Dedicated To The Art Of Moving Butts

Oct 3, 2012 by

I spent some time in Europe recently and one stark difference between the Europeans and Americans became apparent immediately upon my arrival – there arent nearly as many obese, or even obviously overweight people to be found in Europe.

I was in Paris when I first experienced this and it’s not as if the French are known for their lean cuisine; everything is fatty sauces, fancy pastries and all sorts of breads for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With that kind of diet, you’d think these people would have just as much of an issue with obesity as we do here in the states and yet somehow — not so much. In fact, you had to look really hard to find any significantly overweight Parisians.

It was amazing.

Eventually I found myself playing a mental game of ‘count the fat big people’ as I walked through the streets and subways of Paris; when I got back to my flat at the end of the night I rarely had gotten anywhere near double digits in my tally.

This observation got me to wondering exactly why were these people so much leaner than their American counterparts?

After spending a week or so living amongst the Parisians, I started to notice some differences that I think explained the discrepancy:

They are much more active — everyone is on foot or riding bikes all over the place, sure there are cars but the streets always seemed alive with people toting grocery bags for blocks at a time while here in America I know people who will drive to their mailbox at the end of the driveway!
They eat smaller portions — I noticed right away when dining out that my meal was often significantly smaller than what I was used to seeing at restaurants here in the US and also in most cases the plate would contain a much heftier portion of vegetables than what I’m accustomed to at home.

So then its no surprise because we all know eating a little less and exercising a little more is bound to be good for the waistline and general fitness – but wait there’s more.

It occurred to me that although there are certainly a lot of strictly couch potato Americans, there are also many who work out on at least a semi regular basis and consume a reasonably healthy diet, yet even they are still significantly larger than the average European.

Presumably the Parisians also work out from time to time, but I think the difference is the things they are doing in between those workouts. It’s their general activity level which truly sets them apart. They seemed to spend a lot more time actually moving and doing things, they seemed not to think twice about walking 4 or 5 blocks to pick up a baguette for instance.

When was the last time you walked 5 blocks to anywhere when your car hadn’t broken down and it wasn’t part of a workout?

There are 168 hours in a week, roughly 116 of them waking hours for the average person. Even if you workout semi regularly and get in 3 solid hours per week of good, hard, effective exercise you can see how having an overall sedentary lifestyle the other 98% of your waking life is still going to be hard to overcome.

If you sit on your ass all day at work then more of the same in the car, then again in front of the TV for the better part of an average evening, then you really are going to need to do more than just start working out a few days per week and eat an occasional carrot if you really want to improve your fitness levels and shrink that waistline.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you start working out strenuously 20 hours per week or anything, it wouldn’t be sustainable and it would lead to injury in no time.

What I’m saying is that maybe you should consider taking a page out of the Parisian playbook and make it your business to become deliberately more active in your day to day life.

Here are a few suggestions that you can try out to help you do just that:

  • STAIRS are your friend! Take the stairs as much as possible. If you live or work in a high rise, at least take one flight of stairs every time before getting on the elevator. Then after a couple of weeks of that, start taking two flights, and so on.
  • Park farther away, its always quicker and easier to find parking the farther you go from the entrance anyway, double bonus!
  • If you work in an office environment, when its time to go to the bathroom during your work day, always choose the bathroom thats one or two floors up from your office (and take the stairs of course!).
  • Turn the TV and video games off at least three times per week and actually PLAY with the kids – or partake in activities which require some type of physical interaction. Games, chores, walk after dinner, whatever works so long as it’s including movement and togetherness with the family! If you have no kids to play with, get a friend or even a dog, whatever you like – just so long as you transform what would normally be ‘couch time’ into fun ‘activity time’ a few times each week.
  • Take a walk after lunch. It doesn’t have to be far, you don’t need to change into workout clothes or anything, just go stretch your legs for 5-10 minutes before resuming your workday.


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  1. Shawn

    Good article ! I know for myself I had to start finding way to be more active and move more. I purchased 2 Puppies (Yorkies) and we go for a walk at least 3 times a day. I only park in the distant part of any parking lot when shopping or whatever I am doing, I carry bags (I try to refrain from shopping carts) and lastly I use my elliptical while watching television. Its all about WANTING to move.

    • I think you hit the nail right squarely on the head Shawn – you’ve gotta want to be active. I think many people don’t realize how much they miss the healthy activity levels they’ve long since abandoned until its way too late unfortunately…

  2. Great article on moving – but it also got me to thinking that maybe meal time is a celebration time for Europeans and South Americans too! They seem to slow down and savor every bite with family and friends. This as opposed to us Americans who eat on the go, eat alone, eat for comfort, eat for solace, eat between meals and never ever realize what and how much we are eating Thank you for this article – it is definitely “food for thought” for me.

  3. These are good suggestions. Majority of Americans always try to think of the quickest way to get from point A to point B. Or think, I need to hurry to the restroom so I can get back to work. Now that I work from home and the restroom is conveniently located 10 feet away, maybe from now on, I will walk out my apartment, down the hallway, down the stairs, walk down that hallway, go up the stairs and back to my apartment before using the restroom 🙂 Great Observations and Tips!!

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