Reverend Al Sharpton is making news for something other than his political and religious beliefs this morning. The infamously outspoken reverend appeared as a moderator for the election last night on MSNBC looking much slimmer than his former self. Once tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds, Sharpton is now well below the 200-pound mark and credits his dramatic transformation primarily to a vegetarian diet.
Sharpton is no newcomer to the vegetarian scene. He began appearing on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as early as 2006 to raise awareness about the maltreatment of chickens, specifically within the KFC corporation.
That same year Sharpton was awarded the PETA Humanitarian Award. During his acceptance speech at the New York City gala, he shed more light on his clean eating habits.
“Avoiding meat is the way to eat for anyone with a highly-charged life,” he said. “A vegetarian diet has a way of absorbing the stress and gives you greater endurance. 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.”
Sharpton appeared on the Wendy Williams show in October 2011, where he shared that he forgoes meat altogether with the exception of fish once or twice a week. He also touted his new-found appreciation for fruit and vegetables, which now make up a great majority of his diet.
It seems Sharpton’s dietary changes have paid off big time. As of late last year the reverend speculated that he was down to 180 or 185 pounds – a considerable difference from his heaviest weight of 305 pounds. It’s even been rumored that Sharpton is now resting at a much slimmer 167 pounds, which is a huge change for a man who used to eat chicken three times a day.
These days Sharpton hits the gym at 6 a.m. most mornings for a rigorous workout that typically includes a 10 minute bike ride and a 30 minute run. He also opts for salads, leans proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay full and forgoes late-night eating to stay trim.
Fellow prominent figure in the African American community, Chaka Khan, joined Sharpton at the BET Awards this summer also looking much slimmer after a 60-plus pound weight loss. The two are now being viewed as an inspiration among those trying to lose weight and lead healthier lives. During an appearance on MSNBC’s Politics Nation, Sharpton shared that he hopes his transformation is one that specifically motivates the African American community.
This statement was in part motivated by the 2009 statistic from the National Stroke Association that reported an estimated 63 percent of all African American men and 77 percent of all African American women are obese.
In light of the upcoming holiday season, a message that Sharpton is still adamant to share is the one of moderation. “You should not celebrate being reckless. You are with your family, the people you love, so why celebrate in a way that could take you away from them?” he said. “Celebrate in a way that shows you are thankful for another year of life and plan to see another.”
Among Sharpton’s many weight loss inspirations is fellow newscaster on MSNBC’s Cup of Joe, Joe Scarborough. In a 2011 write up in the Wall Street Journal, the reverend noted Scarborough as a major motivator for his weight loss, but not on account of his superior health. Instead, Sharpton says Scarborough gets him ‘all fired up’ on political issues, which gives him fuel for his workouts when he’s on the bike or the treadmill in the morning watching Cup of Joe. Sharpton admits that coming up with counter arguments to Scarborough’s conservative ones makes for great fighting material, which has had a positive effect on his workouts.
Whether this is a joking matter or not, we’re just thrilled to see Sharpton taking charge of his own health and inspiring others to do the same in the process.
top image via Getty Images; bottom image via Wall Street Journal