Michelin-Starred Chef George Mendes on Finding a Healthier Buzz Through Marathons and Meditation

George Mendes
Courtesy of George Mendes

Five years ago, George Mendes, of New York’s Michelin-starred Aldea restaurant, had a health epiphany. Every day since, he’s worked to achieve a better life. Here’s what works for the chef. — As told to Marjorie Korn

This year, I’m running my sixth marathon. Carving out one or two hours to run or train, four days a week, is a huge commitment. But it’s rewarding and something to be proud of. Plus, I enjoy being outside. The gym is too claustrophobic for me.

Chef George Mendes on Humble Beginnings

The restaurant industry is demanding, and I used to rely on caffeine and booze to keep pushing. I wasn’t resting properly, so I felt burned out constantly. I radiated bad energy. My loved ones said they didn’t see a happy, healthy person when they looked at me. It was humbling. So I started with a three-mile run. I stopped every mile but kept going. That was the beginning.

Hold the Hotcakes

My approach is moderation. Yes, I eat a variety of vegetables, but I also have pizza and burgers. I’m more conscious of what I eat in the morning. I’m a fan of dinner for breakfast. Why not have a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, olive oil, and vinegar along with coffee?

Man vs. Machine

Meditation has given me a new level of awareness and clarity. I’m 47, and I have a lot to accomplish. We owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves. To do that, we need to listen to our bodies and take the time to refuel and recover. We are not machines.  

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