When award-winning journalist Thomas Roberts entered the news industry 20 years ago, a TV producer asked him whether he had it in his gut to take on the challenge of becoming a news anchor. As his successful career has proven, he absolutely did, but it was the size of his actual gut that drove him to get in shape.

“I was overweight in college—220 pounds,” says the 6’2″ Roberts, who now tips the scale at a lean 205 pounds.

After graduating from Western Maryland College (which is now known as McDaniel College) in 1994, Roberts dropped 30 pounds in a month simply by cutting out booze and eating “lots of boiled chicken.” About five years ago, he got serious about fitness.

“It’s become a healthy addiction,” he says. “I can’t live without it.”

With help from Sebastian Morel-Ferreira, trainer and co-founder of The Pack Outdoor Gym, Roberts has adopted a high-intensity training regimen that has enabled him to renovate his physique.

“Sebastian kicked my ass and challenged me, and then I began to see the results I really wanted,” says Roberts. Adds Ferreira: “Thomas pours himself into his workouts the same way he does with his work. “He’s super-busy, so we train in the gym in his apartment [building] Monday through Friday before he starts his day.”

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Roberts travels with a jump rope and has workouts he can do in his hotel room to help him stay on track while he’s on the go. A downside of Roberts’ demanding schedule is that it can often present an obstacle regarding nutrition. “I never know when I’ll eat a meal,” he says. “Food isn’t on the mind when I’m in a breaking news setting.”

While covering the 2016 presidential election, Thomas was on the road often. But he never let the heavy travel serve as an excuse to skip out on training. “We worked out a program he can do in a hotel room,” Ferreira says. “[The hotel gym] usually has limited equipment, so Thomas always travels with a TRX to do back, core, biceps, and triceps. He’s been completely committed to his workouts and is always focused on meeting a challenge.”

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And it’s not just in the gym where Roberts has done some heavy lifting or met challenges. As a journalist, he became the first openly gay evening news anchor on network television when he anchored a broadcast of NBC Nightly News in 2015 and has become a powerful spokesman for equal rights.

“I was proud of who I was and finally felt that I had nothing to be ashamed of,” says Roberts, who came out in 2006. “I want to shine a light on areas that are under- covered. I don’t want to shy away from it.”

Last year, Roberts’ on-air efforts earned him an Emmy Award for NBC News and MSNBC’s coverage of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. After 20 years as a journalist, Roberts still has that feeling in his gut. That gut, though, is a whole lot smaller nowadays.