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Friday, December 19, 2014

"Les Rythmes et les Rituals" A French Girl Friday Post

Cheers and Happy Holidays! 

Dix. Ten. Yes, it has been that many weeks already since starting the book The French Twist by Carol Cottrill. Seems just yesterday, and each week when I open the book up on a Friday afternoon to read before writing my blog post, I am always surprised at the perfect timing of the subject matter, and this week was no different. This weeks subject matter is timely for the holidays; Rhythms and Rituals. In this chapter so many topics that fall under this heading are touched upon. Carol shared her experience chatting with a tour guide in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina hit and the tour guide wondering what ever happened to the man who played a harmonica on a street corner where she caught the bus daily. She shared her own memories with the reader about her ritual with her Father when she was girl and the eating of Sweet Sixteen mini doughnuts with him weekly and the memories that held for her as well as her memories of her families tradition of her Mother making of  a perfect red sauce and rigatoni and the eating of and how she carries that on to this day. Of course Carol also talks to others about their own experiences, including as she has in several chapters the "American In Paris" page and how to "Frenchify" our lives via the R&R's we practice.  There are portions that cover diet , not a diet, but how we eat, tricks (Trucs ) we can try to use for weight loss and maintaining our weight. There is also the subject of beauty, and dressing as well. 

This time of year rituals are very much a part of the holiday experience, some change over the years, and new ones created as life unfolds, others have a firm foothold and are looked forward to each and every year. Getting into a rhythm or keeping our normal rhythm of doing things are very important to keep our sanity. I myself try to just live life as always to not get stressed out by the holidays. That was not always the case, but as I have gotten older and my health not being what it once was it is important I keep to the normal rhythm of how I live my life, but as far as rituals go, that is always changing. I have tried over the years to create rituals, traditions surrounding this time of year and they just never seem to stick, so now I just let the holidays and what happens during them within our family unfold. I think the only one I have kept is decorating within the first weekend after Thanksgiving and the drinking of port in the evening *giggle* instead of regular wine. Without grandchildren and my own girls grown and family scattered about , so making the holiday very small in my family there has not seem much point beyond that. During the rest of the year, I am not much better. 

I have always wanted to have rituals in all areas of my life, and try, but life just does not seem to have it in the cards. We do have one in our family, and that is Wednesday night Spaghetti with our middle daughter. We started that soon after her husbands untimely death as a way to force her to get out of the house, and come see us, and in many ways it is the same reason now nearly two years later. My husband and I have a ritual where on his days off, or at least on most of them, we go out to breakfast together, something that does not happen on the days he works as he is often already at work by the time I get up. When I was a girl I had many more rituals. I would help my Great Uncle Harold, my Father's Uncle, in the garden or in his workshop building little cedar boxes as gifts, and when we lunch time would come around we would go to his trailer on the family property and he would fix macaroni and cheese for us and we would share a small toast and jelly sandwich, really sharp cheddar cheese on saltines and finish up with a bowl of mint and chip ice cream. Sometimes I would be given a tiny glass of beer too. Just a sip. I looked forward to this ritual and to this day when I eat the same foods I fondly recall those times. As a teen a group or friends and myself would have hot chocolate and mini jelly filled doughnuts each day, and we always met up and chatted over the latest gossip before class, it was my favorite time of the day. One of the few rituals as an adult that I also share with my husband is a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate each evening while we watch tv and on Monday's we now have a pizza night, followed by fresh baked chocolate chip cookies... not very French, they might frown upon such foods, but I think I can fudge as I am not fully French ( maybe a finger tips worth at best in my DNA), and well I do not think I wish to give that ritual up. As I write this I realize that all the rituals I do have in my life are surrounding food. They do go beyond that in meaning however, there is serious emotional and heart ties to them , however,  I think if my waist line is to survive I might want to start a few that are surrounding the other subjects within the tenth chapter of the book. Perhaps a goal for the new year. 

