TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz has a lot to be proud of. With his long-running hit the Dr. Oz Show, he’s been educating viewers and helping to save lives with vital health information for more than a decade, winning 10 Daytime Emmys along the way. So what makes him happiest?
“I’m proudest of my family, and the kids in particular,” the 59-year-old dad of four (and grandpa of four more!) exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “There are lots of people who’ve worked with me who have become great doctors, healers, nurses and producers, and a whole generation whose education has been enhanced because they got to work with me at the hospital or on the show.”
He’s also proud of System 20, his new food, sleep and exercise plan, but he’ll admit that developing it isn’t his all-time greatest accomplishment. Marrying his wife, Lisa, 56, nearly 35 years ago “is the best decision I ever made, without question,” he gushes. “I’ve never been happier!”
Scroll below to read our exclusive Q&A with Dr. Oz!
Great to talk with you, Dr. Oz! You recently had a fun debate with Mark Wahlberg about … breakfast?
[Laughs] I don’t mind breakfast. I just don’t think you have to eat it to be healthy, or have it right when you wake up. The argument, and it’s the backbone of our System 20 plan, is that intermittent fasting is healthy and helps your focus, in addition to weight loss. [Mark Wahlberg and I are] trying to negotiate where to compete with each other in the gym to hash it out. I’ll be fasting. He’s going to have to have a beer and burgers in his belly. And we’ll both know how to use a defibrillator by then.
Ha! You said marrying Lisa was your best decision. How has she helped you with your success?
Doing television wasn’t on my vision board. It was all Lisa. She was the Visine eyes girl [on TV], so she understood the media. She said, “Get out of the hospital and talk to people.” So we made a show for Discovery [Health Channel]. She had a bigger vision for me than I ever imagined.
You just marked a decade of the Dr. Oz Show in September, with many awards. What does that mean to you?
The biggest blessing is having people in the business say, “Kudos, high five,” because they know what it took and respect the effort you made. So it means a lot to me.
What made you want to enter medicine in the first place?
My dad’s a doctor. When I was a little boy, I’d go to the hospital and watch him. People were so happy he was able to help. There’s no more fulfilling job in the world.
Any moment put you on your path?
I remember being in an ice cream store at age 7. There was a kid who was 10, and my father asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said, “I have no idea.” My dad told me, “I don’t care what you do in life, but you never give that answer.” He felt you have the freedom to change your mind, but you need to have a goal, or you’re doing a disservice to yourself and people around you.
Did having kids and grandkids reinforce your commitment to helping others?
Whenever we have an illness in the family, my wife always jokes that I finally became useful. Everyone’s in a panic, they call you and within five minutes you can figure out, is this a dangerous thing or not? It gives me more comfort as the head of the family.
How is everyone doing?
Two grandkids are starting school now. The oldest [Philomena] is in kindergarten, and [Jovan] is in pre-K. Watching them get acclimated and go through the same thing their mother did is fascinating. I love it.
What’s the best part of being a grandpa?
Seeing my daughter Daphne Oz pass along the values that we tried to give to her.
What have your kids taught you?
A lot about social media! And they have a more thoughtful priority list. I was focused early in my career on 100 percent dedication to the work. Their generation says, “I’m going to work my tail off to do what’s best, but not when there’s no value.” It teaches me to triage my efforts.
You’ll mark 35 years with Lisa in June. What’s your secret?
My father-in-law told me: When there are small arguments, give in, so when there are big arguments, you know what it feels like. [Laughs] The real secret, seriously, is to reinvent the marriage every seven years. Relationships evolve. Men marry women exactly as they want them, and women want to change. Women marry the men they think we can become, and we don’t want to change. So we’re like two ships heading in different directions. You have to reconnect.
You’ll also turn 60 in June. Congrats! How do you plan to celebrate?
We’re going to have a big party, then go someplace exotic that we’ve never been!
What are your biggest life lessons?
Be kind whenever you can. It makes everything easier, and if you combine it with being grateful, that’s the key to happiness. There’s a deeper joy you should be seeking. If you’re not really appreciative of all the opportunities you’ve had, even if they didn’t go well, you’ll never feel that.
Anything people should know about you?
My parents are immigrants, and I think my family and many others like ours reflect the value of emigration to this country. I’m on the board of the Ellis Island Honors Society, which celebrates what immigrants have contributed. I also feel passionately about the importance of HealthCorps, our kids foundation. We touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids by getting them to realize that they have much more power over their destiny.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’m looking for more opportunities to change — that could be in public service, media ventures or traditional commerce. I want to fill the gaps wherever I can.
How do you describe this time in your life?
It’s the most blissful possible. A lot of that’s because small stuff doesn’t bother me as much. The things I used to get all worked up about begin to fade away. It’s like when I played football in college. There’s a clock, it’s ticking, and you don’t get more than 60 minutes, so you don’t want to waste any of them. I’ve stopped wasting time on things that don’t matter.
For more on Dr. Oz, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!