Photo: George Burns
Our January cover—the two versions of me standing side by side, one overweight, one not—stirred a lot of emotion. Thank you all for your avalanche of support and willingness to share your own truth. I had the confidence to do that cover because I knew I wasn't alone in feeling frustrated and embarrassed about my weight. An estimated 66 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese. And almost nobody's happy about it.
To those who say you've made peace with your size, I say good for you. For me, this is not about cosmetics. Or looking good in a pair of jeans. It's about optimal health, optimal living. A friend wrote me this e-mail after reading the January issue: "Here's how I see your weight—it is your smoke detector. And we're all burning up the best part of our lives."
I'd never thought of it that way before, but it was an aha! moment for me: The weight is an indicator warning, a flashing light blaring my disconnection from the center of myself. That's what out of balance really means: how far you've strayed, how distant you are from that which is sacred and holy.
What I know for sure now is that for me weight is a spiritual issue, not a food issue. Marianne Williamson struck a nerve when she sent this e-mail: "Your weight is really an invitation to your best life."
All these years of diets doomed to fail, I thought weight was the barrier.
Years ago, I co-authored a book with Bob Greene called Make the Connection. The title was his idea. Even while writing my part, which involved sharing my frustrated journal entries about being fat (I was 237 pounds when Bob and I met), I would often say to him, "Remind me again; what's the connection?"
I did learn from him that my overeating wasn't about potato chips, that I needed to peel back the layers of my addiction to food and figure out what was eating me. Obviously, I didn't peel deeply enough.
Only now do I get, get, get it! The connection is loving, honoring, and protecting everything about yourself. Bob has often said to me, "Your weight is ultimately tied to your feelings of unworthiness." For 15 years, I vehemently disagreed, saying, "Listen, Bob Greene, I'm not one of those people who think they don't deserve what they have. I've worked hard for everything I own."
But as I move along the spiritual path to permanently resolving and managing the weight issue, I now see that a sense of unworthiness can come in many forms.
I've been an overachiever since I was 3 years old. Achieving to prove my worthiness.
Many times we insist on having all the best things because that's the only way we can ensure "quality of life" for ourselves. I can neglect myself in every other way, but if I have the best watch or pocketbook or car or square footage, I get to tell myself I'm the best and how much I deserve to have even more of the best.
What I know for sure: Having the best things is no substitute for having the best life.
Spring is nearly upon us. New life awakens. Allow it to awaken in you and not just around you. Whatever your challenge—overeating, overindulging in any substance or activity, the loss of a relationship, money, position—let it be an open door to your holiest revelations about yourself, an invitation to your best life.
From the March 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!