25 Jan 2010

Eat Like A French Girl, Exercise Like An Aussie

This is going to be my new mantra…she says with fingers crossed.

A new year and particularly a new decade automatically means a little quiet time reflecting on the battle of the bulge. I generally shy away from over loaded promises and impossible goals because past experience would suggest that I am only setting myself up for disappointment and failure. Having said that, I am greeting this new decade full of optimism but with my eyes wide open. You see I have come up with a plan, a scheme or the little seed of an idea to help me win this war of unwanted holiday weight. 

I don’t know about you but my year goes something like this: January and I am fuelled with killer intention to find that balance between good fun, shedding those unwanted pounds and living a healthy lifestyle. The kilos shed and the months of February, March, April and May creep by in good shape. By June I am feeling pretty pleased with myself, not looking too bad and ready to sit pool side or beach bed it. Now July/August, this is when the rot starts to slip in – I become comfortable and a little lazy, maybe even complacent. ‘One potato, two potato three potato four’, as my taste buds tingle and my willpower dwindles. I assure myself it’s all fine, one little extra kilo won’t hurt and besides it will be easy to shift. Chill out and enjoy life I figure. That is when I should take a pull but no, I roll into August and September relaxing just that little bit too much and before I know it the cold months have arrived and the comfort food has well and truly won me over. Winter layers replace summer sheers, the cover up continues. Add the party month of December to this calendar and what happens (hardly a surprise) is that I am back to January with all that unwanted weight. This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed myself, believe me I have; every new pound is my very best friend. I certainly invited the friendship and willingly prolonged the relationship. 

So this is the new thought. Eat like a French girl and exercise like an Aussie. We all know Aussies are bronzed beauties full of health, well being and vigour. This is true there is a real focus in Australia on wellness, nutrition and physical fitness. Exercise is a friend not a foe and from what I saw it happens on a very regular basis. Good weather is possibly the key: Sunshine and warmth mean less clothes and more body. More body on show means more effort to stay in shape. The French on the other hand are less into gym or training type workouts and taking exercise is a means of getting from one place to another. They cycle together and they take long promenades but I suspect that is more about friendship than fighting calories. 

Aussies like their food and lots of it whereas the French are controlled and generally don’t overeat.  From what I see French girls don’t snack, they don’t eat on the run and they tend to shy away from processed food. French girls taste it all but in little mouthfuls – they know when to say stop. They don’t deprive themselves yet they don’t over indulge. French girl portions are petite and so are they. 

From here on in my year is going to be different, I am not going on yet another diet, detox or deprivation programme I am going to think French and act like an Aussie. I am going to turn my cultural observations into a new way of life. I will move this lazy body of mine every day whether that means, a run, a swim, a cycle or a yoga class and when I reach for that extra piece of melt in the mouth chocolate or that second, third, fourth caramel macaron that I want so badly I will stop and imagine I am a French girl. I will stop at one. When that growling 5pm hunger refuses to subside I will wait and be patient. I won’t snack and ruin my dinner – I will be French. I will eat at the table and not on the run and I will take time to savour each bite. 

Makes sense don’t you think? xv

VA In Your Inbox

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Can I be French and an Aussie too? Thanks for sharing your mindset, it's a wonderful way to think about it. I will keep these in mind as I am beginning regular exercise again after a 2-year hiatus. And I can always use help in exercising portion control with my meals.

But what I like most, and I really hadn't even thought about it, is that we have entered into a new decade. That perspective really expands my horizons.


Vickie, How is this? Eat like a French woman, exercise like an Aussie and beware the computer.

I lose track of time sitting in front of the computer. It would help to start with one exercise – closing the laptop!

Personally, I am suffering from "blog body!"


Sounds like a great motto Vicki! I think I'm trying to do that too…just got my new bike and dieting at the same time. The bike part of it is super fun but not sure I like the dieting part. hehe. Welcome back to the blogging world, we've missed you! x LZ


Vicki all I I can say i good luck. Just returned from a weekend in Paris and Ooh la la..did I eat. Foie gras, chateaubriand, boeuf bourguignon, french onion soup with all that extra cheese broiled to perfection, macaroons at Laduree, croissants, chocolate from Angelina's and the list goes on and I was only there for the weekend! I like your thinking though! I have to say I did not see one overweight woman in sight, just beautifully dressed, elegant women who know how to look good even in the rain! Think french and exercise like an aussie…I think you may have the perfect formula there! I look forward to hearing how it goes…any suggestions for someone living in rainy Surrey???


