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by Carole Carson, AARP, November 21, 2008
We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.
—Pogo (Walt Kelly)
We flew to Paris and then to Provence for my son's wedding to his delightful French wife. From conversations with him, I knew that her family was making elaborate preparations. Our two weeks would be spent feasting—and, I imagined, in a constant state of self-torture. Among all those beautifully presented foods, wonderful wines, and fabulous desserts, how would I keep my commitment to fitness? Did I even want to? Was this a golden opportunity to escape from my American regimen?
My son's French relatives were surprised to see the "smaller" me. I was already down 20 pounds since we had first met, though by French standards still significantly overweight. I had fun describing the different exercises I was experimenting with, kickboxing being the latest.
Since gyms are uncommon and female kickboxers even rarer, the family members looked at me with puzzlement. Were they not familiar with kickboxing, or did I just announce in my broken French, "Last week I tried pig-hopping?"
I kept my commitment to fitness in France the same way I did at home—one day, one meal, at a time. When eating in the home of my son's French family, I learned not to finish everything on my plate—it only invited a second helping. I thought they pretended not to notice when I played with my food to avoid overeating.
Because so many family members were joining us, my husband and I rented a house outside of Uzes in the middle of a vineyard. Each day I walked for an hour. As I hiked, my eyes were treated to endless vineyards dotted with beautiful gray stone houses with brightly painted shutters. Sometimes my walk was inadvertently extended by a half hour or more when I got disoriented in the vineyards. But what a beautiful place in which to be lost!
Next: Carole wonders why French women don't get fat.
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