I was the poster boy for pizza and beer,” says funnyman Drew Carey. For years he was known as much for his oversized appearance as for his wit on The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It, Anyway? So, the audience was pretty surprised when the 52-year-old host of The Price Is Right walked onstage for the September 20 season premiere of the game show—having lost a stunning 80 pounds!
Diabetes Mellitis (Type II)
Attention Deficit Disorder
“I was tired of being fat,” says Drew, who was diagnosed in 2009 with high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, and has a family history of heart disease. “My father died of a heart attack when he was in his 40s,” reveals Drew, who weighed 262 pounds in 2009, his highest weight ever. “I knew I could die young, too, if I didn’t change my lifestyle.”
Scared straight This was not Drew’s first health scare. In 2001, he experienced chest pains while taping The Drew Carey Show. Then 43, Drew was rushed to the hospital. Doctors found he had a blocked artery and immediately performed an angioplasty (an artery-clearing procedure). After a short spell on a healthier regimen, however, Drew continued to overeat and underexercise. But his 2009 diabetes diagnosis was one more incentive to lose weight. Drew’s doctor advised him to lose weight and get fit, and prescribed a glucose-lowering oral medication. Drew was concerned about what would happen if he didn’t follow his doctor’s orders, especially upon learning that diabetes put him at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
At first, Drew admits, “I was in denial after learning I had diabetes. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to monitor my glucose levels. It was one more pill to take and one more thing I had wrong with me. I knew I had brought it on myself by not exercising or eating right.”
Making resolutions By the New Year’s holiday, Drew was determined to shed the excess pounds. He booked an appointment with Dr. Christian Renna, a preventive medicine expert and coauthor of Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life: 28 Days to Feeling Better Than You Ever Have (Wiley, 2003). Dr. Renna recommended Drew go on a low-fat, low-carb diet and do a strenuous cardio workout daily. It was a strict routine even for this former Marine reservist who once aced the Corps’ physical-fitness exam. “The first week, I wanted to chew my arm off,” Drew says with a laugh. “But then my blood sugar levels settled and I felt better. I began losing weight. I loved watching the numbers on the scale go down.”
Drew’s goal: to reach 170 pounds, a healthy weight for his 5’10’’ frame. By eating a breakfast of egg whites and Greek yogurt, a lunch of meat and vegetables, and a dinner of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, he’s watched the pounds melt off since January 2010.
He also does a 45-minute workout each day, running on the treadmill or swimming. And he’s traded in his size-44 pants for a 32, a size he hadn’t worn since the 1980s.
No laughing matter Drew admits that his days playing comedy clubs—with the constant travel, late-night gigs and his penchant for fast food—contributed to his weight gain. But the 2001 angioplasty was a wake-up call that started Drew on a healthy eating and exercise plan. However, when his mother became terminally ill in 2002, his health regimen fell by the wayside as he commuted between his home in Los Angeles and his family’s home in Cleveland to be by her side as often as possible.
“I ate out a lot. I’d order a burger or steak, drink several sodas, and eat tons of rolls and a salad with lots of ranch dressing,” he admits. “Then I’d have dessert. I wouldn’t touch any vegetables on my plate.”
In 2007, though, Drew found himself in a good place, both personally and professionally. After being named Bob Barker’s replacement as host of The Price is Right, he became engaged to Nicole Jaracz, a chef and the mom of a then-two-year-old son, Connor. Drew’s role as stepfather provided him with the motivation he needed.
“Connor would want me to play with him. After a few minutes, I’d be out of breath,” Drew says. “I knew I needed to lose weight if I wanted to see Connor graduate from high school.”
Once Drew committed to following Dr. Renna’s diet plan, Nicole and Connor became Drew’s biggest supporters. Nicole would entice him with healthy home-cooked dishes, and both she and Connor would cheer Drew on during workouts. He slowly lost his craving for high-fat foods and discovered he liked many of the vegetables he once pushed aside.
New goals This past July, Drew sadly returned to Ohio for his brother Neal’s funeral. Neal had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 64. Losing his brother to heart disease reinforced Drew’s commitment to good health. In August, he completed his first 10K race. Then he learned his cholesterol and glucose levels were in the normal range. His doctor lowered the dosage of Drew’s cholesterol medication and said he no longer needed pills for his diabetes.
Today, Drew’s only regret is not having adopted a healthy lifestyle sooner. He no longer needs to take afternoon naps, and is amazed by his high energy level. A big sports fan and co-owner of the Seattle Sounders professional soccer team, he looks forward to participating in sports he once could only watch from the sidelines.
“Friends would ask me to go camping, kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. I always declined because I was fat and out of shape,” Drew confesses. “Now I want to enjoy an active lifestyle. I want to join an indoor soccer league in Los Angeles.”
And now when fans approach him on the Price is Right set, it’s not just to ask for his autograph. They also want to know his secret for losing weight. “There really is no secret,” he says. “It’s a matter of setting a goal and being committed to exercising and making healthy food choices. I tell people that if I can do this, anyone can.”
Controlling Diabetes and High Cholesterol
• Enjoy soy. Increased intake of soy protein can significantly reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also lowers the ratio of LDL to HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
• Go green. Green tea effectively lowers levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. It also increases HDL cholesterol. Researchers recommend you drink 2-3 cups a day or take 100-750 mg of green-tea extract each day.
• Feed on fiber. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, barley, citrus fruits and strawberries.
• Add exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is recommended to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Don’t have a 30-minute block of time to spare? Try three 10-minute walks.
• Snack on blue. Antioxidant-rich blueberries reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease and cancer. Drinking two blueberry smoothies (see recipe, page 59) a day has helped overweight people with pre-diabetes to improve their
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