THE BLOG
01/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Oprah is Officially Obese: What Does that Mean for You?

Oprah is Officially Obese: What Does that Mean for You?

In yesterday's online version of People magazine it announced the theme of Oprah's January issue of O: Oprah has "fallen off the wagon." Oprah has gained forty pounds hitting the 200-pound mark. I'm writing about this for a number of reasons none of which are to celebrate Oprah's struggle but rather help you find compassion for her and for yourselves. Like so many of us Americans, her height and weight now make her officially obese. Let's look at the things that she said in the article and what they mean for you:


1. Yo-Yo Dieting Feels Bad

Oprah was quoted saying things like, "I'm mad at myself," and "I felt like a fat cow." Be sure to pay attention to your self-talk. Shaming or blaming yourself never helps to lose weight. We make good choices about food and exercise only from a place of self-love and self-acceptance. It's important to learn how bounce back so that you can forgive yourself when you falter and get back in the saddle.

2. Knowledge is Not Always Power

"I'm embarrassed ... I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know 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?" Oprah has access to all the information in the world, she can afford private trainers, lap band, liposuction and private chefs and that's still not enough to lose and keep the weight off. For the most part we all know that the magic recipe to lose weight is eat less/exercise more. Knowledge is not the answer. The missing link is being able to understand that food has a hold over you because you've installed it as a coping mechanism for anxiety, depression, boredom, loneliness and just about anything else. If you struggle with your weight it doesn't mean you're lazy or stupid. Intelligence is not enough to keep weight off. You need to heal your wounded places, find your unmet needs and offer yourself other, dare I say better, forms of comfort.

3. Food Can't Be Your Reward for Losing Weight

She mentioned that in 2005 she came out on her show wearing size 10 jeans after being on a four-month liquid diet. She said, "Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate - of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!" So many of us do this. We get a taste of success. Our pants stop pinching us when we're sitting down or we don't feel the fat on our muffin tops vibrating when we drive our cars and suddenly we think that means we can treat ourselves with a little of this or that. To keep weight off for life, food has to stop being your reward. It can be a reward sometimes but it can't be your only reward.

4. Weight Issues are About the Management of Emotions, Not What You Eat

"My greatest failure was in believing that the weight issue was just about the weight," Winfrey told People in 1991. "It's about not handling stress properly." This is the information that Shrink Yourself has been trying to teach people for years. Overcoming weight issues has nothing to do with finding the right diet pill, plan or program. Overcoming weight issues has everything to do with how you handle stress. One could easily understand that Oprah's life must be pretty stressful (despite all the glamour that people envy). She has a whole lot of responsibility to her followers and with that comes a lot of pressure and strain. It's no wonder that she would often return to her old source of comfort: food.

I've heard it said that human beings learn in spirals. We return to the same issues again and again, hopefully with new information, new skills and new insights. Your fluctuations in weight can be opportunities to learn more and more about who you are and what you need to manage the stress in your life. Overcoming emotional eating isn't easy. But we see people doing it here every day, with the support of an understanding community, and by finding the skills needed to stop using food as a friend, lover or form of medication and as Dr. Roger Gould says, "to finally let food be just food." Our compassion is with Oprah and all of us who struggle to let food be just food. In the words of High School Musical (sorry I can't resist, I have an eight-year old) "we're all in this together."