The first couple hundred pages of this book are devoted to food and our relationship with it; however, the last part is equally important. Her chapter on exercise is short but significant. In fact, I wanted to devote a whole post to it, because I echo her sentiments exactly. Exercise should be a natural part of life, not just something that happens in a gym. In fact, exercise was one reason I wanted to move to the country. I was the absolute opposite of a gym rat when we lived in the burbs. I loathed working out, although being "into" healthy habits, I thought I was obligated to work out daily. After all, getting enough exercise is just as important as eating right, isn't it?
I fell off the wagon -- or treadmill, or exercise bike -- so many times in my suburban life, it was a joke when I merely started to think about trying again. There were times in my life when I'd get out of bed early to do my half hour on the treadmill in my basement or bike half an hour to nowhere. I even belonged to a bona fide health club once. After reading Guiliano's book, I see that it was not the only club in the country to sell those enormous sweet muffins in the snack bar. Health club, indeed! Yes, I know my chocolate chip muffin recipe is decadent, but those muffins are not staring me in the face daily after I've just spent an hour torturing myself on exercise machines.
So, what's up with French women and exercise? They have the same attitude as I do. Life should provide exercise. That means taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking or biking instead of driving. One reason I moved to the country was to get "honest" exercise -- real exercise. Seven years ago, I couldn't carry a full 5-gallon water bucket or a 50-pound bag of goat grain. (Okay, I can't do that today because I injured my back, but that's another post.) There is no doubt I am more physically fit now than I was when we moved out here.
I also agree with Guiliano's idea that Americans are so caught up in the idea of saving time that they lose a lot of opportunities for natural exercise. Driving is quicker; elevators are faster. One of the books I read about farming talked about the importance of having your barns close to your house. The author talked about how much time you'd save -- or waste -- depending upon the distance between your house and your barn. Why do we view a few extra steps as wasted time instead of an opportunity? When you see how many modern farmers are overweight versus how many Amish are not overweight -- in spite of their rich diets -- it becomes pretty obvious who has the right idea.