When eating is your job, how do you stay in shape? I’ve often wondered how people in the biz do it. Some are just lucky. Ruth Reichl and Dana Cowin have both attributed their svelte physique to good genes. (Oh, if only I was blessed with a hummingbird’s metabolism. I’d be unstoppable.) For the rest of us, maintaining balance can be a daily struggle.
Michelin three-star chef Masa Takayama runs every morning…and has lost 30 pounds in the past five years doing so. Jonathan Kauffman, SF editor of Tasting Table and former food critic at SF Weekly, follows a sensible plan of exercising 4-5 times a week (a mix of biking and an hour of cardio at the gym) and eating healthy on nights off. He shares:
I don't believe in detoxing, or rather, I never have a few days away from reviewing restaurants. I do cook mostly vegetarian on my non-review nights, just to make sure I eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can.
If you follow Marcia Gagliardi’s Tablehopper (and you should), you know that this woman’s life is a decadent flurry of wining and dining, so I was delighted to pick her brain on this topic. Here’s what she had to say:
How do you stay balanced?
This is a constant and daily challenge. If I know I am going out for dinner that evening, which is usually the case five or six nights a week, I try to eat very clean, low-fat, and simple food at home for breakfast and lunch. I try to stick with oatmeal, or yogurt, flax cereal, and fruit for breakfast (although I am a huge fan of eggs, and just finished a two–week long breakfast taco bender when my friend brought me tortillas from Austin—I am hopeless). I also allow myself to indulge twice a week in a bagel with cream cheese and lox, one of my very favorite things for breakfast. If I let myself enjoy the thing I love a few times, I find it easier to stick with oatmeal, cereal, or breakfast shakes made with kefir on the other days.
I absolutely SWEAR by drinking Green Vibrance every single morning. I call it the green menace, but it’s really my best friend, packed with every green thing you can imagine. It’s the first thing I eat or drink in the day, every single day. Makes me perk right up, especially after a night of indulgence.
On Monday when I am home writing all day against my deadline (and most of Tuesday), if I was organized, I will have made a nice soup on Sunday or the makings for some dish I can quickly put together on Monday night for dinner, like kale with chorizo tofu or something like that. Since I eat so much meat and fish when I dine out, I try to eat vegetarian at home on Mondays. I really adore cooking from Heidi Swanson’s cookbooks when I am home, Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day.
I also try not to schedule two meals out in a day—if I do lunch somewhere, then I try not to dine out (or at least eat a lighter dinner). If you want to see a week in my life of eating, check out this “San Francisco Diet” piece on Grub Street from a year ago.
I also don’t drink at home, unless I have company—just the occasional nip of bourbon, or a split of Champagne if I’m heading out on the town or about to go dancing.
Lastly, I get my sleep. People ask me why I have so much energy, and it’s because I try to get at least eight hours, five nights a week. It’s what my brain needs. Deadline nights I get much less, so I try to keep it steady on the other nights. I find I have more productivity and less hunger and cravings when I get my rest.
You've talked before about detoxing every once in awhile. What's your detox regiment?
I am so grateful I met Lawrence Kampf of Hermetic Workshop, who hosts a Core Vitality Detox twice a year. He gave me the tools to really step back and reprogram a couple times every year. It’s three weeks long, mostly about no meat/sugar/caffeine/booze/processed foods/gluten—it’s about eating whole foods, raw when possible. And there are many other components, from meditation to group workshops to yoga to hot steams. It’s great to say no to everything for a while, slow down, and get in touch with your body’s needs, instead of jacking it with coffee, booze, and foods that are hard to process. I really do love my morning shot of espresso, however. That’s a hard thing to say goodbye to.
Do you have a workout routine that you swear by?
Again, this is always an adjustment. I have an awesome trainer, Joe Peteque, who I interval train in Alamo Square with twice a week. He makes me do all the things I don’t like to do, like sprint up hills and do pushups. I also ride my bike a lot during the week to meetings and dinners and errands. I love it. I also go for a couple long, brisk walks every week—it’s good to clear the head. I started running again (am using the app From Couch to 5k), however, because right now I’m at my heaviest. It doesn’t feel good to have the calories winning at the moment, so I have to kick some more cardio back in, and try to eat less. The chefs in this town need to stop making everything taste so good, criminy! I have also been missing yoga, and that great mental space/break/energy/insight it gives you, so am planning to get a day or two of that back in my life. Setting intentions!
Setting intentions is right. Goals are important, whether it’s training for that half-marathon, or that pretty summer dress hanging in the closet. For now, I’ve found a nice balance between getting in a healthy dose of veggies every day, juicing, and simply trying to burn more than I consume. How do you maintain balance in your life?