In a phone interview with Fox News Digital on Saturday, Mike Pompeo revealed that he lost in excess of 90lb (41kg) over the past six months after making wholesale lifestyle changes following his exit from the Trump administration last year. The interview came after photos of a slimmed-down Pompeo emerged over the weekend, renewing speculation that the former secretary of state is seriously considering a 2024 presidential run.
Pompeo – whose diminished profile in his regular Fox News appearances was not lost on the channel’s dedicated viewers – went out of his way to point out that he lost the weight himself, through self-guided workouts and more disciplined dietary habits and not with surgery or help from any fitness professionals.
There’s certainly no denying Pompeo’s physical transformation. But his claims that he lost the weight through minor diet and exercise changes have created controversy among nutritionists and fitness industry professionals – none of whom believe such dramatic weight loss would be possible without major life changes. “Ninety [pounds] in six [months] is unbelievable,” one fitness expert alleged in the Kansas City Star, “especially for his age.”
The 58-year-old claimed he lost the weight because he “stopped eating carbs to a large extent”, and “tried to eat smaller portions”.
Pompeo says he built a gym in the basement of his home and outfitted it with some dumbbells and an elliptical machine. “I tried to get down there five, six times a week and stay at it for a half-hour or so,” he told the Post. “And that was nothing scientific. There was no trainer, there was no dietician. It was just me.”
Away from the job he says he now opts for healthier options like egg whites and turkey bacon instead of pumpkin pancakes during family trips to Ihop. Pompeo insists he’s paring down for his health, not a presidential run.
But unlike the ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie (who shed 100lb in a year after Lap-Band surgery) or the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, (who flaunts his vegan diet), Pompeo – in his two interviews on the subject – seems intent on making the point that his fitness journey was the product of good ol’ fashion manly-man bootstrapping.
There’d be little reason to doubt Pompeo if he weren’t also a historically unreliable narrator who has misled the public on everything from his administration’s support of the US’s controversial Afghan exit strategy to the Saudi government’s role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to the overly lavish gifts he received from foreign dignitaries.
Not only is he being cagey about his own weight loss, but he’s making his results sound attainable. “Now from a stress standpoint, he no longer has to work for Trump, so that may be something that allows him access to a helluva lot less stress so he doesn’t keep weight on because of that,” said Milo Bryant, a 30-year fitness veteran and author of the forthcoming book Unstoppable After 40, who’s never had a client come close to Pompeo’s alleged fat burn rate.
Pompeo isn’t the first politician to pimp their fitness. George HW Bush, a passionate runner, made regular use of an Air Force One treadmill during long international flights. Bill Clinton turned to street jogging after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. Mike Huckabee moved to address his health after a chair collapsed under him in a cabinet meeting and he received a type-2 diabetes diagnosis. The erstwhile Republican presidential candidate lost 100lb, but unlike Pompeo acknowledged it was through a drastic diet change and long-distance running.
“I would love to know the totality of what [Pompeo] did,” said Bryant. “For someone to lose 90 pounds in six months, you’re talking 15 pounds a month on average. No research shows it’s healthy to lose two and four pounds per week. Four times four is 16 pounds. It’s possible that it could happen, but I don’t see it happening by only working out 30 minutes a day.”