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Less Meat, Fewer Potatoes, Good Ol' Apple Pie


Everyone loves to tag along with Huell Howser. Together, on "Visiting" and "California's Gold" (PBS) we climb mountains, ford streams, trudge through underground gold mines and watch as he feasts from Escondido to Eureka. What we don't get to see is Huell Howser work out.

"When I'm on the road, I always take my gym clothes with me--the basics," says the 47-year-old. "I mean, you're talking to a boy from Tennessee here--shorts, T-shirt and tennis shoes."

Question: Do viewers comment on your physique when they see you in person?

Answer: Lots of older guys will come up to me and say, "My wife and I watch you on TV. Boy, you've got the biggest arms," and they reach over and grab my arms.

Q: I don't blame them, Huell. You've got a great build, you know.

A: You say I've got a great build, but you've never seen me standing naked in front of my mirror at night at home. I never think of myself--I really mean this--as some sort of physical example for anybody, other than a person who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Q: You must be doing something right.

A: I'm really not into exercise as much as people think I am. I'm just a healthy, middle-aged guy who tries to keep one step ahead of the bulging waistline and to age gracefully. It's a struggle. And I'm telling you, if I quit working out and ate everything I wanted to eat, I'd weigh 300 pounds.

Q: How much do you weigh?

A: Two-hundred and 15 pounds and I probably should weigh--I'm 6-foot-1--200 or 205 at the most. I love to eat.

Q: Must be tempting, you're on the road so much.

A: When I show up at places around the state, people will cook their favorite meal or have a pie waiting for me, or want to take me to their little town's best restaurant that specializes in homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy and apple pie, and not wanting to be rude, I always go. And if I'm going to break down and have a big ol' dessert, I want it to be somebody's homemade apple pie, not a 2-month-old stale Baby Ruth.

Q: You always work out when you're home?

A: I work out at the L.A. Athletic Club about three days a week. You just give me a bar and a couple of weights on it and I'm fine. I don't need anything fancy.

Q: Do you ever diet?

A: I've never tried to go on a strict diet. It would make me miserable. I just try to cut my red meat intake. I try not to eat pizza at midnight or go out and get ice cream at night. I work out so if I go to somebody's house and they bring out a homemade pie that they're proud of, I don't have to go "Oh no, no, no, I can't eat that."

Q: Chocolate chips get you, huh?

A: I cannot go into a mall and walk by a Mrs. Fields counter without having two warm, semisweet chocolate chip cookies.

Q: What do you drink?

A: A lot of milk, which I know is supposedly not good for you but I grew up in a family where my mother didn't allow my sister or me to have any kind of soft drinks--only fruit juice or milk. So I grew up loving cold milk. And I'd still rather have a big ol' tall glass of cold milk than anything.

Guest Workout runs Wednesdays in Life & Style.

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