The first thing that caught my eye when I came to New York was that food temptation is everywhere. Seriously! Most restaurants are open all day which is totally unthinkable in France. In New York there are food vendors on every corner, new, “hot spot” restaurants to try, and of course the delicious classics that have been around for ages.
I often compare New York to Disneyland for adults where everything you want is so easily accessible. You can stay home and have everything delivered directly to you.
So as a new bee in the big apple, I obviously fell into the delicious food trap. I started snacking all of the time because I was felt hungry simply by looking at and smelling food. As a result, I gained 15 pounds and produced very bad eating habits.
Sure in France, I used to have the typical three meals a day but in New York, I was not having breakfast. I ate lunch then would have snack after snack after snack. By dinner time, because I never felt fully satisfied, I would have a big diner coupled with a 400+ calorie cocktail. After eating all day, I would then feel guilty.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Eating and then feeling guilty immediately after? To try to shed some pounds, I started exercising a lot. I thought I could eat as much as I wanted to as long as I went to the gym. Of course, I was totally wrong.
Back in France I would not eat out very often. Going out to restaurants was reserved for special occasions. We usually met for an Apéro and then go home for dinner or we would host dinners in our home. In France, most of us grew up with the concept that snacking is really unhealthy. I can’t even count how many times I heard “Don’t snack Jen!” It’s also important to add that the measurement systems in France compared to America is different. In school, I was considered “overweight” for France’s standards even though I would be considered “healthy” in America. This was a difference of about ten pounds. No kidding! The French system is harsh! Do you know that Nicolas Sarkozy, although pro-business tried to ban food advertisements from public television during prime time shows? I can’t imagine that happening in New York. I still remember the uproar when former Mayor Bloomberg wanted to ban extra-large drink sizes.
For the past 7 years in New York, I struggled with my weight – and totally got trapped into yo-yo dieting! I basically deprived myself of food to lose weight but then I’d gain double the weight a month later. Once again, a feeling I hated!
Normally, I wear clothes that range in size from 6 to 8. However, earlier this year, I had put on so much weight after the holidays that while I was trying on clothes, I could not fit into any of my clothes. I burst into tears. I love food so much food that it made me sad thinking that I could hate something I loved and enjoyed so much. I hate feeling bad after eating. Eating should be about appreciating every bite and not thinking about my workout tomorrow because I’m having a plate of pasta.
From these experiences, I have learned a valuable lesson. It does not matter how much you work out– you won’t lose weight unless you pair it with a good, healthy diet. I have experience this first hand. New York is full of places where everyone can go, spend $30 for a good sweat, produce a lot of endorphins but it does not make you lose weight at all.
A good example of this is when I started exercising a lot in 2016 and gained about 12 pounds in one year (and I’m not just talking about muscle). I was always feeling hungry after a workout and would eat much more than I would normally eat.
That being said, deep down I knew that I was gaining weight because I had fallen into this vicious cycle of over-eating and then exercising to compensate for it.
Don’t get me wrong! I love exercising but for now I’m exercising for the right reasons. In January, I signed up to run the New York City Marathon.
I’m very excited and the training has just started. I’m also much better at balancing my diet. I don’t deprive myself and try to eat healthy. I also cook a lot at home. I’m obviously very busy during the week, trying to manage 2 business and my personal life and training for a marathon on top of all of that, so I put in a new ritual in place which has worked pretty well so far.
On Sundays I cook 3 to 4 dishes for the week. Nothing too fancy.. I love to grill a lot of vegetables so I can make quinoa bowls. Sometimes I make quiches or gratins. I use a lot of recipes from the Gjelina Cookbook. Recipes here are quite simple and tasty.
What I love the most about this ritual is that I don’t feel rushed and I actually enjoy spending a few hours in the kitchen with Javier by my side. We’re talking, catching up and we even make plans. I read, in a magazine, how rituals are important in a relationship and I could not agree more. We are both very busy during the week so having this quality time together is very important.
If you feel like cooking on Sunday, here is the quiche recipe that I love to make. I twist a bit the recipe and add Nutmeg and creme fraiche!
[button link=”https://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/29-how-to-make-quiche” type=”primary” newtab=”on”]How to Make Quiche[/button]