When it’s time for their weekly food shopping trip, many people treat it like a chore. They run in, grab whatever they need, and get out. Not fitness guru and heart attack survivor Bob Harper. “I play this game where I go to the grocery store and just get every vegetable I can find; things that I would normally get and things that I have never gotten before,” says Harper.
Bob Harper had a near-fatal heart attack on February 12, 2017. Since then, he’s made some serious changes and discoveries about how he lives his life—especially when it comes to his post-heart attack diet. “I used to be very much a high-protein, high-fat type diet, and now there’s a lot more balance. I want to make sure that I have protein, fat, carbs, and vegetables every single time I eat,” says Harper.
After his grocery store scavenger hunts, Harper uses his beloved cast iron skillet to cook his veggie finds in a new, unconventional way: with vegetable broth instead of olive oil. “It sounds really weird. I’ve talked to other chef friends of mine and they’re like, ‘oh that’s really interesting that you’re doing that’—it reduces the fat so much, but also creates so much flavor,” he says.
Harper’s post-heart attack diet is mostly plant-based and inspired by the heart-healthy Mediterranean way of eating—colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and monounsaturated fats like nuts and avocado. (Here’s more info on how to make any meal more Mediterranean.) “Typical breakfast I’ll have a non-fat greek yogurt with some berries. I get the non-fat greek yogurt because I want to add in my fat and use peanut butter. Anytime I can add peanut butter into anything, I’m going to do it,” says Harper.
After recovering from his heart attack and making some profound changes to his already-healthy lifestyle, the former The Biggest Loser trainer decided to put his healthy living influence to good use. Harper has teamed up with the awareness and advocacy cause Survivors Have Heart (supported by AstraZeneca), which helps educate other heart attack survivors on the importance of working with their healthcare provider, and staying committed to treatment and the lifestyle plan prescribed by their doctor.
“I do feel healthier,” says Harper, “It’s been a crazy year coming up on my one year anniversary—I’ve gone through a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Do I feel like I’ve gotten back to the way I used to? No I don’t feel that way, but that’s OK. You’re never gonna be the same, but you can still be a better version of yourself.”