October 24, 2018

Fit over 50

Some people, as they age, long to recapture the youth, health and muscle tone of their 20-year-old bodies. 

But not cosmetic dentist and TV star Dr. Bill Dorfman. At 57, Dorfman will tell you that he is in the best shape of his life. 

“I have better abs now than I had when I was in my 20s,” said Dorfman, the featured dentist on the ABC hit series “Extreme Makeover” and a regular on the daytime talk show “The Doctors.” 

“We have a joke when I go to my doctor. He says: ‘What do you think your body fat is?’ And I’m like, ‘Zero,’ and we laugh. My body fat is like 6 percent … I’m more fit, I’m harder, I’m more defined than I was in my 20s.”

What’s the secret? Dorfman, who is active in the world of fitness and beauty, said his recipe for a healthy body at any age is surprisingly simple. He exercises daily, avoids processed foods and gorging on desserts, and checks in with his doctor regularly. 

In fact, the Los Angeles native’s overriding health and fitness strategy could be summed up in one word: consistency. While some people switch between fad diets or let exercise slide when times get busy, Dorfman said he has stuck diligently to the same health and fitness regimen for most of his adult life. 

An athlete since high school, he said he became serious about staying in shape while studying to be a dentist because he realized that unless he worked out, his back, neck and arms would cramp from constantly bending over.

“I really became religious about working out,” said Dorfman, a father of three who grew up attending the Conservative Temple Ramat Zion but considers himself Reform. “It’s just been a lifelong maintenance program. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and said, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to get in shape.’ ”

No matter where he is or what he has on his schedule, Dorfman said, he makes time to exercise every day for one hour. He alternates between two routines: One day he’ll do strength-training using weights, concentrating mostly on his upper body but also doing a few leg exercises. Dorfman said he meets with a fitness trainer every few months to adjust the exercises, giving him an opportunity to work different muscles and to avoid getting bored. On the alternate day, Dorfman said he swims for about 30 minutes and spends another 30 minutes doing an abdominal workout.

Should you do the same program? Not necessarily, according to Dorfman, of Century City Aesthetic Dentistry, who counts Eva Longoria, Katy Perry and Jessica Simpson among his clients. Swimming, for example, can be a tough sport to take up if you didn’t swim earlier in life, he said. The most important approach is to choose an activity or routine that you can realistically do every day or every other day, he said. 

“Don’t go crazy. Do something that you can replicate every day or every other day to start off with, whether it’s walking or doing the treadmill or biking or spin class. Something that you can actually maintain,” he stressed. “You really need to do something that’s sustainable, and for everybody it’s a different level.”

Much like his fitness regimen, Dorfman likes to keep things simple when it comes to diet. He said he’s been eating exactly the same way for the past 30 years.

His basic rules: Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Stay away from processed food, junk food, fried food, heavy creams and desserts. 

“Not that I’ll never have a cookie. I’ll have a cookie once in a while, but I don’t have the whole box, I’ll just have one or two,” Dorfman said. “And it’s not like I’ll never have a piece of pie, but I won’t eat the whole pie.”

He doesn’t eat pizza, he doesn’t eat French fries and he doesn’t drink alcohol.

“My motto is: I’d rather have a six-pack than a keg,” he said. “I personally don’t like drinking. … If you ask me, I’d say you don’t need it. Alcohol is poison after all. If you look at men’s physiques as they age, men who drink a lot of beer don’t have the greatest abs.”

Dorfman’s meal plan is the same every day. For breakfast, he has a big protein shake with whey protein, fruit juice, a little water, flax seed, oat bran and mixed berries. He said he drinks three big glasses of the shake. For lunch, the dentist eats a turkey sandwich and two pieces of fruit.

Dinner is more flexible, but usually consists of some kind of protein (meat or fish) and salad or vegetables. Occasionally he’ll have a little sorbet for dessert. He doesn’t shy away from the breadbasket, either, he said, though he doesn’t add butter.

Although Dorfman said he typically doesn’t snack during the day, if he’s working at night and feeling hungry he’ll have something light, usually red, green and yellow bell peppers with some hummus.

“There’s two kinds of people in this world when it comes to food — those who live to eat and those who eat to live. I’m definitely an eat-to-live guy,” he said. “I like food, but I’m surely not a foodie. I’m the boringest eater ever.”

Dorfman supplements his diet with a vitamin regimen devised by his doctor, and also takes red yeast extract, which is purported to reduce cholesterol. He recommends people also incorporate oat bran and flax seed into their diets as they age. For vitamins, he suggests talking to your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.

Even though he feels physically fit and healthy, Dorfman said he never misses his annual medical checkup. He suggests others do the same, particularly as they age. 

“We get so wrapped up in our lives we forget to do it, but it’s critical,” he said. “If you have a condition, like, in the worst-case scenario, cancer, early detection is critical for success. If they find cancer early, almost any kind of cancer you have they’ll be able to cure. 

“As far as fitness and health, one of the most important things you can do is to get a physical every year.”