America's Healthiest Families Makeover

Teresa HoganFrom Health magazine

On a sunny weekday afternoon, Mehmet C. Oz, MD, the renowned 49-year-old heart surgeon (vice-chairman and professor of surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York–Presbyterian Hospital), co-author of five best-selling books in the You series, YOU: The Owners Manual, YOU: The Smart Patient, YOU: On a Diet, You: Staying Young, and You: Being Beautiful—and newly minted host of his own nationally syndicated daytime talk-show, The Dr. Oz Show—drove out to the Carrolls home in Ridgewood, New Jersey, to help the family turn things around.

“I want to inspire people to lead long, happy, healthy lives,” says Dr. Oz—who lives in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, with his wife, Lisa, and four kids—“and there are so many little ways you can do that.” Here, how life for the Carroll family got healthier, calmer, and more fun.

Before: Too much junk in the pantry. When you keep bad-news stuff on hand but then try to resist it, you create an all-out craving for the food, Dr. Oz says. Keep unhealthy snacks away by using his rule of fives when you shop—avoid foods if any of the first five ingredients is one of these: trans fat, saturated fat, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, or refined flour. “Your body craves nutrients to feel satiated, not the empty calories from these ingredients,”

Dr. Oz says, adding that eating empty calories actually makes you overeat as you go in search of more-nutritious fare. If one of the five is listed further down the ingredient list, its OK to eat it, he says, because that means the ingredient is only minimally in the product.

After: The Carrolls make a clean sweep. “It was liberating at first to purge our pantry of so many foods that werent helping us,” Randy says. But then “going cold turkey” turned tough. “We said, ‘OK, now what?” It took time to stop craving the old favorites, he acknowledges, but now the family loves having feel-good picks like pretzels and strawberries always on hand.

Next Page: Exercise [ pagebreak ]


Teresa Hogan

Before: Exercise? Easy to blow off. “We all had bikes, but I couldnt remember the last time wed used them,” Kathleen admits. Dr. Ozs advice: Make family time exercise time. Play tag, kick a soccer ball, or take a walk around your neighborhood.

After: Family time equals active time. The Carrolls have started biking together every weekend. “At first, Peyton complained that Dillon was ahead of him, but each time we have more fun,” Randy says. And Kathleen (plus Randy when his work schedule allows) now takes morning power walks.

Also fun: Ethos Fitness and Spa for Women in Midland Park, New Jersey, where Kathleen is a member, taught the family how to create an at-home obstacle course. “We made fitness stations in our driveway—one for jumping rope, another for shooting hoops, another for hopscotch,” Kathleen says. To make your own, go to

Next Page: Eating dinner [ pagebreak ]


Teresa Hogan

Before: Dinner revolved around carbs. Typical Carroll dinners, which often included lasagna and meat with buttery biscuits, were short on lean protein and produce.

After: Dinner rocks with all the right stuff. “Dr. Oz inspired me to plan a weeks worth of meals ahead of time,” says Randy, who is typically the family cook. “On Sundays, Id blanch three days worth of vegetables—asparagus, green beans, and broccoli. Id buy chicken and salmon to grill the other days,” he says. “Im still maintaining the routine, though our schedules sometimes make it tough. One week we were swamped with school activities and parties, but we got back on track the next week.”

Before: Dillons goal—get leaner. Dillons smart to have a get-fit goal. “When kids have a little extra meat around the middle, their bodies secrete chemicals that deposit fat cells in the body that are harder to get rid of later on,” Dr. Oz explains.

The great news: Its actually easier for kids Dillons age to reverse this cycle because, as adolescence hits, testosterone increases and helps them turn fat into muscle, Dr. Oz says. If you stock your house with appetizing healthy food, no dieting is needed—just encourage daily active time to help your child build muscle, which burns twice as many calories as fat.

After: Hes a leaner workout machine. Dillons BMI has improved almost two points, and hes already lost a pound. He loves breaking a sweat, too. “I really liked getting to shoot hoops with Dr. Oz when he came to our house,” Dillon says. “Im most proud of how were doing activities after dinner together four or five nights a week. Last night we played badminton. It was really fun to hit the birdie back and forth, and my hair was soaked with sweat.”

Next Page: Chin up [ pagebreak ]

Teresa Hogan

Teresa Hogan

Before: No time to pump up. After a long day at work, Randy didnt have much time for a workout. Dr. Ozs streamlined solution: pull-ups. “Randy should do as many pull-ups as he can on his sons jungle gym,” Dr. Oz says. “Its one of the best weight-bearing exercises because you have to lift your entire body weight using your arms, upper body, and abs,” he says—plus, its a superquick workout.

After: Pumped arms and abs. “The day Dr. Oz came I could barely do five pull-ups,” Randy admits. “Now I can do 10. I havent missed a day, even when it was raining, because it just takes a few minutes.”

Before: Work = danger zone. Kathleen relied on diet soda while she worked. “The problem is that diet drinks give a sweet taste, but your brain is smart enough to realize that calories arent coming in,” Dr. Oz says. “As a result, your brain goes looking for calories, and you end up snacking on food you wouldnt have otherwise.” And Randy was often tempted by the pastries and bagels in his office break room.

After: Solutions that work. Kathleen hasnt had a diet soda in two weeks: “Im reaching for them less.” Shes made changes on the road, too. “When I was in L.A. for work, I was at a Latin restaurant. Prior to Dr. Oz, I probably wouldve ordered one of the fried things with lots of sauce. Instead, I got salad with grilled chicken and a healthier pico de gallo seasoning,” Kathleen says. As for Randy, he now takes fat-free Greek yogurt with kiwifruit or blueberries and granola to work. “I kind of get heckled for it,” he says. “But these healthy snacks are working for me.”

Before: The boys were finicky about veggies. Broccoli and green beans made the cut with Dillon and Peyton, but eating those every night was getting old for Randy and Kathleen. Dr. Ozs advice? Keep offering fresh options.

After: the boys are still finicky about vegetables! Theyre getting more adventurous with produce, though. “I love watermelon,” Peyton says. Dillon gave kiwifruit a chance—something he wouldnt try before. “It takes kids about 12 times of trying a food and not liking it before theyll finally accept it,” Dr. Oz says. “Just ask them to take one bite. One day, your kids will surprise you and ask for seconds.”

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