Bob Harper has worked with lots of guys who can’t seem to get their act together in the gym. “You name the excuse and I’ve heard it,” he says. “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have the money.” “I’m just not motivated.” But thanks to his Web site, mytrainerbob.com, his new line of Smart Success supplements, and all the hours he’s logged working on The Biggest Loser, Harper has broken through to just about everybody who’s come to him for help—and he’s changed a lot of bad habits in the process. Here’s how you can get rid of some of your own.
Many of your clients are very heavy, even morbidly obese. Do they share any common traits or habits?
I've been working on The Biggest Loser since the very beginning, and I've found that most overweight people have one thing in common—they don't eat the most important meal of the day, breakfast.
Overweight people get up in the morning and maybe they don’t feel hungry, so they run with that feeling. They play this game with themselves where they see how long they can go without eating, and then by 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., their metabolism is at a grinding halt, their bodies are holding onto every ounce of fat, and most of their resolve is now at an all-time low. Then they eat anything they can get their hands on because they are literally starving. I recommend people eat within the first 30 to 45 minutes of waking up. Something as simple as a bowl of oatmeal will set the tone for making healthier choices throughout the day.
What’s the biggest mistake guys make when they try and start losing weight?
One of the worst things you can do when you start a weight-loss program is to change too much too soon. I’m a big fan of getting people to start off more slowly and then building from there.
I've talked to countless people around the country battling weight loss who get up Monday morning and decide to eat completely differently. They go to the gym for an hour every single day, and after about a week or so, it becomes too hard and they fall off that very unrealistic wagon.
What are the keys to a successful program?
When it comes to weight loss, the two most important things to focus on are diet and exercise. I created a weight-loss supplement that puts diet and exercise at the forefront. My Smart Success system offers that boost people may need to keep them on track and, most important, it’s backed by two clinical studies. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan and vegetarian-friendly. I’ve put together a starter kit, which includes a DVD with a workout, plus diet tips to help you stay motivated.
What's the best approach for starting out?
Take your diet and exercise program in steps. For example, first commit to drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day. Next, say to yourself that you are gonna get up 30 minutes earlier than you normally do and go for a walk. Try cutting out fried foods after that. When it’s time to go to the gym, set up a simple station focusing on two body parts. For example, spend one minute doing a chest press, move into standing lunges, and then do a two-minute jog on the treadmill. Repeat for six sets.
If you always look at weight-loss in steps, your motivation is less likely to fade while you're creating those healthy habits.
Are there misconceptions about weight loss out there that drive you crazy?
There are a lot: You should only work out in the morning. Don’t eat carbs. You have to train for at least an hour for your workout to count. These are three very strong misconceptions that people have told me, and they're simply not true.
Working out in the morning definitely has its benefits, but as long as you get your workout in at some point during the day, you're on the right track.
Complex carbs are essential to a healthy lifestyle. I encourage people to get their carbs earlier in the day and only avoid them at dinner, if weight loss is the objective. You should also stay away from starchy, white carbs. All of the fiber has been stripped from them which reduces their nutrient levels.
Working out for an hour is great, but if you have days when you can only work out half the time, then work out half the time. Half is still better than none.