BY CINDY PEARLMAN | FOR THE SUN-TIMES
He calls it his Chicago un-diet.
Freddy Rodriguez, 40, actually spends weeks in the gym before he returns to his former stomping ground in Chicago.
The actor, known for his role in “Six Feet Under” and now a star of NBC’s “The Night Shift,” says, “The food is so incredible in Chicago. All I ever want to do when I come home is eat. I’m not kidding you. I have a list and I have to hit every single one of my food places. It’s a food culture in Chicago. Even at my family’s house, everything revolves around food.”
Rodriguez says that the cheese enchiladas at his family’s house can’t be beat. “My cousin-in-law Jackie, is probably one of the best cooks in the whole family. We go to her house to EAT,” he says, laughing. “It’s not to hang out, but to EAT. The house is food central. Even when I’m in Los Angeles, Jackie is sending me photos of food and saying, ‘Look what I made!’”
“I’m eating a salad and text back, ‘Thanks a lot!’”
So what if YOUR family likes to EAT?
Rodriguez offers this heath tip. “If you know you’re going on a vacation or going into a period of a lot of eating, you have to hit it hard at the gym. You have to go every single day,” he says. “Vow to do something extra every single day to get your body moving.
“I work my a— off before I come to my favorite city, Chicago,” says the Lincoln Park High School grad, whose career is also expanding these days.
Rodriguez plays Michael Ragosa on NBC’s medical drama “The Night Shift.” He’s the enforcer of hospital protocol who after a personal health scare decides to revamp his life.
“I’ve never played a character like this one. There is a big change for him this season. He has had a tumor removed from the back of his eye and almost died in the process,” he said. “He has started to examine his own life, quits his job in dramatic profession and decides to go into the profession he always wanted, which is to become a doctor. He went to medical school and dropped out a few credits shy of graduating, so very little is required for him to finish school. He goes from hospital administrator to a doctor dealing with life and death.”
Rodriguez says his TV doctoring doesn’t mean he has become some WebMD addict. “I’m a pretty healthy guy, so thank God I’m not feeling the slightest pain and then looking it up, only to scare myself to death,” he says. “I have become more conscious of good health because you just never know.A buddy of mine just died of an aneurism and he’s my age. It makes you really appreciate life and the people around you.”
Rodriguez ecided to focus on his own health. “I’ve made a conscious effort in the last five to seven years to go in the direction of good health,” he says. “In your 20s, most people think that you can eat anything and you do. You don’t really feel the need to exercise. You can go out drinking all night. Then you hit your 30s and you know that you can’t live like you’re in your 20s anymore. Your body reminds you that you can’t do it,” he says. “You have to make a shift and change the bad habits or your body will go in a bad direction.”
His personal program includes walks along the lake in Chicago. “I hit the weights pretty hard, so I can come to Chicago and eat that deep dish pizza, Italian beef or hotdogs.
“I do my weight routine four or five days a week,” he says.
Rodriguez admits, “I don’t love cardio, but I’m not a spring chicken anymore so I have to do it. I try to get outside to walk because when I’m on a treadmill, I feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel. It’s so awful that I have to get outside.”
Rodriguez grew up in Chicago where he started acting at Lincoln Park High School and became heavily involved in Chicago’s early hip-hop scene as a dancer and choreographer. These days he lives in LA with his wife and two sons. He shoots his TV show in New Mexico and makes frequent visits home to the Windy City.
Big Picture News, Inc.