ColumnSkip the weight loss centers and the elliptical machines, there are other fun ways to drop unwanted pounds.
Last spring, I set sail from the States to Europe, where I’m now a legal resident. In the intervening months since my arrival, I’ve shed a handy ten pounds – without even realizing it was happening. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that I was slowly slimming down; I only noticed that my energy levels were wicked high, that I loved shopping for new clothes because I liked how I looked in the dressing room mirrors, and that I felt infinitely sexier than before I came to Berlin. What happened?
I definitely don’t hail from one of America’s Fat Capitals; my former home of San Francisco is one of the healthiest, most physically fit populations in all of the U.S., and my long-preferred, mostly active lifestyle seemed to have all the right cards in place for an optimal waistline: I’ve always walked and biked everywhere (I don’t even have a driver’s license), and as a yoga teacher and (mostly) vegan, it seemed I could do no wrong. And yet, some key ingredient kept me hovering at a Marilyn Monroe body type. These days, I’m certainly no buff beauty queen, but I have definitely stopped thinking and caring about my weight. Who needs to worry when you can just have fun?
This week’s Sex by Numbers provides a little toolbox of four incredibly accessible, easily applicable tips for whittling down your frame – European style – with nary a lick of dreadful dieting or fretting about what the scale reads.
Walk It & Work It
Maintaining fitness isn’t some codified, separate activity from the rest of your daily activities, but rather an integrated aspect of life. In the morning, I walk to the market for breakfast ingredients and mosey on over to the office. On my lunch break, I stroll along the canal that cuts through the city or explore nearby graveyards and parks – it refreshes me and keeps me from going mad from sitting at a desk and in front of a computer all day. In the evening, I use my own two legs to get to yoga class and back home again, and instead of taking the subway to meet up with friends later at night, I walk to whatever bar, club, or restaurant where we’ll be hanging out. By incorporating regular bipedal motion into my everyday life, I get to enjoy the city sights, bump into friends on the sidewalk, window shop, and generally approach each day with appreciation and ease. Sure, it might require more time than driving a car, but it endows routine experiences with increased richness and joy. Plus, there’s no better time for strapping on my headphones and listening to music.
Nothing is sexier than knowing how to hold your own in the kitchen, and a woman who can whip-up a mean meal at a moment’s notice is a hot commodity in the dating market. (Because, let’s face it, relationships are a cultural and social marketplace.) I’m a proponent of intuitive eating and cooking in conjunction with seasonal, regional foods. As such, I advocate stocking up monthly on staples like legumes, lentils, and nut butters, while making frequent trips to the market several times a week for fresh vegetables, fruits, fresh-baked breads, and ethically-produced dairy products. Culinary art is one of life’s most sensual pleasures and is not only an opportunity to nourish your body but delight in a full-fledged orgy of lush colors, scents, tactile exploration, and even the roundly satisfying thwack of a butcher knife against the chopping block. When you enshrine a daily habit of cooking into your routine, you deepen an appreciation for food and can savor it more richly. And there’s the added benefit of the pounds simply melting away.
You can even have lots of it, if you want. It’s an obviously inventive, expressive workout that provides an endorphine rush in equal measure to running a marathon or getting a promotion, except rather than being an exceptional affair, it’s a sustainable activity in which to engage on a daily basis. Further, a healthy sex life results in a healthier physique. We all want to feel completely free of body-consciousness when we’re with our lovers; it allows us to more deeply engage in intimacy and focus purely on the pleasures of sharing ourselves with another person. Having regular sex is rad, and provides constant incentive to keep your body feeling beautiful and strong to share your best self with a lover (or several).
Balance, not Boundaries
Wine with dinner, nice cocktails as nightcaps, a croissant for breakfast, convivial meals and drinks with friends that span for hours and hours – I could go on. Beauty, at its core, is about savoir faire. It’s vital to celebrate life with other people by coming around the table and enjoying its bounty – and this isn’t just about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here in Europe, every meal is occasion for festivity and joy, and people are willing to unplug from their laptops and iPhones to come together on a quotidian basis. Indulgence – in sweets, spirits, and fine company – is perhaps the single most important component of creating balance and joy.
Image: Jamie Neely