Dr. Oz Swoops into Chicago to Motivate 'Challenge' Group - New York News

Dr. Oz Swoops into Chicago to Motivate 'Challenge' Group

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It's a new year, a new decade and no better time to commit to be fit. FOX Chicago and The Dr. Oz Show have teamed up for a year-long ultimate health and fitness challenge. Nearly two dozen of our staffers signed up, and now FOX viewers are hopping on board as well.

Dr. Oz himself recently swooped into town with some wizardly advice for the participants. It began with a high-spirited round of high fives after Oz jumped off his gigantic bus (which doubles as mobile TV studio) near Navy Pier. He was greeted by about a dozen FOX staffers and another dozen FOX Chicago News and Dr. Oz Show viewers.

"We are going to win the battle against obesity by making it easy to do the right thing," Oz said as the group huddled around him. They were cold and shivering a bit, but all ears.

"It's not about willpower," Oz said. "If we're going to do a diet program for a year, it's not to focus on the calories but to focus on changing our bio chemistry."

Last month, the FOX Chicago employees, clamoring to get back to their fighting weight, agreed to make 2010 the year they would change their diet and exercise habits for good by following the principles in Dr. Oz's best-selling You on a Diet book.

"Remember it's not a wind sprint, it's a marathon," Oz said.

In January, the group began the challenge by cleaning out their kitchens; all the foods that Dr. Oz says are sabotaging healthy eating with unhealthy temptations had to go.

"Especially all the white foods, white bread, white pasta white sugar, the soft drinks, all the sugars that we so quickly gravitate to," Oz said.

After FOX's first report on this challenge aired, viewers of the newscast wanted to get in on the action.

"This is the recipe for success," Oz said as he passed out copies of his book to the group surrounding his bus.

Then he continued explaining his program.

"The second thing is you got to automate your meals," he said. " I want you to eat the same breakfast, the same lunch and the same snacks every day so at that bewitching hour when you want something in your mouth, you're not going to go to the closest vending machine and try to find something that's got reasonable food in it, because that doesn't exist in a vending machine."

The third step, he said, is to walk at least 1,000 steps a day.

"So instead of taking an elevator, take your steps to work, and you've got your steps in," he said.

And the fourth step? Oz says this group needs to support one another.

"You're going to hold her accountable and you're not going to enable her," he said to two FOX viewers and long-time friends who came together to meet Dr. Oz. "And this is important. Thin people make other people thin. Heavy people make other people heavy, so if you hang out with other heavy people, you're going to get heavy. So you're going to clean out your friends as well as your kitchen!"

They nodded and smiled in agreement.

Everyone in the group is now motivating one another through a public blog on myfoxchicago.com , sharing their experiences about what works for them, what doesn't, and encouraging each other through the rough patches.

"People do not change their lives based on what they know, they change their lives based on what they feel," Oz said.

FOX Chicago News' Assistant News Director Geoff Dankert asked Oz about eating before bedtime.

"One of the things you talk about in your book is not eating anything for three hours before you go to bed," he said, explaining he found that hard to do.

"The problem is when you eat late at night, you don't sleep as well, and not sleeping is a big problem for weight gain," Oz responded.

"I have a sweet tooth," said FOX Chicago News Executive Producer Pete Odon. "Do I have to give up all sweets?"

Oz shook his head.

"It's not the chocolate bar that makes you fat, it's the fact that you've got sugar in your salad dressings, in your condiments, sugar stuck in every bit of fast food you'll ever eat. It's the sugar you don't even realize that's in there that is the problem," Oz said.

FOX Chicago viewer Anthony Marzullo told Oz he has fought weight issues his entire life. He said the last time he made a real effort to slim down, "I got plateaued at 37 pounds. And it just seems like when I start on the diet, I'll lose the weight at first, but then I stop because it doesn't feel like I'm doing the right things."

"One answer is to build muscle mass. It's absolutely essential when men begin to plateau," Oz said.

Already, some of the participants say the Oz program is paying off. FOX Chicago News viewer Kris Hildy from Mundelein says Dr. Oz's advice to eat walnuts, almonds and peanuts 20 minutes before a meal helps her manage portion control at dinner, and FOX viewer Deb Lawrence from Winnetka says Oz's suggestion to try chia seeds, steel cut oats and agave sweetener was a good one. She says they actually taste good and are satisfying.

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