How to lose weight while living in France

My family just did a weigh-in to see how many kilogrammes we gained from our stay in France. Everybody gained weight except me – I lost over 2 kg! I am ecstatic, and want to share with you how I did it.
Despite visiting some very good restaurants in my last week when family was around, for the previous 7 weeks I was conscious of what I ate, my jeans and slacks became loose and now I have to get a new wardrobe. I thought my clothes were getting loosened up in the wash, but now the weighing scale tells the true story! I attribute my weight loss to various factors, starting with diet.
While I was in France, lunch would usually be something light at home, or a main course in school. For 3 to 4 euros you could get a very decent meal at the INSEAD restaurant. As I’m working to reduce my cholesterol, I usually went for grilled salmon (or other fish) with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We can take as much as we want of these side dishes. Occasionally I would have some red meat or pasta, all cooked on the spot as well. If I was in a rush, I would grab a baguette sandwich which usually had tomatoes and salad along with meat.
Dinner would be at home. My housemate and I took this 2 month opportunity while living in France to experiment with our own recipes, since we usually didn’t do the cooking at home in Singapore. We would buy salad (my favourite being arugula/rocket) or large heads of lettuce, and lots of tomatoes (also my favourite). My housemate would buy lots of fruits and remind me to eat them. We had grapes, apples and bananas (my favourite because it’s easy to carry around in school), and sometimes, strawberries. We never bought red meat. The last dish I recall cooking was mustard chicken salad.
Still, the food in France was so good that it was difficult to resist eating too much. The breads, the cheeses, the wines and the champagne were all too tempting! So we had to exercise. I joined the INSEAD gym at 85 euros for two months. It entitled me to a few sessions with a personal trainer who came up with a regimen for me. That workout nearly killed my shoulder, so as I was recovering I stuck to leg exercises like cycling. Eventually I moved back to my favourite machine, the cross trainer. I went to the gym once a week. I wanted to go more often, except I didn’t have classes in school every day and there were other things to do. I lived two towns away from school so it wasn’t exactly round the corner for me. However, the classmates who saw me at the gym were very encouraging. One groupmate of mine ordered me to go faster!
Also, after a full meal, my housemate and I would sometimes go brisk walking around our neighbourhood. She would also jog regularly around the area. I would have joined her if my knee was better, but walking was good. Since French towns tend to be spread out, we covered a fairly large area each trip. I think we kept each other motivated. Also, in May and early June the weather was still cool so outdoor exercise was quite appealing.
Even when sightseeing, one can do brisk walking from one point of interest to another. Some towns have long, steep slopes and cobbled pavements to make it more challenging. I and R did lots of walking in Paris, skipping a few Metro stations and once, we climbed several flights of stairs to the exit because an elevator seemed to take forever to arrive. What disturbed me was seeing a number of young people panting up the stairs, along with some elderly folk. R was quite fit and we were one of the first to emerge from the subway station. I think hanging out with him inspires me to keep active as well!
So in short: When living in a country that has really good food, eat the healthy dishes more often, like grilled fish and vegetables. If you indulge in rich foods, do it in moderation. Join a gym, and/or find other opportunities to exercise. Partner up with someone who also wants to get more exercise, so that you motivate and challenge each other. Think of how fit you want to be and work towards it. And do it now!