OOPS, SHE'S done it again. That's right, the undisputed queen of all media Oprah Winfrey has fallen off the proverbial wagon, her weight once again ballooning, this time to 200 pounds.
In the recent issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, she came clean: "In 1992 I reached my heaviest, 237 pounds. I was 38. Then, four years ago, I made it a goal to lose weight, and I appeared on the January 2005 cover at a toned 160 pounds. I thought I was finished with the weight battle. I was done. I'd conquered it. I was so sure, I was even cocky. I had the nerve to say to friends who were struggling, 'All you have to do is work out harder and eat less! Get your 10,000 steps in! None of that starchy stuff!' "
Now, before you get into a tizzy, let's agree that Oprah is always the first one to call attention to her weight struggles - on TV, online and in print.
So (Mom!), don't think I am picking on Oprah, because I'm not. I love Oprah just as much as you do. I just want her to get back to her healthy, fit and happy self.
Don't you remember when she wheeled out the 67 pounds of fat on her TV show to demonstrate what she'd lost on a liquid protein diet? She fit into those size 10 jeans - for a minute. But she'd also lost a lot of muscle and looked sickly. And, as soon as she went off the diet, she started putting the weight back on.
Just before her 50th birthday, Oprah made a major comeback. She was in the best shape of her life. I still have that issue of O. That time, she did things the right way, with regular exercise and a nutritious diet.
Now, she laments, "So here I stand, 40 pounds heavier than I was in 2006. (Yes, you're adding correctly; that means the dreaded 2-0-0.) I'm mad at myself. I'm embarrassed. I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, 'How did I let this happen again?' "
My friend Denise commented, "Oprah has everything - personal trainers, personal chefs, state-of-the-art fitness equipment and a nutritionist. If she can't keep the pounds off, can any of us?"
Of course we can.
The problem is, most of us want weight loss and weight management to be effortless. Unfortunately, without conscious awareness, self-proclaimed food addicts like me and Oprah are doomed to repeat our old behaviors, pretty much the way alcoholics or drug addicts do.
And it's a lot tougher when food is your drug of choice, because you have to eat.
For the record, Oprah's successful weight loss in 2005 was a deliberate act with quantifiable goals. It was work. But that's the bottom line: Whatever it takes to lose weight is what it takes to maintain the weight loss.
Truth be told, weight maintenance is harder than weight loss. A lot harder.
In that spirit, here are my tips for Oprah - and you - to win not just the battle of the bulge, but the war.
1. Stay consciously aware.
Get your head out of the sand and deal with your reality. Make a plan to maintain your weight; failure to plan is a plan for failure.
Schedule your workouts as you would any important meeting or date. Plan your meals. Pack your lunch. Shop the periphery of the supermarket, not the middle, where the high-calorie processed foods are concentrated. Ask for the low-calorie, low-fat menu when you dine out.
2. Weigh in daily.
A 2006 New England Journal of Medicine report supported the effectiveness of daily weigh-ins. According to the study, individuals who weighed themselves daily lost twice as much weight. And the daily weigh-in dieters maintained their weight better than study participants who didn't weigh themselves daily.
Participants in the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks more than 3,000 people who've lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for five years, also practice this habit. Personally, I've been doing this for years, and it works. Whenever I get cocky and think I don't need to weigh in, the pounds creep back on.
3. Maintain a food journal.
Researchers have proven that people who keep food journals lose more weight and keep if off! The National Weight Control Registry has found that most of their successful participants maintain a food journal.
A research study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who maintained food journals were twice as successful.
Oh, yeah, this is another strategy I've used for years - and I have the journals to prove it. Again, when I got overconfident and stopped tracking my food consumption, I would eat with abandonment and consequently gain weight.
4. Exercise daily.
Most experts agree that daily exercise is not only good for weight loss but also one of the best preventive medicines. When it comes to exercise, there is no debate: If you want to be healthy inside and out, you must make it a priority.
The majority of participants in the National Weight Control Registry exercise a minimum of one hour most days of the week. I recommend it and do the same. *
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).
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