Dr. Oz Ultimate Health and Fitness Challenge - FOX 32 News Chicago

Dr. Oz Ultimate Health and Fitness Challenge


Every year in America, more than 80 million Americans go on a diet, yet only about 2 percent actually succeed at keeping the weight off. Dr. Mehmet Oz wants to change that, and he's encouraging the viewers of his daytime TV talk show to take a year-long health and fitness challenge.

Turns out, Oz has quite a few fans of his show at FOX Chicago, and they're determined to pass the challenge. Among them is noon show Executive Producer Pete Odon of Arlington Heights. Pete is 54 and a married father of three teenagers.

"He looks a little chubby," said Pete's son Steve. "I think he just needs to fix his diet."

Once upon a time, 5 foot 9. Pete says, he was a sprightly 170 pounds. Today, he weighs in at 211 and a half pounds.

"I’d be happy to weigh 180 again," Pete said. "180 would be a good goal."

That's where Dr. Oz comes in. Pete is about to read "You on a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management". Dr Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen co-wrote the book several years ago and have just released a revised and updated version. The first time around the book hit number one on the New York Times Best Seller List.

On a January morning, Pete, Steve and Pete's other kids Katie and Tom went through the family kitchen removing foods that Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen say Pete can no longer have. Foods that contain simple sugars and syrups, dextrose, corn sweetener, hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils, among others, must go.

Pete’s son Tom cheerfully informed his father that even Rice Krispies had to be removed from the pantry. It was tossed along with salad dressings, chips, margarine and even yogurt.

"Replace things like the jelly and soda and white flours," Dr. Oz' book reads. "All breads and pastas should be 100 percent grain."

"What about eating this in moderation?" Pete asked, to which his son reminded him that plan hadn’t worked well thus far.

Pete is just one of some two dozen FOX Chicago employees who've committed to Dr. Oz's program. The book explores the biology behind lasting weight loss, and the plan reveals proven methods to replace irrational eating with healthy habits.

The FOX staffers all have very different reasons for wanting to partake.

"I'm just not comfortable," said Assistant News Director Geoff Dankert. "Stuff doesn't fit the way it should. I am aware of it -- of the extra weight I am carrying -- constantly."

"Two years ago I hurt myself, had to go through physical therapy and wasn't able to exercise or run any longer," said Web Manager Kirsten Miller. "I got really depressed and I ate and ate and ate, and here I am, 35 pounds later."

Even on-air personalities like Meteorologist Amy Freeze and yours truly, Special Projects Reporter, Mark Saxenmeyer have joined in to slim down.

At 6 foot 2, I weighed 180 pounds a decade ago; today I tip the scales at 222 pounds.

At 43, weighing 200 sounds good to me.

The FOX Chicago participants are among 180 million Americans who are overweight.

"I'm addicted to starches, I’m addicted to salt," said Newsroom Planning Manager Matt Butterfield.

"I'm an emotional eater," said Rehan Aslam, producer of the 9 p.m. newscast.

"I'll finish eating dinner and then just a few minutes later, I'll get up and get some chips, get a pop, get some candy," said Accountant Nicole Rudder. "And now my little daughters are doing the exact same thing. I'm setting a terrible example."

"I just don't eat breakfast," said Web Producer Mark Bieganski.

Dr. Oz says he has a fool-proof way to combat Bieganski's problem. He calls it his Magical Breakfast Blaster, and it consists of bananas, blueberries and apple juice, along with various healthy powders such as soy protein ( view the recipe ). It's not bad. I actually like it.

The excitement and the eagerness of the FOX participants may wane as the days turn into months of this year-long project, but right now they are ready and willing to make a change.

"To small waist lines," said Make-Up Artist Debbie Davis, as the group toasted with breakfast blasters.

-- Interview: Why the Dr. Oz Plan Will Succeed --

In an interview with Dr. Oz via satellite from New York City, Dr. Oz told Mark Saxenmeyer why his and Dr. Roizen's plan will succeed where others have failed.

"If you can shave off 100 lousy calories from the food you eat every day, you will effortlessly lose about 11 pounds over the course of a year, " Oz said, "which means over the course of two to three years, you will lose all of the extra weight that the average American has on board. It's one bagel or one soda, which doesn't sound like a lot, but by doing it in a gentle way your body can't figure out you're on a diet."

Dr. Oz suggests "automating" your weekly menu.

"Plan out all the breakfasts you're going to have, all the snacks you're going to have and all the lunches you're going to have," he said. "Try to eat the same thing or close to the same thing every day of the week. That way you won't cheat. For dinner, I'll let you go a little wild. For dinner, you can enjoy yourself a little bit more."

Dr. Oz claims that those who have tried his and Dr. Roizen's diet plan have had an 80 to 90 percent success rate.

"We just put into the book what doctors know to be true about the biology of blubber," he said.

Editor's note: In the coming weeks and months on FOX Chicago News and myfoxchicago.com, we'll be bringing you more details about how Dr. Oz's plan works, along with updates on the progress of the staffers who've committed to his plan. We'd also like you, our viewers, to join in the challenge with us. Be a part of the group and get the support and encouragement you need to stick with the plan by joining our group blog where you'll read about our ups and downs with the program, and you can share yours as well.

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