Erik Chopin and Oprah

After welcoming a new class of 7th graders to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, Oprah's back for another round of life-changing Best Life Week shows and webcasts! Take control of your weight, health, spirit, money and sex life in a week of interactive webcasts lead by Oprah and her experts. Watch the webcasts now.

Oprah's weight loss confession—it was the conversation that inspired Best Life Week. "I shared how I just didn't fall off the wagon last year—I let the wagon fall on me," Oprah says. "I can't believe after all these years I'm still talking about weight, but by the response on our message boards, a lot of you can relate."

Oprah's conversation especially resonated with Erik Chopin, the winner of NBC's third season of The Biggest Loser. When the New York deli owner got the call to appear on the show in 2006, his weight was a dangerous 407 pounds. At 36, Erik had diabetes, sleep apnea and sky-high cholesterol. "I've got two little girls at home. When they get a little older, I want to be able to walk them down the aisle," he said at the time. In eight months, Erik lost 214 pounds—and became the biggest loser to date!

Now, this fan favorite is ready to admit that he's been lying to his friends, family and his fans. In the three years since his victory, Erik has gained back half the weight he lost and says he now weighs 315 pounds. As he gained, he continued to use older photos on his MySpace and Facebook pages and even turned down an offer to appear on The Oprah Show with past Biggest Loser contestants. "People, they don't see me. I can hide," he says. "I inspired so many people; so many people reach out to me. I feel like I let them down."
Erik Chopin on gaining the weight back after winning The Biggest Loser

Erik says his weight gain hit home when his scale read more than 300 pounds. "When I finally saw it, a little bit of depression I had got even deeper and I sunk into pretty much a deep depression," Erik says. "I just didn't want to face life. I just felt like staying in bed. Like, 'I did this to myself again. What's going on?'"

Now, Erik says he's realized food is his drug of choice. "When you're on the wagon, you've got your 'drug' in control. When you start coming off of it, you go in the other direction," he says. "I was looking to the food to heal myself, to feel better about something."

Still, Erik says his weight struggles have taught him an important lesson. "When you're going on that kind of a journey [on The Biggest Loser], there's a finish line," he says. "Beyond the finish line, I'd heard from so many people maintenance is the hardest thing. [I used to think], 'Try losing 200 pounds.' But maintenance really is a lifetime."
Michele Chopin on her husband's weight gain.

Erik's wife, Michele, says she has seen her husband's weight go up and down over the years, but says it's still difficult to start a conversation about it. "It's hard to tell someone that's lost 200 pounds that he's put anything back on," she says. "I can't tell him—he knows. When I do tell him, I don't want to hurt his feelings."

The mother of three says she keeps up her routine and is starting to feel some resentment toward Erik. "I had to keep going on," she says. "We just had our third child eight months ago, so now the only difference is I have three kids to take care of and I'm still going through and doing what I have to do."

But most of all, Michele says she's worried about her husband's physical, emotional and mental health. "I'm worried about him—desperately worried about him. I'd look at him and think it was like he was drowning and I couldn't do anything to help him," she says. "I could see it in his eyes, and I could see so many things happening again that we've been through."
Erik Chopin and Oprah

So what finally inspired Erik to take action? Erik says his aha! moment struck when he watched Oprah share her own weight struggles with the world. "I thought it was so courageous and so admirable and inspiring," he says. "I said, 'Wow, I should just reveal this and just get it over with.' Friends and family, neighbors, they're going to see me. But the majority of people don't. They don't know."

Erik says he's also learning how to put himself back on his own priority list. "When we were on The Biggest Loser, we always had to think of an inspirational theme for ourselves, and I always went to the family—and I do. I want to lose the weight and be healthy for my family," he says. "And this time I think, 'You know what? Do it for yourself.'"

Now, Erik's says he's ready to live his best life—and do so in the gym if that's what it takes. Although Erik and Michele woke up at 5 a.m. to work out before talking to Oprah, Erik says working out isn't his favorite thing. "I love it when I'm done, when I get back in the car and I'm covered in sweat," he says.

