Monday, September 7, 2009

Guidelines for Staying Healthy and Fit in Paris

Brows furrowed, mouths pulled down in dismay, some of you may have become quite concerned over my recent obsession with food. Never fear, the aerobics instructor / personal trainer in me remains alive and well, and has devised a set of health and fitness guidelines to which she strictly adheres while in Paris. They are:

1) Rent an apartment on the seventh floor and always take the stairs, particularly when going out for fresh bread in the morning. Make it a point to take the stairs at least two or three times a day. This provides a short cardio workout and tones the gluts, hamstrings and quads.

2) If it takes less than 30 minutes by foot to get to a destination, forgo public transportation and walk—unless it’s raining (as it so often does). Then, take the subway. Eschew all escalators and skip up and down the stairs, weaving in and out the strollers, adolescents on scooters, students and businessmen using briefcases to block their way through the crowds. The more transfers between lines, the better, thus insuring proper agility training.

3) Look regularly out the window, and if the sun happens to appear, rush immediately outside. Walk quickly to the nearest park with benches and handrails. Work the upper body by doing two or three sets of push-ups, triceps dips, step-ups, and if the grass isn’t too damp, doesn’t have a sign saying not to walk on it or isn’t covered in dog poop, do three sets of crunches. Warning: it’s advisable for women not to remain in one place in the park for too long. They risk having to endure the latest pick-up lines of the ever-present lonely hearts that lurk in Paris parks.

4) Go to the prepackaged food sections of a grocery store, such as Monoprix. Examine the serving sizes, particularly for meats, dairy products and snack foods, such as pretzels and crackers, to rediscover what an appropriate serving size really is. Eat according to this new-found knowledge. Order a glass of wine or a cocktail in a café or restaurant to discover the same for alcoholic beverages. Soon, the super-sized remnants of the past will melt away from the hips and tummy.

5) Only eat the best quality products, no matter its fat or carbohydrate content. This means shopping in the street markets and specialty shops. Sure, it costs a bit more, but appropriate nutrition and satisfaction will guarantee less consumption and a trimmer figure. Moreover, one can always count on the ever-responsible digestive tract to announce its displeasure if overindulgence occurs.

6) Beware of dehydration. Although bottles of mineral water and Wallace fountains providing free drinking water are ubiquitous in Paris, toilets are not. Consequently, it is tempting (and sometimes wise) to go long intervals without fluids. To stay properly hydrated, it is advisable, then, to plan one’s drinking around trips to a department store or museum. Otherwise, be prepared to shell out a few euros for a cup of coffee in a café in order to use its toilet. If said cup of coffee is not purchased, and one heads straight for the stairs leading down or up to the less than pristine toilets, a tongue-lashing will ensue. A third option, of course, is to reserve drinking as a nighttime activity when access to a toilet is assured. Caveat: If you’re a man, none of the above toilet restrictions seem to apply. The smells of the city would indicate that almost any place where two walls come together will adequately meet your needs.

I, Mayanne Wright, do hereby attest that the above guidelines have kept me slim, trim and healthy in Paris.


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