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Dr. Robert Rey, also known as Dr. 90210, is an accomplished plastic surgeon with a practice in Beverly Hills and a hit reality TV show. He recently wrote a book, Body by Rey, to share his expert knowledge about his diet and exercise plan. Fresh off a book tour in South Africa, Dr. Rey spoke with TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Darden Reinowski about why he wrote a book and what tips he has for everyone.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You are a plastic surgeon, yet your book is about ways to be healthy and look good without surgery. What prompted you to write Body by Rey?
Dr. Robert Rey: Mid-career I had an epiphany that plastic surgery is based a little bit on the insecurities of people, and I thought, well I've become very successful, and I thought, "Wow." And so what I decided to do is to give people an alternative to the knife. It's a lifestyle that I've always lived as a second-degree black belt in hapkido and taekwondo and as a practitioner of jiu-jitsu and the Brazilian martial arts. I have always been healthy all of my life, and I found myself constantly teaching patients: Listen, you don't need this operation if you just live this lifestyle and this diet and this exercise, you'll look great on your own.
For example, I have a freshman college student who comes to see me and says: Dr. Rey, I've gained “the freshman 15” and I need liposuction. And I say, well liposuction's not without risks. Instead, I'll teach you this wonderful diet and this wonderful exercise and you'll look great on your own.
I have one of the highest rejection rates in the world. We probably reject 90 percent of the patients that contact us. We have over 50,000 contacts a month, obviously a very international practice, and I found myself constantly teaching that. So I thought, you know I'm just going to put it on paper and that way I can just give it to patients. And the book kind of emerged out of this. And the goal I had as a man of science--I have a couple Harvard degrees--I set out to write a book as two buddies would talk to each other and I wanted it to be very easily digestible. My book is full of wonderful photos, full of recipes, and is very friendly to read. It's packed full of peer review information. I've been a surgeon 21 years, and I was top of my class in chemistry. So I know the poisons they're trying to feed us. Part of martial arts, you end up learning some of the ancient Asian homeopathic medicine and of course I've done a lot of my own studies in homeopathy. And so I bring all of that 5,000-year-old, ancient Asian homeopathy into it as well. My book is filled with herbal secrets. But most importantly it talks about the only diet that works.
TCC: Your diet plan is a modified version of the Paleo Diet, also known as the "caveman diet." How have you modified the Paleo Diet, and why do you feel it works?
Dr. Rey: We try in this book to say slow down, wait a minute. Stop drinking that bright blue drink. It doesn't exist in nature. Stop eating those Cheetos. Let's use common sense. Let's go back to the ways we used to be. It's not an accident that Okinawans in Japan live to 100. They primarily live on seaweed and fish. It just makes sense. Caloric restriction and eating natural things, that will make you live to 114. It is the soft diet of the Western societies that will kill you.
My book talks about the return to the Paleo Diet, the diet of our ancestors. We need to go back to the way we ate. We used to eat fruits and vegetables and lean meats, every three hours. So that's about six meals a day and no doughy things like refined sugar, refined wheat. To make a long story short, the world's in big trouble. I think it's 70 percent overweight and 30 percent morbidly obese. You walk down every street, it's appalling to see America today. And that's the same throughout the world. My book is very timely. It tells people that you're going to get into a lot of trouble unless you change today.
The average hunter and gatherer walks 15 miles a day. Why do I use the present tense when most hunters and gatherers lived in the Paleolithic era? Because there are still hunters and gatherers today. If you go to the Brazilian rainforests, you will find some tribes of hunters and gatherers. If you go to Africa, they are in a tribe. Do they have diabetes? No. Heart disease? No. Do they have hardening of the arteries? No. Nothing. We were designed to live the life of a hunter and gatherer.
It's modified because it's much more doable. All diets fail. All diets fail week number three. You might make it to three months, but you're not going to make it to a year. Because they're not the diet nature had conceived for us. I allow some grains. It's much more doable because I recognize cheating and tell you how to deal with it. It's much more doable because I’m telling you to eat chocolate and a number of other yummy things. I will tell you, the key to a diet that works is hunger. It is a diet that you are never hungry on. I'm never hungry. Why? Because I'm eating constantly. I'm just eating the good things or things that do minimal damage.
TCC:What makes your plan different, and what should someone expect who reads your book and follows your tips?
Dr. Rey: Dr. Cordain wrote the landmark book about eight years ago, The Paleo Diet, but it's not doable. Even for me, a super-disciplined martial artist, I could not do this diet.
