Emmy award-winning TV host shares his secrets for living life to the fullest both home and abroad.
For a man who has experienced so much of the world, there’s still really no place like home for Survivor executive producer and host Jeff Probst. After 34 seasons on a national and international stage, Probst shares what he’s learned and how he’s adapted his lifestyle from simply looking good to also living well.
A path of self-discovery
Probst found his calling at a young age. Growing up in Wichita, Kansas, Probst was in junior high when he realized he loved the art of storytelling.
“I took a creative speaking class and was drawn to the power of words to take people on a journey,” Probst says. “I’ve been following that muse for 40 years.”
He began doing commercials in his early 20s in Seattle, and his success there led to hosting jobs, which eventually took him to New York where he landed his role on Survivor.
“I was never a huge outdoors guy in terms of camping, but growing up, we were outside almost every day playing sports,” Probst says. “But rest assured when (Executive Producer) Mark Burnett asked me how I felt about the outdoors, I said ‘I love camping! I love rats! I love it all!’ The show represents the pinnacle in terms of being a part of a team that gets to tell really deep, personal stories of humans on an amazing adventure. I’ve always been drawn to the immediacy of live television where anything can and often does happen.”
Focusing on and maintaining his fitness has long been a priority for Probst. Taking on a job that requires working in a variety of locations, he’s discovered a healthy routine that works for him.
“No day at work is ever the same as I’m often out on the beach or in the jungle for long hours, so I try to get my workouts in first thing in the morning,” Probst says. “If I wait until the end of the day, I’m usually too tired. I work out four to five days in a row then take two days off. My workouts when I travel on location are about 80 percent of my normal workout, which is usually all the energy I have. Remember, we don’t have trailers like you see on movie sets. We are still in the jungle, so you have to adapt.”
Although it wasn’t initially a priority, Probst has discovered firsthand the importance of a healthy skin care regimen as well, wearing sunscreen every day along with hats and long-sleeve shirts.
“I spent the first 10 years with no sunscreen and no hats, and I started to see the damage being done, so I’ve spent the last eight years trying to reverse it,” Probst shares. “When you’re young, you don’t see the damage. You just like having a little color. Then you hit 30, and suddenly lines start to appear; then 40, and you look 50, which is not the direction I wanted to head.”
A cultural connection
Visiting so many countries and meeting so many kinds of people has helped Probst grow and build his life perspective.
“A few of the lessons that stand out in my life’s journey are: 1. I am not the center of the universe. 2. Perception is reality…in the eyes of the perceiver. 3. It is very hard to change our core. 4. Everybody wants to feel important,” Probst says. “There are billions of people, and every one of us has dreams and seeks our own adventure. I am humbled every day by being human. I’m grateful for all of the people along the way that have taken me under their wings and taught me during my years of traveling.”
Traveling abroad has grown into something that now helps Probst soothe his soul.
“I have become very connected to the ocean,” Probst says. “I feel different around the water. It’s very calming emotionally and very powerful spiritually. If I didn’t get that fix every year, I would seek it out.”
No matter where he happens to be, Probst tries his best to stick to a clean diet.
“My staples are chicken, turkey, eggs and protein shakes,” he shares. “I also have a supply of protein bars for in between meals. One of the great things about being on a remote location for work for several months is there aren’t any stores or ice cream shops, so even if you have a big sugar craving – it’s hard to fill.”
The value of family
Thriving in ever-changing environments takes more than physical strength. Probst is acutely in tune with the mental aspects of overcoming challenges.
“What’s the difference between adventure and adversity? Attitude,” Probst says. “Things I used to take for granted, like healthy skin and quick recovery, have now become things I really appreciate. The other big part of the equation is your spiritual well-being. Stress can be as damaging as the sun – maybe more.”
Probst’s family serves as both his source of motivation and inspiration for his positive outlook. Even when he’s on the road, he makes sure to find time for video calls with them every day.
“When I was younger, I worked to maintain my health and fitness more out of vanity,” he remembers. “But when I married my wife and became a dad it became about longevity. I want to live a long, long time, and this is the only body I will ever have. I’m constantly looking for new ways to improve my health and fitness, and I realize the importance of taking care of your mind and body.
“We named our house Great Adventure, and that embodies the spirit of what we strive for as a family,” he shares. “It doesn’t mean we are out climbing mountains every day; it’s more of a state of mind. We laugh a lot and encourage the kids to pursue their passions. Even things like homework, which is never fun, can be a chance to bond.”
While he’s achieved a lot through his professional career, including penning several best-selling children’s stories, it’s his family that brings Probst the most pride.
When he’s home, Probst makes it a priority to maximize quality family time.
“Without any comparison, my biggest achievement in life is in progress now, and that’s being a parent,” Probst says. “I’m a perfect example of ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ I had no idea how much my parents sacrificed for me, how much of who I am comes from them, how many times they must have bit their lip at the choices I made, and how many decisions they made in their life solely to benefit me and my brothers. I can only hope that on some level they have found as much joy in being a parent as I am. It is such a rush to have these amazing little people growing up in front of my eyes. I honestly can’t imagine anything ever topping that.”
Jeff Probst’s tips for traveling abroad
- Pack lightly: I pack my suitcase and then empty half of it because I have learned I never use the majority of it.
- Carry a variety of local currencies: Tipping goes a long way in every country, even in countries where they say tipping is not expected.
- Never, ever try to challenge local rules and laws: This may sound funny, but when you read the signs that say “no nuts or fruit,” they mean NO nuts and NO fruit. I once watched a friend with a small bag of peanuts get detained for four hours and pay a $200 fine.
- Be kind to people: Ask questions if you’re not sure. Most countries I’ve visited are very accommodating and will help you if you just ask.
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