O Magazine: Your Best Body
Sunday, April 03, 2016
The April issue of O magazine features Oprah and nine other ladies each of whom wants to lose weight. It's related, no doubt, to her Weight Watchers venture. And I most sincerely wish her and the other nine all the best.
But: the indicators aren't great.
For those of you who are O mag fans (and I am) and Oprah fans (and I am): you may recall that the theme of the February 2016 issue was mental health. "You Are Not Alone". It was powerful. It was touching. Check out the grateful reader letters at page 18 of the April issue. But: there's no clear connection offered between the mental health focus, in February, and losing weight in April.
Oprah's opening editorial "Here We Go", at page 21, states with her typical and disarming frankness that life is harder for people who are heavy. "And every time you look in the mirror or step on the scale, you feel guilty, because you're not doing right by your body, not letting yourself lead the healthy life you deserve." True.
The ladies collectively are wearing thousands of dollars worth of expensive clothing. They've had their hair and makeup done. And they're clearly excited and optimistic about succeeding. But: one cannot help but feel that there's significant likelihood they won't achieve success . . . although I hope I'm wrong.
The story begins on page 92. There's information about each of the ladies. Each is photographed in a black leotard and tights, against a dark ground. For each, there are pictures at different weights and different times. And Oprah says that "my own struggles with weight are well known" and that "I've never believed in hiding them".
But only Oprah, among the 10 ladies, fails to disclose her height and current weight and her specific goal. We get that info for each of the other ladies (none of whom, incidentally, was informed that Oprah was participating prior to her surprise attendance at the photo shoot . . . ). The other ladies want to lose between 10 pounds and 160 pounds. And for some of them: even those goals won't bring them necessarily to a healthy weight . . . but it would be a start. Their biographies do suggest that there may very well be underlying mental health issues in a number of instances. And Oprah has herself (elsewhere) been candid about her own mental health history too.
OK then. At page 121 there's a "Works for Me!" flap with "A Recipe I Love": a potato and cauliflower puree offered by Oprah. And she says, in that context:
"If there's one thing I've learned in a lifetime of battling with weight, it's that deprivation is not a happy sensation. Show me a diet that makes me feel like I'm going without, and I'll show you a diet that's not going to work. That's why I've never been a big fan of the D word. I like to eat what I like to eat."
I like to eat what I like to eat.
So do we all.
And if I eat what I like to eat, I'm depriving myself big time.
I'm depriving myself of optimal nutrition.
I'm depriving myself of optimal health. The healthy life I deserve (see above).
I'm depriving myself of ease with my own body, in movement.
I'm depriving myself of knowing I'm doing right by my body (see above).
I'm depriving myself of looking my best in my clothes, no matter how much I spend on them. (Or out of my clothes, for that matter).
How about some consistency? Because losing weight and keeping it off requires consistency.
Will it help Oprah or any of the other nine ladies to think about (page 109) what "add-ins" will make their chocolate chip cookies more delicious? Those cookies which already have a cup of butter and 2 cups of white flour and 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of chocolate in them? Maybe not. Even if it's great to eat what you like to eat.
And how about the other recipes in this issue? No nutrition info for any of them. If you make a dish with carrot tops or radish greens, does that necessarily make it healthy? Uh, no: depends upon what else is in it --like half a pound of bacon and 3 large eggs and 3/4 cup of Parmesan and a pound of spaghetti, for 4-6 servings?
I know it's possible to read this blog as critical or highly judgmental.
I don't feel that way.
But do believe that many people will be misled by this article. Including quite possibly some or all of the participants, one of whom actually refers to Oprah's involvement as contact with a "higher power".
There are lots of us here in the trenches at Spark People losing weight and keeping it off. It's not all happy sensation. For most of us, it does require acknowledging and accepting that hunger is not an emergency. And tolerating it, some of the time.
It does require acknowledging and accepting that losing weight and keeping it off means "dieting", for life. Whether you want to use that D word or not.
It means preplanning your food and sticking within a calorie range that almost certainly provides less food than you would like to eat. Choosing, at least initially, different foods than you would like to eat. Giving yourself "No Choice" about that.
And more likely than not applying (as Dr. Judith S. Beck does, in The Beck Diet Solution) the cognitive behaviour strategies which can help so effectively in dealing with the underlying mental health issues. Or, as Susan Peirce Thompson says, "Doing the work."
I do so hope that Oprah and the other ladies will drop the weight, lose the baggage and get lighter as they go.
But, as a person who once weighed over 230 pounds and has lost and kept off 80+ pounds for over 15 years, I wish that they had better and more realistic information about how.
How to lose weight.
And how to keep it off.
Because: it takes best information to achieve a best body.