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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • NUMD97
    Oprah cannot post her height and weight, especially now, because she has a major investment in WW. If she did, then her success or failure would be closely monitored, and knowing her own past history and failures with "dieting" or "lifestyle changes", she can ill afford to do so.

    If nothing else, she is an incredibly shrewd business woman.
    1459 days ago
    Oh - I didn't mind that Oprah didn't disclose her stats. For any one with a weight issue those numbers change daily anyway - or at least weekly. And she's vulnerable enough that I could see a National Inquirer front page splashing Oprah weighs in at 698 lbs or something equally ugly and sensational. Maybe shaking the hand of an alien.

    Stars have to function in a different set of circumstances.

    I reserve judgement to seeing whatever else she includes in future issues. Fortunately I don't have television so I never see ads. but I think the Mmmm. Pizza. Mmmmm Bread. Mmmmm Dessert segments of every form of media are just something you have to turn off. Like the cover of other magazines that have a picture of a gooey frosted chocolate bunny hop cake beneath a headline of WALK OFF A GAZILLION POUNDS DURING COMMERCIAL BREAKS ON OUR NEW WONDER DIET

    La! no wonder there's so much mental illness when the messages we're bombarded with are so conflicting.

    You got it when you said we have to accept that we'll be hungry sometimes. It's not an emergency. And we'll have to NOT eat what we WANT to eat. sometimes. Because hey - that's life. That's what you told your 8 year old.

    Now go outside and play.

    great blog!
    1460 days ago
    I am a WW member. I struggle. I do not get to eat what I want to eat. the TV ad where Oprah talks about how much she likes bread and how she can eat bread on the WW plan is very false and misleading. Yes, you can eat bread, but if you want to shed the weight and keep it off you must follow the plan (for life) and you can't just eat bread.... You have to choose healthy, nutritious breads and you have to count them and fit them into your daily plan. Oprah is a human being. Not any kind of higher power as is no celebrity. I wish them all the best too and wonder why the other 9 disclosed their measurements to the world and not Oprah? Thanks.t
    1460 days ago
    We all struggle with finding what works for us... I don't envy the spotlight under which Oprah lives her personal weight struggles. And for me, shifting from 'what I like' and 'what I want' in relation to food, to 'what I need' has been key. If I relate to food as primarily a source of pleasure, rather than nutrition, I get in trouble. Nutritious food can be highly pleasurable, but I start with what I need, then YUM! I don't feel deprived, because I am not denying myself what I need, I am focused on meeting my needs. And I must say I find the Spark site promotion of 'healthy' desserts and chocolate muffins etc just as problematic as the ones that fill women's magazines!
    1461 days ago
    Enjoyed your blog and all the comments!

    If one of us could figure it out for everyone we would be richer and more famous than Oprah! If one of us could just figure it out for just our one self we would be the happiest person alive!

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    1461 days ago
    Haven't followed Oprah or read her magazine. But, I can imagine and enjoyed your blog nonetheless.
    1461 days ago
    I've always liked Oprah, but never read Womens' magazines. Like Phebess said, just too many mixed messages for me.

    I also agree with Terrific. If you can be patient enough to lose the weight slowly, there isn't that much deprivation. You just must be prepared to change for life and it does get easier with time - the new normal.
    1461 days ago
    Another awesome blog! Thanks for sharing! I hope you're having a wonderful weekend! Hugs and love, xoxo
    1461 days ago
    Yikes! I got that magazine but haven't read it yet. All these comments! Must find magazine. Now.

    BTW, I adore Oprah.
    1462 days ago
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    1462 days ago
    Brilliant blog!! Very timely for me, too. I love my WW leader and my WW group -- such caring people providing so much support. And yet it isn't enough for me. I'm just doing Beck again and I had chosen Weight Watchers SmartPoints as my #1 plan and Weight Watchers Simply Filling as my backup. For the last week or so I've been tracking in both WW and SP. On the new WW program I can eat less sugar. For example, raisins put me over my limits even though I hit every nutritional goal including calories on SP. But overall I think I eat better using SP. Not sure yet. But I'm thinking of changing my food plan to just SP. We'll see. After years of thinking that weekly weighing is the only way to go (WW philosophy) I see I am benefitting from weighing daily (Beck). And WW does allow fruits and veggies "to satisfaction," espouses more treats (although they distinguish snacks which are healthy from treats that are not so much) than I really think I should have. You often hear people say at WW that if you are hungry, eat. With Beck I've learned that just because I want to eat doesn't mean I should, even if I'm hungry. Ironically, I first heard of Beck on the WW message boards.

    Anyway, thanks for the timely blog as I mull these things over!!
    1462 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Sad to agree with you. I have found that there is a component missing from the losing weight puzzle. Without that missing piece, it generally means that over time we end up where we started.

    1462 days ago
    More interesting thoughts re: Oprah...


    1462 days ago
    "I like to eat what I like to eat." - me too.
    Not sure that 'more'information is possible as we all seem to be experiments of 1, but will be interested to see how the 10 fare.
    1462 days ago
    Super blog. You should send it to the magazine.
    1462 days ago
  • DS9KIE
    1462 days ago
    emoticon I totally agree with everything you say. I got that magazine. I, too, recognized that she was the only one who did not disclose her weight. I do not think the blog is judgemental at all. It IS critical-because if you are evaluating a thing you have to be critical,-I think it is constructive criticism. I've lost 60 pounds at least 3 times in the past. It's keeping it off that is the problem and as you say, if you don't change what you do in a way you can follow for life, you are pretty much doomed. I would add the caveat that by tweaking your diet just right and being willing to lose slowly, you don't ever have to be really hungry, but you certainly can't eat until you are stuffed full, which is probably what obese people think full is. (I did) and as you say-you'll have to learn to like new foods. emoticon
    1462 days ago
    Stating one's intention and keeping each other motivated is a good first step,
    but chances of success are poor without a good plan and some basic knowledge.
    I hope they will address these in a future issue.
    Thanks for sharing%
    1462 days ago
    I agree with your assessment.

