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‘The Biggest Loser’ Host Bob Harper: “You have to commit yourself to reducing your stress levels”

BREATHE: Stress and emotions play a huge role in your journey. You have to commit yourself to reducing your stress levels, while navigating your emotions. As a person who meditates, I have taken on transcendental meditation. It’s a great stress reliever for me. You have to find what works for you, but take those moments […]


BREATHE: Stress and emotions play a huge role in your journey. You have to commit yourself to reducing your stress levels, while navigating your emotions. As a person who meditates, I have taken on transcendental meditation. It’s a great stress reliever for me. You have to find what works for you, but take those moments to take a break, recharge and breathe.

As part of my series about health and wellness leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob Harper. Bob is an American personal trainer, author and host of the upcoming “The Biggest Loser” reboot show on USA Network in 2020.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Bob! What is your “backstory”?

For 20 years, I’ve worked to turn my passion for fitness into a career in training others to get healthy. I’ve been extremely lucky in sharing my health and fitness journey on TV, in books and in person with so many inspiring people.

Can you share the life altering ordeal that happen to you over two years ago that has significantly impacted your life?

In February 2017, I suffered a severe heart attack and cardiac arrest and my world was turned upside down. I woke up in the hospital two days later and learned that I had a heart attack. I wanted to get back to my life and back to fitness. However, I had to focus on my post-heart attack journey, listen to my body, and focus on getting myself back to health.

How has your near-fatal heart attack changed your perspective on your career and life?

Health and fitness have always been such a focal point of who I am, so my heart attack really had an emotional impact on me. Overcoming the emotional side of the journey was and continues to be a big struggle. My perspective on life and my health definitely changed after my heart attack. I was a control ‘enthusiast’ and was very focused and regimented with my workouts — I still am, but I’m more relaxed and listen to my body to help guide me in what I can achieve.

For most of my life, I’ve been a trainer and coach and after my heart attack, I’ve been given a second chance and hope to pay it forward and get back into the game of life.

You’re involved with a program called Survivors Have Heart. Could you share more details about this program with our readers?

Having a place to voice the real and tough aspects of recovery after my heart attack was extremely important. Not only the physical part of recovery, but the emotional aspects as well. Being a heart attack survivor puts you in a club you never wanted to join, but once you’re a part of it, you are bonded with others by the experience. I partnered with AstraZeneca on the Survivors Have Heart movement to help celebrate and unite heart attack survivors to share their stories of strength and resilience in an effort to educate and inspire survivors and their loved ones. We kicked off the program last year and this year we launched a Survivors Have Heart Facebook page as well as taking it on a local community tour this year. We’ve hosted two amazing events in Tampa and Charlotte, and we’re headed to San Antonio and Nashville later this year.

Where can our readers go to learn more information about Survivors Have Heart?

SurvivorsHaveHeart.com and Survivors Have Heart Facebook page have great resources for fellow heart attack survivors, caregivers and the community at large. You can hear more stories and find tips to help those who have survived a heart attack. We also hope to encourage survivors to partner with their healthcare provider team to make lifestyle changes, follow a treatment plan, and learn more about the risk of having another heart attack.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

CLEAN UP YOUR EATING HABITS: Changing your diet is a process and it has to be a behavior change. I switched up to more of a Mediterranean diet, focusing more on meals that include fewer fats, and more plant-based foods. I eat lean meats, Greek yogurt and seafood to get my protein. Talk to your doctor about which diet may work best for you.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: I know now to listen to my body and to take action and seek answers with urgency in order to keep up with my journey. Listen to those triggers in your body that are putting up red flags and know your family history. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up to your doctor, it can make all the difference in your health journey.

BREATHE: Stress and emotions play a huge role in your journey. You have to commit yourself to reducing your stress levels, while navigating your emotions. As a person who meditates, I have taken on transcendental meditation. It’s a great stress reliever for me. You have to find what works for you, but take those moments to take a break, recharge and breathe.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve always sought to be a positive force for people, to help them achieve their goals and improve their overall health. A big part of health and fitness is the emotional journey and following my heart attack, I believe in focusing on that even more. You can’t predict the future, you can’t control everything, but you can enjoy the second chance life has given you. I’m going to do everything in my power to take advantage of this second chance.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

I’m excited to be rejoining The Biggest Loser on the USA Network as host. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with lots of people over the years to help them achieve their health and fitness goals and I’m looking forward to connecting with more people in this new role as the season unfolds.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting your career as a trainer as well as on television? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from those experiences?

When I first started in the fitness business, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I remember the first time I took a group fitness class, it destroyed me. I was falling apart in the class. I couldn’t keep up. I had to stop so many times because I was not nearly as in shape as everyone else in the class and that feeling of “failure” ignited a fire in me. I was determined to be the best person in that class, so I kept going. This has always been the true essence of who I am. I like to challenge myself mentally, physically and emotionally. I had a very similar reaction when I first started working on The Biggest Loser. No one prepared me for the job. We were in unchartered territory. I remember walking onto the set for the first time. There were cameras everywhere and I was supposed to just act “natural.” It freaked me out, but I got focused and set out to conquer this world too. I was scared and self-conscious, but I didn’t let my fear paralyze me. I worked hard. I looked inward for some guidance but most of all, I just trusted myself. That is what it has always been about for me. Put me up for a challenge and I will do the best I possibly can no matter how challenging the circumstance.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I feel like Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” when I answer this question but here it goes: I have always relied on the kindness of strangers. What I mean by that is that along the way of my career, I have met several people that gave me a chance. Every time I was given a helping hand, I worked extra hard to not squander an opportunity. I believe in hard work and a little bit of luck. I even have the word “LUCKY” tattooed on my arm. So there really hasn’t been that ONE person because I am a result of several people giving me a chance and I hope that I haven’t let them down.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each that has impacted your career/life)

I don’t have 5 things. I have 1 very important thing and that is I wish someone would have told me a long time ago to not stress on everything so much. Life has a way of working things out as long as you believe in yourself and trust the process. I still tell myself this practically every single day. Best advice I could ever give anyone.

Can you please give us your favorite “life lesson” quote?

I just told you: Believe in yourself. Trust the process. Change FOREVER!

Is there a person that you would love to have a private meal with, and why?

That’s a tough one because I have several! I would want to have dinner with Oscar Wilde because he was gay in a time when he had to be so secretive and hide his true self. I would love to have a crystal ball at that dinner and show him how much the world will change in the future. Can you imagine how much more he could have written for all of us!? I would also want to have dinner with John Lennon because he, in my opinion, was one of the most talented song writers ever. His heart and compassion for humankind is the kind of people that I want to surround myself in my lifetime. That energy helps to grow the soul. And finally, not to get political, but I would love to have a private meal with Hillary Clinton. I love being around a strong woman that is smart and has vision. I know that she is controversial to a lot of people, but I don’t care. I think she is a badass!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I’m often posting on Instagram (@bobharper) and on my photography channel, too (@bobharpergallery).

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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