Donald Faison, who played Dr. Christopher Turk on Scrubs, is part of a Cigna campaign where he and other TV doctors (including McDreamy) nudge people to see a real M.D. every year for a checkup. The star of Remember the Titans and Clueless has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter with wife Cacee Cobb, Jessica Simpson’s former assistant and a fixture on MTV’s Newlyweds. Faison talked to the Cut about getting shredded, losing his hair, and eating so much chicken and broccoli.
How I start my day: We get up early now because we have young children — 6:30 is the time to get your coffee and breakfast in, because if you don’t do that, you’re not going to eat until about 11. I love oatmeal. I like putting egg whites in oatmeal and sometimes I’ll put a slice of cheese in there — that’s really delicious. Sometimes I have pancakes, sometimes I have waffles. But usually breakfast is early, if I do have breakfast. Let’s be honest: I’m human so there are days where I wake up and I’m like ‘I’m not hungry’ and then eleven o’clock rolls around and I’m eating a hoagie.
On vegetables: When I did Remember the Titans, the trainer said, “chicken and broccoli for lunch and dinner, oatmeal for breakfast, and try to get a shake in there.” And I was like “uhh, is there anything else I can eat?” He said I could put fat-free cheese on top of the chicken. I was like “this sounds amazing, thank you so much.” And I did it and I got ripped.
I’m sure it has its health benefits, but really, if you just eat chicken and broccoli you are bound to shred up — get cut. Look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, that’s every young man’s dream. The unfortunate thing is that it’s hard to maintain chicken and broccoli all the time. I don’t do that anymore. Dem days is over. But if I do eat it, I will highlight it, like, “hey, look what’s back.”
How I like to sweat: I work out at Jay Glazer’s gym, Unbreakable Performance. He’s involved with the UFC and the NFL. Any given day you walk into that gym, you could be working out with the Rock, Terry Crews, or Demi Lovato, and a bunch of UFC fighters. The fighters aren’t in the Octagon and so I’m not worried about getting my face smashed in. It’s challenging, you’re doing the workouts that professional athletes do, but it’s another way to get in great shape.
On working out near the Rock: If I wanted to work out and not be around people who would motivate me, I could work out at home. But to work out in front of, or just around, the Rock, I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen what he looks like shirtless — he likes to show everybody but I’m just saying — holy cow. He is in great shape.
To me, wellness is: I have two young children and I want to see them grow. They’re 3 and 1, and I’m 42. So by the time they’re 20, I’m 60. By the time they’re 40, I’m 80. I would love to be there to see them at 42 and beyond, that would be so awesome. And the only way I can do that is through preventive care. I could sit back and relax and hope that it goes that way but you never know.
On hair loss: I shave my head so I don’t look like I’m balding. The trick is to cut it off before anybody sees it’s falling off. I’m keeping it real.
On L.A. versus New York: In New York you walk everywhere, and that’s what I did for most of my youth, just walked and played sports. Everyone has great legs in New York because they walk everywhere. Their calves are like [motions with hands]. No one walks in L.A., not even if you live downtown. So hitting the gym is definitely important, and it seems like there’s a gym on every corner. If not hitting the gym, then hiking a mountain, because we have a lot of those.
How wellness has changed for me: Staying fit is something that’s important to me as I get older. When I was younger it was just for looks, you know what I mean? I want to look good when I take my stuff off. Now, it’s all about taking control of my health and trying to stay fit.
On trying to raise healthy kids: We’re trying to make it so that our kids aren’t afraid of the doctor, because that’s a big issue with kids and that’s what kept me from going to the doctor until I was 30 years old. From when I moved out of the house and moved to Los Angeles until I was 30, I didn’t go to the doctor unless something was really wrong with me. I think that’s a bad choice.
My kid asks for peanut butter and jelly every night. My daughter’s really good with food, she’ll eat anything green. Whereas my son, we kind of have to disguise it a little bit. There’s a place where they infuse, like, broccoli and a bunch of other vegetables into a pasta sauce and the kids don’t realize it, but they’re eating vegetables at the same time.
This interview has been condensed and edited.