Dr. Robert Giller Shows Patients How to Clean Up Their Health Act
But the doctor hasn't always felt so hot himself. "About five years ago I was tired, irritable; I had trouble concentrating," says Giller. "I was helping patients lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, helping them cope with stress, but I was having the same problems." In the best physician-heal-thyself tradition, Giller devised a plan to change his way of life. Now, he has put his experiences into a book called Medical Makeover (Morrow, $16.95). With a subtitle promising a Revolutionary No-Willpower Program for Lifetime Health, his book, with 150,000 copies in print, quickly climbed onto the bestseller lists.
At a casual glance there is little in Giller's plan that seems revolutionary. It has barely created a buzz in the medical community. Neither a diet nor exercise book, it extolls those virtues while seeking to change bad eating habits. Basically, Medical Makeover is an eight-week step-by-step program to eliminate unhealthy foods, beginning with caffeine the first week, continuing with sugar and alcohol and concluding with nicotine. Giller recognizes that habits are hard to break. "They can turn into addictions," he notes, "and you can't give an addict too many things to do at one time. You have to give them a lot of small steps so one success can build on the next."
In his own case, Giller found that he was drinking coffee several times a day, wasn't careful with his diet and consumed too much booze. Rather than tackling all his problems at once, he started by concentrating on his habit of two cocktails plus wine with dinner. "I went to drinking every other day. After about a week I saw that I always felt better the mornings after no drinking. I did the same with coffee, then with sugar. I started exercising more, and everything sort of went together."
Easily the most controversial aspect of Giller's regimen is his advocacy of vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly antioxidants—beta carotene, selenium, vitamins B complex, C and E—as biochemical weapons against stress. "The AMA says there's no such thing as antistress vitamins," he admits, "but I feel antioxidants help people feel better." The same applies to chromium pills, which he claims block a craving for sweets. "That's my clinical experience," he insists.
Giller devotes a full chapter to vitamins and minerals and pointedly warns against megadoses of anything. Nor is he a fanatic on nutrition. "When people are finished with this plan, it's not like they can never have coffee or sugar again," he says. (His only absolute ban: smoking.) "After the makeover, they'll regain their energy, get rid of stresses and help prevent cancer and heart diseases," he promises.
With his boyish looks, Giller is now a living endorsement of his theories. The eldest of two sons of Russian immigrants (his parents owned a furniture store), he graduated in 1967 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Then, following two years as an intern, he served in the Army as a specialist in preventive medicine before establishing his New York practice.
Giller lives in a renovated Upper East Side brownstone with a rooftop greenhouse, where he grows orchids. He is irrepressibly active, working out three times each week at a gym, swimming at the New York Athletic Club and biking in Central Park. On weekends in East Hampton, he tools around in his 1979 Cadillac, which he had repainted pink ("I wanted a car to make me laugh"). He has never married: "Too busy," says Giller, who describes himself as a very disciplined man. "But I think it's got to happen," he adds, more in anticipation than resignation. "That's my next plan."
On Newsstands Now
- Kim's Delivery Room Drama!
- Katie: A Year After Split
- Princess Kate: Palace's Baby Plan Revealed
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine