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A Wine Expert’s Tips for Leading a Well-Balanced Life

Thrill seeker and intermittent faster Ryan Arnold shares his secrets

Ryan Arnold
Photo: Lisa Predko

Arnold may be one of the minds behind Chicago wine label No Fine Print and a former sommelier for Lettuce Entertain You, for whom he helped open a slew of spots. But you’re just as likely to catch him sipping from the Yeti bottle full of turmeric tea he totes everywhere. That’s because the 38-year-old snowboarding fan has cut way back on extracurricular drinking. Here’s how he keeps his busy life in balance.

Cabernet control

“I still taste alcohol for my job, but I don’t imbibe any more than half a glass at dinner. It’s been revolutionary; it’s led to better sleep, better hydration, increased awareness.”

Peak passion

“I have a borderline obsession with the mountains, which is weird because my family is from Canaryville. I’m spending part of this winter in Wyoming and Oregon to get my fix. I used to do a lot of big mountain riding and slopestyle snowboarding, which involves tricks and jumps, and I competed in speed trials. In 2002, I crashed and broke my eye socket. I dialed back after that. I spend less time in the air upside down, more time carving.”

Thrill pursuit

“I went to a doctor recently just to check things out because I’ve had three concussions. He said, ‘You need to be highly stimulated constantly because of your serotonin levels; you seek that out in life.’ There’s a link between adrenaline-junkie endurance athletes and working in restaurants. You get a high being on the floor — it’s intense.”

Eating plan

“I do intermittent fasting and try not to eat before 11 a.m. or after 10 p.m. My first meal is always liquid — usually a supplement called Hanah One in my coffee or a smoothie. I have my first real meal around 3. I recently reduced my meat consumption by about 80 percent, so I usually eat a salad with kale, citrus, apple, sesame seeds, pistachios, and cashews, and maybe some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.”

Workout strategy

“I have three main activities: cycling, yoga, and climbing. In an ideal world, I do one every morning at 7 or 7:30. I do spin classes and calisthenics at Midtown Athletic Club. I go bouldering at First Ascent in Avondale. I don’t have the patience to lift weights, but climbing builds strength. So does yoga — I go to Yogaview on Elston. During the summer, I’ll jump on a bike and go for six, seven hours to Wisconsin.”

Mindfulness practice

“I have ADD, and the doctor gave me medication, but I wasn’t into it. Instead, I meditate. After I get up, I drink water, then I just stare at a brick wall for about 10 minutes. During that time, I call attention to a few people or experiences I’m grateful for. It’s been an incredible way to focus on the positive, minimize the negative, and eliminate anxiety.”


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