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Tour De Lance
Woke up at 5am and got out of the house by 6am to run along the Seine and then along the end of the Tour de France, and up the Champs Elysées. Huge red official transport trucks everywhere and workers laying barricades, some of whom looked on smiling as I zipped past on foot, bonjour-ing all. (Those Americans, always in such a hurry!) Yeah, that's right. Bring it home, Lance!

The French, they are not exactly...sportif. Besides the fact that the national form of exercise seems to be lifting one's cigarette to one's lips (although day-to-day life takes much more exertion than it does in the States), they just don't seem to be a people at home with "working out" à l'Américain -- publicly or at the gym.

Then, there is the French diet -- small portions of high-fat, high-nutrient, un-processed, un-chemically or hormonally infused food -- which, if you read neurophysiologist Will Clower's The Fat Fallacy, is the way to stay trim...and avoid heart attacks. French people, despite their smoking and their burying their faces in plates of cream sauce, have, population percentage-wise, a third of the heart attacks Americans do. So, maybe they don't need to partake of the manic forms of workout Americans do. And, a good thing that is, because they aren't even able to dress the part. Witness La Coquette's experience at the gym:

A French girl sauces onto the bike in front of me at the gym today. She is very svelte and alluring, but I am worried about her outfit. Striped brown socks, Petit Bateau camisole, droopy cotton shorts. It kills me how these French girls will arrive in something perfect, like ballet flats and a trench coat, and then change into this. She looks like she is going to a twelve-year-old's slumber party.

Later, a man gets onto the treadmill in a polo shirt and shorts with, belt loops? He looks eerily like my father. Similar sartorial philosophies, for sportswear at least--untroubled by the advancements in moisture-wicking technology or elastic, but preferring to remain very 1970's tennis player. He's adorable. You just want to slip on some aviators and roller-skate with him to Simon and Garfunkel.

Yes...the antipathy to exercise...perhaps, at heart, it's a fashion issue?

Posted by aalkon at July 24, 2005 8:38 AM

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Comments

Amy, do you have an opinion of Mireille Guiliano's "French Women Don't Get Fat"? I was pondering this whole issue last night as I noshed on Del Taco's spicy jack chicken quesadilla last night while watching "Family Guy" dvds. To make up for my sins, I finished it off with an ounce of extremely high quality belgian chocolate....

Posted by: diana wants more at July 24, 2005 8:40 AM

I think this phenom is more Parisian than all of France. Those feisty little ladies in Marseille can get pretty hefty, and Alsace also has the Germanic influence, making for well-fed proportions.
The French can't forget that the greatest Tour riders aren't French--first Eddie Merckx and now Armstrong.

Posted by: KateCoe at July 24, 2005 11:00 AM

I haven't read it. I'm not really interested in the average person's opinion about how to eat. Sure, there's cultural stuff to notice -- that I've noticed myself: small portions, delicious food, better quality, less chemically tainted food than we have. Will Clower's stuff is based in science and data.

And sure, there are chunky French people, but by and large, you don't see the morbid obesity you do in the States. Moreover, look at the picture of all those lacrosse girls with George Bush. They're all shaped like walruses! This is sad and horrifying for young girls. It really holds them back in so many ways -- despite the fiction that beauty and looks don't count!

I just sat in the Jardin du Luxembourg for an hour with my friend Emily. By and large, the urban girls you see here are of normal size and weight. New York -- another story.

I've learned a tremendous amount about how to eat since I've been coming here. Eat like a French girl now, which means I don't diet and I don't get fat.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2005 11:56 AM

Grotesque American obesity is a crime against humanity. But so is the western/Hollywood idea that feminine beauty is found only in masculine proportions of hip and bosom.

I've been spending a lot of time in old folk's homes for the past couple years. The heart disease which collects the souls of my Scot-derived peeps used to hound like a hideous curse; now it beckons like a precious birthright. What ARE we saving ourselves for? Alzheimers? Parkinsons? How many times do you want YOUR diaper changed by a distinterested Guatamalan earning minimum wage?

Salmon Benedict twice a month, thank you. And yes, I *WILL* have another cab with that.

Amy, did you see Lance today? Was it cool? If you quote me on this I'll deny it, but I envy you being there this afternoon.

Posted by: Crid at July 24, 2005 2:39 PM

I only saw him on TV (I loathe crowds)...but it was very cool. He was so far ahead yesterday that he would've had to be knocked out cold and taken to the hospital for a day for observation to lose that race. Well, pretty much!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2005 2:56 PM

Yeah.

Posted by: Crid at July 24, 2005 7:45 PM

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