For a long time that’s the nickname Republican Gov. Larry Hogan envisioned President Donald Trump would hurl at him on Twitter.
But it never came – not from Trump anyway, though critics have occasionally taunted the governor about his portliness on social media.
Hogan is trying to make the moniker not fit. A few months ago, he launched himself on a weight-loss journey, eliminating sugar and carbs from his diet and eventually replacing them with nutritional shakes, bars and one sensible meal a day. He exercises on an elliptical machine.
Shareese Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman, said the governor shed about 20 pounds before he began the Medifast program this summer. Since then, he has lost 30 more pounds, she said. And while the governor won’t reveal his current weight, he says it’s nearly the same as when he was sworn in to his first term as governor in 2015.
“Right now I fit in all my skinnier clothes,” he said, chuckling.
Hogan said his decision to lose weight was prompted in part by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than a quarter of a million people in the United States and poses a greater risk to those who are obese or have other preexisting conditions.
He had gone to the doctor for his routine physical this summer. After his bloodwork and other tests, he decided it was time for a change.
“With the coronavirus I’m hearing about comorbidity, obesity and you know, I’m a cancer survivor who is overweight, under a lot of stress,” Hogan said. “I just decided that it was time to get healthy.”
He attributed his weight gain to bloating from steroids while being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015; smuggled-in pizza, chicken wings and Five Guys burgers he devoured during those months; and increased stress-eating since he was elected to public office.
With the recent weight loss, he is not svelte by any means. But observers have noticed his face thinning and his clothes starting to loosen. The “full-body ballooning,” as he refers to his cancer weight in his memoir, “Still Standing,” is slowly starting to dissipate.
Some people who noticed the weight loss have asked if the governor’s cancer had returned, Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said. (It hasn’t. He’s recently reached the five-year cancer-free milestone.)
Hogan says he doesn’t have a goal in mind at this point for how much more weight he should take off: “As long as I keep feeling good and I think it’s the way to get healthier, I’m going to keep it up.”
Over the holiday season, he plans to stick to his diet, which includes a shake or bar every couple of hours as well as the daily meal. The cancellation of the holiday parties at Government House because of the pandemic will probably work to his advantage, with no Christmas cookies to munch on. For Thanksgiving, he said he will not have any family or friends over, and he and his wife, Yumi, will not attend any holiday gatherings.
“There is not going to be any pie or mashed potatoes or stuffing,” he said. “I might take a couple slices of turkey and green vegetables.”
He realizes that he’s promised to get healthy and remain on that path. He did a similar diet also using Medifast in 2014, just before his first run for governor.
“I dropped about the same amount of weight, and I was pretty thin during the first campaign and beginning my term,” he said. “Not thin – but not as heavy. And then I just kind of fell off the wagon, I guess.”
In addition to workouts on the elliptical machine in the governor’s mansion, Hogan keeps track of his daily steps with his Fitbit.
“I’ve found now that I’m feeling better, and I’m sleeping better,” he said. “Just feel good all around. So I’m hoping I can keep it up, lose a few more pounds and keep it off.”