Still, part of loving yourself is exercising for yourself, Erik says. "Do it for you. And then the family, they're a ripple effect. They'll be affected."
Corinne was inspired to lose weight by Oprah's Best Life Week.

At the brink of turning 40, Corinne says she's the heaviest she's ever been—198 pounds. "I have had a bad back, bad knees, arthritis, but after watching your program ... I decided that they were all excuses for my underperformance in not making myself a priority," she says. "I was so inspired by your program that I decided to take action now. Thank you for reigniting my flame."

This London resident has saved her seat for Oprah and Bob Greene's weight loss webcast at 9/8c on Monday night and Skypes in to share her aha! moment with Oprah. "I think it's you actually saying that you don't like exercise," Corinne says. "I thought you don't like doing the exercise, but you did it. I need to do something for myself."

After watching Oprah's confession, Corinne says she immediately found a Soca dance and aerobics class in her area. "I like to dance. I can exercise to it, so I did my first aerobics class in four years on the same day," she says. "I felt great when I was doing it actually, which I was quite surprised. And I think that's why for me the thing is doing it to music that I enjoy that I forget about the exercise."

With her weight loss fire burning bright, Corinne has already attended two Soca classes and says she's starting working out on a Pilates machine. "After being on this, all my family, they're going to say to me, 'You can't be on Oprah and not stick to your word,'" she says. "So I'm definitely going to do it!"
Cindy bikini reveal

In 2003, Cindy wowed Oprah Show viewers with her incredible weight loss story. The grandmother shed 50 pounds—and showed off her perfectly toned body in a blue bikini on national television!

After the show, Cindy says she became a local celebrity in her small hometown. Now, six years later, Cindy says she's embarrassed to be seen.
Cindy gets back on the weight loss wagon.

Cindy's back, she says, to "out" herself after gaining back the weight. "I have been hiding. I don't even go to the gym because I don't want anybody to see me," she says. "People know me as the lady that lost the weight and was on Oprah. Well, I don't want them to see me like this now, so I don't go."

While watching Oprah's confession, Cindy says something clicked for her. In the past year, Cindy says her husband was diagnosed with cancer and she lost her sister-in-law and her mother. "It was tough to just put one foot in front of the other. But when you said what you said about being grateful for the body working, I cried," Cindy says. "Through all of the tough times and the hardships and the tears and the anxiety, my legs still took me where I needed to go, my arms were still able to pick up the baby and love him, and my heart still worked for me to love everybody in my life."

Now that Cindy 's decided to get back on the weight loss wagon, she's not worrying about what others think. "When [people] ask me about the weight gain, I say: 'That's what I did. This is who I am. And I am a woman who loves and gives from the bottom of her heart. And if you don't like me because I'm not a size 2, sorry.'"

Now that Cindy's working to take care of herself again, she's starting to make better food choices—and also made an appearance at the gym. "They were so excited. It's like, 'Cindy, it's so good to see you. Welcome back. ... We'll see you here tomorrow, right?'" she says. "It took courage, but I'm back. I'm going to put myself on the priority list again."
Nima talks about her financial action plan.

Recession affects all of us in some way, making now more important than ever to get your finances in order. To start 2009 off strong, financial powerhouse Suze Orman unveiled her five-step action plan for financial security.

After watching the show and hearing Suze's plan to weather this financial storm, Nima says she decided to talk to her husband about their finances. Taking Suze's advice, Nima and her husband created an action plan of their own.

1. Open a "hands-off" savings account. Nima says this is a separate account she's opened that she and her husband will put money into, but not take out.

2. Check into your mortgage. "I called my lender right after the show," Nima says. "We have a home equity line of credit with our lender and our mortgage, and they were able to consolidate both and give us a much lower interest rate. They told us we could save around $678 a month, so we're pretty excited about that."

3. Brown-bag it for lunch. If Nima and her husband can save $8 to $10 a day by eating out less, they realized they could save an extra $200 to $300 a month!

4. Make a plan. With her newfound monthly savings, Nima says they plan to add more money to her husband's 401(k) and pay off more of their mortgage.

