Ben Napier Opens Up About His Health and Life With Baby Helen
With another season of Home Town under his belt (and Season 4 on the way!) and Erin and baby Helen at his side, the HGTV star and dedicated family man opens up to us about the ways he’s making sure he’ll be around for a long, long time.
Healthy moves aren’t a flash in the (cast-iron) pan for the bearded, 6’6” half of Home Town’s husband-and-wife dream team — in fact, Ben Napier started exercising about eight years ago. That said, regular viewers may have noticed some ‘Big’ changes last season. “I've lost 55 pounds since last year," he told CountryLiving.com this January. "Over the course of season 3, I dropped about 35 pounds, so [you] see it happening."
As Ben revealed in a very personal Valentine’s Day post for Laurel Mercantile Journal (the blog portion of the Napiers’ website) last year, that transformation was both years in the making and catalyzed by two very specific events. He described the heartbreak of watching his father undergo emergency bypass surgery before his 60th birthday in 2014, and the fear that rippled through his extended clan as a result. “The thought of my mom on that day broke my heart,” he wrote.
He also spoke of how frightened his wife, Erin, had been at the time — and how the birth of their daughter cast the previous family crisis in a new light. “I couldn’t imagine Erin having to go through [what my mother had experienced] and now that I’m a father, my health is even more important,” he wrote. “I want to be there for every milestone in my daughter’s life and I want to hold Erin’s hand every step of the way. I never want to leave her side, which means taking care of my heart has to be a major priority.”
What does that look like now? Ben talked to HGTV about how he’s recommitting himself to healthy choices, one day at a time.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
HGTV: Is it more difficult to participate in local traditions involving food now that you’re thinking about your own health and eating in a different way? Do you have any advice for others making similar changes?
Ben: The easy answer is to say, yes, it is harder, and yes, I feel like I'm missing out. It doesn't have to be, however. If you let people know that you're on a diet, or that you're trying to be healthier, the usual response is "Good for you!" or "I should do better." Of course it's hard to not eat those delicious homemade casseroles and sweets, but that’s how it is. Now, as far as advice, I honestly do better not trying to substitute. For instance, don't tell me that this bowl of mashed cauliflower tastes just like mashed potatoes. You're lying to me, it tastes like mashed cauliflower. I go into each meal being honest with myself about what I'm eating and why.
He Gets Back on the Wagon ASAP
HGTV: What do you tell yourself when you’re tempted to overindulge in a food that’s meaningful to you?
Ben: I'm pretty good about not overdoing it except during holidays or when I'm surprised with a homemade sweet. If I'm trying to stay under 30 grams of carbs and I'm wanting to eat a bite of that cake that my mama made, then I have to be really good all day. I have learned that if I am going to cheat on my diet, I have to get back on the wagon as soon as possible. If I let it stretch out over a couple of days, it gets harder to get back on.
It’s All About Making Time…
HGTV: You’ve talked about how prioritizing exercise has been a key part of getting healthy for you. Could you share a few of your favorite ways to get moving?
Ben: Schedules are important for me. When we are filming, and working on 3-4 houses every day, I know that my day is completely planned out. I can't change the plan. So, I'm up at 4:30 a.m., I read my Bible and drink a cup of coffee, and then I'm working out by 5:00 a.m. I used to have a couple of guys that I worked out with. They were strict on their schedule, and it taught me to be that way.
…And Doing What You Love
Ben: I start with cardio, then do some weights. I had to find cardio that I didn't hate. I hate running and jogging, I hate treadmills or ellipticals, or anything else in a gym. I don't have a location where I can swim laps, so I put a basketball [net] on the front of our garage. I love playing basketball. I run through drills that we did when I played varsity basketball in high school while listening to the Hoosiers soundtrack. It gets me going, gets me sweaty, and after 30-45 minutes, I'm winded and ready to lift weights.
(Which Is Unlikely to Be a Marathon)
HGTV: [Fixer Upper’s] Chip Gaines made some headlines last year when he trained for and ran his first marathon in Texas to raise money for charity. Could you ever see yourself running a race? If you did, would you wear your tool belt like he did?
Ben: Haha, Chip is in better shape than me! I ran cross-country in high school, and my maximum distance was about 15 miles without stopping. That was 20 years ago, and I was 80 pounds lighter back then. So, I'll have to raise money in other ways. Like rappelling down a building!
He Sweats While the Baby Sleeps
HGTV: New parenthood really throws a wrench in eating and exercise plans for a lot of people. Have you found that it’s harder to make healthy choices now that you’re a father? How do you stay on track?
Ben: It's actually easier for me [now]. I try to have my workout finished before Helen wakes up. She really likes my eggs, so I can whip up a few scrambled eggs and we can share them most mornings. Also, with our schedule, I sometimes forget to eat because I'm focused on finishing what ever I am doing so I can see Helen or feed her.
Ben’s Fans Inspire Him
HGTV: We’ve heard that some Home Town fans have been inspired by how you’ve shared your health journey, and they’re now making similar changes in their own lives. How does it make you feel to know that you’re setting that example for others?
Ben: It pretty wild, isn't it? I will say this, it helps keep me honest. When Erin posts a picture of when the show is on and people start commenting, it makes me think, "Dang, people are paying attention, I need to stay on track." Inspiring other people to be healthier is awesome, and it humbles me to think I helped someone with that.
On Deck: Scotsman Sluggers?
HGTV: We loved seeing you and Jason Pickens work together on [the HGTV digital series] Talkin’ Shop, and the bats you turned for the Baseball Bat Challenge. Is there any chance Scotsman Co. might offer a few Ben Napier bats one day?
Ben: Hahaha, have you been in our wood shop meetings? This is something that we would like to offer. We are trying to get our shop in a position where we can produce more things and still keep quality in check. Who knows, Scotsman Sluggers might be available in the future!