Kent Rathbun

Chef Kent Rathbun in the kitchen of his Dallas home.

G.J. McCarthy/Dallas Morning News

If anyone had an excuse for not being fit, that could very well be Kent Rathbun. He grew up in a family of "large people," he says, "who spelled gym J-I-M. My parents were like a lot of parents. They were smokers, they ate terribly, and nobody worked out."

Plus having a career in the business of eating — Rathbun is a chef and Dallas restaurant owner — means weird hours and lots of food.

"I have genes to overcome, and couple that with being around wonderful food, and yeah, it's challenging," says Rathbun, who now weighs 120 pounds less than he did at his heaviest (a number he'd rather not divulge).

"On the other hand, if you look at it as a positive thing, I'm around the most wonderful foods, too. I'm around beautiful fish, meats, fantastic vegetables and fruits, and I know how to prepare them. Trust me. I get called by the chocolate every day. "

But, he adds, "The good news is I can make the right choice as well, just as easily as I can make the bad choice."

Rathbun gained fame with Abacus and Jasper's restaurants, along with James Beard Award nominations and TV appearances. He's currently involved in Shinsei, Lovers Seafood and Market, Republic, and Chelsea Corner, along with the soon-to-open Imoto in Victory Park in Dallas.

He credits his health-conscious wife Tracy, a fellow restaurateur he met in 1999, with making the choice to start working out at all. She introduced him to a personal trainer friend, and Rathbun has been a gym regular ever since. The couple has a family garden. Thus, fresh produce is always at the ready.

Being fit has kept Rathbun healthy; it's kept him balanced. Plus, Rathbun might go so far as to say, it kept him alive. In November 2016, he was in an accident while riding in an all-terrain vehicle. He broke 22 ribs, five of them in two places, and fractured his spine in four.

"I really attribute the fact that I survived it the way I did and recovered the way I did was that I was a much more fit person before the accident than I'd ever been in my life," says Rathbun, 56, who, years earlier, "snapped my femur in half" while rollerblading.

"My doctor attributed my survival to the shape I was in because of my workouts and eating healthier."

Fitness is also part of his recovery. He says he has "several pieces of metal in my back, and they'll be there the rest of my life. I will have to be careful. I'm still reluctant to do certain things because I don't want to re-injure myself."

As a husband, father and chef, Rathbun says a lot of people depend on him. "I want to be around for my kids, but mostly, this is something I can do for myself. I'm a chef; I've been in the hospitality business all my life. It's all about taking care of other people. This is a way to take care of myself."

Typical week of workouts: I work with my Tier X trainer four to 12 times a month, depending on the demands of my schedule. Tier X integrates fitness with nutrition and regeneration. My coaches help me develop strategies grounded in science and data tracking to take my performance to its peak by addressing every factor in my life as parts of a connected whole.

What gets in the way of my workout? Obviously my job. I'm constantly in the kitchen testing out foods, and I really have to pay attention to what I am eating and how much to keep my diet consistent.

If I had just 20 minutes to work out, I would: I enjoy cycling, so I would probably take a studio cycling class or do a quick workout in my garage.

Biggest obstacle I had to overcome to get fit: My profession makes it difficult to always make the right eating choices, but I really focus on portion control. Balance and moderation are a big part of my life these days. At the restaurants, I'm OK serving 4 to 5 ounces of protein as opposed to 8 or 10. It has nothing to do with trying to be greedy or to cheat the customer. It's about being able to serve beautiful food in a portion that's reasonable. I kind of like the idea leaving people with certain dishes thinking, "I wish I had one more bite."

Fitness goals: A younger Kent would say to maintain my youth, but an older Kent would say to live longer and stay healthy.

Three things you'll always find in my refrigerator: Eggs, flour tortillas and butter.

Three things I should eat less of: Eggs, flour tortillas and butter.

Favorite healthy food: I love lean meats and fish — anything I can grill.

Favorite indulgence: I get asked this question a lot, and I always have the same answer: Taco Bell at 2 a.m.

What I'd tell someone who wants to follow my routine: Be consistent. I really had to make an overall lifestyle change, and I have learned it is a marathon, not a race. Take it one day at a time.

What my workout says about me: It's interesting, because in the last year I have had some challenges going on in my personal life — business issues, legal stuff, and that's really all I can say. Through it all, I have been consistent with my workout, but this year I want to work harder and get everything I can out of my workout. I think that says I am resilient and committed.

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