-Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine (not sure when she said this, but I’m thinking before the Weight Watchers deal)
Of course this time of year is filled with weight loss ads, and none seems to be garnering more attention than Oprah Winfrey’s ads for Weight Watchers. Now in full disclosure, Oprah has a 10% stake in the company and is on their Board, so she has a vested interest in seeing the company succeed (although she really doesn’t need the money, does she?). I have read all sorts of opinions on the ads, what Oprah says, and what it means for the diet world in general. As a person of a certain weight, I wanted to weigh in on this (pun intended).We all know how much pull Oprah has with the public. If she gets people even THINKING of getting healthier, I find that a plus. If people purely go to Weight Watchers because she is endorsing it, I think that is a plus. Why? Because those people will THINK about what they put in their bodies, learn how to keep a food journal, be encouraged to move more, how to make better choices. Will they lose some weight, stick with the program for a while, but ultimately drop out? Probably (I can speak from experience here). But the things they learned while they were involved will stick with them. Perhaps on their own they will make better food choices and feel better, which leads them to move more, and eventually their bodies get HEALTHIER. Notice I did not say THINNER. Because their bodies FEEL better, they are motivated to do the things they put off “until they lose x pounds”. It becomes less about a number on the scale and more to do with health and self-confidence. And I believe when people feel good and are confident they do amazing things that have a ripple effect to their friends, families, community and ultimately the world.
Now let’s be clear—people who have conditions where weight loss is prescribed by their physician should absolutely pursue the goal to lose weight.
I have never been told by a doctor to lose weight, even though I would be considered obese by BMI standards. My doctor has asked me if I exercise, and when I say yes, she tells me that is the best thing for me. I got a physical and all my numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) are in the normal range. So am I fat and fit at the same time? I think so. I believe eating right most of the time and exercising religiously definitely contribute to my health. But I also think that my positive attitude, self-confidence and possessing tools to reduce stress contribute to my health. My body feels good, I feel good, therefore I choose to spend my time doing things that enrich my life and hopefully the lives of others instead of obsessively counting calories or spending time on the scale.
There is a community out there of larger people, mostly women that I have seen, that are thwarting the idea that a woman has to be thin to be beautiful or successful. They are embracing their size, wearing what they want to wear, saying what they want to say, and making no apologies for it. They are writing blogs, posting pictures, and most importantly I think, brimming with self-confidence. They are not being held back by their size but instead propelling themselves into the spotlight to stand up for what they believe is right. I am one of those women. I don’t let my weight dictate my mood or my life. I live my life to the fullest, with the ultimate goal of inspiring others to accept themselves and get healthy so they can do amazing things in the world.
Don’t get me wrong—I still struggle. One of my intentions this year is to accept my body, belly and all. No more looking in the mirror and feeling sorrow. I now look in the mirror and compliment my body on the 1500 reps it did at the gym this week. I relish the soreness of my muscles. Am I still tempted to do the Biggest Loser at my work – sure. But I then think of all the other things I could be doing with my time (and money) that means so much more. Heck, look at Oprah. As several people have pointed out, did her size have any effect on the impact she had in the world? Absolutely not.
Being large in this world is not easy. And I’m not saying the road to self-love and confidence will be easy. But we need more good in this world. And if your weight is holding you back from birthing something revolutionary that this world needs, the road needs to be travelled. Think BIG—not about yourself, but about the impact you can have on your loved ones, community and the world.