Global B.C.’s Morning News anchor sheds the pounds
Credit: Robert Karpa

Global B.C.’s Morning News anchor sheds the pounds

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Steve Darling is not ill.

Concerned viewers, alarmed at the Morning News anchor’s dramatic weight loss in recent months, have been writing him to inquire: “Is everything OK? Are you sick?” Even his own mother, apparently “staggered” at the change in her only son, voiced similar worries.

Darling is happy to report that he’s just fine. Great, even.

And, no: his doctor didn’t order him to lose weight; his wife didn’t read him the riot act; and he wasn’t having a midlife crisis. In fact, it was a combination of factors that inspired Darling to embark on his 65-lb. weight loss.

“I’ve battled weight my whole life,” the six-foot-four broadcaster admits. “When you’re as tall as I am, that’s just the way it is. I lead a very busy life, with my job, two kids and a wife; and last year I did 63 charity events, so it’s hard to find time within that to care for yourself. I kind of got lost.”

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His Inspiration
Credit: Robert Karpa

His Inspiration

Everything changed in January, when Darling decided to get serious about improving his health habits. It was a commitment entrenched, unfortunately, in personal tragedy. “We have a friend whose husband was killed in a workplace accident and that kind of thing causes you to reevaluate your own life,” he says. “I just felt like it was the right time to do this.”

And as much as people have expressed concern about his weight loss, even more of them have been exclaiming: “OMG! What did you do? And how did you do it?!”

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How He Did It
Credit: Robert Karpa

How He Did It

Three words: Dr. Allana Polo. A naturopathic physician and owner of Polo Health + Longevity Centre in New Westminster, she guided Darling on a customized Pound-a-Day diet (see slide 7) that, for the first five weeks, required him to consume only 850 calories per day. To say that’s restrictive is an understatement, considering the recommended daily requirement for adult men is between 2,350 to 2,900 calories.

For many a guy, 850 calories is little more than lunch on the go — roughly the equivalent of a McDonald’s quarter-pounder with large fries or two slices of Pizza Hut’s meat-lover’s special. Scarier still, it’s also about 300 calories less than a large bag of unbuttered movie-theatre popcorn.

No wonder Darling admits: “I had a lot of fears going into it. I thought there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this.”

Surprisingly, Darling didn’t even feel all that deprived on his new restrictive diet. “You can actually squeeze a lot of food into 850 calories,” he swears. “It’s easier than you think.”

Staying on Track
Credit: Robert Karpa

Staying on Track

It also helped that his wife Jen joined him on the journey and, in the process, ended up losing 35 lbs. herself. Says Darling: “I’m a competitive person, so the fact that my wife and I were doing it together turned it into a fun game.”

He didn’t even balk at the two-phase program’s other requirements either, such as the weekly B12 injections or the daily dose of HCG, which he took each morning in the form of a dissolvable lozenge. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, also known as the pregnancy hormone, fires up the metabolism to accelerate fat burning. It also helps to quell hunger.

“To be honest, I don’t really understand the science behind it,” Darling says. “My mind kind of glazes over when it comes to that sort of thing. I know there’s some controversy around the program, and I don’t know if it’d work for everyone — I want to be clear on that — but I do know that it works for me.”

Reaping the Rewards
Credit: Robert Karpa

Reaping the Rewards

If the proof is in the proverbial pudding, Darling, a long-time recreational athlete whose off-camera hours are often spent on the golf course or soccer field, has good news on that front: “I’ve always been a high-energy person, but now I have even more energy. I can get to the 16th, 17th or 18th hole now and not feel tired.”

His improved health is reflected in his latest medical checkups too. “My doctor is happy. My blood pressure used to be a little high but now everything is within the perfect range,” he reports proudly.

Still, one of the biggest thrills for the anchor was this: “I’ve had to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes because everything’s too big for me now. It’s a good problem to have! I was looking at suits the other day and the salesman told me I need to try on the slim-fit size. I said, ‘I’ve never been a slim-fit in my life!’ And the clerk said, ‘Well, you are now!’”

You Are What You Eat
Credit: Robert Karpa

You Are What You Eat

If we are what we eat, it’s no surprise Darling is feeling so great.

“I thought I knew quite a bit about nutrition before, but Dr. Polo has taught me so much,” he says. “I think about food in a different way now. For example, I used to add vegetables to a meal, but now I’ll do the reverse and make a meal out of vegetables — the greener the better! — and add some protein to it. I also used to be a bread-aholic but now I’m obsessed with kale.”

These days, when Global staffers head into meetings, Darling is no longer tempted to make a pit stop at the vending machine for a bag of potato chips, one of his former weaknesses. Instead, he’ll snack on an apple or a piece of his homemade protein bars. (See slide 8 for recipe).

That’s not to say he doesn’t have the occasional indulgence — “I had a few nachos at a barbecue the other day”— or his daily morning coffee — “because I have to get up so early!” — but instead of sugar, he now sweetens it with vanilla Stevia. “It’s great!” he enthuses.

So with his newsworthy new physique, does the broadcaster have any plans to moonlight as a weight-loss spokesman? “No!” Darling chuckles heartily. “I wish! But we can’t do that in news, so there won’t be any celebrity endorsements in my future.”

Dr. Polo’s Pound-a-day Diet
Credit: Robert Karpa

Dr. Polo’s Pound-a-day Diet

phase 1 — Low-Calorie Diet — 40 Days

You start an 850-calorie diet made up of a restrictive list of proteins, vegetables, fruits and carbs. Whole foods are eaten, nothing packaged at all, and portions are weighed and measured.

HCG (the pregnancy hormone) is administered each morning either in injection or lozenge form to help suppress appetite and to help mobilize fat stores, as if your body is “eating” its own fat. With the use of this hormone, all muscle mass is preserved, which is what makes this program so enticing. HCG requires a doctor’s prescription, so you are not able to buy this hormone over the counter and administer it unsupervised.

You come into the office for weekly visits where you’re weighed and given a vitamin B12 injection for energy levels. These ongoing visits ensure that you’re closely monitored while on your low-calorie diet.

Phase 2 – Maintenance – 3 weeks

You follow a low-carb, high-protein diet to ease back into a regular eating routine. Fats can be included in this phase along with fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy. Maintenance allows the body to adjust to its weight loss, and to establish a new set point. Once maintenance is complete, you are slowly transitioned into a healthy lifestyle routine that includes a healthy diet and exercise plan.

–Dr. Allana Polo

Steve Darling’s Protein Power Bars
Credit: Robert Karpa

Steve Darling’s Protein Power Bars

Ingredients

  • 5 scoops of protein powder, such as a natural whey-based peanut butter flavour
  • Almond milk
  • Nuts and/or dried fruit, to taste

Method

  1. Place protein powder into a bowl.
  2. Add enough almond milk and water to form a paste.
  3. Toss in your choice of almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds or dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, if desired.
  4. Mix it all up, spoon into a clear baking dish and freeze until firm. Enjoy!