Do you need help creating your own action plan? Watch Oprah and Suze's webcast.
Karyn and Jerry try Dr. Laura Berman's Foreplay Maps.

According to sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman, part of achieving a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life is having good sex. To help couples fulfill their needs between the sheets, Dr. Berman introduced a visual exercise called the Foreplay Map. Using a diagram of the body, you and your partner label the body parts in the order you liked to be touched and share the maps with one another.

Get the Foreplay Map exercise and try it with your partner!

Karyn and Jerry have been married for 28 years—and while Karyn says she's always been comfortable talking about sex, she wanted Jerry in on the conversation too. After seeing Dr. Berman's Foreplay Maps, Karyn and Jerry decided to give them a try.

"It was something that we didn't really rush through and we took our time, but it led to a great evening and I would highly recommend it," Jerry says. For Karyn, having a map helped create a deeper connection with her husband. "Having this map, not only did I know what I was going to receive, I knew what to give, and it added a level of intimacy and safety that just took it to a really spiritual level of sex and that's what we need," she says. 

Karyn says she and Jerry have now had great sex three nights in a row. "I don't know about the rest of America, but I think that's pretty exceptional for 28 years of marriage!" 

For more ways to spice up your love life, watch Oprah and Dr. Berman's webcast.
Dr. Oz talks about Oprah's thyroid condition.

When Oprah announced last Monday that her thyroid problem was cured, it sent many viewers buzzing on the message boards. Is it even possible to cure thyroid disease? And how did she do it? Oprah is now clearing the air. "Here's the bottom line," she says. "When I said I was cured, I meant I don't have the thyroid problem anymore because my thyroid levels are all in the normal range now and my doctors have taken me off of any thyroid medication." However, Oprah says she still has her levels frequently checked to monitor her thyroid gland. 

Dr. Oz joins Oprah via Skype™ from his office in New York to further explain her thyroid condition. "Well, just to be clear, your thyroid problems aren't the usual thyroid problems," he says. "And by that I mean although the ailment itself is common, there's two issues that can happen with your thyroid. It can underperform—that's hypothyroidism—or it can overperform—hyperthyroidism. 

"But your issue, Oprah, and you're so unique, is you were having a frat party in your thyroid," Dr. Oz says. "You were having a bunch of different things happening at once. And so you have these two ailments: One was stimulating the thyroid with antibodies; the other one was actually waging war on the thyroid. And so when those two level out, they actually can bring you into a place of peace—which, interestingly, is where you are right now." 

Watch Oprah and Dr. Oz's webcast for more answers to your health questions.
The Rev. Ed Bacon explains his comment that being gay is a gift from God.

Another hot-button issue that sent viewers straight to our message boards was a comment made by the Rev. Ed Bacon during a discussion on spirituality. After hearing from Sedrick, who says he had a tough adolescence growing up as a gay teen in rural Alabama, the Rev. Bacon said something Oprah says she has never heard a minister say. "Being gay is a gift from God," the Rev. Bacon said. "But our culture doesn't understand that. And consequently, the culture sends messages that you ought to isolate. And isolation is the antithesis of what all of us need."

To further explain his comment, the Rev. Bacon joins Oprah via satellite. "I meant exactly what I said," he says. "It is so important for every human being to understand that he or she is a gift from God."

Just as the message boards were buzzing, the Rev. Bacon says he has been receiving plenty of feedback. The majority of it, he says, is positive. "My e-mail was full of comments, and what I gather is that it simply unleashed a flood of healing throughout the country and Australia and Great Britain, across the continent. It was amazing."

Oprah's conversation with the Rev. Ed Bacon, Elizabeth Lesser and Michael Bernard Beckwith isn't over yet! Watch the spirituality webcast for more.

Oprah says 2009 is a chance for a fresh start, and she plans to put herself back on her priority list. "I really so deeply appreciate all of you who were upset or said you were sad for my sadness. I'm really not sad. I was very disappointed in myself in the same way that you've been disappointed in yourself when you don't fulfill something that you know that you should. But I'm back on track. I believe that this is going to be the best year of my life and yours."

More ways to live your best life.