'Money Hungry' Host Dan Cortese on Keeping His Family Fit
Whether TV actor Dan Cortese was hosting "MTV Sports" or playing an evil brother on "Melrose Place," a "himbo" on "Seinfeld" or a flaky employee on "Veronica's Closet," one character trait remained constant: His fit physique.
Following a regular fitness routine, Cortese, 43, tells ParentDish, has been a huge priority in his life since he was 16, and that passion for exercise led him to take on hosting duties for "Money Hungry," a new weight-loss reality series on VH1, airing Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.
"Money Hungry " follows 12 pairs of contestants -- with each pair ponying up $10,000 of their own money for the chance to compete. At the end of the 10th episode, the winning team will be awarded $100,000.
Cortese, married to Dee Dee Hemby since 1994, and dad to India, 6, and Roman, 9, recently sat down with ParentDish to explain why good health is the best gift he can give his children.
ParentDish: Is fitness a big theme in your house?
Dan Cortese: Yes. We are a very active household and a healthy one, too.
PD: What do you and your wife teach your kids about the importance of staying in shape?
DC: We live on the beach and also have a pool. My daughter, India, loves to swim and dance, whereas my son, Roman, who is 9, loves to surf.
PD: Do you participate alongside them as a way to promote exercise?
DC: Yes. As a matter of fact, my son and I went surfing for three hours the other day. As for my daughter, I think she is the kid version of Lady Gaga (laughs). She can dance!
PD: What about diet?
DC: We use fresh food in our household and do not buy processed foods.
PD: How do you persuade your children to eat healthy?
DC: I do all of the cooking in our household. I also have them prepare meals with me. Not only is it fun, but it teaches them what they are putting into their bodies and the importance of eating a balanced diet.
PD: What is a typical meal?
DC: We just made fettuccine with grilled chicken. We also buy lean meats for steaks or hamburgers. My son loves fruit, too, and even orders salads when we go out to eat.
PD: Sounds yummy.
DC: While some people don't believe in carbs, I do. Hey, I'm Sicilian. I love the fact that my kids eat pasta because we make it fresh. We also eat breads that have whole grains.
PD: If we opened the door to your refrigerator what would we find?
DC: I only use fresh foods that we cook that night. Using fresh foods as opposed to processed foods is healthier and tastier, too.
PD: Do you allow your kids to eat junk food? And, if so, how do you and your wife control it?
CD: Of course we do, but we also monitor it. I tell my kids, if they ... eat the good stuff, they can have a dessert. I usually give them a scoop of ice cream.
PD: Is your love for working out what got your attention in terms of hosting this TV series?
DC: Yes. I am really proud of what these people accomplished because losing weight is really hard and many people struggle with it.
PD: What has being on the program taught you?
DC: If you stay focused, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
PD: Do you take those lessons and apply them at home?
DC: Yes. I always cheer my children on to be the best they can be. I also teach them that while doing exercise makes you look good on the outside, it is also great for your mind, as well. I love the way a good workout makes me feel on the inside.
PD: Do you let your children watch "Money Hungry"?
DC: Yes. They just recently watched an episode. My son was actually more curious as to why some of the players were being mean to each other as opposed to why they were competing in an activity.
PD: Sounds like you have a fun household?
DC: It is.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.