There's no denying it — modern life has taken its toll on our minds and bodies, leaving behind a lot of stress, a few wrinkles and the feeling that maybe there's more to life than rushed and hollow moments.
Take a look around you — there's the harried mum doing the school drop off while she crams a bagel into her mouth with one hand, steering the wheel of her car with the other. There's the businesswoman who's eating a pre-made bowl of stir-fry at her desk while answering emails and there's the over-tired nurse who gets home after a night shift too tired to remove the day's makeup.
And then there's that one woman who swans in looking fresh, effortlessly glamorous and who never seems to feel the need to diet. Perfect genes? Maybe. Or perhaps she's taken a few leaves out of the Frenchwoman's book and has learned the Parisienne secrets to living — and ageing — gracefully.
You've heard of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat and maybe you've rolled your eyes at the thought of yet another fad diet. But there's more to the French way of life than a fad and there are a few simple tricks you can take from the everyday Frenchwoman to make your body look and feel years younger. Here's how.
Every masterpiece needs a great foundation and your body is no different. Your skin is your body's largest organ and it needs to be taken care of, but it's not as time-consuming as you may think. In fact, it's all about setting up a good routine and in 10 years time you'll look years younger.
According to Mireille Divulges, the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, the secret to great skin (and hair), is water.
"I strongly recommend drinking a glass of water before going to bed and first thing in the morning. Water is the French women's secret weapon — for skin and beauty, for health (flushing toxins) and for weight control (don't snack when you think you are hungry, your body is really thirsty)," she advises.
Alongside using cold water in your shower to get your circulation going, Mireille also suggests heeding the warnings about the sun. "French women are not sun-worshipping lizards," she says.
"Today they are much more likely to apply their tan from a tube or bottle than from a month at St. Tropez. They are careful to wear sunscreens and look for appropriate SPF in their beauty emollients. And while they are likely to sit in the shade to protect their skin, they are equally likely to be out and about in the sun, enjoying its light and benefits, by walking or doing some light sports or movement as part of their weekly routine."
Everyone knows yo-yo diets don't work and that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is a healthy diet. But what if you just can't seem to kick the chocolate and cheese habit?
According to author and nutrition expert Sally Asher, you can still enjoy your favourite foods as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
"As a self-confessed foodie, the last thing I dreamed I would lose when I moved to Paris was 13 kilos," she says.
"Surprisingly, I not only lost weight, but revolutionised my relationship with food. Living the Parisian lifestyle with a French family enlightened me on how to savour my food and get healthy without giving up anything, including camembert and chocolate."
Sound too good to be true? Like everything, it's all about moderation.
"Eating for the French is a sensual experience, not a fearful or guilty one. The French don't get involved in the carbs versus protein debate or argue about whether sugar is poison or not. The poison is in the amount, which is why the French keep portions petite, just like their dress size," explains Asher.
Food is not the enemy. In fact, Parisians relish a variety of tasty food, naturally following the freshness of the seasons. As Sally explains, the French love fine food and naturally want to spend time selecting it, preparing it and savouring it. "Taking time with meals allows the feeling of satiety to register," says Asher.
Sally suggests making each meal a pleasure by sitting down and savouring the food, avoiding snacks in favour of eating three balanced meals and keeping those portion sizes reasonable.
Looking for some simple French glamour in your day? According to Divulges, French women know one can go far with a great haircut, a bottle of champagne and a divine perfume.
While you might need a tad more than that to get by at the office, the trick is in simplicity and quality.
Divulges suggests investing in a great pair of leggings, quality cardigans, classic white shirts and camisoles that can be slipped under well-cut blazers. And, of course, gloves and a floaty, patterned scarf to finish the ensemble.
Less is more when it comes to French glamour so keep makeup to a minimum and avoid it altogether whenever you can. Think classic accessories such as pearls and diamonds and keep patterns to a minimum. Wear quality leather shoes and choose a handbag that will see you through multiple styles and seasons for best effect.
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