Meredith Vieira: ‘Today’ Gig Took Toll on Health, Personal Life

By Alex Weprin 

Former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira spoke to Good Housekeeping about leaving the show and her daily routine. Vieira says that she had known for some time that she would not stay at the long-running morning show, and that the high-profile job comes with a steep price.

In particular, Vieira says her personal life and her health took a hit from the long hours and days that start at 2:30 AM.

Rosemary Ellis: Let’s talk about leaving the Today show. Was that a quick decision for you?

Meredith Vieira: I knew for a while that I was leaning [toward leaving]; my gut was telling me that it was time to go. After a four-year contract, I signed on for one more year. But as the year progressed, I began to realize that it wasn’t working for me in terms of my personal life.

RE: You said that even your health was suffering. What was happening?

MV: Sleep deprivation is a bad thing. When you’re tired all the time, you just don’t feel well. It’s easy to gain weight; it’s easy to get depressed. And there’s anxiety…all of those things really started to weigh on me, and I thought, Is it worth risking my health? I don’t think so. Is it worth altering my lifestyle, particularly with my husband? I clearly knew the answer: No, it’s not. Because of Richard’s own health issues [her husband, Richard Cohen, has multiple sclerosis], my getting up at 2:30 makes it very hard for him to go back to sleep, so that wasn’t helping him out physically, either. I guess my concerns, on the other side, were: I have a really good job. I really like the people. Maybe I can somehow make this work. Maybe Matt’s right. Maybe I could wake up at 4. And what happens to me when I give it all up? You don’t define yourself by your job, but I found myself kind of doing that.

While Vieira has left “Today,” she is remaining a part of the NBC News family.