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The Healthy Skeptic: Oprah Winfrey Has Gained Her Weight Back – A Cautionary Tale Of Celebrity Dieters And Their Diets

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I don’t think people should be made fun of for having a weight or eating problem. However, since Oprah has set herself up as an authority on the subject of weight loss, and has pushed her stable of “experts” on us, she needs to be called out.

The ever yo-yo dieting Oprah is on an upswing these days, as her weight is reported to be upwards of 195 pounds, which means she’s gained about 60 pounds over the past year or so. For anybody — especially a middle-aged person — this kind of rapid weight gain can be very dangerous and is certainly unhealthy.

I want to make it clear that while I do blame Oprah for her predicament, I am not looking to belittle her. But we’ll get to Oprah in a minute. First I want to focus attention on some of the people who supposedly have helped Oprah lose weight over the years, and as a result are now making a very good living selling stuff to the masses.

Let’s look at one of Oprah’s diet gurus Bob Greene. Greene has written a series of successful — but vapid — diet and exercise books that use the catch phrase, “Get With The Program.” Bob is out there telling people how to eat — and has continued to appear on Winfrey’s show over the years — and all the while his prime client is blowing up. How can Oprah or Greene be trusted?

Plain and simple, the validity of a celebrity fitness/nutrition program can’t be based on the stories of anecdotal success that come from the masses, but MUST be judged strictly with regards to the celebrity’s success with the program. This may sound harsh, but that doesn’t make it any less true. An endorsement from a celebrity like Oprah can make a person’s career and can make them rich. But the product or service has to be bona fide, and the client-celebrity has to live up to their endorsement. Revlon uses Halle Berry’s face in their advertisements – and not mine – for a very good reason.

But if Bob Greene’s program doesn’t work for Oprah – which it clearly doesn’t and hasn’t – then how can it work for you or I? How can Oprah push this guy and how can this guy go on her show selling his wares when Oprah has gained 60 pounds in a year?

Greene bases his program on the idea that emotional eating is the root of all nutritional evil, and has clients sign a “Contract With Myself” that is classic waste of time. If you read any of his books — I have so you don’t have to — you would have wasted your time and effort completing writing assignments that were somehow supposed to help you lose weight. Maybe Oprah got writers’ cramp.

And Oprah doesn’t have only one nutritional guru; she also has Jorge Cruise, another guy who owes his fame and fortune to being in the Winfrey stable of “experts.” Cruise’s horrible “8-Minutes in the Morning” workout program and an affiliation with Winfrey got his career started. But boy did he parlay that affiliation into something big, he parlayed it up the ying-yang, baby. Now he advertises that he’s America’s leading weight loss expert, claims to have “coached” 3 million people via his web site, is AOL’s in-house weight loss coach and alleges that he reaches 51 million readers throughout the country via his syndicated columns.

With all of Cruise’s knowledge and clout, forget about Oprah’s weight troubles, how is it that we have an obesity epidemic in this country? With Cruise’s latest bit of gimmickry, “The 3-Hour Diet,” how is it that millions of us little people can benefit from this stuff, but billionaire Oprah is missing out? By the way, Cruise claims that by eating the appropriate meal every three hours he guarantees that a person will start losing belly fat immediately, and will lose 2 pounds per week. And of course there are products and meals to purchase along the way.

The moral of the story is that, when it comes to diet and exercise, you should avoid celebrities and their experts. Especially Oprah. Oprah is a very successful woman. No doubt she is brilliant and savvy. But she is a serial yo-yo dieter and a recidivist diet-hopper. She moves from one nutritional gimmick to another, and when the “plan du jour” fails – which they always do – she experiences one of these dangerous and unhealthy diet breakdowns. As a result of her fluctuating weight Oprah has messed up her metabolism, and she may face some pretty serious long-term physical side effects as well.

Oprah obviously doesn’t have any discipline when it comes to her nutritional and exercise habits. She may have great taste in clothes and books – well with at least one notable book exception – but she has terrible taste in all things fitness and nutrition. And looking back at her life-long weight and body image ordeal she displays many of the classic signs of a person who has an eating disorder.

Celebrity diet and fitness plans are not to be believed and should be avoided. The story of Oprah and her ever-changing weight and her stable of gurus offer the best example of the problems with cult of personality nutritional programs. The gurus that she has helped to create have done nothing to help her, and their plans have no long-term benefits. If these plans haven’t helped Oprah straighten herself out once-and-for-all, they won’t help you.

Hopefully Oprah can find a happy medium and get some real help before she winds up with severe physical problems.

About Sal Marinello

  • Roni

    doesn’t her weight gain have something to do with her thyroid condition which is a medical issue? I think you’re leaving out a big piece of information here.

  • willis goldman


  • brainpowre

    Seeing the dietary advice on Oprah’s homepage I am not surprised that she can’t lose weight let alone keep it off. What is advertised there is the lowest of low-fat diets and definitely unhealthy, full of vegetable oils (inflammatory, suppress the immune system) soy product (definitely toxic) and very little else. If Oprah keeps this up she will either blow up some more or become sick.

  • 902

    I went from being slightly overweight and constantly dieting, to maintaining a very slim weight for my height (around a BMI of 18.4) and eating what I want, when I want, thanks to training myself to eat intuitively.

    If I want ice cream or cookies for breakfast, at midday, that’s what I’ll have. Later I might feel like a steak and vegetables- the body knows what it needs. Toddlers eat intuitively- it’s just unfortunate that as adults we’re de-programmed by all of this ‘diet dogma’ and lose our innate ability to know what our bodies need.

    I roll my eyes when I hear people talk about how they think a single piece of cake will make them fat or they need to work off what they just ate, or ‘carbs are fattening’. Society has been brainwashed by this kind of thinking. No single food can make you fat- it’s if you eat anything in excess and past the point of fullness. Food is fuel for life- not the other way around.

  • daphne

    Though I was neither anorexic nor ever weighed more than 175 pounds, I yo-yo-ed (as Oprah Winfrey has) for my entire adult life and lost probably close to 1,000 lbs. I have kept off the 40-odd lbs of weight for nearly 2 years now. A miracle and a blessing and a tremendous source of joy and peace. The solution (FOR ME)? No one’s ‘diet’.. we all of us know what it takes- balanced, healthy nutrition; balanced, reasonable physical activity. No secrets there. For me, the answer was and is joining a 12-step program (based on Alcoholics Anonymous), OA. I had to admit my relationship with food was as out of control as an addict’s relationship/dependence on his/her ‘substance of choice.’ I cannot speak for anyone else.