Oprah on the moment she realised enough was enough: 'I was in the midst of coconut French toast with bourbon syrup'
The talk show host has invested more than €45m in Weight Watchers which she said is the only lifestyle change that ever worked for her.
1. Was there one particular moment that stands out to you, which triggered you to lose weight?
OPRAH: This past summer when I was eating myself into some kind of oblivion, like pancakes in the morning and pasta in the afternoon and going through that phase where I think everyone has been in that moment where you say, I deserve it. I should be able to eat whatever I want. And I was really in the midst of a — I think it was coconut French toast with some bourbon syrup — that I thought, this is ridiculous. This is just ridiculous. Yeah, I should be able to eat what I want.
But is this really what I want? I am punishing myself with food because I haven’t found a way to balance myself with food. That moment occurred because I’d been on yet another, probably my 7,000th, no-carb, no-sugar, no-bread, no-anything other than, like, meat and green vegetables. Not even a beet. Not even a carrot. Nothing with colour. Only green vegetables. No carbs. I’d been on that and been successful. But the moment I had a meal, I blew up like a fish. Like literally like a blowfish. And when you can put on four pounds in a day... hmm, part of you just goes, well, okay, what am I doing? I remember writing about punish, reward. Punish, reward. Punish, reward. There has got to be a way that I can find middle ground, where I am balanced. Where I don’t feel punished, where I don’t necessarily feel like I’m always rewarding myself for being punished. But just a space where I can live in contentment. In peace. In joy with food.
2. What has been your experience with dieting?
OPRAH: You know, I’ve done every diet. Every week I read the bestsellers list. At the top of that list in the miscellaneous category on the New York Times is yet another diet. I’ve done every variation of putting foods together in a way that would make you lose weight. And obviously could lose a certain amount of weight for a certain period of time, but could feel inside myself spiritually, emotionally, and certainly physically the imbalance. And I knew that there had to be a way to daily manage food so that food isn’t the enemy.
3. After a few weeks or a few months on the programme, was there one moment when you realised that you can do it, that you can keep going?
OPRAH: Everybody who’s been on any diet knows that what you’re waiting for is the shift in the way you see and use food. You’re waiting for that — for that one moment where you feel like, okay, now I can do this. I can do this for a while. So that happened for me, obviously, when the cravings stopped. And it happened when the obsession stopped. But something else clicked. The thing that clicked for me was this isn’t even a diet. And I’m not gonna diet anymore because I just — I can’t go on another diet. But I am ready to live. And I am ready to live not just my best life, but what is the most extraordinary fullest expression of my being, your being here on earth. I am ready to do that. And so when I say once and for all, there’s a thing that happens when you have some maturity, as I do. And that thing that happens is there comes a quickening inside yourself. A quickening for the urgency of living your life on purpose because you know there’s no time to waste.
4. If someone came up to you and said: “Wow, I’m not strong like you. I can’t lose weight, I can’t do it” — what would you tell them?
OPRAH: When you know you’re ready, there’s a phrase that my grandmother used to use and all the women of her generation used to say, when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, that’s when you know you’re ready. That’s when you’re really ready to do something about it. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you’re ready, come join me. We’re gonna do this thing together.
5. Are there any moments when you doubt yourself? How do you change your mindset?
OPRAH: I use my coach, Lisa, for support and suggestions and ideas about how to choose more smartly. And the first time we sat there having a meeting — the first time we had a meeting I was, like, okay, I think I know this. I think I know this. I think I know this. And then I realised, okay, obviously if you knew it, you would — you would be where Lisa is right now. And the great thing about every Weight Watchers coach is they’ve all been through it.
Every single coach has been through the programme, has been overweight, knows what it’s like to be overweight, knows what it’s like to lose the weight through every phase of the losing process, and what it is to sustain and maintain that. Already they are victors. And so, to get that kind of support from somebody who’s actually been through it and knows what it feels like, in every phase of the losing process, knows what it’s like to lose the first 10 pounds, knows what it’s like to lose the last and to keep it off.
I commend the coaches for their ability to relate and connect to every single Weight Watcher member. Because I think what they have that no other programme has is true understanding and understanding is what brings the connection. Everybody understands exactly what you’re feeling. Exactly what you’re going through. Exactly how many times you’ve tried and failed. And they can relate. And help you make smarter choices for yourself. The support and having the points literally give you accountability. And looking at it like the greatest game of my life and every day wanting to win. It’s like there’s this army of experts who are all over the world who are at the ready. To help lead you through some of the harrowing moments of the process of trying to balance your system and get yourself to the point where you can only make smart choices.
6. What have you discovered about yourself?
OPRAH: This is what I know — what I really know for sure is that when you become in alignment with yourself that you literally break the wall. You break the wall of what is possible and it feels like soaring. And when you no longer have most of your daily energy going into how you’re gonna deprive yourself or punishing yourself with negative talk because you didn’t deprive yourself, because you overate, because you had too much at that meal, because you had one drink of wine more than you should have, and — when you have eliminated that negativity from your life, you literally clear the way for good things to show up. It’s a — it really is an energy block. And I have known it and felt it and been a part of it, experienced it for years. It’s just like a big veil drops and then you get to come through in a way that is literally more of yourself... I can feel this for myself.
One of the benefits of being on the new Weight Watchers programme for me has been I feel clearer. I just feel clearer. I feel that when I walk into the room, and I stand as myself, that I really am just more of myself. There’s a fuzziness that’s gone. There’s a — there’s a clarity and a clarifying of life that happens when you gain control of your emotional eating.
7. You’ve said you are excited about being a part of the Weight Watchers tribe all doing this together — you ‘ve been bringing millions of people together since the early days of the Oprah Winfrey Show, what is it about the power of the group?
OPRAH: There’s a beautiful Bible passage that says: Where two or three are gathered in my name. What I know is there’s strength in numbers. What I know for sure, there’s strength in numbers. What I’ve known all these years of the Oprah Show, even when one person shares their story, they realise that their story is somebody else’s story somewhere in the world. And so the sharing of the stories, the sharing of the experiences, the sharing of ideas, the sharing of how we all rise together, I think, is the ultimate in connection and the ultimate in building a community of people who have made a decision about being better, being healthier, being the best you can be in your life.