Fitness comes in all shapes, sizes and ages.
Before hitting the airwaves, Dobbs was a football-playing farm boy who never had to worry about his weight because he was always on the move. But later, career demands derailed both his exercise regimen and his diet. With the help of his wife, he took control again.
Growing up, what kept you active?
I worked all the time in hayfields and bean fields and lifting sacks of potatoes from an early age.
I lived both in Texas and Idaho, and we were also always outdoors hunting and fishing. It was a very active time for kids. You were always outside either for work or for fun.
I ended up playing football in high school because all my buddies did. I played offensive tackle and defensive end. I played for a while in college and I got injured. I had a knee blown out, and that was the end of it. Football was strenuous, but it also got me into lifting weights, and a lot of people didn’t do that back then, and I kept doing it off and on throughout my life.
Tell me about your weight issues as an adult.
There were two periods when I lost control of my weight: when I was part of the team building CNN in 1980, and the other time was building the CNN financial network in the late ’90s. In both instances I became so consumed with everything I was doing, I rationalized that I didn’t have time to exercise and my weight really ballooned up. My life has been a course of gaining weight and fighting it off.
But as Jimmy Buffet would say, part of it is my own damn fault. I was watching myself expand on screen and then try to get it back. The TV adds 10 pounds, and I was dealing with bigger numbers than that. Part of the problem was that you’re consumed with what you’re working on and you don’t have time for a decent meal. The next thing you know you’re eating a cheeseburger at 11 at night. The result is pretty obvious in a matter of weeks. Diet is critically important.
How have you motivated yourself to work out and eat healthfully since then?
I’ve been managing my weight pretty well for the last five years. At some point you feel sluggish and you realize it’s been weeks that you’ve done anything. And then those weeks turn into a couple of months because going outside in the winter is not much fun. There weren’t any health issues. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of my health, and there was nothing on that front to be scared of. Just looking in the mirror was scary enough.
So what are you doing for workouts these days?
I keep some weights in my office under the desk, plus I have an exercise room at the house that includes a bunch of free weights and a bench, plus a weightlifting machine and a treadmill. Sometimes I use the punching bag too.
My wife is very active too, and we live on a farm, so there is always an opportunity to be doing something. My wife is my tennis partner, and I swim. And I hike all around the farm. I walk to the barns and check the horses.
You stressed diet being critical. How did that change?
The changes were what my wife decided to make. With four kids, we all just had one diet. A while ago my wife [started to] water whole milk down to skim milk, and we were completely unaware of it. We hadn’t noticed a change at all.
We got off of having red meat for every dinner to just a couple of times a week. She didn’t make an announcement or fanfare. By the time she got through with me, I was eating the way people were supposed to, but I had nothing to do with it. She avoided the argument and just did it. She helps keep me on track.
I feel very fortunate to have my health. I’m a guy who really enjoys physical activity. I’m very fortunate to be able to do the things I like to do with physical activity without any aches or pains or ailments. And I want to keep doing it as long as my good fortune holds.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Times