I know that for the most part many of you do not comment here on the blog, perhaps you follow via networkedblogs, or Google Plus, or simply from the link on my FB fan page, no matter how you follow my blog, I would love to hear from you what your rituals and rhythms are both for the holidays and in day to day life and what they mean to you. Go to my FB page, or comment here and leave me a comment.  I will not be posting again till after Christmas so let me take this moment to wish you.....

Happy Holidays..
Merry Christmas... 
Joyeux Noel 

via internet search for Christmas in Paris and found on google  images

Click HERE 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A French Girl Friday Post... L'Exercise

Movement does a body good

I am sitting here in my pajamas , sipping hot tea, and nursing a cold , so needless to say I have not gotten out and exercised, well past going from the couch to the kitchen for another cup of tea with honey. When I am stuck at home, I truly miss my daily walk. My walks are more than just exercise for my body, a way to burn off calories and maintain my weight, but also a way to clear the cob webs so to say out of my mind. It is easy and cheap and works for me. Turns out it works for the French as well. They know the benefits of walking everywhere, and how it can help keep their weight in a range that works for them. You will not see them running, in the park, though you may see them stretching, for the most part they are strolling and like how they take their time and savor their food, they do the same with their form of exercise.  In chapter nine ( Neuf ) in the book The French Twist by Carol Cottrill it is all about exercise and the difference between how we as Americans handle it opposed to the French. 

The true purpose of exercise is to invigorate and 
strengthen us in body, mind, and spirit.
~ Deepak Chopra "Overcoming Addictions" 

I have always exercised, there was a time that I was a total gym rat..... now that does not even sounds appealing, at least to me. I was addicted to working out on and off through my life, not in a healthy way and yes, I lost weight, and I was really toned and looked good, but I do not think I was all that healthy. I know I was not happy, not like some who love to work out just for the sake of it, like my daughter or a few friends that I have that are runners, I felt like I had to and that if I did not work out like a mad woman that I would suddenly blow up like a balloon and not fit into my clothing. On top of exercising like crazy I was cutting calories and watching every bite that I put in my mouth, not really enjoying what I ate and in fact really hating meal times because I was eating nothing but what I was "supposed" to eat. Then my Fibromyalgia , which I guess had always been with me in one form or another and I just did not know what aches and pains were from over exercise and which were from the Fibro, well it got worse and I could no longer exercise as I once had. There were a lot of times when simply walking, completing simple tasks such as going to get the mail wore me out. I was never going to walk through the doors of a gym again, not because I probably could not over come the Fibro to an extent, I have many friends with the same issues as myself that have worked hard to maintain or get back to the level of exercise they were once at, movement, exercise in general is really good for us with Fibro, even if it hurts, you work through the pain, and actually after a while it helps for you to hurt less. Anyway,  I got off on a rabbit trail there, my point was that even though I was a recovering gym addict, I knew the importance of exercising, even if it did not help me loose or maintain weight, I had to keep moving. Lucky me. Slowing down, cutting back, and simply just walking , even just 3-4 times a week was enough. In reading chapter nine, this is something that the author discovered as well. 

Within the first few pages Carol describes her history with exercise, and her eating habits that she combined with  as well as the stories from others she came in contact with and clients that she has had within her own private practice as a nutritionist and her realization that one does not have to "kill" themselves working out to reach and maintain a healthy weight, that we once again can take a page out of the French handbook and slow it down, dial it back and enjoy something that  is good for us.  Carol also of course as always goes over the benefits of what the chapter is about, in this case, exercise, things such as how just simply walking improves a better memory and a stronger brain and how it can still strengthen the bones as we age. In just a few short pages, she builds a very strong case, but then I did not need to be convinced, but it was nice to have my choice of exercise confirmed.  I guess I have always had a little bit of the French attitude within me, especially about exercise, I just had to find it and bring it out. You can do it too, it is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

