Food for Thought
Chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and media personality Bobby Flay has turned his intense focus to a new project: Bobby Flay Fit, a seven-episode Web series in which he serves up recipes, workouts and tips based on his own experience and philosophy about healthy eating and fitness.
Launched by Food Network in January, the series has a timeless message about life balance to share with your clients and can only serve to reinforce principles you’re already evangelizing. All the episodes can be viewed in 21 minutes but could easily be sent one link at a time as an inspirational text or email reminder to your client base. The series explores topics such as moderation, motivation, variety, expecting more, discipline and support, with a final wrap-up that connects all the dots. Flay and friends, including guests chef Michael Symon and cookbook author Katie Lee, offer recipes, workouts and tips.
Sometimes your clients need to hear health information from another voice that backs up your own for the message to click. Flay’s streetwise delivery gives viewers a no-nonsense view of how to simplify the process of achieving balance and staying fit. He underscores that he’s not a nutritionist or a fitness professional. What he is is an insanely busy person whose job puts him at the epicenter of temptation to overconsume rich foods daily and to make time-crunch excuses for why he can’t exercise. Flay simply chooses not to give himself an out.
After stepping on a scale a few years ago and not liking what he saw, he changed his ways, dropping about 15 pounds. Not everyone has this man’s drive and Iron Chef will, but he makes viewers believe that if he can do it, they surely can. The message has credibility from an everyman “I’ve been there” perspective and could be a good addition to your trove of reminders and inspiring examples for clients.
IDEA’s editor in chief Sandy Todd Webster recently caught up with Bobby via email and asked him about the Web series and his interest in fitness. View all episodes of Bobby Flay Fit at FoodNetwork.com/fit.
Sandy Todd Webster (STW): It appears you’ve really put a lot of yourself into Bobby Flay Fit, including producing it. It seems like a real passion project. What germinated the idea for the series, and why did you opt for a Web format?
Bobby Flay (Flay): People ask me every single day how I manage to stay in shape. As a chef, I’m around food constantly, so I understand why people are curious. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s something I’ve chosen to make a priority in my life. We decided on a Web series because I wanted to do short pieces that were easy to watch. Health and fitness can get a little boring for the general public over a long period of time, so with Bobby Flay Fit we were trying to keep things fun while still being informative.
STW: How has the viewing public responded to the series? Is it having the impact you had hoped it would?
Flay: We’ve had a huge response to the series—it’s actually the number-one Web program in the history of Food Network. I think there’s been a growing interest in health and fitness recently, even in the food industry. I was already used to people asking me about my health and fitness habits, so this gives me an outlet to answer those questions.
STW: Overweight and obesity are literally killing us, yet Americans have a million excuses for not getting the job of self-care done. If you could urge them to change one or two habits based on your own experience, what would you say to them?
Flay: I would tell them to eat three-fourths of what they’d usually eat, every time they sit down for a meal. Also, to stop eating late at night. So many people eat dinner at 9:00 or 10:00 pm and then go to bed right after. Obviously this may be beyond your control if you’re out or at a dinner party, but for everyday dinners, I’d say try to eat early whenever possible.
STW: Which do you think is more important—food or exercise—and why?
Flay: Food and exercise are equally important in my book. They go hand in hand. It’s just as important to fuel your body as it is to burn calories.
STW: Has your own weight loss journey influenced your cooking style? If so, how?
Flay: I always eat and try to cook as healthy [a diet] as possible. One thing I don’t do is eliminate any food or food group; I just eat less of it and at the right times.
STW: How do you think a regular Food Network TV series like this would go over? Are there any plans in the works for such a show?
Flay: No set plans at the moment, but because of the success of the Web series, there is definitely talk of doing something for TV.
STW: What is your best advice to fitness professionals to help them keep inspiring their clients?
Flay: My best advice is to really send home the idea of moderation over elimination. If people eliminate things, they end up going back to them at some point—and usually with a vengeance—as opposed to just eating less of the things they really like.
STW: Any thoughts on bringing this type of inspiration and education to America’s youth? Many adults may be beyond help, while kids could still benefit greatly from the information you’ve packaged.
Flay: That’s a great question and a great idea that I’d love to look into more.
STW: What are your go-to information resources about health and fitness? Any favorite websites? Magazines? Blogs?
Flay: I honestly don’t really have any. I don’t think of health and fitness as a system that I have to read up on—it’s just an important part of my life, not a separate category.