Every job change comes with lifestyle changes: You adjust to a different commute, switch your coffee place, maybe spiff up your wardrobe (a handbag upgrade is always in order, am I right?). But when you begin to work for Dr. Mehmet Oz, world-famous cardiothoracic surgeon and healthy lifestyle guru, the changes you make are a little out of the ordinary.
Three months ago I signed on to be the official launch editor of his new magazine, Dr. Oz The Good Life, and that's all the time it took for Dr. Oz to rub off on me. Honestly, I was as surprised as anyone by the cascade of tiny self-improvements I never expected to make. No, I am not a virtuous paragon of health. My habits aren't perfect, my body is far from it. No one has even noticed this Jill upgrade, and no one profits from it except me and maybe a few kale farmers. But I'm pretty psyched that at age 48, I'm doing more than just basic maintenance on my body and mind. Here are a few things I'm trying -- they might be worth it for you, too.
1. I GOT ON BOARD WITH GREEN TEA. FINALLY. It's just ridiculously good for you, like drinking a salad's worth of antioxidants. After working on a mini report about the power brew for our October/November issue, which just hit newsstands, I couldn't hold out anymore. Once I learned that Dr. Oz was fine with adding honey, a green/jasmine blend even tasted good. Within a few weeks I was drinking it straight and actually enjoying it. Yesterday I discovered why Dr. Oz likes green tea so much: It gives him a gentler caffeine buzz. He doesn't drink coffee because he still does surgery on a weekly basis and can't take a bathroom break with a patient's heart in his hands. Also, those hands can't shake. Ever. So he won't down anything that makes him jittery.
2. I STARTED USING READING GLASSES (WHO CARES IF I LOOK DORKY IN THEM?) I've been squinting at my iPhone and any small-print text for a year now, but refused to suck it up and get readers. Now, as I type this, I am wearing a big 'ole horn-rimmed pair. When you hang around with Dr. Oz a lot, you prioritize your well-being and effectiveness over vanity. Watching him this summer on the extraordinary reality show New York Med, I was struck by his doctoring skills, but also by how he looked. He zoomed around New York Presbyterian hospital in no makeup, hair rumpled, exhaustion written all over his face after hours in surgery. In the days I've spent with him since taking this job, I've never seen him glance at a mirror or a monitor. Message to me: It's about getting stuff done, not how you look doing it.
3. I FOUND MY AUTO-LUNCH. Dr. Oz talks about automating your eating -- essentially, he says that if you have to think too hard about making healthy food choices, you'll slip up and eat junk. So figure out a handful of good options you know you like and eat them over and over again. Here are my three go-to lunches: hummus with pretzel chips and raw veggies; salmon sushi with a side of edamame beans; and a salad bar jumble of fresh veggies, quinoa, walnuts, hard-boiled egg, and feta cheese with olive oil and vinegar. When I'm in a rush I even have a code for my assistant: "Please pick me up auto-lunch 1!" And if there's a kale salad on a restaurant menu, I'm ordering it. Done and done.
4. I RETHINK THE SECOND DRINK. I will not lie: I like a cocktail on the weekend. But I used to follow it up with a glass of wine, even though it strained my puny alcohol tolerance and meant I had to take some Tylenol before bed. Now I feel weird intentionally doing something that means I have to medicate to function well the next morning. Dr. Oz drinks, but he savors one glass of wine or pour of tequila (his booze of choice -- surprising, right?), makes it last, and stops there. His approach makes sense to me now. My new concern: What does it mean if this working mom starts looking forward to a Friday night martini on Tuesday afternoon?
5. I SAY "I LOVE YOU" TO MY HUSBAND AND KIDS, AND I DON'T CARE WHO HEARS ME. I was a little surprised the first time Dr. Oz was on his cell talking to his wife, Lisa, and signed off with "I love you." People -- men especially -- don't tend to do that when others are within earshot. I work closely with Lisa and heard her do the same with her husband. Now I know this is their way with each other and their four children. They are a very love-y family, this Oz bunch, and make no bones about it. I generally keep family calls short and snappy when I'm at the office. Now, if it's my husband, Robert, or my daughters, I still keep it short but I never leave out the "I love you," even if colleagues are around, because that's a part of me, and everyone. Why not let it show?