“Food Network” star Alton Brown has successfully maintained an impressive 50-weight loss for over three years, and is in better shape now at age 52 than he was at 20, thanks to his fitness-minded lifestyle.
Still, Brown says weight-loss maintenance requires constant vigilance. “Yeah, I lost a lot of weight and I’ve kept most of it off, but it’s still a constant, day-to-day battle for me,” Alton told Yahoo. “You’ve got to learn that there’s such a thing as a spoonful of ice cream. I wouldn’t have believed that at one time. To me, a Ben and Jerry’s carton was a single serving.”
The 5-foot-11 Brown, who now weighs 175 pounds, says the impetus for his stunning weight loss came after a shocking visual wake-up call in 2009.
“One day I was looking at myself on the monitor and my head was out of frame, it was just my body. And for a split second I didn’t know who that fat guy was. I was like ‘Oh, that’s me. Oh my God.’ I had missed it. How do you miss something like that? How do you miss that you’ve let yourself go?”
From that moment, Brown drastically overhauled his diet to focus on smaller portions, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and regular exercise. Within nine months, the “Good Eats” star shed an astonishing 50 pounds.
“I thought whatever shape I’m going to be in, I better be in by the time I hit 50, because they say when you turn 50, you’re battling to just keep it,” says Alton, author of I’m Just Here for the Food. “I’m in better shape than I was when I was 20.”
Brown, who looks amazing these days, runs, boxes and lifts weights at least three days a week. He also follows several hard-and-fast dieting rules: No processed foods. No “diet” anything. No soda, and no fast food.
Alton says it’s important to not let himself get ravenous, because that leads to binge-eating. “Never sit down to a meal really hungry,” he says. “Because if you sit down really hungry, by the time your brain even realizes you’ve eaten, you’ve cleared a plate twice the size of what you needed.”
He also never eats Girl Scout cookies or milk, over which he has no will power. “I can’t have one [cookie],” Brown confesses. “If you break the tube, you eat the tube. I cook with milk, I use milk in a lot of ways, but I don’t drink milk because it made me eat Girl Scout cookies.”
While Alton prepares healthy dinners for his wife and 13-year-old daughter, if he has eaten too much that day, he simply cooks the food but doesn’t eat it.
Brown, who juggles a hectic work schedule with a busy family life, says most Americans can make some time to cook a healthy meal once a day. While Brown sympathizes with single parents working three jobs who simply don’t have time to cook, he points out that most Americans don’t fall into that category.
“For most people, being busy is an excuse,” says Brown, author of Good Eats 3. “Yeah, cooking takes time, but very rarely do I see a life that there wasn’t time that could have been freed up for that.
“We still as a culture sit on our butts three hours a day watching television. We still play games on our computer. We read about food on the Internet, so how about cooking some?”