Ever since Oprah grabbed four Harpo staffers for her 12-week weight loss boot camp, two things have happened. The four have turned into lean, mean fat-fighting machines, and the thousands of you who joined the Boot Camp have bombarded us with e-mails about the program.

Oprah replies to a batch of the most pressing and frequently asked questions, and Bob Greene weighs in on a few, too!

Self Sabotage
For some reason, the minute I start feeling and looking good and getting compliments, I sabotage myself. How do I find out what's keeping me from liking myself? 
— Michi, 46, Lakewood, California

Michi from Lakewood, that is a really good question you're asking. Obviously, you have some shadow beliefs that you are not worthy of happiness and true success. That's the only reason you would keep sabotaging yourself.

When I started working out with my group, I said to them, "We're going to peel back the layers. You need to ask yourselves a lot of questions about why you've put on the weight and why you've dieted time and time again. But I can already tell you what the answer is: You didn't feel worthy of being loved."

The "Am I good enough?" question plagues millions of people and, if you ask me, is the root of many evils. To get a handle on it, I'd try to figure out at what age this started to form as a reality for you.

One thing that helped me was realizing that I am not just Vernon and Vernita's daughter but God's child, so I am worthy of the abundance that the universe has to offer. Nobody who has struggled with her weight achieves a significant loss without some kind of spiritual and emotional component. And that spiritual component always, always comes down to: Am I worthy of being loved? Am I worthy of the best? 

Battling Depression
I am very overweight, and so is my oldest daughter. We both suffer from depression and eat to cover up our pain. How do you handle weight when dealing with depression? 
— Linda, 43, Hogansville, Georgia

I'm not a therapist, so I can't tell you how to treat your depression. And eating for emotional reasons is such a big issue, it deserves a whole book (my trainer Bob Greene's book Get With the Program! is great on the subject). But I do know that if you just start moving, you will feel better. My motto to my boot campers has been "Do the thing you think you cannot do." In other words, force yourself to get up and walk a mile or go to the gym, even though it's the last thing you want to do. After 10 or 20 minutes—for me it's about seven—the endorphins kick in and your spirits lift. In fact, we did a piece in our January issue, called "Shortcut to Bliss," on how exercise can be as helpful as antidepressants. And during our boot camp, a study came out saying three half-hour workouts a week relieved depression by almost 50 percent. But this is the deal: You can't sit around and wait for the mood to strike—"Oh, wouldn't a workout be nice?"—because it's not going to happen. You know what? I never feel like it. You do it although you don't feel like it—that's what discipline is. You just have to walk through the wall. And start slow. Many a day, I ease my way in—getting on the treadmill at 3 mph, going up a tenth of a point every minute, and before you know it, I'm kicking it at seven.

The White Stuff
  When you say you stay away from refined carbs and sugars, can you tell me specifically what you mean? Anything white? 
— Linda, 39, Lockport, Illinois

I do often say "the white stuff," but what I mean is any carbohydrates that have been processed. Potato chips. Crackers. White bread. White pasta. White rice. Cookies. Cake....

Team Spirit
I started a wellness program for the staff at Hellgate High School in Missoula. About 50 of us are "steppin' to Chicago to see Oprah," which is 1,589.4 miles away, by keeping track on a pedometer. I have a map up and a chart of how everyone is doing. Our goal is to reach you by the end of the school year. 
— Lynn, 43, Montana

Bravo. That's how you do it. Listen, I've worked out by myself, with a trainer, with a group—it's definitely more fun with a group. So I'm applauding you. Can you hear me applauding you all the way from Chicago?

Doing it for Yourself
When I met my husband, Cory, I was 125 pounds. Two years later, I weigh in at about 205. We used to be intimate, but now we hardly do anything. I promised him that I would be back down to what I looked like when we met by our anniversary, but I can't stick to my diet. I don't want to lose Cory to a good-looking girl. I will do anything if I can get your help. Please. 
— Christina, 19, Washington, Utah

Fuhggedit. F.u.h.g.g.e.d.i.t. It will never, ever work. Christina, you can't lose weight for Cory. You didn't put the weight on because of Cory, and you won't be able to take the weight off because of Cory. If you want to look like you did two years ago, the decision—and it must be an emotional, spiritual decision—can come only from you and be only for you. From you. For you. Nothing to do with Cory.

How about Splenda®?
Can I use Splenda® in my oatmeal once I get past the first month? 
— Stephanie, 33, Jennings, Missouri

Yes, and this is one of my favorite ways of doing it: Take your oatmeal (I use steel-cut because it's crunchier), add one Splenda®, one tablespoon of hazelnut coffee creamer; mix in a handful of blueberries, then sprinkle six chopped almonds on top. Da-lish! Tastes better than a sundae. I like it so much, sometimes I'll have it for lunch.

What to Eat
I want to join the boot camp. But I have a few questions: (1) Can you have any dairy? (2) Eggs? (3) Yams or sweet potatoes? (4) Any vegetables besides green ones? 
— Syneetra, 25, Newark, New Jersey

I'd keep your dairy intake to eight ounces of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt per day. And yes, you can have eggs. Now the yams and sweet potatoes, that's a no, not while you're in the boot camp phase. When you get into maintenance, you can add them back in. As for other vegetables, you can have all of them except corn, potatoes, and beets. So yes on tomatoes, yes on squash. You can even have carrots. Nobody ever got fat eating carrots.

The Plateau
Oprah! I need your help. At my peak, I was 257 pounds. I am now 195 and have hit a wall. I just can't seem to get past it. How have you gotten over plateaus? 
— Carissa, 24, Auburn, Washington

The way to get past a plateau is to move faster and harder. People think they can do the same old workout every day, but your body gets used to it and stops losing weight. That's what happened with one of my boot campers, Stacey. Before we started, I'd see her in the gym year in, year out, doing the treadmill, StairMaster, weights...treadmill, StairMaster, weights—it never changed. One day when I thought, Dear God, there she is again!, I said, "Do you want me to help you?" It wasn't until boot camp, where we pushed ourselves further every day, that she lost 25 pounds. So if you are stuck, gradually add more speed and intensity to your workout and you should start losing weight again. And by the way, to anybody reading the paper on the StairMaster, I say, "May I offer you a cocktail, too? Would you like a lemon with that?"

Portion Control
Can you help me with the amounts of food I should eat on the plan? 
— Patty Karfs, 46, Belleville, Illinois

This is the way I look at it: When you consider that your stomach is about the size of your fist, no portion should be larger than what can fit into the palm of your hand. So if you're having steak, the piece must be only as big as your palm—not the palm, wrist, and extended thumb and fingers. The same with each of the other foods you're eating with that steak. You should be able to cup the peas in one hand without them spilling all over the place, you know what I mean? That's how I measure portions.

Finding Support
I am a teen who has been dealing with constant weight battles. Every day I go home crying to my mother about how much I get teased. Since my hometown is small, I can't seem to find help; I'm not sure where to turn. 
— Sierra, 18, Lottsburg, Virginia

Why don't you join our Boot Camp? We are giving special walking advice for people who can't get to the gym. If you do the program, you'll lose weight. Guaranteed. You could also organize your own boot camp group where you live. I've struggled with my weight for years, but I finally realize it's not that hard. The key is making up your mind that you want to do this for yourself. You also need to get the right information about food and exercise—and then follow it. When people say, "I've tried every diet and not one of them has worked," I ask, "And how many did you stick with?" All diets work if you follow them.

No Time
I've been trying most of my life to lose weight, but when I do, I can't keep it off. Now I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror. I work full-time and go to school, so it's hard to get to the gym. Could you tell me what has helped you, besides hiring a personal trainer, which I can't afford? 
— Maribel, 27, Texas

You say you can't bear to look at yourself in the mirror. I can relate. I felt that way every day I was more than 200 pounds. But I also know that you do not need a personal trainer or a gym to get fit. You need a decision. A decision on your part to take action, which means educating yourself about what to eat and making a commitment to start moving—a half mile, then a mile, two miles, one step at a time. My point is this: If you can't find time to work out, then you don't want to lose the weight. It's simply a matter of physics. So ask yourself what you're willing to do. And if you aren't prepared to exercise and cut down on your volume of food as a way of life, stop wasting time feeling bad about your weight and move on to something else.

Abuse and Weight
I was abused as a child and am just beginning to face it at 40 years of age. Now for the first time I find myself comfort-eating (desserts seem to be the only thing that make me happy). How do you deal with the pain? I'm sad and worn-out from trying to confront my past. What worked for you, and do you think it could work for me? I want to lose 40 pounds. 
— Cheryl, 40, Wichita, Kansas

First, let me commend you for your courage. I was abused, I was ignored, I felt abandoned, my single greatest emotion growing up was feeling alone. And for me, a big moment was recognizing that I'd come through it all, that I'm still here. A book that helped me a lot and that I highly recommend is The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. It's basically about how the only time that matters is the present and the way you choose to use it. What I'd say to you, Cheryl, is this: Remember, you were able to overcome unimaginable horrors you had no control over. Now you do have control (even over those desserts). To really let go of the pain, you've got to give up the hope that the past could have been different. So move forward with the strength you've been given to live an undefeated life.

Starting from Scratch
My mother and I need a weight loss plan (she's at least 300 pounds, and I'm 260). We want to support each other, but we have no idea where to start. Please point us in the right direction. 
— Kerri, 24, Waco, Texas

You can start a mother-daughter boot camp by walking together. Start with Bob Greene's walking program advice in Oprah's Boot Camp. At first you may only make it two blocks or one lap around the track. When I was 237 pounds, I could do only half a mile, but in eight months I was able to run a 26-mile marathon. I would also recommend eliminating "the white stuff" from your diet—for me that's the easiest way to lose weight. You'll probably feel lethargic as you detox from the sugar, which can be like a drug. But after the third day, you should come out of it. Reggie, my makeup artist and a doughnut freak, got off sugar in our boot camp, and it took him only three days. Oh, I tell you, though, that second day, he looked like he'd been in a boxing match with Mike Tyson, and I mean Tyson in his prime.

Feeding the Family
I am 5'4" and weigh more than 250 pounds. It is so hard to make healthy items for me and meet my family's meat-and-potatoes needs when I barely have the energy to work out and still cook. Any suggestions? 
— Kelly, 41, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Food doesn't have to be artery clogging in order for it to taste good. "The Incredibles" really are incredible. I live on everything you see pictured, and it's all nutritious, delicious, quick, and simple to make. A bowl of garlic-wilted spinach? My God, it's unbelievable! The wild salmon and soybeans is fantastic. The broccoli and roasted-walnut soup, that's a favorite as well. Or you can find a lot of healthy and easy recipes in Art Smith's Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families—Even Yours! I've eaten everything in that book. And if your family still has to have their meat and potatoes, serve yourself a smaller portion of the beef or pork and go easy on the spuds. Losing weight permanently is about integrating the way you eat into your lifestyle.

Sugar Addict
I am a carb addict. What do you eat to feed the sweet cravings so you don't blow all the hard work you've accomplished? 
— Wendy, 32, Ozark, Missouri

What saves me when I'm craving—because I have a huge chocolate thing—are sugar-free Fudgsicles. The sugar-free Popsicles hit the sweet spot, too. With diet drinks, I limit myself to two a day. I say two because if you have more, you're going to feel bloated. Also, I know people who guzzle diet soda all day long, and that cannot possibly be good for you.

Weighing In
I have been doing your boot camp for the last 12 weeks. I have lost 28 pounds and went down three dress sizes. ... My question for you is how often should I weigh myself because sometimes that scale is just not very friendly. 
— Sheila, Boot Camp member

Oprah admits that only weighing in once a week can be tough, but according to Bob Greene, this is the way to go—eventually. "When you lose weight through exercise and eating right as opposed to just restricting your calories, your body retains tons more water. I tell people not to weigh themselves the first two months. You have these wild fluctuations. After the two-month period your water weight has stabilized. My recommendation is no weighing yourself the first two months, then after that, no more than once a week.

Eating Cut-Off Time
My question to you is, how do you not eat past 7:30 p.m.? I have no will power. 
— Rebecca, Park City, Illinois

"Oprah on several shows has said no eating past 7:30 p.m.," Bob Greene says. "That's what worked for her and it really has. But that's her bedtime [10 p.m.]. So it's two to three hours before bedtime and a lot of people struggle with this. Start at two hours, and then go to two and a half hours. This is about managing your day. If you say 7:30 p.m. without question and you happen on that day to stay up until midnight, you're going to have a problem, and you're going to eat near your bedtime.

Fab Abs
I grew up loving my mom's collard greens and fried chicken. All of that southern comfort food went straight to my lips down to my hips. I joined your boot camp on January 27, and I've lost now 29 pounds and went down four dress sizes. I have one question for you. How did you get those fab abs? 
— Sherry, Birmingham, Alabama

For me, it's about sit-ups. I do about 300 sit-ups a day. "The truth is, you genetically deposit fat in your own pattern," Bob Greene adds. "And I think it's a little bit unfair, because it leads people to believe it's very easy to get flat abs. If you deposit your fat around your abs, it's extremely difficult. It's about being realistic. ... It's really about moving more, eating less, and you'll shrink."