Why the French approach to weight loss works

Woman in Paris with Macaroon

The French lifestyle is not about fitting in a size zero, it is about fitting perfectly into the body you were given. It is not about counting calories but about simplifying and pleasuring up your life and your habits so you can be the person you were born to be.

 

It is not just about what you eat but how you eat. 

 

Stuffing yourself with what you can find as quickly as possible so that you can get on to the next item on your “to-do” list is enemy number one when it comes to weight, energy, and health.

 

We keep torturing and ruining our bodies with the next fad diet, whereas the French don’t “diet”. They do think and worry about their weight, as the cover of magazines in the spring can attest, but they don’t treat food as we do, as an enemy of carbs and fats that need to be defeated at all cost. They simply eat less and cut out treats and cheeses if needed. They don’t micromanage grams of anything and are too lazy to count calories.

 

Their approach to food is what keeps them lean, feisty, and healthy. It is really uncomplicated and easy to apply in your own life. Don’t over-complicate it.

There are two parts to the French approach:

  • What the French eat that keeps them healthy and lean: they eat real foods that are working with their bodies, not “faux-foods” that work against them. Instead of encouraging you to eat new man-made chemicals and food-like creations, you might want to turn to real food as a permanent weight and health strategy. Real foods have the best flavors. Once you get back to eating more of them, you realize how wonderful they taste and how chemical-ly faux foods actually taste. You don’t have to do anything incredibly heroic in the kitchen to reap the benefit…just eat real food.
  • How the French eat: this is the heart of their lifestyle and the little know secret behind the French paradox. Learning how to eat well will remove the fear of food, increase pleasure around eating, and will allow you to eat the foods you love without fear, guilt, or extra weight. Finally, you can feel satisfied after your meals, and ditch deprivation for good. I spent a good amount of my time studying the research around that principle and realized that how the French eat is not just a good idea, it is a scientifically sound approach and a trait that a lot of “skinny” people possess.

The idea that the French don’t get fat is ludicrous. They do get fat when they stray from these two principles. Master them and the results will follow. The main mistake my clients make is to discount the “how to eat” part, which is actually the most powerful part. It is, however, the most challenging for some as they are so used to a go-go-go lifestyle and feel somehow “guilty” to slow down and take some quality time for themselves.

Don’t be. As L’Oreal would say…”you’re worth it”!

Join me for The Lazy French 10-Day Reboot and get your body back with the powerful combination of raw food and French principles. We start April 24!

Winter+Detox = Frustration!

This week, I want to address something that may really help you out. If you follow me, you probably have a strong interest in cleanses and detoxes, and may have already done a few of them, even some juice fasts.

I decided to tackle the issue of detoxing in the month of January, February, and even March as I have received quite a few emails and phone calls from both men and women feeling highly FRUSTRATED.

Their New Year Resolution freshly tattooed in their brain, lured by front page covers in popular magazines, and armed with as much willpower as they could muster, they bought, downloaded, or signed up for some version of a “detox”…only to end up with MORE weight than they started with, and feeling angry, frustrated, and confused.

So the conversation with me goes something like this:
” Anne, you are a strong proponent of detoxing, it is a big part of your message, well I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work. It makes things worse! (Insert belligerent tone here)”.

Me: “You are right. It does not work. BECAUSE IT IS STILL WINTER!
Hear this as it is very important: although I am a big fan and advocate of “detoxing” twice a year, I am an even bigger advocate of listening to your body and respecting its needs and biorhythm, which means that attempting to cleanse in the dead of winter if you don’t live somewhere hot and sunny is like trying to wake up a hibernating bear: not your most brilliant (or safe) idea.

Simply put, you are going AGAINST your body’s effort to keep your core body temperature where it needs to be, maintain a strong immune system against all the winter bugs, and balance your hormones to minimize winter blues. It has no time or desire to detox right now and is not thinking about how “bikini-ready” you need to be for your upcoming trip to Barbados. It is thinking the more blubber on her, the better.