I have quite a few friends who are very overweight and, over the years, I have watched them go on all sorts of diets, lost some weight, put it back on and yo-yo. As I am now late 50's, I am not as sylph-like as I was in my 20's but I don't seem to put on lots of weightand have never really needed to diet.Of all the information that I have gleaned over the years, I think that you are doing the right thing.
Apparantly, diets don't work. They say that, within reason, you can eat what you like, as long as it's three times a day and in reasonable sized portions.
I think that, with your 'Eat like a French girl, Exersise like an Aussie', you will have great success.
I wish you good luck with your new regime and keep us posted on your progress. XXXX


It makes a lot of sene to me! I don't know about us Aussies being all fit and bronzed… I have been more self controlled for the last year or so, and doing regular exersize. It seems to be removing the need for diets, yay!
I always wondered how the French managed to stay so trim with all that fabulous food around everyday…
Best of luck, I'm sure you will do great, (I am jealous I can't be exersizing in France!)


It makes perfect sense. I like that you've put the slow-gain on a yearly timeline-and thinking about it, I completely agree with how it happens. I look forward to finding my inner French-girl.

Southern Aspirations

I like it! Sounds like a great plan and I may have to join you on that one. Jan is actually my worst time. I should join all the dieters- it is cold here though and that makes me want to hibernate with comfort foods. Bad, bad.


actually, even if I'm not a girl…I guess Your post fits me like a glove!

that's why this Summer will not find me unprepared! let's fit, let's take control over food (and wine…auch!) and, most of all, stress.

Glad You're with Us.


Certainly makes sense to me! I was sitting here nodding my head when I read your post – I know exactly what you mean. But I also have a good feeling about 2010 – I don't know what it is, can't put my finger on it – but it feels like it's going to be a good year, and if it's a good year, then I know I will achieve my goals (including shedding those unwanted kilos)!! Good luck to us xox

Chic Provence, A Way of Life

Lots of sense, my dear!! we are in the same place completely! I also add that when you want something at 5 pm (my weak time too), drink large glass of water (in fact water all day long)..it really helps! I too need to get my lazy body into vigorous exercise every day, so I support you in that too…good solid plan! bonne annee!


Rebecca R. Dyer

I am so very tired of hearing the myth about how French women don't get fat. They do get fat. And those that don't, SMOKE. . .and if you go in the drug store, there is every kind of diet miracle you can dream up. We do have awful habits in the States, no doubt. But please don't perpetuate the myth that French women don't get fat.

Otherwise I am a devoted fan of your blog and am a francophile as well.


Oh I was right there with you until you said the words, "caramel macarons". Ohhhhh my favorite flavor. If you can call it luck, we don't have macarons in Alabama that even come close, so maybe there is hope pour moi. Bonne chance Vicki!


Now this sounds like a plan, only one thing missing will power to actually achieve it.
I am going to send you masses of will power through the air ways and hope it all works for you.
Trouble is that French food tastes so blooming good, maybe the secret is not that they only eat small quantities of food, maybe French women have their taste buds removed!!!!
Much love

A Gift Wrapped Life

It's always there………and I wish it would just go away once and for all (the whole weight thing). But it isn't going anywhere unless I do, which is back on my bike. Off I go. XO

Fat, frumpy and fifty...

but then when you are half brit half french comme moi…each half fights with the other…enfin

my head knows what to do, but my hands dont…

I dont know if you've read any of Mirielle's books, they are so true!! Soup, a little bite of this and that, make it an experience and healthy evening meal et voila…oh and walk everywhere…

Sara x

My Castle in Spain

So very nice to read you back Vicki!!
as always, your post makes me smile and i applaud to your will to sit at the table and say no to the 5pm hunger…even if it's hard to say no to an éclair au chocolat or a millefeuilles, isn't it ?
Keep up the good work !!


