Like many men, actor and comedian Steve Howey’s weight has always fluctuated. But unlike most men, Steve basically has sex for a living. No, he’s not a porn star. He’s on the Showtime series Shameless, in which he plays one-half of a somewhat sex-crazed couple—and it isn’t as easy as you might think.
We sat down with Steve to get his take on weight loss, aging, and motivation, and to find out how you too can have an…active…sex life, like his character on the show.
Steve Howey on changing…
I’ve always been up and down with my weight. I think when Reba ended and I really wasn’t sure what was next for me, I really blew up. But I’ve gotten back in shape over the last year or so because of health reasons, not aesthetics. When I entered the first season of Shameless, I compressed a vertebrae and that was very painful. I couldn’t stand up, let alone walk. And I realized something had to change, so I started working out more. I wanted to lose that extra weight and strengthen my muscles so my bones wouldn’t collapse on me.
Not many of the comedians I look up to are in great shape. So I made the justification that it’s okay that I am overweight. There is this idea in comedy that you don’t want to look like you care about your appearance because that takes away from what’s real, what’s important. And the real stuff is what’s funny. But the reality is, who gives a sh*t about how funny you are if you’re dying?
Getting into shape helped get me into a better mood, and when I’m in a better mood, I’m funnier. My general attitude is better. So for me, the decision to get rid of the burgers and beers was more of a spiritual attitude adjustment than it was me wanting to have a little waist and awesome pecs.
When I don’t feel like working out, lifting weights or doing serious cardio, the best thing for me to do is just go on the treadmill and walk. I walk and listen to music and 10 minutes will go by, then 15, and then I’ll speed up a bit. Once my blood really starts flowing, I’ll get a second wind and then I want to work out. The best way to get yourself to want to work out is to just get a sweat going and the blood circulating.
I used to drink pretty much every day and work out every day too. I can’t do that anymore, it’s just impossible. Even just working out every day is hard because my body can’t recuperate, it hurts. Warming up properly really helps me. That’s how I injured myself recently. I jumped into a basketball game before I was ready and snapped my Achilles tendon. Now I’ve had to have a cast on my leg for the entire third season of Shameless. So that was also a reminder of “Hey, you’re getting older. You can’t do that shit.” The older you get, the easier it is to get injured. But what I’ve learned the hard way is that the more excess weight you have, the more likely you are to get injured doing everyday things. I used to be able to eat a bowl of chicken wings and three pitchers of beer and keep going. Now, it just makes me want to take a nap. It just gets worse and worse. The older you get, life just becomes worse. I should be a f*cking motivational speaker.
Every time we have that gut instinct, when a little voice says something, it’s right. We all instinctually know, “I probably shouldn’t eat this,” “I probably should do a little walking today,” “I should probably eat an apple,” “I probably shouldn’t kick this guy.” All those thoughts are correct. Don’t ignore them.
If you want to get laid more, be in better shape. When I was at my heaviest, it hurt to have sex. That’s the honest-to-God truth. I would get winded. My hip flexors were tight. It was hard to be on top. There is a correlation between being in better shape and having great sex. If I see a fat person on the street, I think, “They must not be having a lot of sex.” But if I see someone in good shape, I think, “Okay, they’re f*cking. They’re doing it.” The first thing a doctor says to somebody who is experiencing impotence is “lose weight,” and it’s not just because you’ll be more attractive.
I have friends of all shapes and sizes, but we all know that the ones who aren’t fat have better sex lives. Unless you’re Samoan–they can run marathons and they are fat as hell, that’s just genetics. Otherwise, it ain’t happening.
My character on Shameless has a lot of very graphic sex with his girlfriend. Shanola, who plays my on-screen girlfriend, works out all the time. She’s in great shape and she’s gorgeous. When we started filming, I was overweight with a compressed vertebrae but I realized in order for viewers to believe I could get this girl, I needed to look the part. Also, I realized that if I was going to be doing all these crazy sex positions, I have to be physically fit. Literally, it was impossible in the beginning to do what the director asked, and to keep up with Shanola. These are stunts; those sex scenes are like fight scenes. Also, since I’m naked so much on the show, I don’t want to look like a gross fat guy that people change the channel on.
So sex was a motivator for me in many ways. For men who have been with their wives or partners a while, the sex might not be that great anymore. One way to get back to that is to be healthier. Plus, being fit will allow you to do some crazy sexual acts that will impress your partner, and you’ll be able to go for longer. It goes back to Shameless. If I’m going to be this sex god, I can’t be chubby, that makes no sense. It’s like trying to play a pro-athlete who is 100 pounds overweight. Every athlete out there is a sexual predator–and I don’ t mean the pedophile, criminal kind.
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