06/26/2009 10:07 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Perilous Journey: Surviving an Insanely Healthy Food Regimen & Intense Training

Let's be honest, as a private chef to the definitely rich and occasionally famous, I have become happily and inevitably accustomed to eating extremely well. And what is an excellent meal without a suitably satisfying glass (or three) of an intriguing red wine?

So what happens when said private chef, in his quest to achieve a healthier, firmer, leaner, stronger, and (confess it) more desirable bod, surrenders himself into the hands of a talented private trainer, who dictates a rigorous exercise regimen and a restrictive and highly specific food plan? My guess would be that an appalling level of deprivation of the finer senses and exhaustion of the aging body will be the result!

And yes, I have just embarked upon such an adventure. Two Boot Camp sessions a week, two private training sessions a week, and a carefully orchestrated but oh-so-tedious food regimen that utterly forbids alcohol of any kind, even that derived from the noble grape. In the interests of full disclosure, I will reveal that I have already been working out with my trainer for some time. But now we are kicking it WAY up, and I am training alongside the members of his triathlon team, so the demands and intensity levels are multiplying like the biblical loaves and fishes. My friend Valli Herman (hotel reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and others), after making the appropriately awed and commiseratory comments, suggested that the experience cried out for blogging... so away we go!

Here's my battle plan (aside from whining a lot): there's not too much I can do to mitigate the rigors of the physical training -- boot camp is boot camp, no mercy there; and Franco is equally without pity in the gym. But surely I can find a way to translate the bare bones of a specifically modulated food regimen into something that satisfies the palate and the soul in addition to fulfilling the direct nutritional needs of my body -- and without cheating. A formidable challenge!

So I'm writing this for all you determined souls out there who are slaving away at your physical improvement, or contemplating beginning such a program. Hopefully we can offer each other support, some good ideas, and a few laughs, swap some horror tales and triumphs, and share our individual journeys to better health and hotter bods... and I promise to discover some tricks to make seriously healthy food also seriously rewarding.

Wednesday was my first day. And the worst single day of the week -- boot camp outdoors in the park from 8-9 a.m. , an hour's break to catch my breath (or lay on the ground panting and heaving), then a training session in the gym from 10-11 a.m. -- brutal! Have any of you ever done a boot camp exercise class? If not, believe me, it's exactly what it sounds like... practice drills for high school football are a stroll on the beach compared to this. Non-stop intense cardio activity at an escalating level and pace, resulting in puddles of sweat everywhere you look (if you could see through the sweat pouring down into your eyes). Running laps, walking lunges the length of a football field, jumping jacks and squat leaps, bunny hops and crab crawls, push-ups and planks, sit-ups and leg-raises in every imaginable combination (and some you don't even want to imagine), all executed in relentless succession with only an occasional moment's pause here and there to suck in air and beg for mercy...

Then there was the training session. We're now doing single body parts per day -- arms, say, or back, or chest/shoulders -- to achieve strength and mass. In other words, we torture that one body part until it cries uncle and refuses to function any further. Wednesday was legs... and yes, afterwards I looked like a sailor who just got off a rolling, pitching boat after weeks at sea.

But enough of the Marquis de Sade aspects of this adventure. Lets talk about the food -- after all, that's what I do for a living, I should be able to work my magic here. There are six "food stations" to the day -- a pre-workout "snack" (he uses this term very loosely), then breakfast, a "snack", lunch, a "snack", dinner, and a final dose of supplements with an optional protein shake if I'm really hungry. Here's what it looks like in all its glory (not):

# 1
Rice milk 1 c. / yoghurt 1 c. / fruit
L-carnitine 1 tbl. w/ coffee before workout

# 2 (breakfast)
1 slice whole grain bread / rice milk 1 c. + 25 grams whey protein / OJ 1 c. / 5 egg whites, 1 yolk
Super digestive enzymes, 2 caps
DMG 125 mg.
Conjugated linoleic acid
Zinc 50 g / magnesium 140 mg
L-carnitine 1 tab

# 3
2 slices bread / vegetable 1 c. / edamame 1 c. or genisoy crisp or lean chicken / avocado ½

# 4 (lunch)
turkey wrap (4 oz. turkey, 1 oz. cheese + 2 veggies + mustard)
Super digestive enzymes, 2 caps
DMG 125 mg.
Conjugated linoleic acid
magnesium 140 mg

# 5
1 fruit / 8 dried apricots / non-fat milk 1 c. or tall non-fat soy latte / avocado ½

# 6 (dinner)
2 slices bread / baked sweet potato or russet potato / veggies + salad / fish 8 oz. / 8 large black olives / 1 fruit / green tea
Super digestive enzymes, 2 caps
DMG 125 mg.
Conjugated linoleic acid
magnesium 140 mg

# 7 (before bed)
If hungry, protein shake
B-12, 2.5 g
B-6, 100 mg
CoQ10, 30 mg

30 minutes, three times / first week
40 minutes, three times / second week
50 minutes, three times / thereafter

Oh yes, note the "cardio" notation at the end -- sweet... that's in addition to the training sessions of course. One almost begins to think longingly of waterboarding...

So that's my "diet" -- horrifying, is it not? When I think of the prime steaks and steamed lobsters and sour-creamed baked potatoes that I would like to be devouring -- well, it's enough to make a grown man weep for sure. I've done the bare bones of it (and that's what it is, bare bones) for 2 days; now I propose to shake it up a little, and still keep it everything that Franco intends it to be.

So that will be my journey and my adventure: survive and triumph with the training regimen, and coax the food plan into a satisfying and even delightful gratification that leads me to my goal of a healthier, hotter bod. Wanna join me?

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