Anywhere at the gym, walk anywhere you see a very handsome man all ripped and shredded, you see a very beautiful workout instructor, they're all like that, throughout the whole world. Even though they didn't speak to me, they're all on my diet. Go yourself, go to the gym and see a very beautiful person. I guarantee I know what diet they're on. Frequent meals every three hours. When you go a long time between meals, when you go eight hours between meals, you reset your metabolism very low. We need to eat very frequently like our ancestors did. We were designed to eat constantly. If you see a beautiful body in the gym, I guarantee you they're going to be eating every three hours, they're going to be eating high protein diets, lots and lots of lean meats, tons of fruits and vegetables. But I guarantee, they are not going to be eating high-glycemic, cheap carbohydrates, low nutrition. I guarantee those beautiful bodies are not going to be eating white bread; they're not going to be eating cakes. So my diet is different in this regard.
And I modify it to include cheating. We all cheat. Right? So why is it that so few diet books deal with cheating? It's normal. I just judged Miss Brazil. I guarantee you every one of those girls occasionally cheated. I even mention how cheating's OK. I have a whole chapter dedicated to cheating. Oh, it's the holidays, you cheated and ate too much? You had some of the cupcakes? Don't worry, girl, I tell you how you handle cheating.
TCC: Explain your "10/6" concept for Body Contouring.
Dr. Rey: I want you to work out ten minutes a day and have six meals a day, every three hours. If you have to cheat in between, please grab nuts or quality dark chocolate or fruit. I selected the exercises in my book very carefully. I chose the ones that are going to have the biggest bang for the buck. The “10/6” contouring program works because it's what all the body builders, all the swimsuit models are on. You know these crazy exercises advertised on TV? That's not sustainable. No one’s going to do that for more than three months.
So here's a sustainable exercise plan. Here's a sustainable diet. You will not be hungry. You can cheat. You have some fun foods. Here, I even tell you to have chocolate everyday. And if you follow this diet, you will be healthy. Like I tell in my book, I want you eating on little plates, no more than a handful of lean meat and no more than three handfuls of fruits and vegetables every three hours.
You will not be hungry. I will not allow you to be hungry. I want you to eat. I was just in the jungle. I looked out of my hut and I could see the monkeys eating constantly. That's what I want for my dear friends to do is to eat constantly, and that will reset your metabolism. There are so many wonderful plants today. Asian pears and strawberries. And in time you reset your flavors. These exaggerated flavors from Cheetos and cheeseburgers, they don't exist in nature. In time, your body adjusts itself.
So your refrigerator will look like this: first layer, every zero percent yogurt; second layer, Ezekial bread; third layer, every yummy fruit and vegetable; and fourth layer, eggs. If you look at your freezer, it will be patties of turkey. So how can you cheat? You open your refrigerator, it'll be all great things. Also lots of nuts and dark chocolate. We're going to reset our brain. We're also going to throw away the salt shaker. Unless you want to die an early death. We're supposed to eat 500mg of salt a day. We eat 10,000mg of salt a day.
TCC: You have developed a No Sweat Workout. Doesn't a person have to sweat to really get in shape?
Dr. Rey:My book has a whole chapter on exercise. You say, I'm on the road all the time; I can't exercise. Well, I'm on the road 52 weeks a year. I'm gone all the time. I have a whole chapter on an easy exercise you can do in your hotel room. Listen, our ancestors did everything possible not to sweat. Our ancestors walked. They were never rushed to go anywhere. They walked, not ran, walked to the kill about seven miles on average. The average modern man walks about 150 feet a day. So it's out of your house, to your car, from your car down a short parking lot to your office, and then it's the reverse at nighttime. Hunters and gatherers to this day walk about 15 miles, walk not run. I don't run. Running is traumatic to your joints. In my book I give you an option. I show you hotel room exercises or I give the option of walking one block, all the way around the block, at least three times a week. No excuses. No, oh tomorrow I have an early start, or it's raining or snowing.
The study from MD Anderson last August showed that if you walk around the block at least three times a week, your chances of cancer of the breast drop by 20 percent. Imagine, just a walk! I'm not asking the girls to run; I think that's too high impact. Our ancestors and the hunters and gatherers of today walked about seven miles a day to the kill and then they walk back, carrying that heavy kill--a wildebeest, an antelope, whatever they captured. So I teach people, do a little resistance work every day. You know kettlebells, dumbbells, whatever you find in your immediate environment. And push-ups, pull-ups, whatever.
Resistance work and long walks are necessary. It's a very natural, a very ergonomic book. It makes intuitive sense. Even when you listen to your body, after your walk, your body will be smiling at you. Your body will be happy. You will find you're very relaxed.
TCC: Can people expect to lose much weight on your program?
Dr. Rey: The inches are just going to pour off of them, like a cascade. Americans are in big trouble. Seventy percent are above weight. So yes, it will cascade off.
TCC:I've seen some recent photos of you, including the cover of your book, and you are obviously in great shape. Are the tips in your book all things you've tried yourself?
Dr. Rey: This is the only diet. I'm telling you as an experienced surgeon. I'm telling you as someone who lives it. There's an old Irish saying that goes something like this: "Sorry I can't hear what you're saying because you're example yells louder than what you preach." How true is that?
