James Packer has revealed in an unusually candid interview he has lost 35kg in the wake of recent lap band surgery and daily exercise. "I do 90 minutes of exercise a day, and obviously I have the lap band," the 44-year old billionaire said. "I feel great, mate. I'm getting fit as I'm hitting a very busy time for me, in a business sense, in my life." Mr Packer said the keyhole lap band surgery was conducted in "late November last year" and had transformed his outlook on eating. "I used to eat a big portion, and the message used to go from my stomach to my brain: 'I'm hungry'," he said.
Mr Packer, executive chairman of gaming group Crown, is making multi-billion-dollar investments in existing and future hotel-casinos in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Macau. Recent lunching companions have been amazed to see Mr Packer at one of his favourite haunts, Sydney's Rockpool Bar & Grill, ordering a steak, then taking only a bite and a few mouthfuls of mashed potato. "(It's) much smaller portions," he said. "It's all calories in, calories out. You eat whatever you want, you just eat less." Asked if he would continue to eat like this for the rest of his life, he replied: "Mate, it's not a problem, what a joy. "I hope so. Bang bang bang." Asked if this was because it meant a longer life, he replied: "Correct." He added it was also "about being fitter, happier and more active". The billionaire businessman is believed to have been particularly influenced by legendary media figure and Crown director Harold Mitchell, whose weight has almost halved from 165kg since lap band surgery in 2009. "I know a couple of people who've had this and it's worked for them, and it's been a godsend for me," he said. "I wouldn't give a tip to other people. I think that health is a personal choice, and I'm not an expert. All I can say is that it's been terrific for me." Mr Packer confessed that keeping slim had been a constant battle. "I've been up and down," he said. "I've been really fit a couple of times before in my life, and then I've battled with my weight for the past five years." The new slimline Mr Packer's current exercise regime includes "cross-training and weights". He denied his late father Kerry's famous battles with health had influenced his lifestyle change. "No, no, no, no, no, no. I'm an idiot. I (still) smoke and do all those things I shouldn't do," he said, laughing. He confesses to wanting to kick his cigarette habit, without great confidence. "I've been off them for 10 days but, you know, I don't want to say I'm off them, mate, because you know I'll probably have another one in a week," he said. "Mate, I am not a zealot. I'm just a bloke doing my best. Like there's a whole bunch of punters out there doing their best to get fit. "But I'm doing a bunch of exercises, and I'm enjoying it. I'm the fittest I've been for 10 years, and it's the right time for me to be fit because I've got a lot on at work." Asked if he was off alcohol, he replied: "For the moment, yes . . . but definitely not permanently."
NICK TABAKOFF The Daily Telegraph
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