In the January 2009 issue of O magazine, Oprah Winfrey says she is once again struggling with her weight and has just tipped the scales at 200 pounds.
“I’m embarrassed,” said Oprah. “I’m mad at myself. I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I now how to do, I’m still talking about my weight.” I look at my thinner self and think, ‘How did I let this happen again?’ “
I have an answer to that question for Oprah and for millions of other women like her who have struggled with yo-yo dieting and weight re-gain.
Oprah says that she’s put on 40 pounds since 2006, when she weighed 160. She says she reached rock bottom when she wanted to skip out of a taping with Tina Turner and Cher in Las Vegas earlier this year: “I felt like a fat cow,” wrote Winfrey, “I wanted to disappear.”
In the article, Oprah spoke of her recent struggles with thyroid problems and how that led her to a “fear of working out.” She also says that she took herself off her own priority list.
As this story hit the AP news wire today, word quickly spread across the internet and no doubt, it will become fodder for the tabloids this week. Unfortunately, what I have not seen is anyone actually offer some new and real advice to Oprah about how to solve her problem.
Obviously Oprah has had no shortage of advisors. She’s got a whole entourage of experts including a personal trainer, Bob Greene and the likes of Mehmet Oz who has penned numerous books on health including a diet book. Not to mention a whole parade of guests over the years who specialize in health, fitness and weight loss.
By now, Oprah is arguably a weight loss expert in her own right.
So why is it that Oprah knows what do, but can’t get herself to do it?
I have a solution for Oprah, and it will also work for the millions of other women who have struggled with “yo-yo” dieting – those frustrating cycles of weight loss and weight re-gain.
This is important, because research has shown that weight cycling is far more damaging and unhealthy than being overweight itself.
After 16 years as a fat loss coach, I’ve discovered that there is something more important than what diet you follow or what training program you follow. The real question is, what makes you follow your program? Over the last 16 years I’ve discovered answers to that question – “how do you stick with your program?” and keep the weight off.
If I were Oprah’s coach, I would offer many suggestions, but one place I would start is with accountability – REAL accountability.
Although it appears that Oprah is accountable to others, with her team of personal trainers and health experts, when someone becomes so successful (like Oprah) that no one in her social or business circle is really “above her,” it makes you wonder if she has ever really been held to her fitness goals, promises and commitments.
Her friends and advisors may have provided her with all the information she needed, but they also may have let her off the hook… because she’s “THE OPRAH.”
The solution: Oprah must first take personal responsibility and make the commitment to be accountable to herself. Then, she must become accountable to others. But given her social and business stature, to whom can she be truly accountable?
Maybe that person is NOT her trainer or nutritionist! Maybe the solution is right in front of her – literally. Her fans and audience!
If Oprah’s desire to be leaner is genuine and strong and urgent, my advice to her would begin with immediately announcing her PERSONAL FITNESS MISSION to her readers, viewers and listeners. She must ask them all to hold her accountable.
She needs to tell her audience and fans NOT to let her off the hook and her fans need to play their part and agree that they WON’T let her off the hook. She’s got to weigh-in on national TV and put the results on her website and in her magazine.
She needs to keep a nutrition and fitness journal and publish it with her progress photos, for all the world to see.
She also needs to acknowledge that her real mission begins AFTER she reaches her healthy weight goal when her lifelong maintenance phase begins.
There must be consequences if she falls off the wagon. I’m not sure what all of them would be, but for one, her fans have got to not only support her, but GIVE HER HELL if she doesn’t follow through! THAT’s real love! that’s real support! She says she’s embarrassed NOW? … well, that has to be NOTHING compared to what will happen if she doesn’t follow through on this new mission.
Better still, Oprah could invite one and all to join her. With her star power and media power, if anyone could rally this obese nation to leanness and health in 2009, it would be an honest and sincere Oprah Winfrey leading the way with her own commitment and personal example (the ONLY true way to lead, in my book).
With each passing year that she maintains her healthy weight, her example would shine brighter and brighter, because maintaining the weight loss is the most challenging, not losing it.
But Oprah has to go first. Words won’t do. A show featuring the “next big expert” or “the latest diet” won’t do. Only Oprah’s actions and results will do. She is the solution to her own problem. With her personal commitment and with her friends and fans helping to hold her to it, she will have all the motivational leverage she needs.