Video

Freshman 15 Is Real, Even in Senate, Tillis Says

At the Table, where lawmakers show Roll Call their favorite place for a meal on the Hill

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis joined Roll Call’s Alex Gangitano for breakfast at his favorite local spot, The Market Lunch in Eastern Market. Eating a low-carb breakfast of eggs and sausage, Tillis talked about using diet and exercise to move past the freshman 15 weight-gain he said afflicted him and some of his Senate colleagues. Below is a transcript of the video.

Sen. Thom Tillis: 

I try to explain when I have either college or high school students come in, they say, “What’s the Senate like?” 

I said it’s a lot like high school or college. You have several classes you have to go to, we just happen to call them “committees.” The difference is all of ours start at the same time, and you’re expected to attend every one of them.

Text on screen:

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis joined Roll Call for breakfast at Eastern Market’s Market Lunch. 

Tillis:

I would like ... can I get three eggs, and you do have sausage, don’t you? 

Restaurant employee:

Mm-hmm.

Tillis:

Two patties of sausage. And a coffee. Large.

Saturday morning was a weigh-in with my son. We had a weight loss bet. I’m 57 years old, I’ve never lost a weight loss bet, so …

Alex Gangitano:

Oh no!

Tillis:

Weighed in again, three pounds under the target. 

Gangitano:

Oh! So you can eat whatever you want now.

Tillis:

Yeah.

Restaurant employee:

You know these grits are from southern North Carolina?

Tillis:

Well they better be! Where else would they come from?

I was a short-order cook for years. I loved cooking on a line like that, and so I’m always experimenting with different food at home.

That’s one of the worst parts about being in the Senate, you really don’t have a lot of time to cook a quality meal when you get home.

Text on screen:

Tillis says he weighed 218 pounds in 2016, before making a commitment to lose weight.

Tillis:

Now I’m about 180. So the only way you keep it off is don’t drink beer and work out. 

Gangitano:

Do you talk with your colleagues from your class about this?

Tillis:

Oh yeah! A lot of them were going, “How’d you do it?” 

I said, you know, it doesn’t change. I mean, watching or burning calories on one side, eating pure on the other. It’s worked forever. Long before all these diet fads.

Gangitano:

Do you try and run every morning?

Tillis:

I try it at least every other. 

You go around and look, and the effect of the freshman 15 is a real thing, even in the Senate. Everybody’s gaining weight, you can tell where their belt loop used to be and where it is now.

I hate running. I love mountain biking. Because to me, it’s just the same trail every time. When you’re on a mountain bike trail, you run the risk of hurting yourself, you know, you're out in the woods, and to me it's a little bit more interesting.

Gangitano:

Is there anything you, for breakfast, grew up eating?

Tillis:

Well, I mean, it was always eggs, sunny side up, side of grits, mixed up. Had a lot of oatmeal. My dad used to make oatmeal. We had six kids, so it was like a cafeteria.

So back even when I was in junior high school, I’d help cook meals, but I like everything. So I loved slow cooking meats, briskets, pork shoulder. 

Pork is important to the state, and it’s definitely a staple in our meals and on the campaign circuit. When you’re in cycle, running, you’re eating about 30 pounds of pork barbeque a week.

If it’s the first time everybody that’s invited you somewhere has had pork for the week, it’s probably the second time you’ve had it that day.

Gangitano:

Wow. That probably adds to the freshman 15, just coming off the campaign trail.

Tillis:

It is. Now, if you’re on an Atkins diet, I bet if you don’t eat the bread, it’s probably a weight loss plan. 

This transcript was auto-generated.