Health

Fitness Diary: Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts

He has three stents in his heart and works 12-hour days. How does he balance it all?

Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts. Photograph courtesy of Fox News.

Welcome to Busy Bodies, where we ask busy Washingtonians how they balance health and fitness while working crazy hours, raising a family, and meeting the demands of the daily hustle. Know someone who’s killing the fitness game while getting it done (maybe it’s you)? Email [email protected]washingtonian.com

John Roberts is the chief White House correspondent for Fox News, which, under normal circumstances, is a busy job. It’s a very busy job during the pandemic: The 63-year-old McLean resident often finds himself working 12-hour days, which leaves little time for hobbies or exercise during the week.

But, with three stents in his heart due to blocked arteries Roberts attributes to years of smoking, the journalist makes it a priority to eat well and sweat when he can. He bikes, plays golf, and wake boards with his family on the weekends. Sadly, it seems like his glory days as an athlete are behind him, though: “Winning the hockey championship when I was 11 years-old was the pinnacle of my athletic career,” he says. “It’s been all downhill from there.”

Roberts golfing. Photograph courtesy of John Roberts.

Here’s how Roberts gets it done:

“I typically get up at about 6 AM and leave for work at about 7 AM. I’ll bring a couple of low-sugar yogurt cups with me and a healthy lunch (typically leftovers from dinner the night before). I’ll usually stop in at the Starbucks next to my garage on Pennsylvania Avenue and grab a breakfast item. The spinach-feta wrap is my go-to choice. It fills me up–though with fewer than 300 calories. For dinner, we eat a lot of chicken or fish. As I have three stents in my heart, we try to eat low-fat meals and go easy on the salt.

“I usually get in [to work] at about 7:30 AM and stay until 7 PM. I joke that in my business, a half-day is 12 hours long. I try as often as possible to work five days a week so I can spend the weekends with the family. We have 9-year-old twins who were only 4 years-old last week. Time goes so fast, there is not a minute to lose.

“My particular business puts a premium on looks, so keeping fit and trim is almost part of the job. I also don’t like how I feel if I put on a few pounds. My ‘accountability buddy’ is my wife Kyra [Phillips, an ABC News correspondent], who is only too happy to shame me about my ‘pot’ if I get a little out of control. She bought me a Peloton a couple of years ago, but I have to be honest in saying that it hasn’t been getting as much use as it should.

“I have always been a sports enthusiast and like staying in relatively decent shape. I still enjoy things I did as a kid—cycling, tennis, golf (I like to walk), hiking, water- and snow-skiing. Staying healthy and fit is important to me on a number of levels. I like how I feel when my clothes don’t feel like I am bursting out of them. I also have a lot more energy. And it allows me to impart good life lessons to our twins. If I was a couch potato who slammed junk food all the time, I wouldn’t have much moral high ground to hammer them on the importance of eating healthy foods. I’m also a zealot with the twins about never picking up a cigarette. Smoking earlier in my life is why I have three pieces of stainless steel in my heart.

Roberts waterskiing. Photograph courtesy of John Roberts.

“I have never been a runner—which frustrates me to no end. My wife can run circles around me. It’s embarrassing when we go for a run and she has to double back to catch up to me. I can smoke her on a bicycle, though. The heart thing is a worry, as well. I’ve got it in check with some lifestyle changes and a new injectable cholesterol-lowering medicine that is a miracle drug.

“The virus has impacted my ability to exercise, though. As we have restricted the number of people who can be in our White House booth, I am working longer hours, which leaves less time for exercise. So I always try to be active on the weekend. It’s not enough though, so I need to do better. I’m also on my butt for much of my workday. Sitting is the new smoking—and there is no room for a standing desk [in the booth].

“I really have two priorities in life: family and work to keep the family housed and fed. Don’t get me wrong—I love my job, and every day tests my ability to rise to the challenge. But family is the most important thing, and literally every moment that is not consumed covering the White House is dedicated to home and family. There is nothing I do on my own in my free time. The beauty of it is that I can do so many of the things that I love with my family. Kyra is a great golfer, and the kids love it, too. We all take long bike rides together. This past summer, I taught the twins how to wakeboard, so we can all have fun on the water. We are very outdoorsy, which keeps us all in good shape. And we motivate each other every day to be better.”

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.