I know why French women don't get fat. Actually, I know why French people in general don't get fat. We've heard it all before: they eat slowly, they eat small portions, they don't snack, they chain-smoke. Well, forget about all that. The real reason French people maintain svelte figures despite eating diets rich in white bread, cream sauces, and chocolate mousse, is the simple fact that they are constantly lugging their belongings from one end of town to the other.
For example, it's not uncommon for Parisians to have to use a laundromat. While doing my laundry at one of Sèvres washing facilities, I wasn't surrounded by college students or single urbanites. There were people of all ages and all walks of life in there. But we had one thing in common. We had all walked to the laundromat carrying heavy bags of laundry, and we would all do the same to get our clean items back home.
Grocery shopping is another example. A lot of people walk to the grocery store or the market. When they leave, they have to carry everything they bought all the way back home. The same is true for any kind of shopping, really. I had to buy household items for the apartment last week; a trip that involved walking to the metro, walking from the metro to the store, and repeating the trip in reverse order while carrying a bag filled with as many items as I could pack into my Whole Foods reusable bag. I could feel the pounds melting off, and by the looks of it, so could my fellow shoppers.
Carrying while walking is more than just walking - it's walking with weights and resistance bands strapped to your extremities, which is a fairly high intensity workout. Try that a couple of times a day and you'll understand why finding an overweight person on the streets of Paris is nearly impossible.