Blog-versary & blog break

Today, January 1st, 2017 marks the third anniversary of French Inspiration, my personal blog. I started this to keep me accountable in my daily quest for staying fit (in France!) and in my forties. It was also a way of connecting with my friends & family in the US, keeping them up to date on my life here in Europe, and to give readers a peak into the French lifestyle.

These three years have been amazing. The best thing about the experience was the new friends I have met, both virtually and in person. People I never would have connected with other wise. People who think exactly as I do, who have the same interests and the same struggles. The accountability of posting my workouts has been life changing, keeping me focused and continually motivated to always do my best. I NEVER would have run a marathon if I hadn’t been a blogger, I’m sure. And this year, I did two ! Definitely my biggest accomplishment because of my blog.

But I have decided it is time for a break. The next few months are going to be very busy for me, both personally and professionally, with things that are going to need my attention (hello ! How to finance a US college education for my senior ?!) and I have some big travel with work.

So I am taking a break. Not sure if it will be a month. Maybe I will join the Virtual coffee date at the beginning of February ? Maybe a 3 month break…. after my big travel ? Possible a permanent break ? I don’t know. I am being flexible about it.

Who know’s ? You might just see me back here in 2 weeks time !

 

In the meantime, I want to thank you, my readers, for reading and commenting on my blog. A special shout out to the following bloggers who have encouraged, inspired, motivated and supported me through this journey.

Judy at Chocolate runs Judy

Darlene at My First 5K and more

Deborah at Confessions of a mother runner

Holly at Hoho Runs

Wendy at Taking the long way home

Tricia at Misssippipiddlin

Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice

Coco at Running with perseverance

Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC

Melanie at Happy Being Healthy

Kim at Running on the fly

Karen at Running over the hill

Janelle at Run with No Regrets

…just to name a few. The list is by no way exhaustive.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU and if you’d like to connect with me on Instagram, click on the icon on the right of the page, or… @fit_in_france

I am linking up with Holly and Tricia at Hoho runs and Misssippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 

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Runfessions : December

I am linking up with Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice for the last Runfessions of 2016. It is (already!) that time of the month to get everything off your chest. Here goes……

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Running ? What running ?

I runfess… December was my lowest mileage month in 2016. I didn’t keep track, hardly wore my watch, and haven’t even written in my training journal for the past 3 weeks !  I estimate it to be around 50 miles but I might be OVER estimating that by a lot.

I runfess… last year at this time I was training for the Paris marathon. I am NOT missing training in the middle of winter and those zero dark thirty runs. It has been cold here !

I runfess that although I have signed up for 2 races in February, I am not (yet?) thinking of ”training” for them. I am picturing them as fun ways to kick off the season.

I runfess that I am fully enjoying my 6 week online bootcamp program with Amanda Tress. HIIT workouts, lifting weights, running, biking…. after training for 2 marathons in 2016 I was craving variety AND something I can do at home (hello! no need to go out at zero dark thirty).

I runfess that I am very happy with what I have accomplished this year. 2016 was good to me, but I feel a little lost without a big 2017 objective. I am a goal oriented person and without one, I feel like I am floating.

 

Let’s laugh a little ! Pictures that did not make it to IG.

I runfess that I take lots of photos and fix my hair before choosing one to put on social media. My daughter captured the process I went through one morning this week :

 

I runfess that I was too embarrassed to take a photo in the weight room this week, because it was 100% men. The lighting and background in the locker room is awful though, so this one didn’t get posted to IG. Ugh.

And finally, my husband made fun of this one, as it looks like I am doing something other than squatting !

 

How many photos do you take before posting one on IG ?

Do you spend time fixing your hair ?

What do you want to runfess this month ?

My intermittent fasting experience

I am in my mid forties and over the past few years, my weight has slowly creeped up. Even if I own a scale, I rarely get on it, but I knew it,  because my cothes were tight, both around my waist and my upper back. This situation has been frustrating for me. No matter how I tweaked my diet or my exercise regimen, I saw no change.

So in August I decided to sign up for a 6 week on line Boot camp / Carb Cycling program with Amanda Tress.

Since the first program, I have done two others and am signed up for my fourth starting in January. I love the workouts and the accountability of the closed Facebook group, but I am also loving one of the specificities of her programs, intermittent fasting.

Her boot camp program, (first program from August) is based largely on the philosophy of Yuri Elkaim :

I don’t feel this is a ”diet” as I refuse to ”diet”. It is about lifestyle changes.

