They’re both TV anchors and friends. One was fat and one was skinny, but both were obsessed with food.
Diane Smith of Connecticut Network, and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, were out on Smith’s boat on Labor Day in 2011 when Smith confessed she always feels self-conscious when Brzezinski comes to visit.
“I never know what to cook when you guys are coming because you’re like the food police,” Smith recalled telling Brzezinski.
“You also make me feel really self-conscious, not because you try to, but because you’re so thin,” Smith recalled last week in a phone interview. “It’s easy for you because you’re skinny, you don’t know what it’s like.”
Brzezinski, who has been friends with Smith for 18 years, told Smith she struggles with food every single day.
Smith doubted her. But Brzezinski told her she was obsessed with food.
“I never knew that,” Smith said. “I always thought it was easy for her.”
When they got back to shore Brzezinski told Smith she was fat and needed to do something about it. Smith told Brzezinski she should write a book about her obsession with food.
Two weeks later, Smith was driving to Canaan to give a speech and Brzezinski called to tell her she got the both of them a book deal. Smith said she was surprised she would be a co-author, but Brzezinski insisted.
“We have the same struggle, it’s just that your struggle shows on you because you’re overweight and mine doesn’t because I do every unhealthy thing I can possibly do to keep from gaining weight,” Smith recalled Brzezinski telling her. “It’s the same struggle. We’re both obsessed with food.”
Smith said that by the time she drove from West Hartford to Canaan, Brzezinski had convinced her they should write the book together and told Smith she had to lose 75 pounds before the book was released.
Brzezinski told Smith to think about it this way: “If we get the book deal I’ll be paying you to lose weight.”
Smith hired a trainer and participated in a weight-loss program through the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
Seventy-five pounds thinner, Smith will join Brzezinski to talk about their book, “Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – And My Own” today on Morning Joe.
While the book is about their personal struggles with food, it’s also a policy book about what has to happen for the nation to turn around the obesity crisis, Smith said.
The duo interviewed scientists, doctors, and celebrities like Jennifer Hudson, a popular singer, and Charles Barkley, a retired NBA star-turned sports announcer, who have become spokespeople for Weight Watchers.
They also interviewed Congresswomen like Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“The conversation we had with Gov. Chris Christie was really enlightening to me,” Smith said. “He said people think that because I’m fat that I’m undisciplined . . . you think I went from a kid born in Newark to the governor of New Jersey without discipline? People need to get a grip for the many reasons for obesity and it’s not as easy as saying ‘take a walk and eat a salad.’ You think I haven’t tried that?”
Smith said they also looked at the research on obesity and talked to people who are studying the effects of processed foods and sugars. Smith said there was some concern about going in the direction of talking about food addiction, but the book does touch on the issue.
“Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction—and My Own,” written by Smith and Brzezinski, will be released Tuesday. Smith will join Brzezinski on Morning Joe today to talk about the book. She will also be at the Mark Twain Museum Center on May 22 at 7 p.m. with Elizabeth Petruccione, who lost 93 pounds seven years ago and is helping others reach their weight-loss goals.