Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

All about ‘You’

Whirlwind ‘RealAge’ doctor, author defies time

December 24, 2006

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— "RealAge" Dr. Michael F. Roizen has a lot of tools to spread his gospel of healthy living: best-selling books, radio call-in shows, regular TV appearances and, perhaps, his own energy and enthusiasm.

"I'll yell at the patient or I'll do whatever it takes to get the patient to become healthy, but I don't succeed with everyone. But I do try. I am persistent," says the 60-year-old Roizen with a smile that suggests he doesn't fail often.

Roizen, whose nominal profession is putting people to sleep as an anesthesiologist, seems bent on wakefulness, buzzing through 14-hour days that don't end until the pedometer on his belt shows 10,000 daily steps, perhaps four miles.

"Probably closer to five," he cheerfully corrects.

Weekends? There are carefully scripted exercise routines, Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games, time with his wife and lengthy conference calls from Cleveland to New York with his fellow doctor and book collaborator, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz.

Their latest best-seller: "You: on a Diet," subtitled "The Owner's Manual for Waist Management," was No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list of advice books in mid-December, and their book, "You: the Owner's Manual" was No. 7.

To look at Roizen, it's clear that his waist self-management is working flawlessly for him. His face is unlined, and at 5 feet, 4 inches tall, he wears his 135 pounds well.

Did he ever struggle with weight, the bane of his book and his medical inclinations? Roizen offers a brief frown, a glance at the ceiling of his book-lined office - many of them his books, buttressed by awards, plaques and appreciative letters - and acknowledges yes, years ago in between competitive squash seasons.

Dr. Michael F. Roizen and book collaborator, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz' book "You on a Diet" rests on a table in Roizen's office as Roizen gives an interview at the Cleveland Clinic. Roizen is 60, but by the standards of his RealAge test, he's the equivalent of a 42-year-old, perhaps a few months younger.

Dr. Michael F. Roizen and book collaborator, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz' book "You on a Diet" rests on a table in Roizen's office as Roizen gives an interview at the Cleveland Clinic. Roizen is 60, but by the standards of his RealAge test, he's the equivalent of a 42-year-old, perhaps a few months younger.

Roizen, whose offseason weight would balloon to perhaps to 150 pounds before the beast was subdued, says dieting and a healthy lifestyle have been too much trouble for most people.

"We have not made healthy as much fun as we've made video games or as much fun as we made reality shows, and it should be," he says. "The mistake we've made with healthy is not making it understandable enough for everyone to enjoy their own body and understand what's going on."

That's where the YOU brand enters the picture. Like the earlier Roizen-Oz books, "You: The Smart Patient" and "You: The Owner's Manual," "You: On a Diet" offers healthy advice in simple language meant for the masses.

Example: They describe fat as an energy bank account for making needed withdrawals and compare cholesterol in arteries to grout used to fix cracks in shower tiles.

Self-help

Separately, Roizen has written five books in his blockbuster "RealAge" franchise offering the tantalizing idea that good lifestyle habits can make you look and feel younger than your chronological age.

His 61st birthday will be Jan. 7, but by the standards of his online "RealAge" test, he's the equivalent of a 42-year-old, perhaps a few months younger. Even better, Roizen's relentless healthy eating and exercise mean he's widening the gap.

"Right now, I'm gaining about 0.8 years for every year I'm aging chronologically," he says.

Oz is impressed with Roizen's self-help results and acknowledges that the two look about the same age, even though Oz is 46. And, Oz jokes, "He's always in a good mood. I have no idea what drug it is. I don't know how he does it."

Oz, a surgeon, says he brings to their collaboration an ability to simplify complex medical issues, while Roizen can recall mind-numbing data that helps cast the right solution for a problem.

"He's so damn smart that at times he can lose you," an admiring Oz says in an interview from New York. "Mike gets to some people, and I get to some people."

Their collaboration goes back three years when a mutual friend introduced them. "Within, I think, probably 15 minutes we realized that each of us filled a big gap in the other person's repertoire," Oz says.

Roizen, whose TV appearances include "The Oprah Winfrey Show," wound up at the Cleveland Clinic after he was ousted from his nine-month stint as a medical school dean in Syracuse, N.Y. Roizen says he ruffled feathers by his outspoken calls for a children's hospital and attempts to shake up the staff.

Transforming lives

The Roizen-Oz collaboration has netted results for Ann Coakley Anderson, 54, who became a Roizen disciple after Roizen spoke at the HealthSpace Cleveland museum near his Cleveland Clinic base.

"People who follow his regimen get so pumped. It does transform their lives," Anderson said. She calculated her "RealAge" at 39 and listed benefits including stronger nails, more flexibility, glistening eyes and hair and more energy. Her weight following Roizen's rules increased from 118 to 120, reflecting denser muscles from working with weights.

Anderson was skeptical about Roizen's smooth face and young looks and once asked him if cosmetic surgery had been added to his self-help routine. She said Roizen rolled his eyes and said, "No way."

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