I like your Mantra…and really, I normally eat like French, its the job pressure that ruins it, so I eat AMERICAN : )
Thanks for the extra pounds reminder too, I have to go weep now (kidding, but I have to work on it too)

Have a great Monday! XOX


'When that growling 5pm hunger refuses to subside I will wait and be patient. I won't snack and ruin my dinner..'

Why did I just get the visual of you at a dinner party with your stomach grumbing loudly? "What was that?!" "Uhhhh…nothing."

The Eternal Intern

I'm with you! When I moved from New York to Paris (over 4 years ago), my weight dropped significantly all because I enjoy but don't over-indulge. Now I tell everyone to "eat like a french girl"! Words of wisdom! Great post! x Ophelia


Absolutely wonderful idea Vicki!! and I will join you in it – it makes perfect sense and for me it has the added bonus of being able to, even if in only a small way, to act like a french girl!!! So I will also eat like a French girl and Exercise like an Aussie (Aussie, Aussie, Oi,Oi,Oi!) Happy Australia day sweet friend!!

But just one more thing before I go, my family, hubby, daughters, son, son-in-law, and, after christmas, even I, have scoured
all over Perth looking for a copy of your French Essence!! We can not find a copy for me anywhere. They are all sold out everywhere we go!! Which for you must be wonderful, wonderful!! But would you know anyone who might have one for sale or even if I can purchase one online somewhere?? It was to be one of my Christmas present from hubby, then part of my birthday pressie from him, but I still don't have one :( hehe <- see my sad little face! No seriously, congratulations, you deserve it and you must be so happy with all the sales, I couldn't believe that EVERYONE had sold out of it before Christmas and ever since... Any ideas as to where I might find one in Perth would be greatly appreciated!!
Take care sweet Vicki and have a great week!
Hugs Jen xoxo

Rebecca@Harmony and Home

Oh Vicki, I hear you girlfriend. I've made a commitment to exercise a lot this past year and I'm so happy I did. My body is in the best shape it's been in years and I've lost a lot of weight. It's so hard to maintain a commitment to diet and exercise on a daily basis though. I recommend a book to you called "Younger Next Year", which I am about half way through. It will get you exercising. I also just found a new website called sparkpeople.com, which is a free diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle site that sends reminders to stay on track. I'm just getting my bearings on it, so I don't know how it is, but so far, so good. Good luck!


With a click here and there, came across your blog … Really cool! I like the way you write!Yes it makes Sense!Great plan for the new year!


Well we can all learn from this. This Aussie girl needs to learn to eat like a French girl..couldn't agree with you more. I actually have a post about exercise and women (we are strong)..such is January!!


Vicki – I like and needed your thinking this morning. I too have started the "looking at myself and really getting serious" mode.
I have been too scared to blog about it with the empty promises that I can set myself. I love this mantra, eat like a French woman and exercise like and aussie ( or kiwi)- thank you for the inspiration today – now to breakfast! x Suzi


I wish you well.
I thought after running a marathon in October and keeping the pace thru November and early December, would have gotten me over the hump….nope…
back to salad and more salad…


Welcome back Vicki … its always great to read your blog, especially when you're on the same trail of thought … the dreaded January guilts!

I've had my fair share of large portion sizes, especially this winter … and now its time to follow those French gals secret. I'm half way there being an Aussie ..

Good luck!


THAT make sense! I'll try to eat like a french girl and practice a bit more! for sure…I know that will be better for me ! I train not to be a super model or to remain a european 38 (not only!) but for my mind and for my healthy!

but I will enjoy a glas of wine or a cookies!


And if all else fails Vicki, give Tim @ Demtel a call & order one of those CardioTwister/AbExerciser/ThighMaster thingies. After you've got Mr. FF to spend 6 'happy' hours trying to put it together, I can just see you spinning around your bedroom floor on this little beauty. As Tim says 'You'll achieve the firm, flat stomach you've always wanted in just a few minutes a day!' Yep.
Happy Straya Day to all your mob.
Millie ^_^

The Pink Poodle

Happy AUSTRALIA DAY vicki…

I agree totally with you & as a fellow aussie I am kind of half way there??!!

