Landscaper/designer Eduardo Xol of the popular TV show Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition is all about balance: finding it for his own life and bringing
it to the people he designs for.
His second book, Extreme Entertaining Made Simple, in bookstores Nov.
4, communicates this reassuring philosophy. “I design for all the five senses,”
Xol says, “to create a home that helps provide relaxation and balance in your
I had always been an athletic, healthy person, but in my late 30s my body
started sending signals that something was wrong. I was tired all the time. I
had no energy. I even started losing my hair.
When I went to my doctor, the staff ran blood tests, but nothing ever
pointed to a specific diagnosis. I lost weight. I couldn't keep food
down. I developed a butterfly-shaped rash on my face. I saw other doctors; they
thought it was all in my head, and, for a time, they didn't believe I was
On Extreme Makeover, Xol often designs for families with health
challenges. Five years ago, he and his family faced a crisis of their own when
his sister, Monica, then 28, was diagnosed with lupus.
What is lupus?
Some 1.5 million people in the United States -- the vast majority of them
young women between 18 and 45 -- have this often-puzzling autoimmune disease
with a constellation of symptoms ranging from joint swelling and muscle pain to
hair loss, chest pain, and rashes. Xol admits his sister is lucky. “Even though
she’s been through some rough patches, she has a very manageable form of the
To feel as well as she could, however, she needed to make some health
adjustments. “She used to drink a lot of caffeine and not enough water, didn’t
get enough exercise, and got stressed out,” he says. “For a while she was on a
medication to deal with the symptoms of lupus, but it was really hard on her
Living with lupus
“We sat down and I said, ‘hey, are the side effects from this medication
outweighing the benefits? What if you made other healthy choices first?’” Even
for people whose lupus cannot be managed without medication, making some
changes -- such as eating more balanced meals and getting regular exercise --
can help prevent flare-ups. “She’s doing really well now,” Xol says.
Xol admits he struggles with finding that balance himself. Extreme
Makeover usually has two builds going at once to finish some 25 houses
every year, and “I’ve become a bit of a workaholic,” he says. “I’m learning to
say no to things. And I’ll go home to the house I grew up in and immediately