Health & Fitness

3 weeks to a better body with Bob Harper's 'Jumpstart to Skinny'

FitnessPetsDiets and DietingHuman Interest

Bob Harper is known for his "no shortcuts" philosophy toward weight loss. So what's he doing with a new book touting a three-week diet called "Jumpstart to Skinny"?

"This is not a shortcut," Harper says. "Jumpstart to Skinny" is aimed at people who are considering crash dieting to look good for a particular date, be it a wedding or a high school reunion. And he says it's a prequel, if you will, to his popular health and fitness bible, "Skinny Rules."

There are no fad elements to "Jumpstart" — no surviving on grapefruit or cabbage soup until you can fit into your little black dress. It's a three-week regimen where you won't go hungry, and you might actually struggle to chomp down all the fiber-rich veggies that Harper prescribes. (It probably goes without saying there's absolutely no alcohol, or sugar, allowed.) There are also workouts you can do at home, mostly just using your own body weight.

We talked to the Crossfit devotee about all this and more, including why he gave up a largely vegetarian / vegan lifestyle and is back eating animal protein.

Why a three-week diet-and-fitness? Isn't that a shortcut?

I've always been a big fan of the long haul. But I had to really listen to those people who want to get ready for a special occasion, like a wedding or a reunion. I had to say "OK, I get it." I don't want people to do cleanses and juice fasts. They just lose weight and gain so much of it back. This is a really aggressive plan that will work, but you actually get to eat on this plan. In fact, a lot of people say 'How am I actually going to eat all of this in a day?' [After your big day], it's a nice easy transition into 'The Skinny Rules.' You go back into that more disciplined way of eating, but it's not as extreme. You're eating more calories.

The fitness component includes a lot of walking. That's not what people might expect after watching you dole out the punishment on "The Biggest Loser."

I want people to get up first thing in the morning and go for a low-intensity walk on an empty stomach. We're really revving up that metabolism, burning the calories. There's a time for going all out in the gym. But don't ever underestimate a good low-intensity walk for weight loss. It's a great way to burn calories and not stress the body. I think walking is one of the best exercises. It's cheap and easy, and it's great for people who lead sedentary lifestyles.

So how to stick with this long term, that's the tough part, right? Everyone can get motivated. How do you stay motivated?

You have to take it one day at a time. Figure out: What really motivated you? When you are doing things that are bettering you, that should be motivation in itself. That means I have so much more to give to the people in my life. Make a daily assessment of that. 'When I know I am making healthier choices, my brain is going to be more clear, I'm more dialed into the goals I have and the reasons behind them.' You gotta spend a couple of minutes every day thinking, 'This is why I'm doing this.'

You decided to incorporate animal protein back into your diet. Why? And for those of us who struggle with our consciences: Did you feel any guilt about it?

I found my performance was really lacking in the gym. I just felt better and I felt stronger. In the beginning, I was quietly eating my egg whites in the morning. Oh my God, I felt so bad. I just couldn't help it. I just couldn't hide it any more. It works for me. Of course, I am a huge proponent of eating as many green vegetables as you can and going meatless once in a while.

You embrace 'The 80 / 20 Rule' — eating healthy 80% of the time, and then cutting loose 20% of the time. What does that look like in your life?

When the weekend starts, I still want you want to live clean 80% of the time. If you let go all weekend [starting with Friday night], that's like living a 60 / 40 life, or worse. I get one day a week where I get to not think of anything and just do what I want. That's how I look at it. 'I'm eating wisely six days a week, then I get pizza!' When I get to have a 'free' meal, lately it's been pizza.

rene.lynch@latimes.com

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