Instead, here is what you can do to set you up for success when spring comes around (and you feel your body ready and willing):

  • Start removing sugar, caffeine, and processed junk from your diet and start focusing on making fresh meals.
  • Limit your alcohol intake to prepare your liver for a much needed break.
  • Add in fermented foods to start balancing good bacteria in your gut.
  • Put yourself in “chocolate jail”: if, like me, you have been overdosing on dark chocolate to fight snow-induced depression, it is time for a break. Dark chocolate is good for you…up to a point.
  • Nurture yourself. We are still in the part of the year when it is more about “hibernating” than crazy spring cleaning. Respect your body needs for sleep, naps, warm baths and introspection. You will get into spring stronger.
  • Start taking A-Game to gently but effectively nourish your cells and flush out toxins.

Bottom line: save your money for when your body gets on board with your mind. You cannot go against it; it will backfire every time !

And when you are ready for it, do it right…

Chocolate linked to lower body fat…hell yeah!

Cacao-lovers, this one’s for you: A new study has linked chocolate consumption and lower body-fat levels, a finding that goes against the conventional wisdom that chocolate is fattening. Obviously they didn’t feed their participants Hershey kisses…

Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain found that eating chocolate was associated with lower level of total fat deposits, even in cases where people were not dieting or exercising.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Nutrition, speculated that the results could be due to catechins, a type of antioxidant that may positively influence cortisol production and insulin sensitivity — both factors in becoming overweight or obese.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has received some good press in recent years for its antioxidant properties. Most nutrition experts agree that chocolate with 60 percent cacao or higher has the most health benefits. Still, it has never been a dieter’s darling due to its sugar, fat, cholesterol, and calorie content. And when you look at the ingredients in most chocolate brands, it looks more like candy hell than antioxidant heaven…

But hey, as a chocolate lover, I’ll take any kind of study telling me to keep eating it!

Just as with everything though, quality trumps quantity, so look for the best (at least 65% dark) chocolate you can afford, and really savor it. For me, I would not make it through another New England winter without my Alain Chartier dark chocolate bars.

A word of caution before you go and grab your favorite choco treat:

  • If you know or suspect adrenal fatigue, bypass the chocolate. I had to forgo chocolate for a year while nursing my adrenals back to health. Chocolate will not make you feel good if your adrenals are burnt out.
  • If you have trouble with falling and/or staying asleep, don’t consume dark chocolate everyday and avoid indulging past lunch time.
  • If you cannot give up your afternoon chocolate treat without becoming hysterical, then it’s time to let go sister! Addictions are never recommended.

Other than that, I say go for it! Lick it, chew it, swoon over it…it’s all good:)

Resolutions versus commitments, failure versus success.

I’m going to stop overeating. I’m going to stop smoking. I’m going to learn to eat healthy. I’m going to, you know, change.

People don’t even make New Year’s resolutions anymore because they made them year after year, right after Ryan Seacrest’s countdown to midnight, only to give up within days.

They had the best intentions.

They had the best of intentions to go to the gym. But by January 15, they forgot where the gym was located.

So why even bother to set yourself up for failure again? What does it really take for you to make real progress, instead of merely writing a new “wish list” with no real investment on your part?

I have coached with some incredibly motivated and successful mentors, have attended many workshops on performance and success, read hundreds of books, researched everything I could on the subject, and learned from my own successes and failures.

To help you navigate 2014 without the pain of regret, here are my golden nuggets to support you through change that will last past your New Year’s hangover.