…it integrated a 24 hour fast every 5 days, for 6 weeks. For example, you eat dinner on a Monday night and you fast until dinner the next day (drinking lots of water, tea & coffee is of course encouraged and necessary). Does that sound crazy ? It did when I started, but I wanted to trust the process and I was open minded about the reasons behind fasting (let your body rest, repair itself, give your digestive system and organs a break). So while I was skeptical, I did it. The first time is very hard. My stomach growled most of the day. I needed to plan to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t obsess about what I wasn’t eating. But it got easier each time and I was part of a Facebook group, all the other ladies are going through the same process, so there was experience sharing and mutual encouragement. I then started looking forward to these days and giving my body some ”digestive” rest.

Was I scared to try it ? Yes. But I trusted the process.

For the FASTer way to fat loss program I have been doing, she is not doing a 24 hour fast, but encourages fasting until lunch every day and having a ”shorter eating window”. What does this mean ? To put it simply, you do not eat breakfast, your first meal is at lunch, and you get your calories in between lunch & dinner. The ”eating window” is generally 6 to 8 hours. I thought this would be a piece of cake, seeing as how I was able to do a 24 hour fast, fasting until lunchtime sounded ”easy”. But not to say I wasn’t worried. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I was very worried. But I did my homework, read up on fasting and trusted the process.

The conclusion ? Intermittent fasting has been an amazing experience.

Since October, I have fasted until lunchtime 90% of my days, excluding the days I have races or long runs, then I eat breakfast.

And I learned something.  Quite a few things actually. There were a couple times where I hadn’t eaten enough the day before, and I was very hungry in the morning, so I decided to eat breakfast. And I observed what happened.

  1. Eating in the morning kick started my appetite. Every.single.time. Meaning if I had breakfast, I would eat much more during the day. It is like my appetite was revved up and I wanted to eat all day long. I noticed that when I ate breakfast, I would eat at least a third more than a day when I fasted until lunch (hello pounds that have creeped on !).
  2. Once I got over the hump of the initial stomach rumble in the morning, the hunger went away and my body got used to using stored fat for energy. I never felt hungry. I never had an insulin high then crash. Never felt sluggish mid morning. Not once. I needed to break through the initial knee jerk reaction of my stomach is rumbling = I need to put food in it.
  3. My body can function perfectly on 2 meals a day. Because the fasting trains your body to use fat for fuel, I am not hungry and my energy levels never plummet. Ever.

I believe that fasting, and particularly just fasting until lunch, has had a huge impact on the results that I am seeing.

  • My body has learned to use fat as fuel, rather than the constant stream of food I am putting into it
  • My calories & quantity of food has been significantly reduced (I strongly believe I was over eating)
  • I have a huge amount of energy
  • I am sleeping soundly
  • My mind is clear
  • I feel I am fueling my body with what it needs and I am not over feeding it
  • I have lost many inches around my midsection, and while it is not only linked to fasting, this was a big part of it

Before the experience of these past few months, I NEVER would have thought I could go without food for several hours. I was scared. Skeptical. More than skeptical, I thought it was crazy. But this experience has been hugely beneficial and helped me be less stressed. I don’t have to bring a snack with me. If I am traveling and don’t find something that immediately pleases me, I can wait. I can wait for food, and my body & mind will perfectly function. Because my body has learned to use food for fat.

I strongly believe you get fit in the gym and lose weight in the kitchen, so my fasting experience is coupled with 90% whole foods.

Disclaimer : I wouldn’t recommend trying fasting without the proper support or education. It works so well for me because it is built into a bigger lifestyle change and a program where I have slowly made modifications to my eating & exercise habits. I would recommend you read up on it and check out Amanda Tress and her on line programs (I was NOT paid to say that  !).

Have you ever tried fasting ?

Goals : Looking back on 2016 & forward

I am linking up with Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, Erika at MCM Mama runs and Patty at My no guilt life for Tuesdays on the run, where this week’s topic is wrapping up the year.

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2016 was very good to me. I had some pretty big goals set for this past year, and am very happy with what I accomplished :

  • Run my first marathon. Ran my first (Paris) and second (New York). Definitely my biggest accomplishments of the year.with-jean-statue-lib
  • Run one race per month. I quickly let go of this, as it was not compatible with my training and work travel.
  • Reduce my waistline by 2 inches and loose 5 pounds. Nailed this goal too. I started working with Amanda Tress in August and so far have lost well over 2 inches around my waist and over 5 pounds. I am still going strong.
  • Give my blog a face lift. I met with someone over the summer to discuss this topic, but in the meantime I have decided to take a blogging break come January 2017 for a while, so I put this on hold.
  • Visit 2 cities in Europe that I have not yet been to. We went to Rome in May (read about it here and here). Rome is amazing, almost as great as Paris. 🙂 We also went to Crete, Greece. LOVED IT.20160503_104340
  • Save money for a big, family vacation in 2017. Greece turned out to be our big vacation, as we celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary.20160730_145423

Goals for 2017 :

