Here in the States, we not only like to keep up with the Joneses, but also the Juans in Mexico, the Martins in France, and the Satous in Japan. In other words, we don’t like to be left out or behind even on a global scale.
This is the case with food – whose is better? – and fashion – who looks the best? But it’s also the case with fitness. Just as every other aspect of our lives differs culturally, you can believe that’s the case when it comes to working out, too. Grab your gym-going passport and take a look at what’s popular beyond our borders. You may be inspired to try something new!
The carefree lifestyle of the Spanish seems to translate to their approach to fitness, too. As a whole, they don’t seem to worry themselves too much with getting in to the gym. Their inherent lifestyle does a body good! “The majority of them eat a healthy enough diet (Mediterranean diet at its finest) and walk almost everywhere (if they live in a big city), so obesity isn’t that big of a concern,” said Kelsey Murray, an American teacher who travels to Seville to teach English. They certainly don’t give exercise the chore status that Americans do, as it’s naturally just a part of their lives.
These Euros are also not sweating out their evenings in the gym, rather they prefer to get out en plein air. Translation: They enjoy the outdoors. And why wouldn’t they? Beautiful scenery from nature and architecture provide an inspired background to walk, run, cycle, or even row. Because they are “discreet but effective,” Mireille Guiliano, author of the French Women Don’t Get Fat series of books, told Yahoo! that isometric exercises are very French. With a straight back, contract your abs for 12 seconds, hold, release, and repeat. You can do this on the subway, in your desk chair, in your office, or even at a fancy dinner date. (more…)
By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., TheBestLife.com lead nutritionist
As a trim, chic couple passes me on the street, I hear snatches of their conversation—in French. The other night at a restaurant, I heard Italian coming from a nearby table of three generations: healthy children, parents and grandparents. Living in Washington, D.C., with all the embassies and international organizations, I wind up hearing many different languages. When I recognize one, I do a quick—and surreptitious—assessment of the speaker’s body weight. My amateur research findings, corroborated by legitimate studies, are that in most other countries, people are at healthier weights than Americans. For instance, our obesity rate is 3.5 times that of France’s.
I’ve pumped my international friends—all of whom are at a healthy body weight—for their secrets. No matter where they come from, there is one strategy they all share: They respect the concept of mealtimes. They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, with little to no snacking in between. (more…)
by Kelsey Murray
Pierre Dukan is the author of The Dukan Diet, and his books have sold millions of copies around the world, thanks in no small part to being Kate Middleton’s rumored diet. Now, the author is dipping his toes into the political arena by offering advice concerning the national obesity problem.
Dukan suggested to the future president of France that students should receive higher marks for staying within a specified body mass index range.
“For those who don’t need to lose weight, it wouldn’t change anything,” said Dukan. “For the others, it would motivate them.”
Dukan says that half of the population is overweight and that this trend has doubled in the past 12 years. He seems to think that targeting students under the age of 18 is one way to curb this problem. (more…)
Can beer be engineered into a health food? Could this be the best news in the history of mankind?
Researchers at Rice University in Houston are working on a beer that could fight cancer and heart disease. Taylor Stevenson, a member of the six-student research team at Rice, said they are using genetic engineering to create a beer that includes resveratrol, the disease-fighting chemical that’s been found in red wine. Resveratrol is also a natural component of grapes and pomegranates (more…)
This morning on the Today Show, they discussed how three countries manage to stay fit and trim, while eating decadent foods. Japan, Italy and France are far fitter than the U.S., which ranks as the heaviest country in the world (sharing the #1 and #2 positions with Mexico).
So how do they do it? The general rule across all three of these countries: portion control. America lives in a super size world, and we’re about the only ones who do. Can you incorporate their eating methods into your diet?
They eat smaller amounts of protein. Their meals focus on fruits, vegetables and grains- and let the meat act as a side dish. The Japanese derive a lot of protein from soy sources. They also eat clear soups prior to a meal- which is filling and makes you less likely to over-indulge at meal time.
Again, smaller portions are the rule of thumb here. They eat smaller amounts of better quality food. So they are satisfied in both the amount they’ve eaten, and the flavor. The French also use a smaller sized plate than Americans.
The Italians also serve smaller portions at their meals. A standard serving of pasta is about 5oz., versus the 10oz. or more typical here in the States. Olive oil and red wine are common fare at meal time- they also eat the grapes and olives whole, which are good sources of antioxidants and good fatty acids.