" ...the French took their exercise as a way of 
saluting the day.... " The French Twist by Carol Cottrill 

Friday, December 5, 2014

French Girl Friday~ Part "Huit"

Le m├ętabolisme  .... Metabolism. This word is often used as an excuse, " I have a slow metabolism", " I can not loose weight due to my metabolism", " I can not win with this metabolism" ; in some cases, that may be true, as it does, as we all know, affect weight loss. There is loads you can do to make it work against you, but such easy steps to make it work for you.  In chapter eight of The French Twist by Carol Cottrill, in which the reader is promised to learn the twelve secrets of decadent dining and natural weight management; the author shares her thoughts and all the information she has gathered and now shares about how one can do just that by making their metabolism work for them instead of against them.

"Do you know how to digest your food? Do you
know how to fill your lungs with air? Do you
know how to establish, regulate, and direct the metabolism of your body...
.....there is a wisdom within you that does know." 
Donald Curtis inspirational speaker and writer (partial quote)

Whole reason to read this book... learn how I can
have my "cake" and eat it too! Make my
metabolism work for me! 
I am not going to relate each and every part of this chapter to you, that is not fair to the author. She did all the training, the hard work and research and writing, so instead, what is going to work for this part is to post "bullet points".  I will quote this, " Metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body..." simply because that is an important statement. It is not just all about it being slow, or fast on it's own, but what we do day to day in life and our hows and when we eat that it reacts to. Within the first pages the author states that we need to eat " to the beat of our  digestive rhythms". The body has a natural rhythm as to when it needs nourishment and when it does not. We can sabotage ourselves, we have all done it. Do you skip breakfast? Mistake number one. The body needs fuel to get things fired up again. Unless you ate a huge meal right before bed, another big mistake, your body has been fasting and once you awake your furnace is starting to burn again, slowly as your body temperature begins to rise when you do is the best time to eat and keep that furnace burning and in turn kick your metabolism into high gear.  You do not have to eat a huge meal, you should not be doing so, but you do need to eat. I can not tell you how often a friend will say to me " I do not eat breakfast, I am trying to loose weight" or " I do not eat breakfast because I am never hungry" , I say well you may not be, but the body is and if you want to loose weight it needs fuel.  The body's natural rhythm then again is looking for food in the early to mid afternoon, there is a reason the French take between noon and two off from work, this is when they eat the largest meal of the day. We as Americans typically save that big meal for the evening, I am guilty of it, that is when my husband is home, we are missing a perfect opportunity to add more fuel to your body that may be once again running on empty, the key is to keep it running. Dinner should be quite a bit of time before bed, as the body just naturally starts to cool down in preparing for bed and if you throw fuel into it, it can effect your sleep, and no one wishes to do that. The French, well most of them dine no later than 8 so that by the time their heads hit the pillow the body is able to cool off and reach the next step that helps you kick your metabolism into high gear over time. Sleep. 

Seven hours. It is still a magic number. One I
have not reached in years, most likely will not
ever do so due to my health issues, but I get as
much as I can. 

This is a simple step for many, and an important one . I won't quote the book and go all scientific on you, but it is pretty simple to wrap up, sleeping is when the body cleanses and repairs the body and not to mention the fact that the less sleep that you get, the more the hunger hormone increases, basically less sleep equals more weight. I battle this daily. I have been exhausted for the better part of the last 20 plus years. Fibromyalgia and now my menopause keep me from sleeping every much and when I do it is not deeply, so that results in me seeking bad for me foods and a lot of them to keep myself awake and full of energy, not the right pattern to cling to. So many of you are not like me however and so you can achieve this step with some ease. Perhaps you can not sleep in, work, life, that annoying rooster at the neighbors house may keep you from it, or perhaps you are an early riser. You can start to dial back the time you turn in, and eventually work up till you get to that point. It is worth a try, isn't it? 

Being mindful of what you eat, thinking carefully
before you prepare a meal of what you will truly
enjoy, and hopefully make it so you are not
over eating trying to satisfy your hunger. 

