TV personality and Today show weatherman Al Roker, 58, has spent a lifetime battling his weight. Now, in his new memoir, Never Goin' Back (New American Library), he says all of us can win the weight-loss battle for good, starting in the new year. USA TODAY's Craig Wilson wanted to know how, so he spoke with Roker by phone.
Q: So, give us a quick fix here. We don't want to go on a diet. As you say, 95% of people who go on diets fail.
A: There is no quick fix. At the end of the day, you still have to do the work to maintain your weight. It can't be a diet. You have to change your life.
Q: Looking back on your days weighing 340 pounds, what were you thinking?
A: I wasn't. That was the problem. Mindless eating. Eating while doing something else. You're not thinking what you're doing.
Q: Then you spent years yo-yoing on various diets.
A:Yes. I'd probably say my biggest yo-yo was when I was finishing up mysenior year of college. I lost about 100 pounds and within a year gainedit all back. I'd say I yo-yoed from 20 years old to about 10 years ago.
Q: You confess you loved junk food, the junkier the better. What was your favorite?
A:You know, I think it was whatever presented itself. Even today, I waswalking through the Chicago airport, and there was a McDonald's and asign that said "McRib is back!" An old friend. But if you think aboutit, it's not what you really want.
Q: We noticed Twinkies were in a Christmas gift you got on the show the other day. What did you do with them?
A:I put the box on the shelf in my dressing room. I think it will be acollector's item. And when my time capsule is opened, they'll be fresh!
Q: You eventually had gastric bypass surgery. Not for everyone, right?
A:No. I've turned down high six-figure deals for bypass chains who wantedme to endorse it. I'll never recommend it publicly. It's surgery. It's areally, really tough thing to do.
Q: You got down to 190, then 40 pounds came back. What's up with that?
A:I stabilized at about 200 for almost eight years, then my Mom got sick.I was driving back and forth from Long Island every day after the show.I spent a few hours in the car and reverted back to those old badhabits. I ate. I had resisted all those bad habits for a long time, thenI was thrown for a loop.
Q: What's the biggest mistake peopledo when trying to lose weight? What's the one bit of advice you want toshare? Wait, I see you say that no advice is the best advice!
A: Look, here's the deal. If someone asksyou, then that's fair game. People who are overweight don't wantunsolicited advice. Guess what. We know we're fat. We live in homes withmirrors.
Q: You have a saying - "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." True?
A: I doagree with that. I worked very hard at this. I got to the point where Istopped watching myself on TV. Now when I see it, I don't avert my eyes.I don't look half bad. It's more fun to go shopping, too.
Q: You travel with a scale now? Like, on a plane?
A: Sure! If I'm going for two, three nights. It fits into my carry-on. Doesn't bother the TSA people.
Q: You run now, too. A marathon? What is wrong with you?
A:I know. I lost my mind. It was nuts, given the fact my knees are bad tobegin with. It's a miracle I made it. My cardio of choice now isbiking.
Q: And you even like your personal trainer, Patricia? How odd!
A:I like her because she's a real-world person. Very nice. She enjoysfood. She understands I'm human, yet she'll slip stuff into theexercises when you're not looking.
Q: Are you going to send a copy of this book to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie?
A: I don't know if he'd get anything from it. Whoever it is, when they decide they need to do something, they'll do it. I wouldn't be so presumptuous to give him advice.
Q:Why do you think people are so intolerant of fat people? You talk aboutthe indignities you had to endure as a fat person. Being called FatAlbert, for instance, when you were a kid.
A: I think it'sbecause it's the last bastion of being able to be intolerant. People whowould never think of dealing in racial or sexual stereotypes will stillthrow in a fat joke because it's still OK. Really?
Q: Can you and Willard Scott still go out for dinner and not get into overeating trouble?
A: Yeah, we can. But here's the difference. Let's just say I go offwhat I usually eat. In the old days, it would be "what the hell."Today, it would be, "OK, I enjoyed that, and now let's get back ontrack." You have to make sure you make up for that lapse.
Q: Matt Lauer looks to be in very good shape. Don't you find that irritating?
A:Well, yes, on the surface I do. He's a great guy, and he's inspectacular shape. From time to time, I work out at the same gym withhim, and he works out HARD. Eats the same thing for lunch and breakfastevery day. People don't see the work that goes into it all.
Q: Your memoir is called Never Goin' Back. Can you be sure?
A:Look, you can never be sure of anything. But I'm pretty sure about itnow. I've pretty much stayed between 200 and 208. We've had some crises,personal and professional, and I've pretty much been able to toe theline. As best as I can say, I'm never going back.