Bob Greene's Webcast Transcript
Oprah: So that's the big lesson for us all. Thank you, Barbara.
Barbara: Thank you.
Oprah: Cookie joins us. Cookie. Good name. Cookie joins us all the way from Durban, South Africa, which means it's, what, 4:30 in the morning? I just left there yesterday. She's a busy working mom. Hi, Cookie. What's your question?
Cookie: Hi. Oprah, for the last 15 years, my weight has fluctuated up and down. I don't have a proper eating plan. Because of the work I do, I give so much of myself to my work. I work with survivors of domestic violence. I have six children—three biological and three foster children. I don't have time for exercise, because at the end of the day I'm totally exhausted. How do I stay on the wagon and keep some time for myself?
Oprah: Good question. You're breaking up a little bit from South Africa, but go ahead.
Bob: I think I got pretty much your whole question, and it's actually a very similar situation if I can use Oprah as an example. That is, she derives a lot of pleasure, which we all seek, and satisfaction from her work helping other people, her charitable work, as well as the work she does on television, and it sounds like you do the same. You get immense satisfaction. And it's much easier to tell ourselves that when you do that charitable-type work or work that is helping other people that it reinforces that you're a good person. And that's—that's great. But there's also a pool of pleasure that you do need to spread the love around to these other areas. It's one of the reasons we do the Circle of Life is that when you put all that attention to one or just two areas, something else suffers. And it's almost like having a wheel. If it's nice and balanced and you put energy and time into each, that wheel can roll nicely. But if you have a flat tire, it's going to prevent you even from doing the work that you love so much to the fullest extent. So it's really about reshuffling priorities and you know there's so much good and charitable work out there that you could film lifetimes spending that. But there's a saying on an airline that "Put your own life mask on first." And that's very important because only then can you give your full attention to other people in your life.
Oprah: Well, may I just use this as an example, our soon-to-be first lady, Michelle Obama, when I interviewed them several years ago when President-elect Obama was just a senator, I went to their house and one of the things that Michele said impressed me so much. She says that she got up an hour earlier every day because by the time she had to get the kids up and get the kids off to school and ready for—which she won't have to worry about that anymore, I was just thinking. You don't have to go to the drugstore or anything anymore.
Bob: No, you don't.
Oprah: But she was getting up an hour earlier to give herself her time. Now, the fact that you're up at 4:30 in the morning Skyping with us, Cookie, because you wanted to be a part of this webcast, says to me that you have whatever it takes to get yourself up, and if this was a priority for you, and I'm only using Michelle as an example because I was just so impressed with that, like really because she says, "That's the only time I could find. The only time I could find was to get myself up an hour earlier before everybody else."
Bob: I'm sure she consciously said, "I'm doing this for myself—"
Oprah: Yes, she said she was doing it for herself.
Bob: —and not have guilty feelings about it, which is really important.
Oprah: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Bob: So that's—that's really the key about identifying your prior tears and saying you matter. Interesting enough, when I finished school I worked with heart patients, and that's probably the most motivated group on the planet because, you know, they either do what they need to do to maintain their health, they've done that. They've devoted their life to their work and ignored their health, but now they understand what it is when you go too long and ignore the things that keep you vibrant.
Oprah: And may I say this to you, Cookie, and to everybody else, all other 99,000 of you who are there—out there. It really comes down to a decision. And I speak from having not made that decision for myself last year. It comes down to the decision that we've all been talking about is: Do I matter enough? And also the recognition that you're not going to get away with it through osmosis. And I've been through that, "Well, maybe if I just eat less, it will be fine. Maybe if I just do this diet, I'll be fine. Maybe if I just take out all carbs, I'll be fine." You're not going to get away with it. Especially the older you get. Without the exercise. It just can't work without the exercise.
Bob: It can't. When you look at the long-term studies, it's not a popular thing.
Bob: But people are not successful. Women in particular have to eat perfectly, and they're still not guaranteed success if they're not active. That's what the long-term studies—and there are only a few of them out there—are saying. So you have to put activity in your life and you have to move. And if you look at how we live our lives today, I don't know growing up, you used to at recess be active. You used to go home, and your parents had to hunt you down. You were on your bike.
Oprah: Because you were playing.
Bob: You were playing. You were doing something. It's a very different life that our kids lead today.
Oprah: And that's why we have all these obesity rates for young children and diabetes for young children.
Oprah: But again, I think, Cookie, you're a classic example of a mother, a mother of six, actually, and you say for the past 15 years your weight has been up and down and up and down because you stopped all exercise when you got so involved in your work and you eat when you're stressed. If you're not willing to put exercise back into your life, then this is a pointless conversation.
Bob: Yeah. It's an uphill battle.
Oprah: It's an uphill battle.
Bob: No one eats perfectly, and you need the comfort of being active and you define that. More important, it's really easy especially when the cause of the work you're doing is so worthy, it's very easy to ignore yourself, and again that's one of the keys here is you can't ignore yourself.
Oprah: Thank you, Cookie. Are you going to go back to bed, or is your day just starting?
Cookie: There was no sound. I couldn't hear what you were saying.
Oprah: Okay, We'll send it to you. Okay? Can you hear the birds there? The birds are just waking up. Okay. Thank you. Let's talk specifics about exercise, Bob.
Cookie: Thank you.
Oprah: Thank you. What do people need to know?
Bob: Well, the point is as a society we've done everything to factor it out of our lives from being on personal devices to just not moving. In fact, new neighborhoods, how many new neighborhoods do you know where they build a sidewalk in? We don't do that anymore. They're omitted. So we've—