Al Sharpton has lost 176 pounds in the past four-and-a-half years--and he didn't have surgery as part of his weight loss plan.
"I actually lost more weight than I am!" the civil rights leader told People magazine recently.
The 60-year-old pastor lost 30 pounds back in 2001 as part of a hunger strike. He put that--and even more--back on during his bid for the presidency. It wound up being his daughter Ashley who convinced him to take off some serious weight.
"Around 2006, my youngest daughter Ashley poked me in the stomach and said, 'Dad, why are you so fat?' That kind of hurt my feelings. I grew up in civil rights and politics, so I'm pretty thick-skinned, but when your daughter says it, I started being conscious," Al Sharpton explained.
He started his weight loss regimen by avoiding red meats and starches. As he progressed, he became even stricter about what he ate.
"It's always the same salad: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, two or three [hard-boiled] eggs cut in and balsamic vinaigrette dressing," Sharpton says of his only real meal of the day. "My doctor said to me, 'You've got to have some carbs and you need protein,' so he put me on whole wheat toast."
Now Al Sharpton incorporates three slices of whole wheat toast into his breakfast and sometimes one at night as well. On weekends he adds a piece of fish in his attempt to adhere to his doctor's wish for more protein in his diet.
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"I think the first week, maybe week and a half, I would get hungry every now and then. But the key to it is determination," he says. He even admits to not missing much of anything he gave up eating.
"I was a fried chicken junkie," he said. "I used to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but after about three or four weeks, I didn't have a longing for that either."
Al Sharpton realized that when he added exercise to his diet, even more weight fell off. These days he walks on the treadmill, but only for 20 to 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
"I'm not trying to run the marathon, just tone up. [I work out] just to keep my blood flowing and to stay active. I didn't want to be flabby since I lost a lot of weight," he says. "The best part is the energy and the focus. I feel like I'm totally in charge of myself. And I've been able to get a very nice new wardrobe! I can wear a lot of stuff that I couldn't wear before."
For that reason alone, Al Sharpton believes that Saturday Night Live needs to find someone other than Kenan Thompson to play him on the late night comedy show skits.
"Kenan [Thompson] needs to lose weight, or they need to get somebody in shape to do me," Sharpton says. "I might break into the studio one night and do Kenan because Kenan is too fat to do Al Sharpton. Kenan is doing an outdated Al Sharpton!"
SNL? What can you and Kenan Thompson say about that?
Kudos to Al Sharpton on his 176-pound weight loss. He certainly sets a fine example for many Americans who need to shed a few pounds themselves.