TV personality and “Today” show weatherman Al Roker, 58, has spent a lifetime battling his weight. Now, in his new memoir, “Never Goin’ Back” (New American Library, $26.95), he says all of us can win the weight-loss battle for good, starting now. USA Today’s Craig Wilson wanted to know how, so he spoke with Roker by phone.
Q. So, give us a quick fix here. We don’t want to go on a diet. As you say, 95 percent of people who go on diets fail.
A. There is no quick fix. At the end of the day, you still have to do the work to maintain your weight. It can’t be a diet. You have to change your life.
Q. Looking back on your days weighing 340 pounds, what were you thinking?
A. I wasn’t. That was the problem. Mindless eating. Eating while doing something else. You’re not thinking what you’re doing.
Q. Then you spent years yo-yoing on various diets.
A. Yes. I’d probably say my biggest yo-yo was when I was finishing up my senior year of college. I lost about 100 pounds and within a year gained it all back. I’d say I yo-yoed from 20 years old to about 10 years ago.
Q. You confess you loved junk food, the junkier the better. What was your favorite?
A. You know, I think it was whatever presented itself. Even today, I was walking through the Chicago airport, and there was a McDonald’s and a sign that said “McRib is back!” An old friend. But if you think about it, it’s not what you really want.
Q. We noticed Twinkies were in a Christmas gift you got on the show the other day. What did you do with them?
A. I put the box on the shelf in my dressing room. I think it will be a collector’s item. And when my time capsule is opened, they’ll be fresh!
Q. You eventually had gastric bypass surgery. Not for everyone, right?
A. No. I’ve turned down high six-figure deals for bypass chains who wanted me to endorse it. I’ll never recommend it publicly. It’s surgery. It’s a really, really tough thing to do.
Q. You got down to 190, then 40 pounds came back. What’s up with that?
A. I stabilized at about 200 for almost eight years, then my mom got sick. I was driving back and forth from Long Island every day after the show. I spent a few hours in the car and reverted back to those old bad habits. I ate. I had resisted all those bad habits for a long time, then I was thrown for a loop.
Q. What’s the biggest mistake people do when trying to lose weight? What’s the one bit of advice you want to share? Wait, I see you say that no advice is the best advice!
A. Look, here’s the deal. If someone asks you, then that’s fair game. People who are overweight don’t want unsolicited advice. Guess what. We know we’re fat. We live in homes with mirrors.
Q. You have a saying — “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” True?
A. I do agree with that. I worked very hard at this. I got to the point where I stopped watching myself on TV. Now when I see it, I don’t avert my eyes. I don’t look half bad. It’s more fun to go shopping, too.
Q. You travel with a scale now? Like, on a plane?
A. Sure! If I’m going for two, three nights. It fits into my carry-on. Doesn’t bother the TSA people.
Q. You run now, too. A marathon? What is wrong with you?
A. I know. I lost my mind. It was nuts, given the fact my knees are bad to begin with. It’s a miracle I made it. My cardio of choice now is biking.
Q. And you even like your personal trainer, Patricia? How odd!
A. I like her because she’s a real-world person. Very nice. She enjoys food. She understands I’m human, yet she’ll slip stuff into the exercises when you’re not looking.
Q. Are you going to send a copy of this book to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie?
A. I don’t know if he’d get anything from it. Whoever it is, when they decide they need to do something, they’ll do it. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to give him advice.
Q. Why do you think people are so intolerant of fat people? You talk about the indignities you had to endure as a fat person. Being called Fat Albert, for instance, when you were a kid.
A. I think it’s because it’s the last bastion of being able to be intolerant. People who would never think of dealing in racial or sexual stereotypes will still throw in a fat joke because it’s still OK. Really?
Q. Can you and Willard Scott still go out for dinner and not get into overeating trouble?
A. Yeah, we can. But here’s the difference. Let’s just say I go off what I usually eat. In the old days, it would be “what the hell.” Today, it would be, “OK, I enjoyed that, and now let’s get back on track.” You have to make sure you make up for that lapse.
Q. Matt Lauer looks to be in very good shape. Don’t you find that irritating?
A. Well, yes, on the surface I do. He’s a great guy, and he’s in spectacular shape. From time to time, I work out at the same gym with him, and he works out HARD. Eats the same thing for lunch and breakfast every day. People don’t see the work that goes into it all.
Q. Your memoir is called “Never Goin’ Back.” Can you be sure?
A. Look, you can never be sure of anything. But I’m pretty sure about it now. I’ve pretty much stayed between 200 and 208. We’ve had some crises, personal and professional, and I’ve pretty much been able to toe the line. As best as I can say, I’m never going back.
Gannett News Service