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Losing Pounds, Saving Your Life

Imagine yourself with a terminal disease that you could control - and even cure - all on your own.

Two years ago, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was obese, and well on his way to an early grave. But when Early Showco-anchor Harry Smith saw him last week he was slim, healthy, and ready to explain how he saved his own life.

He was - no pun intended - the biggest man in Arkansas politics.

After a lifetime of careless eating and an aversion to exercise, Gov. Mike Huckabee was dangerously overweight.

"I was in that shape because I liked it. I liked fried foods," says Huckabee. "I liked gravy poured on top of a big glob of mashed potatoes, I liked biscuits a lot, and a lot of them. I liked going to the state fair and having a fried Twinkie. They were my choices. They were bad choices."

And those choices were killing him - slowly. His weight topped 280 pound; he was diagnosed with type-two diabetes. And his family came to grips with his mortality.

First lady Janet Huckabee recalls, "We knew he would probably die of a heart attack, we just didn't know when."

Huckabee jokingly recalls standing on a coin-operated scale at the airport - and the fortune saying "one of you are going to have to get off."

But 15 months ago, Huckabee took a hard look at himself, and decided that he wanted to live.

At 5 a.m., the old Mike Huckabee would be asleep inside the governor's mansion - but the new Mike Huckabee is up and running around it.

He does 3 to 4 miles in around 30 minutes, seven days a week. And that's only part of the new lifestyle.

His new diet is simple, and very specific.

He doesn't eat sugar, and he avoids processed food, bread and potatoes. He tries to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat.

Much of politics is attending breakfasts and banquets, where Huckabee has no control of the menu. So he now brings a cooler with him, and tells his hosts that he is not going to eat before he speaks.

It may seem extreme, but the results are hard to argue with. In 15 months, his pants size has gone from 50 to 35. Under his doctor's care, he's dropped more than 100 pounds. And for the first time in years, he's truly healthy. His diabetes and heart problems are gone.

Mike Huckabee's path to fitness isn't especially easy. But it is simple.

He says, "The truth is if you really want to get healthy, you have to cut the number of calories coming in. You have to burn calories through physical exercise. That's how you get to good health. There is no magic pill. Believe me, if there was, I would have already found it, I'd be using it and I'd be talking about it."

"Frank Burles, the University of Arkansas athletic director, told me something months ago that really helped me," Huckabee recalls. "He said, 'Governor, nothing tastes as good as it feels to be thin.'"

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