It's probably pretty obvious at this point that our love for all things French runs deep. What can we say? There's just something so aspirational about the fact that Parisian women manage to look both completely put-together and impossibly effortless at the same time. In truth, we know that their beauty secret is balance. French girls really do care how they look, but they also know not to fuss too much about it. This almost laissez-faire approach happens to align with their fitness and diet strategies as well.
I didn't completely understand how French women managed to indulge in all their local goodies without gaining weight until I lived in Paris for several months in college. I can still smell the fresh baguettes I enjoyed on a daily basis; I still have the dozens upon dozens of corks I amassed from all the wine bottles my friends and I worked through during our stay. No joke: I used to wander into different chocolate shops just to sample sweets. Yet somehow, I never gained a pound. It seemed miraculous at first, until I began to observe tiny lifestyle shifts that were foreign to my life at home in the States.
I walked constantly, for one thing. Yes, I enjoyed lots of wine, but it wasn't uncommon to sip on a single glass for a few hours as I read a textbook at my local cafГ©. When I went out to eat, I enjoyed incredibly fresh meals, often crafted from local, seasonal produceвЂ¦ in much smaller portions than would typically be served at an American restaurant. (Fun fact: Taking doggie bags to go is not an encouraged practice in France.)
Of course, these are my own personal observations gathered over a relatively short period of time. Which is why we thought it only fitting to head straight to the source to better understand exactly how French women manage to stay slim while also maintaining a healthy appetite-and, in turn, their sanity. Below, see some must-know tips from Parisian models, beauty gurus, and more.
They Don't Deprive Themselves
Incredible food and wine are essential parts of French culture-something that natives aren't just unwilling to sacrifice but also don't have to. By committing to small serving sizes and really savoring every bite, they don't feel the need to overdo it. вЂњI try to cook for myself almost every day when I'm home in Paris,вЂќ French model Cindy Bruna told Coveteur. вЂњBut if I go to a restaurant, I'm going to splurge. I don't go out to order salad!вЂќGetty
They Plan Ahead
That being said, French girls are still experts at practicing moderation. Consider this genius, simple tip from model and Instagram star Jeanne Damas, for example: вЂњIf I'm drinking wine in the evening, I avoid fruit and fruit juice during the day,вЂќ Damas once said toВ Vogue Paris.
They Start Good Habits Early
You'd be hard-pressed to find a French woman who doesn't cite her Maman as the ultimate beauty and wellness influence. вЂњMy mother taught me the importance of taking care of my skin and my body,вЂќ says model Sigrid Agren. By learning to enjoy fresh, seasonal foods in small portions and drinking lots of water by example, French children establish these mindful eating habits early on.Getty
They Walk Everywhere
Don't underestimate a good stroll-French women know that the physical and mental health benefits abound. вЂњI force myself to walk a lot,вЂќВ remarks Caroline de Maigret. вЂњFor example, if I have an appointment and I go by car, I park 20 minutes away. Paris is a city where you can walk a lot. Sometimes I just walk for an hour, if I have time, which is the same hour you would have gone to the gym-my mind is happier that way.вЂќ
They Drink Lots (and Lots) of Water
Sure, it's the oldest (and simplest) trick in the book, and you're probably sick of hearing it at this point. But it's a non-negotiable ritual for French women, something that they swear by for better skin and overall well-being. вЂњI drink liters and liters of herbal tea and water,вЂќ says Damas. вЂњIn the morning, I have hot water with lemon,вЂќ adds model Aymeline Valade.
It's a morning habit for actress Roxane Mesquida as well. вЂњWhat I do the most is drink green tea every morning,вЂќ she says. вЂњAnd drink a lot of mineral water-not tap water-the best isВ Volvic.вЂќGetty Images
They Know That Feeling Good Is the First Priority
In her book,В The French Beauty SolutionВ ($14), Caudalie founder Mathilde Thomas addressesВ what she callsВ вЂњthe erroneous notion of no pain, no gain.вЂќ Her clients, she says, tell her вЂњabout crash diets that left them lightheaded and skincare products that irritate their skin-because they felt they had to suffer to be beautiful.вЂќ
Thomas argues that for French women, any kind of wellness ritual is pointless if it makes you miserable. вЂњBeauty is something to give you pleasure,вЂќ she says. вЂњBecause when you feel good, you look good.вЂќВ NotВ vice versa.
This concept is also reflected in the French approach to exercise. Boutique fitness and gyms are only a relatively recent development in France, as outdoor activities and sports take precedence over sweating it out on the treadmill. But to further illustrate Thomas's point, Bruna highlights a favorite French fitness approach in her interview withВ Coveteur, called Sophrology.
вЂњIt's like meditation-exercises I do at the gym where I listen to my trainer's voice and do mental work that takes away my stress, gets rid of bad moods and builds my confidence,вЂќ she says. вЂњFor example, I'll lie on the floor after a workout, and he will tell me to imagine my stress is a cloud-a cloud that's just floating, floating away. Or he'll have me imagine a blue point, and focus on that. This type of exercise is very popular in France.вЂќ The point? Working out and eating well should take away your stress, never add to it.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.