September is National Childhood Obesity Month, and to kick it off, we met up with Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper at the 2012 U.S. Open to find out why he's partnered with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to help put a halt to the epidemic. We learned that they're building modified tennis courts with kid-sized equipment across the nation to encourage children to pick up the sport—and, equally as important, stick with it. Harper also told us what his least favorite exercise is, what he ate for dinner the night before, and how he thinks people are spending too much time in the gym!
SHAPE: Why USTA and childhood obesity?
BH: I've been working with Michelle Obama now on her "Let's Move!" initiative for a while. When I got the call that we were going to be working with the USTA and were going to be dealing with children and childhood obesity, I was like, of course. And I got on a plane and flew across the country to be here. This is what I want to talk about.
SHAPE: What does a workout week look like for you?
BH: I'm a CrossFit guy. I'm doing CrossFit five times a week. People are working out longer than they need to. It's much more effective to work out to your limit for a shorter amount of time. Especially when you're on the go like I'm on the go. You can get in a 20-minute workout, and it can be the hardest 20 minutes of your life.
SHAPE: What is your favorite exercise and why?
BH: I'm very into Olympic lifting. Doing snatches and clean and jerks is such a physical activity where it requires not only your whole body, but your mind, too. I have transformed my body doing that. It's been the best thing in the world.
SHAPE: What's your least favorite exercise, but you do it anyway?
BH: I used to be such a runner, and now I hate it! I make myself do it, but I have to do it in short spurts. If I have to run anything over 1,600 meters, I'm like, "Awwww, really?!"
SHAPE: What do you always eat throughout the week?
BH: I make sure my food is my medicine, and I'm a creature of habit. I make sure every single time I eat it's going to be some combination of protein, carbs, and fat. I think it's really important to get those macronutrients all together because when you do that, your body is just going to be more satisfied and satiated. I'm always going to have eggs, oatmeal, and fruit for breakfast, and last night for dinner I had a piece of beef with some Brussels sprouts, and I had olive oil in my dressing for my fat.
SHAPE: How do you jump-start weight loss?
BH: Never underestimate pushing that gas pedal all the way down in your physical activity. I think that people get stuck in a rut. They just do the exact same workouts, and you've really got to put a shock to your system.
SHAPE: What about the "ah-ha" moment—what makes that happen for your contestants?
BH: It's different for everyone. I had a contestant last season that always knew he was overweight, but he never really felt he was until he started really getting into working out. It was one of those wake up calls, like, "Oh my God, now I know what it feels like to feel overweight, and I never want to feel that way again."