Carbs Don’t Count in Paris (And Other Important Lessons I Learned 3,000 Miles Outside of My Comfort Zone)

In case you haven’t read my previous 7,000 posts, I recently returned home from a jaunt around London and Paris. The weeks leading up to my trip were filled with excitement, and as much as I hate to admit it: stress. The stress of traveling alone and coordinating events overseas was challenging, but the stress over trying to stay as healthy and fit as possible before my “international debut” was even more daunting. I mean, who wants to be sausaged into their skinny jeans in Paris?

Now don’t get me wrong: I know that I constantly preach the message of body confidence and self-love, and I really am proud of who I am in every single area of my life. Curves included. But as much as I try to fight it, the whole “OMG am I skinny enough?” conversation seems to creep into my head before major events and it takes a lot of positive self-talk to keep that nasty little voice under control. What can I say? I’m human. So naturally, before my trip I ate very consciously and worked out as much as I possibly could. I left for my trip feeling good, with a game plan in my head for how and what I’d eat, and a complete list of juice bars and vegetarian restaurants within walking distance of my hotels.

Ha.

You know that saying “the best laid plans…?” Well let’s just say all of my planning went right out the window the moment I stepped off the red eye. But you know what? I embraced every second of it. If you’ve been following my wellness posts, you’ll know I had not eaten a piece of meat since December 2012 (and for a few months at the beginning of this year, I wasn’t eating any animal products at all for a variety of personal reasons). But I’m a huge believer in listening to your body intently and responding to it’s cravings. Our bodies are constantly talking to us; telling us when to get more sleep, when to slow down, when to indulge in excitement, when to eat more protein, drink more water, etc. So on my 2nd night in London, my body was telling me to eat a big fat steak. And I listened. And it was good. The next night, it told me to eat a rotisserie chicken. And I listened to that, as well. I even ate the fries. I was exhausted and jet lagged and I knew my body needed the protein. And well, you can imagine what went down in Paris. I was not giving up the chance to eat a croissant or baguette with my morning espresso. But my body also told me to get out and explore as much as possible. I walked all over the place in both cities and barely took time to lounge because life was happening and I was not missing it. I was living. I was moving. And I was happy. Admittedly, happier than I’ve been in a long time.

When I got home, I was nervous to weigh myself, but I knew I had to keep myself in check and see what kind of damage I’d done. Or so I thought… I hopped on the scale at the end of a very long travel day, after eating airport food, having a little too much wine on the plane, and nowhere near enough water, and guess what? I hadn’t gained an ounce. I immediately thought it was a mistake, so I got on and off again a few more times. Same weight. Not one ounce gained. I started to rack my brain and make sense of this phenomenon and here’s what I came up with: I ate what my body told me to eat, and I got out from behind the computer screen and lived life. I only ate when I was hungry (which just so happened to only be twice a day), and I stopped eating when I was stuffed. There was so much to do and see that frankly, a walk around South Kensington seemed much more appetizing than dessert.

At that moment, I vowed to keep that habit with me back here in New York. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, to be tied to our desks and our laptops, and plan out every meal strategically, but the truth of the matter is, life is happening all around us and it’s up to us to indulge in it as often as we can. There’s no reason we should be depriving ourselves of the foods we love and the experiences that enrich us. And as cliche as it sounds, what matters most is balance.

So if you’ve overindulged in the comfort foods of Thanksgiving, or you’ve been cozying up to a little too much bread and cheese on these chilly autumn evenings, just get moving. Come up with some really fabulous things you want to do and see in your city and unplug for a bit. Feed your soul with new experiences and your fitness app will soon seem so irrelevant. Get out there and live.

Your brain and your waistline will thank you.

To read more about my thoughts on health and wellness (and why I think it’s completely necessary to indulge in a glass of champagne every night!), check out my book The Champagne Diet: Eat, Drink, and Celebrate Your Way to a Healthy Mind and Body! on Amazon.

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  • Suzanna
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this post, Cara! It's so uplifting to read about people's experiences when we stop worrying and stressing about what we "should" do and do what our body tells us to 🙂

  • Jovana Miljanovic
    Reply

    So true 🙂 Great post!

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