When A Korean-American Health And Fitness Nut Lands In France

Circus Bakery in the Fifth Arrondissement of Paris
Circus Bakery in the Fifth Arrondissement of Paris
Olivia Han iQ

PARIS — Paleo, keto, vegan, pescatarian. There are so many ways we can choose what, and what not, to eat. Give or take, I choose to eat roughly 160 grams of carbohydrates, 110 grams of protein, and 40 grams of fat per day. That comes to 1440 calories.

Some of my friends find it neurotic that I know exactly how much, down to the gram, I consume — or the fact that I track my macronutrients at all. But for me, I've always felt that if we need to eat at all, we might as well eat clean in order to properly fuel our bodies — and take those extra five seconds to weigh our food. Through tracking my intake with a handy digital food scale and working out regularly, I have not only learned so much about the human body, but also am genuinely convinced that such attention improves both my physical and mental health.

Still, it would be a lie to say that my fitness and nutrition passions stem only from health consciousness. I spent the majority of my adolescence in South Korea, a place where society attaches high importance to appearance, openly fat shames and values skinniness to the point of obsession. Societal pressures to be thin and "look good" are extremely high. Super thin k-pop stars are idolized, and their often dangerous diets are replicated by many. As a girl, if you're over 60kg (132 lbs) regardless of your height, you might as well be considered obese. Although illegal in the U.S. and Europe, in Korea, you are required to attach a photo on your CV or job application. How you look can be the edge against a fellow competitor. From my experience, and the experience of my friends, you get treated very differently based on how thin you are. People are as quick to shower you with compliments as they are with insults.

How you look can be the edge against a fellow competitor.

Luckily, I attended an international school with non-ethnically Korean friends from around the world. At school, health and wellness was prioritized over aesthetics. However it would be untrue to say that good aesthetics weren't praised, though much of the social hierarchy was channeled through sports.

I got introduced to cross country running against my will by my dad, who, like many other Americans, sees sport as his religion. I especially felt this when I first moved to Boston for university. Boston is the city of the famous marathon and has won sports championships from the Patriots, to the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins. School sports, especially hockey, are a massive ordeal in which the entire student body gets involved. The fitness center at my university includes an 18,000-square-foot weight and cardio room, indoor running track, racquetball and squash courts, two swimming pools, a rock climbing wall, and a lazy river to some 6500 people who use the facility every day.

Participants of a spin class in Saint Petersburg, Florida — Photo: xtremefitstpete

Counting calories, drinking protein shakes, running by the river, whatever it may be, most Bostonians are actively working on their health. It didn't take me long to get acclimated to this culture of fitness. I can confidently say that the majority of my friends place fitness almost as high on their list of priorities as education and their social life. It is the flip-side to the global stereotypes of American obesity and fast food.

Perhaps all these factors contribute to my passion for fitness. It didn't even remotely cross my mind that I could possibly be "abnormal" in this sense until I moved to Paris recently for a semester abroad. I always thought that it was normal to be conscious of how you look, be mindful of what you eat, and place a high priority on physical exercise. The French have a different mindset. Sure they care about how they look, but they prioritize good food and good company, eat loads of bread, cheese, and copious amounts of wine. When I once rejected an offer for a dessert tasting at school, my French teacher laughed and cited a government health slogan "manger bouger" (eat and move) and you'll be fine." Indeed, I am often stunned when I observe how people eat here, blissfully oblivious about what or how much they are consuming.

The French have a different mindset.

Still, the wellness and fitness industry has slowly begun to seep into Paris. More and more gym clubs are opening, boutique style spin classes are available, a new "healthy" meal-replacement startup Feed is a hit, and the French government is even calling for a reduction in the consumption of wine!

Still, since being here, after being sure I'd found a good gym, I've also been able to try all sorts of pastries and treats that this country is famous for. Crème de marron on everything has become my go-to dessert. That doesn't mean it's a daily habit, and when I do eat it, I definitely track it. The combination of the relaxed French mindset towards food and my natural habit of tracking my intake has again altered my relationship with food, one calorie at a time.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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