How Bob Harper Turned His Heart Attack Into a "Second Chance at Life"

Health and fitness expert reveals his accomplishments in the past 12 months

By Mike Vulpo Feb 12, 2018 12:00 PMTags
Bob HarperDaniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Life can change in the blink of an eye.

Last February, Bob Harper and his friends went to a neighborhood gym to complete their normal exercises. But with little to no warning, The Biggest Loser star suddenly dropped to the ground and stopped breathing.

As fans later learned, Bob experienced a heart attack that nearly killed him.

Exactly one year after his health scare, the health and fitness expert is proud to admit that he's come a long way in his healing process. In addition, the best-selling author wants to bring awareness and hope to other survivors.

"I realize I'm part of a club—the heart attack survivors club—and it's never a club you want to be in but once you're in, you find that there are other people just like you that are in need of guidance, in need of support," Bob shared with E! News exclusively. "I want to be able to inspire people."

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Watch: Bob Harper Is Feeling "Stronger Mentally" After Heart Attack

In the past 12 months, Bob has done that and so much more. His 338,000 Instagram followers have watched the beloved trainer complete cardiac rehab, return to the same gym he experienced a heart attack and adjust his diet.

And in his latest book the Super Carb Diet, Bob offers more than just a cookbook. In actuality, the New York Times bestselling author opens up about his physical and mental health following his heart attack.

"After my heart attack, I really went through a complete identity crisis just having to figure out what life would be like after my heart attack, what all of that looked like," he explained. "With the help of my cardiac rehab, with the help of my doctors, with the help of my friends and family, I was able to get through that."

Bob added, "It was really difficult to kind of figure out me, the fitness guy, how everything had changed after that."  

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As for why he shared his healing journey with his followers, Bob said he never thought twice. He's partnered with AstraZeneca—which makes one of Bob's medications BRILINTA—to create Survivors Have Heart. The project allows heart attack survivors to share personal stories of their journey. Bob also offers his "6 Survivor Basics" that have helped his journey this past year.

"I decided right after it was made public that I experienced a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest that I wanted to be as upfront and open and honest about my recovery," he explained to us. "I wanted to inspire people as much I could."

Before the heart attack, Bob was doing high intensity cross fit. Today, he regularly participates in yoga and incorporates boxing into his workouts.

While fans may know him for his work on The Biggest Loser, Bob says getting back on TV regularly isn't a priority. Instead, it's all about spreading the importance of knowing CPR and having AEDs available in places where people congregate.

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And instead of worrying about what the "haters" say, Bob has vowed to follow the "you do you and I'll do me" mentality.

"I don't want to stress the big things or the little things anymore," he explained to us. "There's always going to be a critic out there. There's going to be a critic that tells me you need to be completely vegan or whatever the case may be and I'm doing the best that I can. The only people that I'm really going to listen to are my doctors."

According to Dr. Warren J. Wexelman, who has been a practicing cardiologist in Brooklyn for more than 30 years, Bob's recovery is nothing short of inspiring.

"He is taking this as the beginning of a new life and not the end of anything," Dr. Wexelman shared with E! News during our interview with Bob. "He didn't take the attitude that my life, my career is over/done…He's turned into being an even better person."

When asked how he will celebrate today's milestone, Bob admitted that it's a "weird anniversary to celebrate." At the same time, it's impossible not to acknowledge all of his accomplishments.

"I don't find myself wanting to celebrate that day but it will be a day of reflection and a day of gratitude because it was a day that I got a second chance at life," he shared. "When I say it like that, maybe there is cause for a celebration."