I was 53 when I realized that my life's passion was ruining my life. What was particularly unfortunate was that my life's passion was also my job. I've been a full-time food writer since age 30, working for the past 20 years as a restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. I adore every aspect of food, from shopping and cooking to entertaining and dining out. I feel I have the best job in the world, in the world's best city.
Since the age of 23, my other passion has been jogging. In my 30s and 40s, running was the perfect companion to my eating job, and everything seemed to balance out just fine. But suddenly, in my 50s, it was as if my hour-long runs weren't counting at all. I tried running longer and more often, but the numbers on the scale soared and my spirits sagged. I knew I couldn't very well quit food, but would I have to quit my job?
Exasperated, I let a friend talk me into a week at the Golden Door spa, north of San Diego. I'm no spa hopper, but there was one thing about this decadent week that appealed to me: For seven days, no chef would present me with a "bonus" tasting of duck confit, a third or fourth chocolate dessert, a final sip of eau-de-vie.