Meet Dr. Ian Smith.
This Chicago local knows how to keep busy. Dr. Ian Smith has served as the medical/diet expert for six seasons on VH1's highly-rated Celebrity Fit Club, and is a medical contributor on the nationally syndicated Rachel Ray television show.
Ian is also the host of his own nationally syndicated radio show Health Watch on American Urban Radio Networks, appointee by President Obama to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and author. In addition to his numerous books including The Fat Smash Diet he has also written for Time, Newsweek, Men's Health, and the New York Daily News.
In this exclusive interview Ian talked to us about his career, his new book The Truth About Men, and making a life in the Windy City.
How did you get into health and fitness? Was it something you were always interested in, or did the interest evolve as you got older?
I've always been a sportsman. I played basketball in college and almost every sport as a child growing up. When I became a physician, my desire was to help people in the fitness arena. I became interested in nutrition and weight loss when I became a columnist for TIME Magazine. My readers were always e-mailing me about diets, nutritional supplements, and fat burners. I saw there was a real need out there for honest answers and lots of people being taken advantage of by gimmicks and products that didn't work and were harmful. I wanted to give people the truth and help them.
You are the medical/diet expert for VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, correct? How did you get involved with the show, and how do you impact the outcome of the show?
I was the medical/diet expert for 6 of the 7 seasons. The new executive producer e-mailed me randomly and asked me to be a part of it. I said no at first, but he flew in to see me and convinced me it was going to be something worth my while. My job was to set the diet and nutritional structure for the show and celebrities. My bestselling diet book, The Fat Smash Diet was developed on the show for the celebrities. People love that diet to this day!
What's the most rewarding part for you of Celebrity Fit Club?
Getting the feedback from the regular viewers at home who follow the weight loss advice I give to the celebrities. When they say how much weight they've lost or how my diet has helped them, then all of the work and sacrifices I make are worth it. My biggest reward is the success of those who follow my program and learn from my advice.
You are the author of "The Truth About Men." Who is the audience and what can a reader expect when they open it up?
The audience is anyone who has XX chromosomes and is over the age of 18. This is because women of all ages--single and married--want to know why men do what they do and why they think what they think. Whether you've been in a relationship with a guy for 15 years or 15 days, there is always something you can learn about men. Women can expect the honest, straightforward truth about what goes on in the minds of men. This is not a book that says that men are right or wrong or vice versa. (Men are wrong a lot of the time, by the way.) This is a nonjudgmental book. This book simply says if you want men decoded, if you want to know what they talk about in the locker room, if you want to know why they are slower to propose or don't want you to have the keys to their apartment, then this book will give you many answers and a new perspective. My goal with this book is to help women get into the minds of men so that they can better understand the often contradictory and irrational male behavior, and have a better chance of forging a positive and lasting relationship.
How long has the book been in the works?
Not very long. I wrote this book on a lark as I was tired of my single, funny, smart, attractive, well-employed female friends complaining about not being able to find men and how lonely they were. I simply couldn't imagine how these wonderful women were still single and looking for someone. I finally realized that it wasn't just my friends having this problem, but women across the country. I also realized that my friends were asking me simple questions about men that I thought everyone knew the answers to. They told me that I should put these answers in a book in straight talk as women around the country need to hear the truth. Sometimes the truth is tough to hear, but it's the truth and I believe truths are better than lies. Lots of women have e-mailed or tweeted me about how much the book has helped them and given them a better understanding. Married woman have been equally vigorous in their praise.
Throughout the book you routinely debunk things said by relationship columnists. Has that led to some critiques from those who make a living telling women what men are thinking?
Of course. But what I write in the book is not my opinion, but what surveys and studies show. This book isn't me sitting on a park bench just coming up with things to say. Enough people already do that. I wanted to be able to back up many of the things I mention in the book with credible data. The sad thing is that many of the myths that are perpetrated about men really do both men and women a disservice. If the dialogue were more honest, then I believe there would be a narrower communication gap between the genders. We will always have our differences, but it doesn't mean we can't do a better job of overcoming them so that we can get along better.
Something in the book caught our eye about the Unnecessary Pressure of Titles. Why do you think women are often eager to add titles whereas men are intimidated by them?
Because for women it gives a sense of security. It's about definitions, and titles give that, especially when things are otherwise ambiguous. Guys don't like them for the exact reasons why women do. Most men like to be undefined as it gives them a (false) sense of freedom and un-attachment.
Tell us about the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Is PCFSN more of an advisory organization or does the group have an active role in policy and decisions?
We don't have a role in policy and decisions, because we are not a political group. Our job is to advise and stimulate conversation and communities to adopt healthier lifestyles. We meet in Washington at least twice a year and discuss ways to work with the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign, but also how to make changes at the grassroots community level. The Council is full of very prominent members who have been leaders and winners in their discipline: Billie Jean King, Michele Kwan, Chris Paul, Carl Edwards, Drew Brees, Grant Hill, Dominque Dawes--just to name a few. We are determined to make a difference as the country needs us more than ever before given the obesity epidemic that is injuring us in too many ways.
You were personally named by President Obama, yes? What exactly is your role in the group? How does the council benefit from your expertise?
Yes, I am a Presidential appointee. My role, like the other council members is to work with the rest of the country to promote fitness, sports, and nutrition . The council has been revamped and lots of bold face names are members. We all have our expertise and contribute in that manner. I focus on the fitness and nutrition. I, like other council members, travel the country and speak to groups large and small--at no cost--hoping to educate and engage our fellow Americans to adopt healthier behaviors.
What can we expect next from you?
Right now I'm doing a lot of free twitter challenges where I tweet out to those who want to sample my new diet that's coming out next year. I start a 7-day challenge every Monday. The average weight loss so far has been 5 lbs in just seven days. People can follow me and get the plan for free. My twitter handle is @doctoriansmith. I'm also working on a children's picture book series that teaches young children the benefits of living a healthy life.