are available every few meters on almost every street.
On the bright side, once you start working to burn off extra weight, you’ll realize that you don’t crave all those chocolates, tartes or madeleines like you used to. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to really enjoy whatever it is you like when you do indulge!Tags: accountability, croissants, diet, first steps, fitness, food diary, Paris, tracking