Hunger is healthy according to the author. NO that does not mean to go hungry. Just like getting too much food that your body can not burn off, so can getting not enough. You can use hunger as a great signal from the body as to when to eat, when the body is ready for more fuel. How many of us eat mindlessly, or out of boredom or anger, the list goes on and on. Weight Watchers has an ad right now, that has a song about this exact subject. I know once again I am guilty. I eat just to eat, for the pleasure of it, and yes you should find pleasure in eating, but not just for the pleasure of the act. I have been working more and more on not eating because of some emotion I am feeling, or because I have nothing else to do. I instead grab a cup of tea or drink a glass of water when I first feel that urge,  often it works. I now have a HUGE basket of different flavors of tea. I can have everything from Sugar Cookie to a fruit variety. Often when I sit and just sip my tea I find I do not miss not eating whatever it was that I was grabbing for. IF however I still feel that little gnawing feeling of hunger, then I know it is time for a meal. I go over what I am really craving, and the author states she does the same , and then and only then do I eat. The next portion of the chapter addresses this as well, it is all about awareness. 

There is apparently a scientific term for "mouth watering". Well that is no surprise to me, there is a term out there for everything that happens with us and within us isn't there? Anyway, it is called cephalic phase digestive response.. CPDR. The author goes over the steps of what happens when and what causes CPDR, it is pretty interesting actually, never really put a thought to what causes the effects, just knew when I see some food either on tv, on my plate or um, a bakery case, it just happens. Apparently if we pay attention, are aware of what we are eating, meaning being present while we eat.... not mindlessly shoving food in our mouth, and really make it a whole experience it can help kick start our metabolism. There is more to it of course, that scientific thing again, but that is the jist of it. I mean how often , again very guilty, have you rushed through a meal, it is gone before you know it, and you think " I am still hungry" and you eat more. Maybe you are like me and watch tv while eating, and again never slow down to actually be aware of what I am eating never mind how much.  My family are all slow eaters. They take their time, savor their food, enjoy each bite, ( gee this was covered in a previous chapter right?) and well they all seem to eat less and are just as satisfied as if they had pigged out. The French, well they do not rush it, sitting in front of a tv while eating? Not going to happen ( though I swear I have seen it in movies ) , and as the author puts it " If there is a French Paradox, awareness should get much more credit than red wine. Part of that awareness is welcoming hunger, indulging it sensibly, and, in doing so, helping make your metabolism healthy". I am hoping I can manage this step, cause so far I am not doing so great with this step. 

Less of a good thing could actually be better
for your metabolism. 

 You did not think there was not going to be a section on exercise did you?  How often have you said " but I work out like crazy.... why can not I not loose weight?" Oh yes, once again I am guilty of these exact words. I walk more days than not, I even once in my life was a gym rat and would basically be working out all day long in one form or another, I always thought more must be better for me, kick that old metabolism into high gear right? Apparently, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Research has been showing that working out low to moderate in pace and just 3-4 days a week for at least 30 minutes is really all you need for weight loss. The biggest key? Going in with positive thoughts behind the workouts. Basically if you have the mindset that it will not work, it won't.... " Exercise is not bad, but healthy habits driven by fear, anger, or resentment are not healthy and will not produce results. " . The mind is a powerful thing. It is kind of like those medical trials, when some are given sugar pills, and some are given the real pills and quite often the ones with the fake pills still see results, because they believe that it will work. There is a simple lesson there I think.  The French do not work out like crazy, they do walk everywhere, they are on the move all day long ( well except when eating) just living life, and if you have ever worn a pedometer all day while just living an average day, you can often rack up quite a few footsteps, add in some basic exercise and well there you go. Combine it with the other steps and odds are pretty good that scale might just start to budge a bit. Worth a try right? 

All quotes and subject matter taken from the pages of
The French Twist by Carol Cottrill.