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If Oprah Can’t Why Do You Think You Can?

sharma-obesity-oprah1There are no doubt long-term “success stories” out there – people who just by making (often radical) changes in their diet and activity behaviours have lost a substantial amount of weight AND are keeping it off.

However, there is also no doubt that these people are rare and far between – which is exactly what makes each one of them so exceptional.

I am not speaking of all the people we hear or read about who have lost tons of weight – we hear about their spectacular weight loss – cutting carbs, cutting gluten, going vegan, going paleo, alternate day fasting, running marathons, training for iron man competitions, going on the Biggest Loser or eating at Subway.

What we don’t hear about is the same people, when they put the weight back on – which, in real life is exactly what happens to the absolutely vast majority of “losers”. We hear of their “success” and then we never hear from them again – ever.

Oprah is different! Different because, we have had the opportunity to follow her ups and downs over decades.

When Oprah “succeeds” in losing weight, she does not disappear into the night – no – she puts the weight back right in front of our eyes, again and again and again and again.

Now, comedy writer Caissie St.Onge, in a comment posted on facebook, pretty much summarizes what it is we can all learn (and should probably have learnt a long time ago) from Oprah:

“Oprah is arguably the most accomplished, admired, able person in the world. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So, if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought.”

“I’m not saying you should give up on your dreams of having the body you want. I’m just asking, if you never get that waist, will your life have been a waste? (I see what I did there.) Every day we are bombarded with media, content and products. Special foods and drinks. Programs and plans. None of this shit has ever worked for Oprah and it probably isn’t gonna work for me or you.”

“I know the reason isn’t because you’re weak. If you’re carrying around 10 or 20, or 50 or 150 pounds more than the tiny friend who always calls herself fat in front of you and you don’t kick her in the back of the knee, you’re the opposite of weak. You’re very, very strong in at least two different kind of ways.”

“I realize there are people who are DYING to tell you what they think about what you should do with your body. It always starts with, “No offense but…” or “Not to be mean, but…” And it’s always offensive and mean, but also, you probably say things to yourself every day that are way meaner than what any “well-intentioned” “friend” or internet troll could come up with. You’re gonna have to try harder if you want to beat us at our own game, internet trolls. I would pop someone in the chops if they spoke to me the way I speak to myself. And I would bet all of Oprah’s money that Oprah says mean shit to herself too. Oprah does.”

“You can do what you want. You knew that. But I’m gonna stop wishing that I didn’t have dimples on the backs of my hands or that my ankles were more flattered by strappy shoes. I’m gonna stop telling people that they look great and start telling them what I really mean, that’s it’s nice to see them. And I see you. And I like you so much just how you are right now, and not a year or five years from now when you may or may not be smaller….. Oprah. I’ll love you either way.”

Cassie’s entire post is available here

Edmonton, AB


  1. I was very disappointed to see Oprah hawking Weight Watchers now. She has done so much to try to empower people but when it comes to weight loss she has little to no insight and continues to promote the dominant discourse. What would be truly amazing is if she started to promote healthy living without weight loss as the primary goal and only real measure of success.

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    • Weight Watchers has changed a LOT!

      One of the primary areas of dialogue in the over hauled program is learning to accept self as “good enough” no matter the weight. Anybody who is struggling to keep off a major loss knows that self acceptance is a huge part of the journey…. because self hate feeds the compulsion to eat emotionally.

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  2. After serving clients in Los Angeles as a certified personal trainer and working with the richest and most famed, I can honestly back this article. There is no amount of money, no magic combination, and no medical treatment for permanent weight loss. Your right weight is so unique, even you don’t know what it is, and so we strive to maintain a social expectation that is rarely possible. Health, with weight being only one factor, Is a lifelong commitment to healthy choices, albeit a constant discipline when food supply is so extravagant. I often recommend three behaviors in order that promote weight loss, sleep, exercise and nutrients. When these are in balance, my clients adjust to the weight their body was pre planned for, genetically.

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    • Really, Mavis? It’s as simple as sleep, exercise and nutrients? Oh, then there’s that part about “constant discipline” and “lifelong commitment”. If only…

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    • frankly, I don’t think she has that much insight, period. She pushes and promotes charlatans like “Dr Phil” ..the books, fine..she’s done a good part in promoting reading, but, for the rest, she jumps on whatever “new age bandwagon” that rolls by. I was sorry to see her pushing Weight Watchers. I have let my weight get out of control three times over a long life, and the only thing that gets it off and helps me KEEP it down is WWers. If she can’t do it, then it’s going to put a lot of people off the healthiest weight-loss plan out there. The too-bad thing is that too many overweight people think there is a “magic bullet” out there that is going to do it FOR them…but the only thing that “works” is staying healthy and staying vigilant, realising that, medical evidence aside, your body deal with food in a way that is unique to you and you have to find a healthy and workable way to deal with it.

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  3. My wife and I happen to be a couple of those “long-term success stories”. Coming up on 15 years in maintenance of a collective 170lb loss. 115 for me, 55 for her. We know exactly how rare our experience is. We’ve had a good preview of what is at stake in terms of health should we falter. Additionally, we can’t help but know by this time what is absolutely required of us to remain at a healthy weight. It requires substantial time, attention and effort. It is entirely worth it by any measure.

    We were travelling on New Years and caught Oprah’s WW commercial and were sort of aghast. Knowing what it takes to remain stable after weight loss, we sometimes had conversations about whether Oprah, given her limitless resources, purposely yo-yo’ed in order to better resonate with her viewership. We never agreed one way or another. It’s tough for anyone. Still, a plausible, if cynical question.

    In my opinion, those wishing to promote sustainable weight loss would be better served by providing education showing what potential weight loss successes are truly up against. That is, a constant pull back to an obese state. A drive that must be offset by prudent measures such as cooking and eating for satiety, honest self-monitoring and regular exercise. Not to mention ongoing adjustment of all of the above. That’s a tougher sell than Weight Watchers though.

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  4. If Oprah can’t do it, who can?

    NO one can do this alone, regardless of fame, wealth and need. No matter how much you want it.
    But if you are willing to do this in a community of support – it IS possible.
    Are you willing to recognize that you may have a food addiction?

    If you do – there are many tools and much support available, that does work.
    I am an addiction doctor and I see how well this approach works.

    Where are the people who HAVE succeeded in loosing weight (100s of pounds, literally) and kept it off 5, 10, 20 years later? They are hidden in the anonymity shadows of the 12 step programs – and there are many of these success stories. They want to help because they are living the success. But you have to ask them.

    12 step programs are fundamentally agnostic programs that provide a free 24 hour support that is a life line to ongoing recovery from food addiction.

    Please read my book Food Junkies: the Truth about Food Addiction, if you want to know more and see if this approach works.

    I WISH Oprah would try this approach! She could do it – for free!

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