Art Smith was—emphasis on past tense—the rotund personal chef of Oprah Winfrey. (He also has famously cooked for President Barack Obama.) But he’s no longer interested in looking the part of a chef who enjoys food—a lot. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008 after complications from the disease killed his father and grandfather, Smith shed 120 pounds. “I realized you can only be as good as your health. I let my health go because I was so focused on building my company.”
Nowadays he’s learned that he can be healthy and successful; although he no longer cooks for Winfrey, he contributes to Oprah.com and O, The Oprah Magazine. He’s also a best-selling author whose latest cookbook, Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, came out in May; a philanthropist whose nonprofit Common Threads benefits children; and successful restaurateur with ventures in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Atlanta; and Palo Alto, Calif.
Of course, being a chef made fighting diabetes especially difficult—“I’m around food all the time, and people love to give me food.” But Smith, 53, realized that taking charge of his health was crucial for both himself and his business, so he changed his lifestyle by:
Blocking out time on his calendar for daily morning workouts.
Scheduling meals as opposed to eating on the run or skipping meals and then overeating later.
Devising healthful, plant-based meals. (His Healthy Comfort and new LYFE Kitchen, a Palo Alto restaurant, feature these affordable menu options.)
Reminding himself daily of his personal trainer’s credo about exercise—“It’s when you really don’t feel like it that you really should be doing it.”