"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Work it like a French Girl

"French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure"
- Mireille Guilianao (2005)

See my **Update** at the bottom of this post ;-)

I need to lose 5lbs and I REFUSE to diet. As Alice Walker says: "life is too short to wear tight shoes." But the belly has got to go, I had to figure out...something. So, I did what I do best - research. Little did I know at the outset, that what I was looking for was already on my bookshelf. 
Knowing well my love for any and everything Parisien, Peter bought this book for me in 2005. But why this particular book Parisien? I was pregnant with Never at the time and had confided my fears of never losing the baby weight from baby #4 (in 5 years). 

Madame Guiliano's book is an anti-diet book. There's no hard science, no clearly-defined plan, and no lists of food to have or have not. Instead, her food philosophy is based in the classic principles of French gastronomy (the art of good eating). Simply put, her theory revolves around: "...emphasizing freshness, variety, balance, and always pleasure, Mireille shows how virtually anyone can learn to eat, drink, and move like a French woman." (from the dust jacket).

 Madame says that the key to her philosophy is not guilt or deprivation but learing how to get the most from the things you most enjoy. She is quite convinced that living a French lifestyle is the key to diva-fabulosity - hmmm.  I started reading this book and I loved it! So much so, that when the sequel came out 6 months later, I immediately got it.

"French Women For All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure" (2006)

By this time, however, Never was nearly 9 months old and I had just begun my job as a history professor. Motherhood and adjusting to a new job left me little time for pleasure reading :(. Besides, I had very quickly lost all of my baby weight, plus a little bit more. I thought that I was free and clear, no weight problems for me! Well, it took nearly 5 nears to catch up with me. My doctor and good friend Kim warned me that turning 40 made it a whole new body ball game - boy oh boy was she right! That's how I found my way back to Madame Guiliano's books.

"French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook" (2010)

Doing a bit more research, I discovered that Madame Guiliano has just released a cookbook (I guess it's a trilogy). The cookbook has not yet arrived, but when it does I'll try some of the recipes and let you know if they taste good and if they work. One common thing, that connects all three books, is Madame Guiliano's willingness to fully and freely share many intimate aspects of her life. Of course, I just had to researh her bio.

{Photos:Andrew French}

First of all, this woman is 65 years old. How fanfuckingtastic is she?! But what makes Madame Guiliano truly diva-licious is the career and life that she created for herself:

Prior to becoming a full-time author, for more than 20 years Madame Guiliano was the spokesperson for Champagne Veuve Clicquot and a senior executive for LVMH (Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton). She was also CEO of Clicquot, Inc., the U.S. firm that she helped found (1984) and was its first employee. Those of my readers who know me well, know that I absolutely LOVE champagne. After the amazing international success of "French Women Don't Get Fat," she decided to retire, follow her new passion, and become a full-time writer. Besides her books - there's a 4th: "Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility" (2009), yeah I ordered it too ;)

Besides her books, Madame Guiliano frequently contributes articles on food, wine, travel, and lifestyle to many different publications, inc.: Town & Country, The Quarterly Review of Wines; and has authored essays for Newsweek and Bon Appetit. She also runs a website: mireilleguliano.com (check it out).

Everything about this woman inspires me. Can you imagine starting a whole new life at the age of 60? Can you imagine being bold and brave enough to follow your most secret dream AND making a successful life out of it? Inspiration for us all. I'll write about her again, but first I want to read her books - reading for the 8+ hour flight to Paris? Hmmmm...

Mireille Guiliano's Books (all hardcover editions):

1. "French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure" (2005)
@ Amazon.com, used-like-new, inc. shipping = $6.

2. "French Women For All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure (2006)
@ Amazon.com, used-like-new, inc. shipping = $11.

3. "Women, Work, & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business & Sensibility (2009)
@Amazon.com, used-like-new, inc. shipping = $11.

4. "The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook" (2010)
@ Amazon.com, not inc. shipping = $18.
It is a new book, afterall ;)

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


**Update: December 2011 **
 It's been a year and a half since I first wrote this post - it's high time for an update, oui?

Madame Guliano's French Girl regimine is pretty straight-forward:
- a yogurt concoction for breakfast
- lots of water
- completely cut out the 'bad' foods (fast food and food with a high sugar and/or fat content)
- reasonable portions at lunch and dinner
- exercise

I started Madame's regimine the day I wrote my original post. And I'm proud to say that I lost 7 lbs and have been able to maintain the body I want since then - Woo Hoo! 

Re: Eating Habits

*The 1st step I took was to completely eliminate any and ALL fast food and soda - which is incredibly difficult to do when you've got a 10, 8, and 6 year old at home!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
I found Madame's yogurt recipes to be too complicated for my Diva working mother of three lifestyle...

My Breakfast Yogurt Version:
- Plain yogurt from the supermarket. Get it a small cup size - so you can mix everything and eat in one container and you'll always have the perfect portion. 
- One teaspoon of honey (don't be afraid to experiment with several brands and flavors 'til you find your favorite).
- A selection of your favorite fruit (optional): Strawberries, Blueberries, Peaches, Kiwi, Cherries, Rasberries, Blackberries - you get the idea.
- A selection of nuts: Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Almonds, etc.
- A zero sugar cereal (i.e. Post Shredded Wheat)
+Add the honey, and a small amount of any combination of the fruits, nuts, and sugarless cereal et voila! A yummy, filling and healthy breakfast.

The Secret Weapon: Home cooking!

There's one overarching theme, linking Madame's books - learning and knowing food as intimately as possible. Of course, the best way to do that is to shop for and prepare your own food. Madame inspired me to get serious about cooking - the final frontier...to boldly go where this Diva has never gone before!

I'm still feeling my way but, if I do say so myself, I've become pretty good ;-) Best yet, shopping for the freshest highest quality ingredients and preparing them yourself is the best way to manage a healthy weight and body. Being a home cook also means guilt free restaurant dining! Currently, my cookbook collection is small but comprehensive; plenty of uncomplicated, delicious recipes:
- The Weeknight Cook (Williams & Sonoma)
- Cooking Essentials (Williams & Sonoma)
- Barefoot in Paris (Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Moving my booty
As important as what you eat is exercise. Sadly, my Diva working mother of three lifestyle has kept me from the ballet barre (groan). But, Coco and I walk at least one hour daily; and when the Midwestern winter is at its height, I walk my treadmill one hour daily. 

Yeah, I know that the changes I've made read simple. But Madame was 100% correct - a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle is the best perscription for a 40 something Diva working mother of three. Maybe it is for you too? 

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


Playing Bocce Ball while working it like a French Girl!


  1. I agree that we have got to forget about deprivation and learn to enjoy our food. I have a theory that when we make a food "off limits" that our inner child rebels and wants it even more! Therefore I have no forbidden foods.

    My biggest rule is to eat consciously. By doing that and changing my mindset about losing weight I have successfully dropped 125 pounds--while enjoying wine, pizza and ice cream! If you are interested in learning more of my weight loss tools my book is available on my website or at Amazon.

    Bon appetit!

  2. Temple,
    When do you leave for Paris???? I had no idea you were going again! Wonderful! I have to get a cophy of this book, as I need to lose 10 lbs!

  3. Daaaaling!
    We're going 14-24 October. We've rented the same apartment and I can't wait to return. Tho' everytime I go, it's harder to leave. One of these days I'm not going to come back ;-)


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