‘Today Show’: Al Roker Explains the Wrong Way to Tell Someone They’re Overweight
It’s never easy telling someone who is overweight, especially someone you love, the difficult truth about their weight.
Someone who has been on the receiving end of that kind of advice is Today show weather forecaster, Al Roker, and he offers tips to avoid communicating your concern in a way that you might regret later.
Roker felt pressure from his father to drop weight
The 65-year-old shared in his weight loss memoir Never Goin’ Back his awkward, final, conversation with his father – about his weight.
Roker’s father was dying of lung cancer in 2001 and summoned all his strength from his bed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to convey what he saw as a serious issue in his son’s life.
” ‘Look, we both know that I’m not going to be here to help you raise my grandkids,’ ” Roker recalled his father saying, ” ‘so that means it is up to you to make sure you will be there for your kids.’ “
Roker writes that he knew where the conversation was headed: in the same direction that his father had been going in for years now, reminding him, pleading with him, to lose the weight.
” ‘Promise me that you are going to lose the weight,’ ” Roker recalls his father saying as he died. “I tried to play it off like it was no big deal. ‘Who me? I’m fine! Don’t worry about me, Dad.’ “
” ‘No, not good enough,’ ” his father persisted. ” ‘I want you to swear to God that you’re going to lose the weight.’ “
Roker’s father died shortly after that conversation and it still would be years until the morning show personality would get serious about his health.
And Al Roker felt pressure from his wife to get fit
As Roker tells it in his book, his wife, Deborah Roberts, an ABC News correspondent, considered food “a third person in our marriage.”
He says in his memoir that her criticism felt omnipresent, bringing him to hide food from her and lie about how much he’d eaten on any given day.
“I resented her criticism,” Roker writes, “even if she didn’t say a word. A glance is all it took to annoy me. Instead of telling Deborah how that raised eyebrow made me feel, I rebelled by eating twice as much just to get back at her. It wasn’t very smart because the only person I was truly hurting was me.”
In a way, the couple, married twenty-five years, could not communicate with one another about their true feelings regarding Roker’s weight. According to the Queens native, if they had, it could have led to less hurt feelings and resentment.
“Deborah understood that saying something to me about whatever I was eating wasn’t the right thing to do,” Roker said, “and yet she felt like if she kept quiet, she’d come across as though she didn’t care about me. . . Of course, that was nothing but a set up for failure because it wasn’t her battle, it was mine. I had to take responsibility for my actions.”
Perhaps there was no right way for Roker’s father or wife to have said what they needed to say. But it was something the meteorologist has acknowledged wouldn’t have worked, no matter what was said, until he took it upon himself to be ready and do the work necessary to drop the weight.
He finally took care of his weight for himself
Al Roker chose to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2002. It was a textbook-perfect surgery, with no complications. He’s lost over 100 pounds and, although he’s experienced a hiccup or two here or there in terms of slaying the ravenous junk food beast, he writes that it is a daily choice he makes to choose wellness and life for himself.
“I now have a new mindset that makes it a lot harder for me to let myself go,” he says. “Once you make up your mind that living healthy is something you’re doing for yourself and you alone, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says or does. You will stay with your program come hell or high water.”