Conservative radio and TV commentator Sean Hannity, 52, known for telling government to cut the fat, has recently cut his own. In the last 18 months, the longtime Fox News host of “Hannity” shed 27 pounds and has achieved what he says is the best fitness of his life the old-fashioned way: diet and exercise — without any public assistance, thank you. His method: Eliminate most sugars and refined carbohydrates, and do a one-on-one mixed martial arts workout four days a week with a trainer. Hannity says his newfound hard body has not softened his political views — even regarding the link between childhood obesity and cuts to physical education programs.
Why did you decide to shape up?
In the fall of 2012, while playing golf, a friend took a picture of me. It was hideous — I looked four months pregnant. I had man boobs. I just said, “What am I doing to myself, letting myself go this way?” Around Christmas, I started my diet — Atkins, the low-carb, no-sugar diet. Within a week I’d lost 6 or 7 pounds. In six weeks, I went from 207 to 180, which I am now.
Now, I might go away for a weekend and eat anything I want, and the weight goes right back on. So I go right back to high-protein/low-carb — and it works every time.
And what about exercise?
I do three or four days a week, an eclectic mix of styles — kick boxing, Japanese jujitsu, submission, grappling, Filipino martial arts, blade and firearms training. My instructor, who has multiple black belts and trains military and law enforcement people, calls it “street martial arts.” It’s one nonstop hour of competitive intensity. At the end I can barely keep my arms up. Many days, I’m black and blue.
Besides giving me more energy, confidence and strength, I really like the self-defense aspect. My trainer will attack me, try and put me down, and I’ll grapple and throw him. Take any scenario: Come up to me from behind, put me in a chokehold, put a gun to my head, threaten me with a knife, and I know how to get out of it.
You make it sound like you get threats.
Yes, I’ve had threats. I’ve carried a firearm most of my adult life. I’ve always tried to avoid confrontation, but I’ve been confronted by people who don’t like me. Look, for three hours on radio and one hour on TV, I’m giving strong political opinions. ... But it’s nice to know that if something happens, I can handle myself.
You seem to love the benefits exercise has given you, but what about for our kids? There’s been massive cuts in funding for P.E. classes. Would you be for refunding it?
We can’t even teach our kids to read, write and do math on a competent level. I went to Catholic school. My physical education consisted of one hour a week in the basement of a convent throwing balls around. That was gym. If we were lucky we got to go out and play softball.
Your lifestyle is not going to be up to a school. At some point, you have to make decisions for yourself in life. And you can blame the school system, blame the government, blame your parents. At the end of the day, if you have any level of common sense, you can’t eat McDonald’s four times a day.
I don’t have a problem where the first lady wants to encourage kids to work out, get fit. Fine, that raises awareness. But the bottom line here is: I think people know when they are not eating healthy. People know that it’s better to eat a salad with chicken rather than five pieces of pizza for lunch. That goes for kids too.
Yeah, but ... they’re kids.
When I was a kid, delivering papers when I was 8 years old, my father gave me a lunch bag with two pieces of meat in two pieces of Wonder bread. Every day I’d go to school, throw it in the garbage and I’d go buy Yodels, and cupcakes and candy. That was my lunch every day. And you know what? Eventually you realize that you can’t live on candy.