Following the most difficult year of his NBA career, a season in which he missed 51 games fresh off signing a four-year, $64 million free-agent contract with the Washington Wizards, Ian Mahinmi entered this offseason determined to get lighter and in better shape, hoping to take some weight off of his surgically repaired knees.
His summer began with a minor procedure to repair the meniscus in his left knee. From there it was trips across the world, all while working with his personal trainers and chef to redesign his body for the rigors of a full season in today's NBA where the expectations for a big man have changed.
Mahinmi, 30, travelled to West Africa and Europe with his family and personal team. After months of early morning workouts and not eating his favorite foods, he has dropped 10 pounds without losing any muscle mass.
"I had an entourage," Mahinmi said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast.
"I did a lot of traveling, but I kept my people with me. My chef travelled with me, my trainers and my strength coach. I had sometimes four people with me. I had my chef, my strength coach and sometimes two shooting coaches."
To Africa, Mahinmi had only one assistant along for the trip. To France, the whole crew was there in addition to his wife and two daughters. That included a four-day excursion to Disneyland in Paris. Mahinmi would get his training done early in the morning before his girls woke up. That's when the hard work actually began.
"The whole day in Disneyland... that was my real workout for the day, but it was awesome," Mahinmi said. "It's tiring. They have fireworks at 11 at night once the sun goes down so it's basically from 10:30 [a.m.] all the way to 11."
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Mahinmi overhauled his diet with help from his personal chef. The main culprit was sweets and, man, does Mahinmi miss them.
"It was the sugar, man. Obviously, I'm gluten-free everything. But sugar, I'm a big-time chocolate guy. Chocolate bars, all that stuff. I had to cut that off. I had to really give up the sugar. Nowadays, even if you go to Whole Foods, you look at the back of anything you grab, you are going to see sugar in it. There is sugar in everything," he said.
A native of France, Mahinmi also has an affinity for French food, which can feature rich, butter-based sauces, delicious bread and decadent desserts. Mahinmi has to limit his intake of French food from here on out and that won't be easy in Washington, D.C.
Mahinmi has played in San Antonio, Dallas and Indianapolis previously in his NBA career, but D.C. has the best French food by a longshot.
"Oh my gosh. You can't even compare. In Indy, you probably have maybe one or two restaurants. In D.C., it's really good," he said.
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Mahinmi offered a long list of French restaurant and bakery recommendations.
"I like Le Chat Noir [in Tenleytown]. I like Lepic [in Georgetown]. Le Diplomate [on 14th St.] is really good. There's another one right on Wisconsin and P. St., Cafe Bonaparte. I just went and got a salad a few days ago," he said of restaurants.
As for bakeries, "There is Patisserie Poupon on Wisconsin, but there's another one a little farther down called [Boulangerie] Christophe. It's probably been open like six, seven or eight months. It's awesome. I go there and they know me. They always take care of me. It's so much better here as far as French food, but I can't have it too much. I have it on my cheat day. I have maybe a croissant or something like that."
D.C. is an international city and Mahinmi has international roots. He frequents three separate embassies and has invited their employees to games. There is of course the French embassy, but also that of Benin, a West African nation of which Mahinmi has roots, as well as the Jamaican embassy. His mother is from Jamaica.
"I take care of my people," he said. "D.C. is very diverse and I love it. For a guy like me, it's great."
You can listen to Mahinmi's full interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast right here: