On the very first season of The Oprah Show, 25-year-old Stacey Halprin wrote Oprah a heartbreaking letter about her struggle with weight. At 550 pounds, Stacey's life was both difficult and dangerous—she couldn't even sleep without being propped up on six pillows because she would choke if she lay flat.
For several years, Stacey bravely allowed Oprah Show cameras to follow her struggle and gave the world an eye-opening glimpse into the life of a morbidly obese person. Viewers saw her order enough fast food to feed several people, hide out in her dark bedroom to avoid going out in public and experience cruel comments and jokes from strangers on the street, all while battling extreme sadness, depression and despair.
"You were brave enough, courageous enough and open enough to let us film you at a time when nobody actually brought this out in the open," Oprah says. "Thank you for that."
After years of hardship and pain, Stacey made the difficult decision to get gastric bypass surgery, once again allowing cameras to follow her journey of reconstruction and recovery.
Today, Stacey returns in her final Oprah Show appearance to update the audience on the recent struggles and triumphs that were sparked by sending in her candid letter nearly 25 years ago.
When Stacey looks back at her public weight loss battle, she has a difficult time watching and reliving the painful struggles. "It's just very painful because I lived that life, and it's so wonderful to know that it isn't my life anymore," she says. "Even though I did put weight back on."
Stacey says that, even while sitting in the greenroom just before walking out onstage, she didn't feel worthy of returning for another show. "I didn't feel like I deserved to come," she says. "[But] I don't want to hide anymore."
To date, Stacey says she has lost 360 pounds. At first, she says she was eager to appear on The Oprah Show once her weight loss struggles came to an end, but now she realizes that her journey will always continue. "I wanted to come here and be at the finish line," she explains. "I know there are no finish lines. It's an ongoing process."
Hundreds of pounds lighter and much healthier, Stacey says she is just thrilled being able to live a normal life and do simple things such as flying on a plane without worrying about fitting in the seat or using a special seatbelt extension.
That's not the only thing Stacey has to be excited about: She's also in love!
"I started dating for the first time in 2004, and I was horrible at it," Stacey says. "A year ago, I said, 'I'm done. ... This just isn't my calling to be in love.' And two weeks later, I met the man of my dreams whom I'm going to spend my life with."
As for losing more weight, Stacey says she is happy having lost 360 pounds and isn't necessarily desperate to be a much smaller size. "People were pushing me [to lose more weight]. 'Keep going.' But I felt you know when you're where you're going to be," she says. "Don't listen to people. It doesn't mean everyone has to weigh 130."
"Look at what your body is supposed to be. It's about what your body is supposed to be," Oprah says. "Thank you for sharing your life with us all these years."
"Thank you for giving me my life," Stacey says.
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013