French women arenít fat. And, if we believe the news stories, neither is anyone else in Europe. The reasons for this have been discussed up one side and down the other. They donít snack. Portions are smaller. They have less stress, more time, more vacation. Towns and cities are set up so that people can walk pretty much anywhere they want, without needing a car. Weekly grocery shopping doesnít really exist, so that people buy only what they need for the day, thereby avoiding that Ďwe might want it laterí mentality that packs our cabinets and refrigerators.
So letís say that these ideas are correct. How do we make ourselves more European? Letís not focus right now on the Ďwalking citiesí and the smaller food portions. If you didnít have at least a passing interest in portion control and exercise, you wouldnít be reading the Skinny Daily! Whatís left? Grocery shopping and stress.
Tell the truth. With your busy day, do you REALLY have time to go to the grocery store every day? Every other day? Neither do I. But why is that? Yep! The stress factor.
When weíre too stressed, our minds do everything possible to feel better. Some of us have compulsive habits [even exercise can qualify] that kick in when weíre stressed. Others of us have what I call the Ďpopcorn syndrome.í Ever watch someone eating popcorn? That automatic, rhythmic hand-to-mouth action? Many of us do that when weíre stressed. This ZONING OUT is an effort to turn our minds off, to numb our feelings with food. And before you know it, weíve eaten much more than we ever planned and we donít remember doing it.
Conscious eating. Thatís the ticket, they tell me. But in order to do this, we have to be in touch with our bodies and its signals. Am I hungry? Or scared? Stressed? Worried? Bored? Tired? Thirsty? Itís hard for me to figure out. And I keep asking asking myself questions like: What do I REALLY feel? What do I REALLY want?
Some people look at me crosseyed when I talk about this, others connect immediately. Everyone has a way to handle this. Some say meditation works. Others find journaling very very helpful. Still others like walking or some other form of aerobic exercise. Iím open to experimenting. But believe it or not, situps have helped a lot. Shocking, but true. The focus on my core, the center, has been a major factor in keeping me grounded and aware of myself. Itís hard for me to understand sometimes that one key to keeping me thin is doing situps, and NOT because of the muscle building! Another thing to accept.
But letís go back to Europe for a minute. The lapband, a restrictive form of WLS was first approved in Europe, where it has enjoyed more success in terms of greater weight loss and greater sustained weight loss than in the US. There are many reasons for that , and Iím not here to point any fingers or discuss access to healthcare. But if everyone in Europe is so thin, why were they such pioneers in WLS?