Oprah Talks to You
Oprah replies to a batch of the most pressing and frequently asked questions, and Bob Greene weighs in on a few, too!
— 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?
— 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.
— 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....
— 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?
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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?"
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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."