  • Have a compelling vision for what you truly want, not what you think you need. The vision needs to be important enough to change your behavior and motivate you to spend your time, money, and energy on it. Wanting to lose X amount of weight is rarely compelling enough for someone to really stay the course and change habits for long. It would require having to “push” yourself to do something, which requires willpower, versus creating a vision that “pulls” you, excites you, and turns you on. There needs to be a strong emotional intensity to your vision for it to carry you forward.
  • Review it and feel its emotional intensity and heart-deep “why” everyday to see and feel if it is still something you really want and are ready to keep at the top of your priority list. Most people write down their New Year resolutions, only to never look at them again past January. You cannot stay committed and engaged if you conveniently “forget” all about it.
  • Raise your standards! Most of us have low expectations, making us lazy, judgmental, and unwilling to take full responsibility. We also surround ourselves with others with even lower standards, giving us an excuse to stay stuck in mediocrity. The fastest way to get closer to your goals is to raise your own standards by making your vision and goals a “must” instead of a “should”. “Should” never gets done, whereas “must” does. Instead of holding on to the identity of “big bones”, “genetic obesity”, “can’t-leave-without-cheese” or “slow metabolism”, why not raise your own standard of who you are, the “athlete”, the “skinny-hip-mama”, the “green-juice-lover”, etc. You will be surprised at how quickly change happens once you embody a different “personality”.
  • Back up your new standards with small rituals and commit to them. Rituals guarantee your success or failure and are a big part of creating lasting change. However, they mean nothing if you don’t commit to them. Identifying yourself with the new “athlete” in you will require the commitment to lace up your sneakers and go for a walk or a yoga class day in and day out, until it is just what you do and who you are. If you cannot commit, know that it just isn’t that important to you, or you have what I call an underlying commitment that you might not be aware of, and that underlying commitment is taking precedent. So let go of the guilt. Either drop it out of your vision or goals for yourself, or work to understand the self-sabotaging commitment and let it go.
  • Remember to feed your need for fun and flexibility! It does not mean coming up with excuses, it means finding a way to commit to what you want in a way that is as irresistible as possible.

It’s not that hard. Unless you are already convinced it will be. And yes, it will take some discipline at the beginning, but isn’t regret more painful than discipline?

I am making it easy for you to get started. Here is one of my favorite and quick exercise, courtesy of Tony Robbins:

  • Pick an area of your life that you want to improve. Write in details what it is like right now.
  • Ask yourself: what are the rituals that have created this reality for me? Write them down. It could be the daily pre-work trip to Dunkin Donuts, or the hours spent on Facebook instead of running.
  • What do you want this area of your life to look like going forward? Describe it vividly, feel this new reality. Again, be detailed.
  • Ask yourself: what are the rituals that would get me there? Meditating for five minutes before getting up? Going for a short walk everyday after lunch? Reading one new book each week? Spending at least one quality hour with my spouse and/or children every night?

Yes, you’ll have to find the time. No, there isn’t a magic pill to make New Year’s resolution succeed. But the promise of a fresh start is powerful and compelling…why not ride the wave?

8 Easy Tips (That Work!) To Avoid Gaining Weight This Season

The holidays are in full swing. It is all white and sparkly here in New England and I can feel the cooking/baking seasonal fever taking over!

So many recipes to try, so many creations to come up with, so much chocolate to play with. I have to work at NOT hyperventilating with all the ideas and requests coming my way.

So for me, spending a lot of time in the kitchen means eating more than usual because I test-taste constantly…and it does add up. More entertaining also means more food than my body can gracefully handle. Bummer!



But it doesn’t have to get ugly. You CAN navigate the holidays with grace, a strong digestion, and a calm nervous system. Here are my best strategies that you can use right now, so you don’t have to make yet another weight loss New Year resolution, ’cause weight loss is NOT a hobby!

  • Start your day with warm water and lemon juice, using a straw to protect your teeth enamel. Glass straws make a great gift!
  • Consume a digestive helper smoothie as needed.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. This obvious but easily forgotten and replaced by “it’s lunch time” habits.
  • Eat sitting down and without distraction.
  • Eat what your body actually wants and needs, not what YOU want.
  • Eat until you are feeling satisfied but not full.
  • Think quality over quality. Swoon, hum and ah over the color, vibrancy, and freshness of your food.
  • Eat with gusto and pleasure!!!