It was one of those days when the jet lag was hitting hard like a bad hangover. Stuck between half-awake and desperate for a nap at 10 a.m., I went for a long walk to pump some fresh oxygen in my brain. I have a theory — never proven — that exercise after a long flight helps get your head straight. Something about the benefits of fresh air and getting the blood pumping. My self-image tends to bottom out in the midst of bad jet lag, so on my way out the door I took a good hard look in the mirror to remind myself that I didn't look so bad after all.

And I was right. But I also didn't look spectacular. I was reminded of the line "I wish I was as fat back when I thought I was fat." There was definitely work to be done.

My good friend Toby Walker, one of the wisest people I know, sent a kind email after one of my recent newsletters in which I had lamented everything sliding downhill. The problem, I suggested, was that I needed to do more core.

Wrong. The problem, as Toby pointed out, was the need to eat better.

Let's face it: London in August was not the place to start eating better. There's the Eggs Florentine at the Russian Place, the bacon cheeseburger at Byron's, the Punk IPA at the Audley, and on. But as I stepped out the door I took solace in the fact that I also walk everywhere in London. So while I'm shoveling in the calories, I'm also priming the furnace beforehand.

As journeys so often bring forth, a solution soon presented itself. The reason for my travel was watching the World Track and Field (Athletics, to the British) Championships. Inspiration came in the form of a lunch with several of the US athletes. Shot putter silver medalist Joe Kovacs even let me wear his medal. I got to thinking about what it means to really be in shape. So I came up with a really outlandish quest: 30 Days Of Being A Champion. It would begin the day after I returned home.

I am not the champion of anything right now. And while I'm hoping to snag one of the few available spots in next month's Aspen 50, I'm not really training for anything, per se. But I figured that I could commit to living and training like a champion for a very short window. The goal isn't necessarily to drop a few pounds, but to alter the mindset. So I got a legal pad and wrote down the rules. There are nine, for those of you wishing to join me in trying this at home:

  1. Nine hours of sleep
  2. Abs
  3. No bread or pizza
  4. Cardio
  5. Fruits and vegetables
  6. Log all food
  7. Something fun every day (beer, ice cream, etc.) — but just one
  8. Record weight every day
  9. Ten glasses of water every day

It's an exercise in accountability — August 15 to September 15. I'm one day in. There's not going to be a big party at the end. Let's just see where all this goes.