One-on-One With Bob Harper
Tough talk, from The Biggest Loser’s toughest trainer.
After 13 seasons of The Biggest Loser, contestants who end up on Bob Harper’s Blue Team probably know what they’re in for: a tough-love trainer who will push them beyond what they believe their bodies can do. Now everyone can get a taste of that no-nonsense guidance with Bob’s new book, The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to THIN. We caught up with the Southern-born trainer after an early morning workout in New York City.
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Spry: One of your toughest rules is “Eat at least 10 meals a week at home.” We’re all so busy—what can people do to minimize their time in the kitchen?
Bob: When you prepare your meals at home, you have full control. I’m a big fan of planning ahead and taking time on the weekend to fill your fridge with all the foods you need for a healthy week.
Spry: Rule No. 7 is “No carbs after lunch.” Why not just eliminate carbs altogether?
Bob: I don’t believe in cutting out a major food group completely. Carbs are an excellent energy source. If you “front-load” your carbs—eat them earlier in the day—you stand a really good chance of burning them off.
Spry: What’s your favorite no-carb meal?
Bob: “Lean & Green”: I will get a good-size serving of any kind of lean protein that I’m in the mood for, some great roasted veggies and a big salad. I love eating this way.
Spry: You don’t agree with allowing dieters a “cheat day.” Why not?
Bob: If you think you can eat whatever you want on one day, it continues the idea that binge eating is acceptable. I tell people to approach a healthy lifestyle as 80-20. If you’re eating right 80 percent of the time, there’s nothing you can never have. And here’s the best thing: Your body starts to get used to that, and you’re not going to be able to eat the way you did before. I come from Tennessee, where fried food was a part of my diet. I can’t eat French fries anymore—they make me sick. Even when it’s time for my splurge meal, there are some foods I just don’t want.
Spry: One trick you advocate is “Harpersizing” your serving of veggies—eating more than a “standard” portion. How does this help someone to lose weight?
Bob: This allows a person who is struggling with their weight to have a healthy portion of food and still lose. Veggies will add bulk to your plate without adding bulk to your waist.
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Spry: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently predicted that 42 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030. What do you think is the answer to this problem?
Bob: It’s really cheap to eat unhealthy foods. We have to realize that we’re either going to pay now at the grocery store or we’re going to pay later with healthcare costs. I tell the people I train that the foods I want them to eat are going to be more expensive, but you have to find a way to manage it for the sake of your health. It’s almost like putting money in your savings account for when you get older.
Spry: What was it like to film last season’s The Biggest Loser episode at the White House with Michelle Obama?
Bob: It was the coolest thing ever. The First Lady’s a real role model: She is extremely fit, and she makes time to work out. People always say, “I have no time to work out,” but she’s the First Lady and she manages it!