15 things the French get right that Americans get wrong

15 things the french get right that americans get wrong
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15 things the French get right that Americans get wrong

Ditch the concept of the gym.

"Numerous medical studies have shown that if you are more active throughout the day than the average person, but don't go to the gym, you are actually healthier than somebody that's sedentary all day and then goes to the gym at the end of the day," explains Orsoni. "The really big thing is to stop thinking [that] exercise is between four walls, in a very specific place. Make it part of your life wherever you are."

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Ask for no ice in your drinks.

"We also very rarely drink water with ice. Water with ice actually opens up your appetite," says Orsoni. "You very rarely see French people drinking [any water at all] while they eat. They will have a glass of wine, but they won't drink too many fluids because it dilutes the digestive enzymes, which makes the digestion very heavy and last longer."

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Walk while you talk.

"We found that people who pace while on the phone, get at least 10,000 extra steps per day," says Orsoni. "That's a lot."

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Put yourself first, and don't feel guilty about it.

American moms often drive around kids to practice and other after-school activities and then sit and watch them for an hour. Instead, split up your time between watching and taking a walk or exercising, suggests Orsoni.

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Take the stairs.

One of the most obvious healthy practices is still one to note: Take the stairs. If you absolutely must take an elevator, do an exercise while on your way up.

"I do a physical chair in the elevator. I am sitting without a chair, back against the wall of the elevator, and I don't care that people are staring at me," says Orsoni.

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Talk to your colleagues — live.

"In the U.S., what I've noticed is that people would send me an email to ask me a question. Why don't they come to my office? That's something that would be normal in France," Orsoni explains. "You would stand up, walk over and come back. It is good for reconnecting with people."

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Take time for lunch — really.

"I call you keyboard eaters," quips Orsoni. Americans often eat quickly at their desks and don't move very far to pick up food.

"Digestion is going to be terrible, which means you are going to be pretty drowsy all afternoon," warns Orsoni. "Your productivity isn't going to be high no matter what you think. You aren't getting any activity."

"In France, you gather your colleagues, you go out and you don't go to the nearest place," she explains. You can do this in an hour. "It requires some creativity but it is completely feasible."

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Let your purse be your weights.

"When we walk on the street you'll see French women tend to keep their purse on their wrist, Orsoni explains. "They usually have their elbow glued to their torso in a 90-degree angle and they change arms. That is how you get amazing biceps without going to the gym. It really works the entire upper body."

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Eat off smaller plates.

Portions in the U.S. are huge compared to portions in France. To trick your body into eating an appropriate portion size, "use dessert plates as opposed to regular plates to serve yourself -- it really works well," suggests Orsoni.

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Do not fill up on bread.

"In France, they never bring you bread before the meal," shares Orsoni. The bread alone at U.S. tables can cost you up to 400 calories. "After a month, you would have gained two pounds of fat if you were to [eat it] every single day."

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Start with soup or a salad.

"If you take your hand and you make a fist with it, that is the size of your stomach when it is completely empty," Orsoni shares. "It can double in size very easily. Anything above that, you will feel too full."

Orsoni recommends a starter that'll fill up your entire stomach and send a signal of fullness to your brain.

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Slow down while eating.

It takes 20 minutes for the brain to recognize fullness and Orsoni has noticed that Americans often rush through eating. Really, Americans should be leaving 20 minutes from the first bite of our meal until the next plate.

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Opt to eat in instead of dining out.

"We don't eat as much out as you do," says Orsoni. "It is very common to have friends over and non-planned parties. Everybody cooks and brings food to someone's house."

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Make your own food products.

Orsoni makes her own butter, ketchup and mustard. "People have forgotten how easy it is to make ... It is also cheaper and healthier."

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Don’t bring your electronics into the bedroom.

Americans tend to fall asleep with their phones and computers on their nightstands, according to Orsoni. "Turn it off completely and put it in another room, somewhere where it is not easy to reach. The world will not stop spinning."

With a better night's rest, you'll be able to make smarter decisions around diet and exercise.

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Have you ever envied the French for their laid back lifestyle or wondered how they eat amazing French food but still remain slim? Valerie Orsoni gives us the inside scoop in her new book LeBootCamp Diet: The Scientifically-Proven French Method to Eat Well, Lose Weight, and Keep it Off For Good.

The French native, who shares a number of helpful tips and recipes for living well in the book, noticed many differences between American and French lifestyles upon moving to California. And from Americans' concept of the gym to our 'humongous' portion sizes, she challenges readers to rethink the status quo.

Check out the slideshow above to find out which cultural differences stuck out to her the most and tips that can save your wallet, waistline and overall well-being.

Valerie Orsoni

For more, check out this video:

How to Follow the French Woman Diet
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