America isn’t just seeing less of Mike Pompeo because the Trump administration is no longer in the White House. We are seeing less of the former secretary of state because there is literally less of him — 90 pounds, to be exact.
The former director of the CIA has faced a lot of challenging situations in his long career, but he hesitates to talk about his weight loss because of a nagging fear he will put all the pounds he lost back on. But, in an exclusive interview with The Post, he revealed how he did it and why.
It all started on June 14, 2021, when Pompeo stepped on the scale and saw he was just pounds away from 300 for the first time in his life.
The next morning, he said, he woke up and told his wife, Susan: “Today is the day.”
“I started exercising, not every day, but nearly every day, and eating right and the weight just started to come off,” he said.
Pompeo, 58, said he invested in a home gym in his basement with some dumbbells and an elliptical machine, where The Post photographed him this week. “I tried to get down there five, six times a week and stay at it for a half-hour or so. And that was nothing scientific. There was no trainer, there was no dietician. It was just me.”
The weight started piling on when he was first elected to Congress as a representative for Kansas in 2010, Pompeo said.
“Although the truth is losing weight has been a lifetime struggle for me.”
To finally get healthy, Pompeo said, he had to be in the right frame of mind.
“For me it’s about getting it right and being sufficiently disciplined,” he said, a process he applied to all of the high-pressure positions he’s held in government but not to his own health until this year.
Gone were the cheeseburgers, carbs, and sugary treats that lingered beside his computer as he worked long into the night — or traveled with him on long flights across the world.
But the change in diet hasn’t changed family restaurant traditions — IHOP is still the Pompeos’ favorite, but rather than ordering stacks of pumpkin pancakes smothered in syrup, the former secretary now chooses much healthier fare.
“We still go there as a family — it’s important to not take those traditions away. Now we get egg whites and turkey bacon,” he said.
“For our family, food is where we gather. We are Italian and we like to get together around a good meal of pasta and bread and cheeses and dessert. We are still going to enjoy these big meals with family and friends except I am going to be the guy that says, ‘Yeah, I’ll have a salad,’” he said, laughing.
“It was a virtuous cycle instead of the vicious one that I had been in, and I’ve managed to lose the high side of 90 pounds in six months.”
The California native — who graduated first in his class at West Point — said he used an old foot ailment as an excuse for not being able to lose weight in the past.
“I put on almost a hundred pounds over the course of 10, 11 years — years that coincided with my foot injury — so I told myself that was the reason I gained so much weight,” he said, adding that nothing specific happened to his foot. “The joint just wore out.”
His battle is one many Americans identify with: A January 2022 Gallup survey shows 41 percent of US adults over the past five years have characterized themselves as overweight, a percentage that is up from 36 percent in the prior five-year period. Gallup noted that its findings contrast with federal health statistics, which show that nearly three-quarters of Americans are either overweight or obese.
Pompeo said he gets it. “No one wants to admit they have gained weight or are overweight even if all the evidence points otherwise.”
His weight loss came with plenty of social media speculation — and Pompeo said none of the comments were particularly complimentary. “The posts were pretty nasty or just inaccurate, speculating that I had health issues with my neck, or that I had cancer,” he said.
“Nobody ever called me and really asked, ‘Hey, what happened?’”
But friends like West Point classmate David Urban sure did. The two men saw each other in November in Dallas — along with everyone else who graduated with them in 1986 — at the Army-Air Force game for their 35th class reunion.
Urban, a Trump campaign alum, said the first thing he told Pompeo was how fantastic he looked. Then he told him he wasn’t surprised he accomplished it.
“You don’t graduate from West Point, let alone become number one in your class at West Point, without being able to be incredibly focused.”
Urban, who traveled with Pompeo from time to time when he was at State, said he saw how the job impacted him physically.
“He isn’t the first person who goes into politics and, because of the demands of the job, gained weight. He’s traveling all over the world, flying 13, 14 hours at different places, different time zones. It’s incredibly difficult to keep any type of routine, let alone an exercise regimen. You kind of put yourself behind the job,” he said.
“I traveled with him when he went to Europe for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and he worked the entire flight,” he added.
When he traveled, Pompeo said, there were previous secretaries who went out and had a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant if they finished their meetings at 7:30 or 8 o’clock. But not him. “You can ask anybody on my team, they knew exactly what I was going to do: cheeseburger from room service. I went back to the room and kept working, and ate my cheeseburger. That was my pattern of life.
“When you work and eat, you just keep working and you just keep eating.”
Pompeo served from 2018 to 2021 as the 70th secretary of state in the Trump administration after a brief stint as the director of the CIA and three terms in Congress. The former Army officer who attended Harvard Law School is a former businessman who made his mother’s home state of Kansas his own state in 1998.
Since leaving the administration, Pompeo has signed on as a Fox News contributor, serves as a senior counsel for global affairs at the American Center for Law and Justice, and chairs the Calvary PAC, an organization dedicated to electing conservative candidates to the US House and Senate. He and Susan now call Chantilly, Va., home.
Meanwhile, Pompeo said he hopes his journey will inspire others struggling with obesity to lose weight. “It is hard, and it’s not permanent. There are no guarantees that I’ll still be at whatever I weigh now, but if you realize that good things can happen if you keep at it, you can do it as well.”
Having the support of his wife, son Nick, and future daughter-in-law, Rachael, certainly helped.
“The biggest benefit I had in this journey was an enormously supportive wife and family,” he said. “Everybody supported my effort to get healthy, which was the real focus.”
Another social media rumor is that Pompeo dropped the pounds to gear up for a presidential run in 2024. He laughs at the suggestion.
“The truth is, I’m really getting ready for 2044 and hoping I’ll be around in 2054.”
Why those specific years? Grandchildren, he says hopefully.
“My son’s getting married in July, and I wanted to be healthier and be around for what I hope the Lord will bless us with as grandkids before too terribly long. I’m not supposed to talk about that, I’m told,” he said with a chuckle, knowing he is going to get a little good-natured grief for letting his true feelings slip.
“My clothes fit better, and I have more energy,” he said. But ultimately, “I want to be there for my family and hopefully lots of grandchildren.”