Garance Dore

Becoming Gwyneth Paltrow

Street-style blogger Garance Doré on how a major lifestyle change turned her into a health and fitness junkie.

Photographer, illustrator and Paris street-style chronicler Garance Doré moved to New York City last year for love (she lives with her boyfriend, The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman). And while her professional life didn't skip a beat — she was named one of French Vogue's "40 women of the decade" and profiled in the New York Times — her metabolism and moods took a dive. The former smoker with an aversion to exercise began a wholesale lifestyle shift and wrote about the process on her blog. We sat down with her for more details:

What was the biggest difference you noticed between how people approach exercise here and in France?
Oh my god, it’s like night and day. In New York, exercising is really a part of everybody’s life. It’s normal. Whereas in Paris, of everybody I know, maybe two or three people really go to a sports club. There aren’t a lot of gyms and they’re very far away. It’s so complicated, so you really have to want it.

On your blog, you write about having "a lifestyle crisis." What happened? 
I was already starting to notice my metabolism changing with age, but after arriving in New York it went super fast. In Paris, you eat out maybe twice a week. Here, it’s every day. I never cook. If you’re not conscious, you know, you end up eating all the bread on the table. So I started feeling very heavy.

When did you decide to make some changes?
At one point, I was in Australia for a job. It was a very long trip, and I was alone in a big hotel — very high up on the 20th floor — and feeling depressed. I was worrying about what I ate, and I realized it was an obsession that was making me feel horrible. At that moment I found some yoga exercises online, and it actually really helped. It took a few months to find a routine, but I started changing things little by little.

It’s different for everybody, but at the moment in your life when you need to confront yourself, you do. Garance Doré

What’s been the hardest switch?
For me, breakfast was complicated because it’s always been my favorite meal of the day. I love jam and butter — it’s very French, and we don’t have many other options there. In America, I found oatmeal. I never wanted to eat it because it looks so horrible, but now I love it.

In a very funny blog post, you make fun of yourself for "becoming Gwyneth Paltrow." What happened? 
Oh yes, you should see me now: Niketown is becoming a place where I love to go, which is crazy. I’m trying to eat more organic. I looked at myself and thought "oh my god, you sound like Gwyneth Paltrow. You go to the gym, you’re like 'yoga is so great.'" French people are very cynical about all that stuff, so it made me laugh to become one of those girls. But I actually really like it, and I think it’s cool.

Speaking of, you write that you can’t imagine über-cool people like, say, Charlotte Gainsbourg exercising. Is there anyone in the fashion world who you think really does it right?
I was talking to [former French Vogue editor] Carine Roitfeld in Milan. She’s very French and never used to exercise, but she told me that she just started taking yoga. It’s different for everybody, but at the moment in your life when you need to confront yourself, you do.

So what does a well-known fashion blogger wear to the gym?
I match colors. I know, it’s very bad, but my sports personality likes to match. If my shoes are green, I wear a green T-shirt, too. Pink yoga mat, pink shirt. I just go for it. I also wear two sports bras. I'm paranoid about my boobies going up and down. I actually made my boyfriend film me running so I could see how they move.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
I think the best thing to tell anybody is to start small. In the beginning, if you want to start running, you go out and after two minutes you can’t do it anymore. So go for four minutes the next time and congratulate yourself. Start slow, and see where you can go. Let the pleasure of it take over and just guide you.

So what has been the biggest change for you?
The biggest thing is that of course your body feels better, but you also feel better in your head. That’s what I get addicted to. I’m an anxious girl, and you realize the anxiety isn’t real — it’s just because I didn’t have a way to release the pressure. Running, meditation, yoga and exercise really take a lot of that away.

And what did Scott think of all of this self-searching?
He is very excited, because having a girlfriend smoke and eat a huge breakfast is not very easy, especially when you want to go somewhere with running shoes. It’s nice because we are on the same page now.

Photography by Scott Schuman

Filed Under: Interviews | Weight Loss