Her life was mostly win-win—so why was it so painfully difficult for Oprah to lose-lose? Then a personal trainer galloped into her world with a life-changing question.
At the time, I was 237 pounds, miserable, and so ashamed to have joined the ranks of the perpetually obese that I had trouble maintaining eye contact. I couldn't understand why I was able to triumph over so many other challenges and adversities in life, and yet when it came to losing weight I was a big fat failure.
I had spent years bouncing from one diet to another, from the time I was 22. That was when I landed a big job as a news co-anchor in Baltimore and discovered that food—especially corn dogs and six-inch chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts—could provide a great deal of solace. I had no friends and no furniture, not even curtains on the windows of my new apartment. My co-anchor seemed to resent me, and I worried that I was in way over my head. I'd had almost no experience as a writer, but every day I was given news copy to rewrite. It's an awful feeling when you know you can't make the mark. No matter how hard I tried, I could not bang out the copy fast enough for my superiors. Every day as we neared the 6 o'clock news hour, I'd hear John, the copy editor, yell across the room, "Winfrey, where's the goddamned copy?!?!"
I was humiliated but put on a smile and got through the days, reading the news and chitchatting with my fellow anchors on air. I felt blessed to have my job, but I truly hated some of the things I was required to do. I always felt as if I were chasing bodies, waiting for the worst to happen. The bigger the fire or collision, the more excited my bosses became.
Working in that environment was an affront to my spirit. The reporter's objectivity I needed to maintain went against everything in my nature. Many times I was an eyewitness to the most devastating moments in people's lives, but I was not allowed to express any emotion. So I ate those emotions, and along with them, just about everything I could buy at the mall food court. I thought I was fine—I just had a little weight problem. Now I realize I didn't have a weight problem.
I had problems that I was burying by eating, but it wasn't until years later, after many conversations with Bob, that I finally made the connection.