Ten years ago, Today Show weather anchor Al Roker decided he needed a drastic change in his lifestyle when he tipped the scale at 340 pounds. He decided to have a gastric bypass surgery in 2002 and lost 100 pounds in eight months, eventually reaching 190 pounds lost. Then, five years ago, he received the devastating news that his mother had cancer, and his weight crept back up as he dealt with her terminal illness. After regaining and losing another 40 pounds through a 28-day cleanse and strict diet and exercise regimen, Roker writes about it all in his memoir “Never Goin’ Back,” released Dec. 31, 2024.
He talked about shedding the “fat guy image” and his new book this morning on Today.
Roker relates in his book that he chose to have bariatric surgery after losing his father to lung cancer in 2001. He had yo-yo dieted for years with no lasting results. He describes his aha! moment in an interview with PARADE magazine:
“[My father] was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and I would go in every day. We’d talk and joke, and then one day he got serious and said, ‘Look, we both know I’m not going to be here to help you with my grandkids, so you gotta promise you’re going to lose weight.” Seven days later he was gone. A few weeks afterward, [Deborah and I] found out we were pregnant with our son Nicky. I said, “Okay, I’m going to have to do something.”
Roker found success with a gastric bypass, but admits it is not for everyone, calling it just another tool for losing weight that was a very difficult choice for him. When his mother got sick, his healthy living routine went to the wayside as he balanced spending as much time as he could with her with the normal pressures of his work and family life. He thought he could handle a few slip-ups with his diet, eventually reverting back to old habits and secret binge eating, and used food as a form of self-medication.
So how did Roker eventually commit to losing the weight for good? He devised a plan, realizing he works best within a moderately strict routine. He consulted with a nutritionist and enlisted the help of a trainer, making exercise a big part of his life. He identified common pitfalls, like slipping up while traveling, and devised ways to strengthen his resolve, like always traveling with a scale. And he embarked on a 28-day detox cleanse to rid him of his addiction with food.
During his 28-day detox, Roker lost a pound a day by cutting out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and dairy. He focused on foods high in protein but low in carbohydrates, and consumed only whole, unprocessed foods. With the help of his nutritionist, he outlined exactly what he had to eat each day with no counting calories or daily tracking.
“Once I started eating ‘clean,’ unprocessed foods, I realized that there was a whole new world of flavors out there that I’d never even considered: spices, herbs, and seasonings. It’s amazing how my favorite spices (like fresh ginger) can bring a little zing to an otherwise ordinary baked chicken or grilled fish,” he told PARADE.
Roker admits that maintaining his weight is the hardest part of his weight loss journey, but in “Never Goin’ Back,” shows how he’s committed to the task. He encourages others to take that step toward their goals, being the first to tell others that there is no quick fix, but sticks to his saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”