  1. Spend (more) time with family. My eldest will be going off to college next fall and that means a busy year. Schools, applications, end of year baccalaureate test, decisions, decisions, decisions. I need and want to be present – with physical and mental availability- during this time of her life.
  2. Try a new sport. Last year  was very significant for me & my running. I ran two marathons, and I am not ready to sign up for another one (yet?). But I am a goal oriented person, so I am floating a bit trying to determine my next objective. I will continue to run but because I want to spend more time with family, I am signing up for golf lessons with my husband this spring / summer. I am the black sheep of the family when it comes to golfing, so I figured I would give it a serious try.
  3. Get my finances in order. Not that they need it, but with one daughter going off to college, and possibly to the US, that is going to require some serious financial planning / re-thinking. Schools are so much more expensive in the US, and she was accepted at her dream school, so we are seriously looking at how to make it happen.
  4. Running. Yes, I will continue to run, though have set my sights on shorter distances. 6 races are my goal. And I need to put this to work :20161225_104514-01
  5. Nutrition. I want to continue to learn about what works for my body and what doesn’t. Since working with Amanda Tress, I have learned a great deal, but as I edge towards the half century mark, I want to continue to find balance between fueling my body correctly and being able to enjoy that glass of wine or great dessert. I will continue to track my macros for a while.screenshot_20161221-205227-01

No major house project. No major trip planned. Just enjoying what I have. The 2017 milestones and accomplishments will be different than this year, but I am 100% OK with that.

 

What one goal did you accomplish in 2016 ? Happy with your year ?

What is one of your 2017 goals ?

 

Christmas 2016 : Feeling blessed

I am writing this from the quiet of my home, on the day after Christmas. It is dark out, everyone is sleeping and I am sitting here sipping coffee, enjoying my tree and its blinking lights. I love mornings like this and I can not help but feel thankful and blessed for my Christmas weekend and family.  So here is some randomness about my weekend and the week leading up to it.

Monday to Friday: Life

  • I worked out 4 days. Running. Weights. Full body workouts. Still going strong with a 6 week program with Amanda Tress.20161223_122610
  • We have a small studio apartment that needs to be completely refurbished. So I had 2 estimates done, chose the person to do the work then went and picked out tile, countertop and flooring. So many choices ! 20161223_152318
  • Did some cooking. Yummy roasted Brussel sprouts ! I was craving these and I found a recipe where you flavor them with oil + balsamic vinegar. 20161224_122643
  • More cooking, wrapping, cleaning and some last minute shopping.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we go to my SIL’s and on Christmas, we are all at our place. So Saturday, I decluttered, cleaned & double checked my menu. We went to pick out bread to go with our foie gras. Fig is typical, but we also got pistachio / cranberry. It was SO.GOOD.20161224_095134We also went to the market with my husband to pick up what we needed. Saturday evening we went to mass with my husband’s entire family. It was from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. By the time we got to my SIL’s and sat down to eat it was 10 p.m. On the menu :

  • Apetizers with champagne
  • Starter : fois gras
  • Main dish : lamb with semoule
  • Cheese

At midnight we opened some gifts, then about 1:15 a.m. (yes !) we had dessert. I was home, in bed by 3 a.m. We don’t  usually open gifts that evening, but one of my niece’s wouldn’t be there Christmas.

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Christmas : Pure joy

I am an early riser, no matter if I went to bed at 3 or not. So I was up early, and waited for everyone else to awake. We were opening the rest of our presents by 10 a.m. Santa was very nice to me.

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We then got ready for Christmas lunch. There were 16 of us. Everyone was here by 2 p.m. The menu :

  • Appetizers of foie gras (yes, again. This is very typical in France around the holidays) with champagne20161225_142942
  • Lunch was beef roast (we bought 7+ pounds of meat and the 16 of us ate.it.all). We had also made sweet potato puree with vanilla, roasted potatoes & salad.20161225_151816 20161225_151826 20161225_151756
  • No cheese ! It is too much.
  • More chocolate desserts, family recipes.

Then we skyped with the part of my husband’s family who are living in Africa.

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Most of my nieces and nephew are now in college or working their first job. We don’t all live close so it is wonderful to have the time to catch up. Seeing them grow up, gain independence and start their professional lives is so wonderful. It is interesting, out of the 10 who were there…. we have 2 doctors, one surgical nurse, and people working in banking, wine, luxury good, international relations, and an upcoming artist and engineer. They are buying their first apartments, traveling around the world, but very few are settling in just yet !

It was a wonderful weekend.

I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a wonderful new year ! And special thoughts to those who are alone, suffering, have lost a loved one or do not have a reason to enjoy the holidays.

 

And that’s a wrap !

I am linking up with Holly and Tricia at Hoho runs and Misssippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 

Tell me one thing you enjoyed about your weekend !

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