    Oprah is clearly smart and successful as a businesswoman. She is a great actress.
    She seems to value spirituality and can open her mind to that. But she seems clueless as far as eating & exercise & weight loss as well as creating value consistency in her approach to life. I am not really a fan of hers. I have kind of concluded she is all about the money. That seems to me to be the overriding reason for why she does stuff, even though she tries to put another spin on it.

    1462 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15520036
    Yes, I agree, these are key:
    Hunger is not an emergency.
    Maintenance means dieting for life. (I like the word "dieting" because it reminds me I have to work hard at it for life.)

    1462 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I'm not an O fan myself for many varied reasons over the years but certainly my son is a HUGE fan.

    Sounds like an interesting article but with all the varied comments here it's amazing how varied people are about her also!

    Keep YOUR good blogs coming though!
    1462 days ago
    Thank you for being the voice of reason and heart, WaterMellen. I read that issue of O and was disappointed. I do think there is a mind, body, spirit component of realizing your best body which did not get expressed in the magazine this month. My sense is that Oprah is still 'working on it' and therefore does not serve as my guide. More power to her, though. She is still an amazing being expressing abundant gifts of connection and communication. Her gift to this discussion may well be that she is not her body.

    I do wish she would join Sparkpeople, even if she did it anonymously. I saw the nine women as an effort to create a cohort of community or mutual support. We have that in spades on Spark.

    I look forward to the day when I can say that I have maintained a healthy weight for decades, though I want my life to be about more than my body.

    Gentle hugs and gratitude!
    1462 days ago
    Ugh, women's magazines. The standard issue alternates between ways to lose weight (often unrealistically) and insane recipes, which are all just ways to gain weight.

    It's a wonder we aren't all schizophrenic with the mixed messages thrown at us all the time!!!
    1462 days ago
    1462 days ago
    I haven't read her magazine or followed her since I took my mom to a taping of her show in Chicago. She "acts" totally different than she is - We were so disappointed.

    I did notice that Marie Osmond (on tv commercials for nuttiest stem) has managed to keep her weight off. I wonder how she is doing it - she can't be still using nitro system.
    1462 days ago
    It's part show-biz part WW marketing. If Oprah is the higher power of weight loss and keep it off...then once again we can say with some authority "there's a sucker born every minute".
    1462 days ago
    I can only say, I agree . . . don't think they'll succeed in the nutrition area.
    1462 days ago
    I have to admit... I have Oprah syndrome which is gain / lose / gain / lose. I have however kept my 80 pound weight loss off in a 10-15 range over the past 7 years. It does take a lifestyle change which includes not eating whatever you want whenever you want it. Portion control, eating fruits and veggies instead of bread and potatoes, etc. are lessons I learned to implement along the way... also a good dose of daily exercise. Thanks for sharing and I totally agree with your assessment.

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    1462 days ago
    You should be the person counseling them in how to successfully do so!!
    1462 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    1462 days ago
    I shrug my shoulders when it comes to Oprah and weight loss. She's got a trainer, someone who can cook for her and all the other trappings that should spell success.
    If it's not in her head, she'll never get it.
    I like stuff too but I know that slathering cream or butter in a dish won't help me loose weight.
    Learning to like the same dish without the cream and butter will give me the right nutrition and help me loose weight AND be healthy.

    I'm not deprived, I've changed what I like.

    1462 days ago
    Thank you for putting my own thoughts into words!
    1463 days ago
    Even when you have the best information, if you battle with motivation and don't make some changes in "what you like" to eat, you can still have an uphill battle, and it will always BE a battle.

    So, wishing all these ladies the best, but to get the best results we need the best information AND to "do the work" on our emotions and thoughts! Spark has one of the missing links: truly kindred spirits, blogging our little hearts out!

    emoticon emoticon for sharing both the information and your thoughts!
    1463 days ago
  • _LINDA
    emoticon emoticon
    Those recipes are ludicrous. Really. Not even the health experts who tough a high fat diet would agree with them. Nope, not a one. They all say unequivocally no sugar no flour at the very least. I don't miss it at all in the two weeks I have totally gone without. Unfortunately, its coming back as Mom is wanting to get the rhubarb out of her freezer, long overdue, and make rhubarb stew which requires sugar. Its a treat, but I don't know of any other way to prepare it. We have always treated that veggie as a dessert. I tried a mouthful of that pop and just about gagged. Don't miss pop for sure and that has cured me of wanting it again. I have no trouble eliminating sugar from my diet. Flour is no biggie either, was not big into grains when I saw how many calories they were putting up. It was in fact, only when I eliminated grains that I was able to get off a long plateau and lose the last of my weight. I gave up the old stainless steel toaster that had been in our family since I was a child. Don't intend on going back to it. Mom took it back as its pretty much an antique lol.
    Here is to eating what actually fuels our bodies and not hurts it.
    1463 days ago
    Unfortunately, realistic information does not sell magazines.
    1463 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5288236
    Another great blog. I saw an update on Oprah and the ladies progress on tv and they are losing weight. I read the magazine and felt there was missing information. Maybe the participants got the information, but readers need it.
    1463 days ago
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