Thirty Days of… Salad?


193 pounds, 19.8% body fat.  I was immensely irritated with myself when, after putting it off for so long, I finally checked those numbers again.  I had begun 2020 with so many fitness goals, not least running a full marathon for the first time since 2008, running “20 in 2020” meaning twenty races, cutting my body fat, getting stronger, getting into better shape, competing.  The year had started off great. Between January 1 and February 1, I ran 150.5 miles, cycled another 216, and did 713 sets of various weights at the gym — in addition to 279 pushups.  I was on a roll, watching what I ate, not drinking much alcohol at all, and the result was cutting nearly ten pounds and nearly 6% body fat in a single month.  By February, my long runs were up to twenty-two miles, and I was more than ready to tackle Grandma’s Marathon, as well as the other nineteen races I was signed up for or planned to be.

Then, of course, the pandemic hit. For a while, I used it as fuel, running seven miles a day for a few weeks even while it snowed and was icy cold outside, but after some time, as race after race emailed to cancel, the question of how to train when you’re not training for something loomed large. Not least, I had no weights, could not go to the gym, and I often wanted to use Sonja’s spin bike at the same time she did.  I kept exercising daily, but there’s a difference between jogging and running, between casual exercise and training, and I was just jogging. I’ve racked up well over five hundred miles on foot in 2020, and closer to seven hundred on a bike, but I’ve run one race, and have little confidence that those yet to cancel will not do so soon. So, of course, my training hasn’t been good, my eating far worse — three or four packs of ramen for lunch, or a box of shells n’ cheese, lots of beer, coke in my whiskey, fried food, tons of pasta, blocks of cheese as a snack, processed meats — all of the things I know to avoid I’ve been eating with a devil-may-care attitude. As April drew to a close, I felt it was time for a change, felt that I needed to take the advice I give my students so often and apply it to my diet and exercise; it was time to live deliberately.

And so, for the month of May, my strict diet consists of a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a salad for dinner. It may sound like hell, but I’ve given myself a few concessions. First, my shakes are enormous, packed with all the fresh fruit and nuts I can find, along with protein milk, protein powder, BCAA’s, and more. They come out to about 550 calories each, and honestly they’re very filling.  Then come the salads! On Friday, May 1, the first day of this month-long endeavor to which my ever so patient wife has reluctantly agreed, Sonja made a chopped salad with marinated chicken, black beans, avocado, cheese, tomato, and corn. We put a chipotle ranch dressing on it and it was fantastic.


To go with Sonja’s chopped salad, I paired a Hermon white wine from Yarden and the Golan Heights Winery in Israel. (You didn’t honestly think I’d deprive myself of wine for a month in a pandemic, did you? All things in moderation.)  I had a single glass of the beautiful, crisp, mineral-laden white with dinner, and it hit the spot. Then I put the kids to bed and hopped on the Peloton for thirty minutes with my man Cody Rigsby. By the time I was done, I was so exhausted I didn’t even want another glass!


Yesterday, after a ten-mile run, which was admittedly something of a slog despite the amazing weather, I got to work on dinner. I pan-fried scallops in copious amounts of butter with a little thyme and lemon pepper on them, and tossed mixed greens in fresh lemon juice, sprinkling in raspberries, shaved almonds, and some bacon crumbles. Then I grated fresh parmigiano — I call it this less to be cool and more because it was a gift from a friend in Italy, and we were good to go. I added a little poppy seed dressing and had three large helpings.


Paired with this salad we had one of my favorite whites, a Pride Viognier. Such an amazing wine, I’ve always loved this for its balance, an almost flirtatious fruity nature, some hints of mineral, and subtlety. The rounded mouthfeel and delicacy of this wine really set it apart in my opinion.  It’s a killer wine, for sure, and a beautiful expression of a varietal that I deeply appreciate. It was fantastic with the salad, and I won’t claim to have only had one glass this time.


Tonight, I’m thinking steak on our salads. We’ll see. In addition to the diet, my exercise regiment this month is intense. I’m running every morning, which cuts into my writing time but feels important. I ran a 5K on our new treadmill — a birthday present from my wife to me, on Friday.  My time felt slow to me, 26:36, all things being relative of course. I’ll strive to improve as the month goes on.  Then I lifted over lunch; we have a bench set up in our basement now, courtesy of the parents of two of our friends who weren’t using it any longer, and I managed to purchase a handful of bars and weights before they were all sold out around the world thanks to the pandemic and gyms closing. It’s far from my full gym, but it’s something, and I plan to take advantage of it.  And then, of course, there’s Peloton for the evenings, which I hope to do five nights a week. This three-a-day routine isn’t sustainable for the long term, nor is my shake and salad diet, but I’m hoping that this month I can jump start things, trim back up a bit, get a little faster, a little stronger, and a bit more disciplined. Let’s hope so anyway!

I’ll report back once in a while on my progress, and I’ll keep sharing the salad ideas and wine pairings as I do. Some will undoubtedly be better than others, but I’m always happy to share the “recipe” if you’re interested.  As always, thanks for reading, and have an amazing Sunday!

Cheers to living deliberately,




8 responses to “Thirty Days of… Salad?

  1. Your goals are pretty lofty but judging from your past attainable. Wine adds strength! I don’t know if that’s true, but it tastes real good! Good luck. I will go now and run my 2 miles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The scallops and Viognier pairing sounds amazing. I agree that food is one of the toughest challenges of this lockdown; usually, when I’m in the office Monday to Friday I’m pretty disciplined, but there’s something about (i) being at home all the time, and (ii) not being able to do all the things that I usually enjoy doing that really tests my will power and sees me foraging in the fridge on a regular basis. I am going to have to take a leaf out of your book and try living deliberately!

    Liked by 1 person

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