How Sky News host plans to shed excess kilos
Juggling a bumper schedule working at radio station 2GB and on TV channel Sky News with no days off - there's nothing broadcaster Chris Smith loved more than coming home to relax in front of the television and enjoying pizza or bingeing on blocks of cheese.
It was the perfect companion to watching late night sport and an easy way to unwind after the day's work.
But when his five-year-old son Gus started pointing at Smith's belly proclaiming, "Fat belly!", the talkback host started to think about the impact of his food and exercise habits.
"I had just gone through the biggest work schedule I've ever had, and I got big. Over eight weeks of that period there were jackets I couldn't get into, shirts I couldn't fit into," he says.
"My little boy started telling me in November, 'Look at that big, fat belly, Daddy'. It was a joke in the beginning, but it was part of this guilt trip. I'm thinking to myself 'I'm not going to be around too long if I keep this up'."
Despite being married to dietitian Susie Burrell, Smith says he resisted falling for her healthy eating hacks for most of their 8 ½-year relationship as a way of exercising his journalistic rebellion.
But spurred on by his twin boys, Gus and Harry, who are getting more active by the day and determined to fit into those slick office shirts again - he decided to relinquish control to Burrell's expertise.
"He'll be in a frenzy all morning with work and just grab coffees, and then get to after his shift and he'll just be so hungry that he will eat everything in sight," Burrell says of Smith.
"Dinners aren't usually (the problem), it's what happened late at night."
Burrell says the key to tackling Smith's goal of losing 10kg in the next three months is structured eating, with healthy shakes, calorie conscious frozen meals and alcohol-free days on the menu.
"You can find a great range of health, calorie-controlled meals at all major supermarkets … (we will) also be having some strategies to control that night eating."
She adds that many Australians, like Smith, who got into the habit of late-night snacking struggle with their weight because the body is programmed to store food eaten late at night.
"If you always eat sweet, fat food at night and then you stop, the brain will seek it out," she says.
But despite her lengthy tenure as a dietitian, Burrell admits she can sometimes sabotage Smith's health kick by buying him the foods he loves.
"I can sometimes be a saboteur because I buy them for him because I try and do nice things and he loves it. I've got to stop buying because the biggest predictor of food intake is availability. You'll eat double the M & Ms when you see them," she says.
During the interview, Smith playfully points out that his partner has little faith in his ability to lose the weight and while Burrell agrees she has her hesitations, she is determined to keep him in check for the sake of her growing sons.
"They are really active and I'm really active. I want Chris to feel fit enough and healthy enough that if the boys want to go mountain bike riding, he can do it," she says. "I want him to be alive. He's late 50s, so you want to make sure he's keeping healthy and not putting himself at risk of heart disease or some type of cancer."
But Smith says that while his current 104kg is the biggest he's ever been, he tackled a similar weight spike when his older two children were born.
"My older kids, when they were about five, I did the same thing and it worked. I bought a bike, and they were able to get on their bikes and I lost the weight," he says.
"Susie said 'you won't do it' and she challenged me to do it basically. I've got some time off coming soon as I plan to get myself a bike again. I've got the motivation now."
Along the journey to losing weight, the 58-year-old has picked up a new gym membership and is planning on having more alcohol-free days in his roster.
"I've got to get rid of all the things I love. The blocks of cheeses at night have to go. The Thursday and Friday night pizzas have to go," he says.
"Through that lockdown period, we had a lot of time to think as opposed to socialising. We had a lot of sit-down time to think about what we wanted.
"One of the things I thought about was 'When am I going to lose the weight that I've wanted to lose for 40 years?'. It's time."
And the veteran journalist is certain he will succeed in his goals - showing no qualms in being photographed by SmartDaily with his current heavier waistline, because he's certain "it'll all be gone". "I want the photos to show the difference," he says.
And Burrell will be there along the way, guiding and prodding the shock-jock when needed.
"When I look at how much he spends on food outside of home, it's hundreds and hundreds of dollars. There is no health choice at Maccas. So, it's those healthy habits we have to build," she says.
The pair will be documenting their progress with SmartDaily over the next few months.
"He usually does the opposite of whatever I tell him to do until he reaches a point where he really wants to (make a change)," Burrell says.
Originally published as How Sky News host plans to shed excess kilos