A reader of Childhood Obesity News once communicated that her barrel-shaped figure was a comfort, because she felt anchored to the earth, and indeed could not imagine losing weight, because she would feel insubstantial and in danger of blowing away. This almost happened to TV weatherman Al Roker, who in 2005 was filmed struggling to stay upright as a cameraman tried to hold him down and Hurricane Wilma tried to blow him away.
It was ironic, because the career of the beloved television personality, known for decades of Today show appearances, was plagued by weight issues. When the hurricane arrived, he had succeeded in shedding a large amount of excess weight.
Even in the college years, Roker weighed in at nearly 300 pounds. In adulthood, it crept up to 340. Divorced from his first wife in 1994, Roker married Deborah Roberts the following year.
Journalist Michelle Tauber reported:
In 1999 Roberts interviewed singer Carnie Wilson, whose frankness about her own gastric bypass surgery put a famous face on the procedure. “When I came home after doing the interview with Carnie, I just casually mentioned it to Al,” she recalls. His response? “He shut me down right away,” she says.
But the incident remained in Roker’s memory bank, and he later spoke of how his terminally ill father set him straight:
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.”
Shortly after his father’s demise, Roker and Roberts learned that a child was on the way. He recalls his reaction as, “Okay, I’m going to have to do something.”
That something was gastric bypass surgery, whose results he spoke about with Tauber:
All of a sudden, I just wasn’t hungry… I went from consuming maybe 3,000 calories a day to 300 calories a day.
Years later, going over the same ground with another reporter, he warned:
I am not advocating gastric bypass surgery; you can eat through a bypass. I did — I lost 140 pounds and gained 40 back.
When Roker’s mother became ill, everything started to spiral and he went back to the old binge-eating, self-medicating ways. He told interviewer Bonnie Taub-Dix:
When you’re in the midst of it, whether an alcoholic or a drug addict, that secondary voice inside you is not loud enough. It almost feels like the “devil and angel” sitting on your shoulders…
After the surgery, Roker had gone through some required post-op therapy, but realized much later that he should also have joined the support group that was available. He fought back and managed to bring his weight back down again, arriving at the conclusion that “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” However, he admitted that maintenance is always a problem, because it is all too easy to revert to old habits.
Roker loves to cook and has even published cookbooks. He told Taub-Dix that cooking at home had never been the real problem, because preparing good meals for the children, and setting a good example for them, were always priorities. Restaurant dining was always his downfall, along with unrealistic notions about food portions.
I used to look at a pint of Häagen-Dazs and call it a serving size. Now I know that I can have a couple of spoonfuls and I’m done. I’m more in control — and I’m controlling food.
If so, it is a miracle, because very few people are able to play with fire in that way. Dr. Pretlow has found that total abstinence from certain problem foods is what works best.
(On this page, Roker is shown at a Kids’ Kitchen event with Michelle Obama.)
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “100 & Counting,” People.com, 11/18/02
Source: “Al Roker’s Diet Revealed on Today Show With Debut of His Book ‘Never Goin’ Back’,” DietsInReview.com, 01/03/13
Source: “A Stormy Relationship With the Scale: An Interview With Al Roker,” USNews.com, 02/07/13
Photo credit: USDAgov via Visualhunt/CC BY