How did Bill Clinton lose so much weight? If you’re old enough to remember Bill Clinton from the 1990s, you may have been struck by the sight of him last week as he re-took the national stage during the Democratic National Convention. Whether you loved him, hated him, or had little opinion of him during his presidency, you have to admire his post-presidential determination to take control of his health by making drastic changes to his eating and exercise habits.
While his weight loss in not new – it began several years ago in response to a heart health scare and desire to slim down for daughter Chelsea’s wedding – what is remarkable is that he has maintained his healthier habits and kept the weight off.
For those of you who may not remember the Bill Clinton of the 1990s, his eating habits in those days were the stuff of legend. As a 1992 New York Times article put it, “From Sims Bar-B-Q to Juanita’s, from Doe’s Eat Place to Hungry’s Cafe, President-elect Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeno cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies.” His voracious appetite was even lampooned in a Saturday Night Live skit that became an instant classic.
It’s little wonder that he underwent two heart surgeries post-presidency!
I haven’t followed his career too closely since he left office, so after seeing his televised appearance last week, I began to wonder just what he had done to lose the weight and keep it off. A quick Google search revealed many details about the former president’s radical transformation from junk food junkie to mostly vegan. I was astounded by the monumental turnaround.
So just how did Bill Clinton lose so much weight?
Since undergoing heart surgery, he adopted a mostly plant-based diet, renouncing the high-calorie, high-fat fare of his younger days. In a 2010 CNN interview he said, “I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits. I drink a protein supplement every morning. No dairy. I drink almond milk mixed in with fruit and a protein powder, so I get the protein for the day when I start the day out.”
If this sounds like a fairly restrictive regimen, it is! And as he admits himself, it is to some extent an “experiment” as it is not yet know whether such a rigid diet is necessary to prevent further cardiovascular problems. Nonetheless, I admire his willingness and determination to stick with this healthier lifestyle.
What should we take from the Clinton’s weight loss success story? If you are currently in good health, but wishing to lose a few pounds, the good news is that weight loss does not usually demand such extreme changes. You can still indulge in the occasional (key word being “occasional”!) hamburger or fries, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re one of the lucky few who, like Bill Clinton, can make drastic changes and stick with them, I applaud your will power. But for everyone else, there are a few key “learnings” from the former-President’s success. First, he is a great example that permanent weight loss IS possible, no matter how disastrous your habits have been previously. Second, while you don’t have to go Clinton’s extremes, most of us could benefit from a more plant-based diet. Take gradual steps toward incorporating more plant foods in your meals and snacks. A good place to start is with Meatless Mondays.
At Appetite for Health, Julie and I encourage moderate changes. Those small steps will add up and you WILL lose weight, be healthier, and get more out of your life!