Fitness Inspiration from a Frenchman

Inspiration grabs me many times during the year but not often in the health and fitness category so this was a pleasant surprise!

On a recent trip to the south of France, I spent a few days with a Frenchman (and his family) from Paris who inspired me to improve my fitness regime. I run throughout the year but not on a consistent basis unlike when I was preparing for the 2005 and 2006 Stockholm marathon. I am always in good shape but would like to be in great shape.

I started to be more consistent during my summer vacation by running on average 5 miles (8 kilometers) every other day for two weeks. I feel great and am heading in the right direction. A day after having a late dinner with the Frenchman, he did a 2 hour run with his dog which is a typical weekend routine. A few days later he biked 25 miles (40 kilometers) up and down the hills of Provence.

Here are a few of his physical accomplishments and exercises:

1) Ran the Paris Marathon in 3:59 (although had to walk for 30 minutes so it would have been better)

2) Climbed Mont Blanc in France but had to stop close to the top because the guide said it was too dangerous. He would have easily made it in ideal conditions.

3) Swims during the week and runs during the weekend.

4) Rides his bike (racing and mountain) during the year.

His health regime is similar with low sugar products, organic foods, minimum alcohol and moderate food consumption. Even his beer is organic and was quite good! There in no fat on his 38 year old, 6'5 (197 cm) body.

The French are not exactly known for their fitness but he is an aberration. Ironically, the people in France smoke more than Americans, exercise less, drink more and eat foods rich in calories (wine, cheese, baguettes, pastries and pate) but LIVE LONGER! They must be doing something right.

As I said in my first Gswede Sunday message, inspiration comes in many forms and his was the encouragement I needed to do more and realize my goal of getting in great shape. In addition, he gave me some great tips on how to improve my exercise.

If you consider yourself in good shape, do your best to be consistent and even improve your workouts. If you are not, do something about it. Working out and eating properly will make you feel better and give you more energy not to mention the fact that you will probably live longer.

To be in good running shape, you should be able to run a half-marathon, 13 miles (20.9 k) in 2 hours or less comfortably ANY day of the year. If you cannot run, walking is a great option as it has many aesthetic and physical benefits.

A famous and multi-talented American musician was in Stockholm last year and invited a good friend of mine to his concert and private party. He was asked by my friend, "what is the most important thing to you"? His answer was "my health" which was surprising coming from a man with an enormous schedule around the world, immense popularity and numerous temptations.

He and the Frenchman have their health priorities on the right track.

I am inspired by both.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The Frenchman being sprayed by his 3 year old daughter. Seeing her eyes light up when they are together leaves no doubt as to the dedicated father he is as well.

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