TODAY   |  June 07, 2010

Roker ditches fat suits, trains for marathon

TODAY’s Al Roker answers viewers’ questions about his dramatic weight loss and discusses his plan to train for the New York City Marathon and the expense of packing on the pounds after donating his old, plus-size clothes.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we want to talk about why we're so impressed with you. for a lot of reasons, but including your total transformation. al's life long struggle with weight loss is not only an inspiration, but serves as an important reminder how important getting healthy could be. we'll take your questions from e-mails but first matt takes a look back at his journey.

>> twice a week, al heads to north central park and jogs four miles. it may not be a marathon but is an incredible accomplishment, considering how far he has come.

>> here's what's happening in your neck of the woods.

>> al weighed 320 pounds eight years ago.

>> had trouble walking, clothes didn't fight fit that well. i think i was in a size 60 suit. morbidly obese. three bucks an hour and all the chocolate i can drink.

>> a wake-up call from his dad, al roker sr., forced him to make a change.

>> it was a few weeks before my dad died and, you know, i was going to see him at sloan keterring hospital every morning before the show. one morning he says to me, look, you've got to promise me that you're going to lose weight . we both know i'm not going to be here to help you with my grandchildren so you've got to promise me.

>> that evening, his father lost his ability to speak. three weeks later, he was gone.

>> that was a real moment.

>> in 2002 , al's wife, deborah, brought up the idea of gastric bypass surgery . after careful consideration, he decided to go under the knife.

>> okey dokey.

>> lost like 140 pounds and that was great and so -- and i felt like, okay, i'm never going back.

>> hey, beautiful.

>> his initial weight loss was documented both on "today" and "dateline," but that wasn't the end.

>> people sometimes look at this as a magic bullet . it's going to change everything. no. it's going to help you lose weight . that's it.

>> over the next several years, 40 pounds crept back on.

>> view this as i do, as you're a recovering alcoholic, that no matter how much success you've had or are having, that you know, you're only one quarter pounder away from falling off the wagon.

>> of course, it isn't just about the scale.

>> no matter how much weight you lose, there's still that person, that fat guy lurking. intellectually, i know i've lost weight. i mean, my suits are smaller. i know all that stuff. but, you know, when i look in the mirror, i don't see as much of a change as i think other people see.

>> even with those daily struggles, al believes his dad would approve.

>> i think he would be very proud, because he was an athletic guy. i think he would be very pleased. he would be happy. but he also would think i'm cocky.

>> don't get cocky, okay?

>> all right.

>> we weighed you in an hour ago. you weighed 204 pounds. it was actually more than 320, you say it was more like 340.

>> i got up to 340. just before i did it, we were at the winter olympics in salt lake . i was eating everything that wasn't nailed down.

>> that's the thing. a lot of times it's really the admission. a lot of people who deal with, whether it's weight loss or some other addiction, food addiction , it's really the admission or -- it's reaching that point where you realize, recognize you have a problem, right?

>> that's a certain amount of shame about it. you feel people look at this as it's not an addiction. you just don't have control. you don't have self control . yeah, you do feel a certain amount of shame, that you let yourself get this big.

>> meantime you've lost 136 pounds. we've got atscribe jay asking what were your biggest waistline saboteurs? what did you replace them or cut them all together?

>> i went on a detox cleanse, melissa baumann lee from chicago put me on this thing. i do it from time to time where i eliminate all sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine and alcohol. after i come off that, i eat pretty clean. i try to stay away from gluten.

>> what's clean?

>> stay away from gluten, haven't eaten much red meat since july of last year. i work out. i do a slow workout, high weight, slow repetitions.

>> high weight, slow repetitions. so it hurts a lot to build that muscle?

>> yeah. and i'm running.

>> and you're running a lot. do you have a fitness goal with the running?

>> look, i've talked -- i'm training to see if i could do the new york city marathon. i don't know if i'll make it. i'm training for it.

>> you can do it, al. i know you can. elaine gerw tichlt. z says what was the question you asked yourself that finally motivated you to stick with a weight loss plan?

>> i can't remember who the model was. one of these super models, but they said nothing tastes as good as this looks. and i like the way i feel -- more importantly than looks, i like the way i feel now. so if i'm going to put it in my mouth, it better be just about the most spectacular thing of whatever it is i'm about to eat.

>> is it worth it is the question?

>> yeah. you know, it depends. the other thing is portion control . in the old days, i would -- i could sit down and polish off two quarter pounders. i don't do that now. i mean, i don't really eat burgers, but it's much smaller portion. i might have a bite of this, a bite of that and that's it.

>> that really gets to the psychological thing. i mean, a lot of times you keep eating two or three quarter pounders, it's feeding something and it's not really your hunger.

>> right. if anybody is considering a gastric bypass , one thing that any reputable surgeon will make sure you do is have psychological counseling.

>> right.

>> an overweight person, a lot of people think you'll have this and all your problems are solved.

>> it's an instant fix.

>> right. but it's not. you're thinner but you still have the same problems.

>> the next question was regarding the gastric bypass . i'm three years out from mine, wondering what is the toughest h ruchh hurdle you still have?

>> it's to eat within your means. i was slowly doing it. i gained 40 pounds back from my lowest weight . and so, you know, that is one of the things you have to remember, is that you can sabotage, you can defeat the bypass just like you can defeat a lap band , just like you can defeat any weight watchers or any diet you're on. whether you're following a biggest loser kind of regimen or anything. you just have to remember it's not -- you have to be constantly vigil.

>> absolutely.

>> a question from carol belair from little compton , rhode island and asks have you thrown away your fat clothes?

>> i've given them away, donated them to dress for success so that i -- i tell you, it was an expensive process.

>> you have nice clothes, buddy.

>> you've gone through several suit sizes in the transformation.

>> i have. i'm down to almost a size 40 suit.

>> yay!

>> from a 60.

>> from a 60.

>> that's something.

>> i've gotten rid of them. if i do gain this back, which i'm planning not to, it would be a very expensive proposition. so i plan not to.

>> and, meanwhile, this has been a lifestyle change not just for you but your family as well.

>> yeah.

>> you really bring this home.

>> i do. i do most of the cooking in the house and my son, nicky, is gluten free for a variety of reasons and deborah, my wife, is one of those health freaks.

>> she's not a freak. she's a spectacular, healthy girl.

>> she's very healthy. we were like a coed laurel and hardy .

>> you have to have that support of the team, though, right, at home?

>> exactly.

>> if you don't --

>> it's fun. we go out running together. and it's -- it makes it a lot easier. our kids see us by example.

>> that's exactly right.

>> little bit easier.

>> what you're talking about is from where you were, enjoying burgers, doing all of that, and to where you are now. when you talk about, you know, running with your wife, feeling better, being able to be in connection with your son in terms of how you're eating, when you sort of compare those two, it's a no brainer, which way people should go.

>> look, everybody comes to this on their own. so, you can nag, you can cajole, brow beat anybody in your life you care about that may have a weight problem. it doesn't matter. in fact, it may even make it worse. so, they will come to -- here is the thing --

>> is there anything people can do?

>> no. here is the secret. we know we're fat. we don't need you to tell us. we know that. when we get to it, when we're ready to change, we're going to change. so, stop bothering us.

>> there's nothing we can do?

>> no.

>> nothing?

>> just support, though.

>> support.

>> that we love you.

>> support and love and encouraging.

>> yes, absolutely.

>> but not nagging.

>> you've inspired so many people, by the way.

>> we're proud of you, al.

>> we hope this helps and