Here's a guy who lives it at 50. If you look at pictures of me from my book, they're not retouched. You give me any guy on the street, any guy and I'll beat him. And at 50, most guys my age can't have sex, can't get off the couch, can't do anything without a pill. I was diving with the sharks a week ago. I was doing free surgery all over Africa. You know, running around with the lions. So I can do anything. I was on the African Serengeti, and I didn't see anything there that was 30 percent fat. Nothing. Lean ostrich, lean buffalo.
Here is a diet written by a Harvard graduate, here is a diet written by an experienced surgeon, not some professor in the ivory tower. A chemist who can blow the lid on all the Western medicine lies. The enemy is not in the Middle East. What's killing America is the freaking refrigerator in the kitchen. I'm telling you as a surgeon. Sixty percent of all American diseases are coming through the mouth, from smoking to eating refined food. Doctors make a lot of money when you're on 20 pills. It's a dirty business. They want you to see them every other week. They don't want you to be healthy, at least some doctors. My diet puts you back on the diet of our ancestors. Think about it; it just makes sense. We were never supposed to be on Cheetos. We're supposed to be on fruits and vegetables and lean meat.
TCC: You are certainly toned. Does this plan work for different body types and people of different ages?
Dr. Rey: Works for seven to 107, from short to tall. Anyone can get lean.
TCC: You've said you feel half your age. Tell us how your book will help people not just LOOK better but also FEEL better.
Dr. Rey: I've discovered inner beauty really is the starting point. What makes inner beauty? Well, charity, right? Think of every time you've done something good for somebody else. Always you come home with a big smile on your face. Let's bring back the concept of faith. It's about integrity. It's when our character and our reputation match. How about dreaming? We lost the concept of dreaming. So many years in this bad economy, we don't dream anymore. Conrad Hilton, 1957, said: Dream big, think big, be big. So let's dream.
Easy for him to say, right, he owns the whole Hilton chain. No, that's when he owned that tiny little motel in Texas. Yes, he went on later on to buy the Waldorf Astoria. I was the son of a janitor. I lived in the Brazilian ghetto. I had a dream that I would swim to America, that I would go to Harvard, that I would become a plastic surgeon, that I would go to Hollywood, that I would have a hit television show. So let's dream big. That makes us beautiful inside. Let's create our own destiny. I did it.
TCC: Stress impacts everyone's lives. Do you have suggestions in your book for minimizing stress to stay healthy?
Dr. Rey: I go over all kinds of things. From yoga, meditation, prayer. Yes, prayer. Study after study after study has shown that meditation, prayer, tai chi, yoga, all decrease stress. And I spend a whole chapter in the book talking about controlling your stress. The number one enemy to plastic surgeons is not that the girl didn't take her vitamins, the girl didn't rest, it's that she went home and fought with her husband after surgery. That girl is not going to heal. It's not an accident people under stress die early. Stress is one of the biggest killers of our society.
TCC How long does a person need to stick with your diet and exercise plan to really see results?
Dr. Rey: Six weeks. I used to work out at Muscle Beach with all these former Miss Universes, Mister Universes. I tell you in December, they'd all come blubbering in like a walrus. Yet six weeks later, for the first spring competition all these guys were ripped. You think I'm ripped? These guys were ripped. How? I would look over their shoulders and see what they were eating. Basically a handful of lean meat--a handful of lean chicken, a handful of lean turkey--and yams or vegetables or salad.
TCC: So, any chance your book is going to put you out of business as a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Rey: To be honest with you, today I practice plastic surgery just to keep my title and to be able to do my charity missions, and just because I like it and it's just such a fun profession. I wrote this book because I got tired of exploiting women's insecurities. I talk in the book about inner beauty, middle beauty, and outer beauty. And the outer beauty does end in plastic surgery. But that's for someone who has already tried everything else, the creams and the exercises and everything else. So really I start the book on the inner beauty.
TCC: Are there any celebrities we might know who are fans of your diet and exercise plan?
Dr. Rey: Larry King endorsed my book, Body by Rey, and he wrote: As a caring professional, Dr. Rey advocates surgery last. He recommends diet, exercise and developing a sound mind and spirit first.
I also have Cindy Barshop. She's from The Real Housewives of New York. And she mentioned: I believe in taking advice from someone who demonstrates that they know what they're talking about.
Most celebrities who have lean bodies are going to be on a diet like mine, a modified Paleo Diet. Look at Cindy Crawford. Last year they picked the ten most beautiful women in the world. They were all over 40. Guarantee you, they all pretty much live my diet, which means frequent meals, lots of lean meats, organic meats.
TCC: Is it hard to start using the tips you have and to stick with them?
Dr. Rey: I've made it very easy. I want you to eat constantly. How easy is that? A lot of people are afraid to ask a doctor questions. My Twitter is @RobertReyMD. I try to tweet every hour or two hours.