MMM!! now for the less snacking part to kick in…

XX Andrea

Angie Muresan

I love your philosophy, Vicki! Will you please pass the macarons? My exercise will be lifting them to my mouth.
Missed you terribly! Glad you are back.

jules @ The Diversion Project

Happy Australia Day Vicki!! – cold beer and lamb roasts all round today – so not sure if i'm keeping up my Aussie girl end of the bargain with your theory – but i will try to be better. I'll keep reminding myself of all the chic French women i saw in August and aim for that.


mondo cherry

I'm feeling like shifting the extra baby weight and remember what the real Clare is like. Trouble is that the very thought of exercising in the heat we have been having makes me feel weak. I would love to be French in refusing the extra biscuit and the 5 pm munchies but I think the food-will-power-gene missed me completely! I will think of you this week and see if i can be strong – let is know how you go so we can stay motivated too.
Clare x

Josephine Tale Peddler

I am an exception to the fit and sporty Aussie girl but there always has to be an exception :) xx We went to the Rupert Bunny show at the Art Gallery of NSW and your book had a wonderful display in the gallery shop.


Happy Australia Day Vicki
Well I'm not sure about all Aussie girls looking tanned and fit… I just looked in the mirror and there were none to be seen!! I think I should take up your attitude.. a little bit of balance.. with both… Sadly I was the thin girl other girls would threaten with… one day!!! one day it will all pile on.. well it took over 40 years to do so.. but do so.. it did!! ha ha Need to make amends now for all the easy years… Take care xx Julie

kathi @ traybella

what a great post. sounds like it would work to me…good luck with it!
just finished your book "my french life"…sigh…loved every beautiful page of it! such a lovely life you have…you are blessed.

Ingrid Mida

Welcome back Vicki and good luck with your plan for 2010! One of the best tips I know for keeping those pounds in check is to get on the scale every day. It really works. I LOVE to eat and enjoy cooking (and eating) gourmet meals. I counter that with lots of exercise and my daily dose of reality with the scale. It never lies! Bonne chance mes amis.


Good resolution! But, um…good luck with that. This year I think I'm realizing that I'll always exercise like an Americsn (good) and eat like one too (bad–love me some burger and fries!). Ah, well. Luckily my husband seems to dig the Rubenesque type!


Thanks for the inspiration to do better this year Vicki. I need to follow a plan too as I'm in my
60's. Extra weight is so hard to shift when one can no longer do really vigorous exercise! I like to walk which is always healthful. I love to cook and am vegetarian which makes eating more healthy at home. Now I must tell this British body awash in America's fast food hell, less eating out………….or at least choose restaurants within walking distance, and we have several including a (quasi) French brasserie!

Good luck with your plan. I'm going re-read Mirielle Guiliano's 'French women Don't Get Fat'. As soon as the snow melts (we got 5 inches yesterday) I'll be walking a lot more too!

Alison Gibbs

Sounds like a great plan to me Vicki.
Good luck – I think we all need to do the same.
That rotten old Battle of the (middle age) Bulge(LOL)


Sounds good, but what you might not understand is that Aussies eat more b/c they exercise more vigorously, and vice-versa for the French. The only sustainable choice is to choose one or the other! Best of luck, my dear.


I just bought your new book and I can hardly wait to read it in January when I have bunion surgery and can't walk for 2 months. I just loved your last book. You have my dream life and family! Happy Holidays to everyone from Kandee


Hi Vicki
So, how did it go? It's a year since you wrote this. If like most, you faultered on the way, it's not a surprise.
I'm an Aussie 70 year old male, overweight most of his life but determined to do something about it when I retired 4 years ago. For the first few years nothing worked to reduce my weight and be healthier. Then in late 2010, I was browsing a market when visiting Darwin and came across Mirielle Guiliano's "French Women Don't Get Fat" for $4.00, obviously secondhand. Wow, what a difference it made to my thinking. In one year I've dropped 5 kg permanently by eating better, exercising (Taoist Tai Chi Society, recommended) three times a week and watching how much alcohol I drink. I'm now aiming to reduce my weight a further 4 kg during 2012. Best wishes to you for 2012.
K in Perth, WA

Mademoiselle Slimalicious

I'm a Sydney based French blogger promoting healthy eating and fitness based on the French paradox. My readers are mostly Australians and I try to inspire and motivate to lose weight for a healthier lifestyle.


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