2012 Most Valuable Motivator: Bob Greene

Featured Article, Fitness, News and Advice
on July 16, 2012

Name: Bob Greene

Claim to Fame: You might know him as Oprah Winfrey’s personal fitness coach, but Bob Greene has inspired millions across the country to discover their own personal best life. The exercise physiologist, best-selling author and certified personal trainer is the creator of the renowned Best Life diet, a holistic lifestyle plan that encourages users to adopt eating and exercise habits they can follow for the rest of their lives. Based on a simple three-phase approach, the diet is designed to help you lose weight steadily and keep it off—no gimmicks or crazy extremes involved. Drawing on over 25 years of expertise as a health and fitness guru, Greene has written several best-selling weight loss and motivational books, including The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight, and Be Happy and The Best Life Diet, which was named the top diet book of 2007 by Consumer Reports. In his most recent book 20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger, Greene tackles the subject of aging and how to stay energized well into adulthood, something he can identify with as a 50-year-old father trying to keep up with his two young children. Recently, Greene launched the Small Change Movement, a free online weight-loss program running from May 15th to August 15th that promises to get participants back on track with exclusive weekly tips and resources. Learn more about Bob Greene and the The Best Life at www.thebestlife.com.

Health philosophy: “Don’t eat too much, build your diet on healthy staples, and accent it with superfoods.”

Vitamins/supplements: Although Bob thinks the best way to get vitamins and minerals is by consuming plenty of nutritious fruits and vegetables, he takes a standard multivitamin and Vitamin D supplement to “seal up the cracks” in his diet.

Favorite workout: Bob’s workout regimen consists of an hour of cardio everyday and 30 to 40 minutes of strength training four days a week. His favorite workout of the moment? Trail running and hiking in the great outdoors.

Motivational trick:“ My kids motivate me more than anything else to do all that I can so I can enjoy as many moments with them as possible,” Bob says.

Favorite healthy dish: “It’s a three-way tie: whole-grain pasta with either chicken or seafood, a traditional grilled fish dish with two vegetables and wild rice, and a traditional Thanksgiving meal that has been modified in a healthy manner.”

Key to healthy living: “Keep yourself up to date on what’s healthy, be disciplined and know the real reason you want to lose weight or live a healthier life.”

Five Minutes with Bob Greene

A quick conversation with the Best Life health guru.

Spry: What advice would you give someone who wants to be healthier but doesn’t know where to start?

Bob Greene: Dig deep to find out exactly what you want and why. Losing weight or getting in shape for a wedding, reunion or other short-term event can get you going. But you won’t achieve long-term success until you realize that true, lasting motivation comes from a desire to create a better life for yourself and your loved ones. Taking small steps each day towards that goal is what will ensure your success over the long haul.

Spry: Why do you think people don’t do the little things that will make big differences in their health? How do you think your Small Change Movement will help?

BG: Many people focus on “surface” goals and not what is truly important. In addition, we are wired to seek pleasure in ways that are relatively easy (indulging in sweet-, salty- and fat-laden foods, for instance) and also to avoid discomfort, which makes the argument for daily exercise a tough sell!

The Small Change Movement can help because it breaks big goals, like losing weight or living healthier, into small, manageable steps. Each time you succeed at taking a small step, your confidence increases and that fuels your motivation.

Spry: Sometimes it’s difficult for family members to persuade loved ones to make healthful changes. Have you experienced that with your parents or other family members? How have you dealt with that? 

BG: I have spent a lot of time attempting to encourage my parents, sister and extended family to eat better and exercise. I lost my father last year, primarily due to complications of smoking. (He had quit more than 20 years ago, but it did catch up with him, and his diabetes only complicated his condition.) My mom does a good job controlling her diabetes, but it certainly isn’t easy for her to consistently eat right and exercise. I think they did listen to me eventually. If anything they have made me tenacious about never giving up.

Spry: You’re in your 50s, and have young children. Has becoming a father changed your attitude towards and approach to aging?

BG: I started having children at close to age 50—I have a five-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a son who just turned three. They motivate me more than anything else to do all that I can so I can enjoy as many moments with them as possible.

Spry: What advice do you have for parents who are trying to raise healthy children in today’s society?

BG: My advice to parents: Understand that there is nothing more important we can do than to be a good example for our children.

Spry: There’s a lot of talk lately in the diet and health world about the paleo diet. What do you think about it?

BG: While it does have some good points, it’s still too unbalanced for me to recommend it. It’s great that the diet promotes eating fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods, while steering you away from refined flour and added sugars. However, by nixing even whole grains, you’re missing out on a very healthy food category. The diet also bans dairy, and while we don’t haveto eat dairy products, I think most people benefit from the calcium and vitamin D in milk. And even though lean protein is recommended, you could wind up eating too much and not getting enough fiber.

Spry: Do you still work out with Oprah? Tell us about your last session with her.

BG: It has been more than 14 years since I worked with Oprah daily. Over the years, I’ve met her on occasion for a “boot-camp” type of experience, and about seven weeks ago she asked me to work with her to help her get ready for a movie. I haven’t seen her this motivated in more than a decade.

Spry: After the Small Change Movement, what’s next for you?

BG: I’d like to focus on getting a higher quality of nutrition on the shelves at America’s grocery stores—and getting Americans to choose those items.