Reverend Al Sharpton has lost 167 pounds during the past four years, thanks largely to a vegan diet and daily cardio workouts.
Sharpton, who once tipped the scales at 305 pounds, now weighs 138 pounds after giving up meat and adopting an active lifestyle.
“I gave up meat, I started watching my diet,’’ Sharpton, 58, told the Today Show Oct. 9. “I work out.’’
Sharpton also joked to host Matt Lauer that he’s motivated to stay in shape because Lauer is so fit. “I get up every morning and watch you Matt, and I say, ‘I want to look like that,’ ” said Sharpton.
Rev. Al, who has been overweight all his life, lost 30 pounds in 2001 during a hunger strike in Vieques, Puerto Rico, while serving jail time for protesting the U.S. Navy bombing exercises.
His weight fluctuated dramatically until 2009, when he adopted a vegan diet on the suggestion of former president Bill Clinton, who lost 30 pounds after switching to a mostly-vegan diet. Clinton, now 67, says he has never felt better (see video).
Sharpton also makes working out a part of his daily routine. “You live seven days a week, that means you should exercise seven days a week,” he said.
Rev. Al said it was important for him to get healthy so he could be a positive role model for his community. “You can’t address our issues and demand social justices when you are a prisoner in your own body,” he said. “How do you pastor when they are in the church cafeteria frying? We can’t preach community control when we aren’t practicing self-control.”
In addition to making him physically healthier, Sharpton said his vegan diet has made him more emotionally resilient.
“A vegetarian diet has a way of absorbing the stress and gives you greater endurance,” he said. “I don’t eat many starches or [refined] sugars. I just love greens and grains. I eat a lot of salad and fruits. I feel like a new, improved me.”