Hi, my name is Dana, and I’m a food writer. Yep, I get paid to write about cooking and restaurants. (Not much mind you, but that’s beside the point.) Much of my life revolves around food. I plan meals, develop recipes, cook and photograph dishes and interview chefs. I write for newspapers, magazines, websites — a recent assignment for a guidebook meant I had to eat at ten restaurants in 24 hours. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen at home with my husband, and in restaurants. When I travel, I take cooking classes or visit markets. I’ve learned how to cook with a tagine in Morocco, how to make pasta in Italy and how to make cassoulet in France. Soon I’ll learn to make Pad Thai in Thailand. I also work a day job, because seriously, unless you’re Elizabeth Gilbert, food writing doesn’t pay the mortgage. So besides sitting a lot in restaurants, at the dinner table, and at my computer writing, I sit all day at my 8-5.
It doesn’t take much to guess what happens to someone who eats professionally and doesn’t move much more than a pair of tongs while frying bacon.. My 5 ft 1 and 1/2 frame has begun to turn into a marshmallow. Because I have a petite frame people may think I’m small considering my vocation, but I promise — size 4 doesn’t mean anything if you have to pass the farmer’s market basket to your husband when it gets too weighed down with produce. And even the size 4 is a new phenomenon brought on by bacon ice cream, truffle risotto and my fondness for the couch.
I finally, grudgingly, admitted to myself that as I edge my way through my mid 30s I can’t rely on genes and metabolism alone to fit in my clothes. And I’d like to have the strength to wield my massive Le Creuset pots around the kitchen with ease, not to mention restrain my 72-pound sled dog when we walk. After a one-time attempt at a woman’s gym that shall rename nameless and left me less exerted than a walk with said dog, I knew I needed something a little tougher. Ok, a lot.
Then I heard about Cross-Fit. It seemed so out of my league that I knew that’s what I had to do. I was the last cheerleader to learn the steps of a routine, the last kid picked for dodgeball, and generally the puniest kid in class growing up. When I decide to do something I fling myself full-force into it (like abandoning vegetarianism for foie gras, bone marrow and lard). So why not sign on at a gym whose website features incredibly athletic, toned and muscular men and women and a shirt that reads “Embrace the Pain”? Feeling ridiculously out of place I showed up to meet Ben in a gym that looked like something Rocky Balboa might have trained in. There were actually chains in there! The house dog, Truman, welcomed me though, and Ben’s infectious spirit reeled me in. Of course I could do this! Reduce body fat? Increase muscle tone and strength? Piece of cake. So, it seems I’ve found a way to have my cake and eat it too.
I hope you’ll follow along as I begin what I hope is a transformation from a 98-pound weakling (give or take a few pounds) to a strong, fit athlete as confident in her squat and push-up ability as in her skill in the kitchen.