Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
10 Dec

Oprah Hits 200 Pounds. Again.

If that sounds like a tabloid headline, well, it is. Except it was culled from Oprah’s own Magazine “O”.  It’s been an inside joke around here for years. We even thought about writing an entire book on the subject a few years ago “Why Can’t Oprah Lose Those Last 30 Pounds?” Well, now it turns out that not only couldn’t she lose those last 30, she has gained yet another 40 and has recently hit 200 pounds again. And all this happened despite the fact that she’s had daily access to world-famous personal trainer Bob Greene (OK, she was the one who made him famous). And she has world-famous doctor Mehmet Oz (author of You: The Owner’s Manual and You on a Diet – OK, she made him famous, too). Oh, and let’s not forget that other Oprah creation –  world-famous self-help guru Dr. Phil, who penned his own weight-loss tome, but could still stand to lose five or fifty pounds himself. These guys ought to be ashamed of themselves individually and collectively. Talk about the Emperor having no clothes! Especially Greene. The one single client who made him a gazillionaire and set him up for life, and he’s never been able to get any appreciable results with her. How can he sit on her show and talk about a healthy diet, “emotional eating” and proper exercise – and claim to be her trainer – with a straight face, while she balloons up in front of America?

Here’s what Oprah says in Greene’s book The Best Life Diet:

“The Best Life Diet plan on the following pages mirrors the way I eat and live now. There is no secret to losing weight. It’s simple physics; what you put in vs. what you put out.” Oh, really? I wonder how many millions of women have taken her advice and followed her down that same twisted path. That has to weigh heavily on her mind these days. “What I know For Sure” (title of a regular column in “O”) is that she now has an obligation to re-educate her viewers in the proper way to move through life.

Look, Oprah’s a driven, successful type-A woman who’s “trying to do the right thing” when it comes to weight loss, just like most of America. In fact, she probably exemplifies what has happened to millions of others following Conventional Wisdom. But the truth is, she’s been victimized by these guys. I bet she hung on Greene’s every word for years. Dieted, sweated, counted calories, weighed out portions. But after a while, after all that sacrifice, deprivation, hard work and no results, the frustration had to be overwhelming. It’s no wonder she fell off the wagon. Just like millions of others who have gone the same route. Fer cryin’ out loud, doesn’t anyone get it? It’s not about cutting calories, low-fat dieting or running marathons. It’s about eating the way we were programmed by evolution to eat and moving the way we were programmed to move.

I’m not saying Oprah needs to be a svelte 120, but somewhere between 135 and 150 there’s probably an ideal weight for her that she can maintain with ease and stay healthy at for at least another 40 years. The track she’s on now is a very slippery slope. I mean, think about it: if anybody could have access to the top information, it’s Oprah. She could call America’s guru and ask him how she might overcome her food demons, she could have America’s top personal trainer fix all her meals and exercise with her and she could have America’s best doc test her CRP and read her the riot act regarding obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Oh wait. She already did that.  Didn’t work. So what about the millions of others who have followed in her footsteps?

I went to Greene’s site and looked at some sample meals. Typical low-fat, low-calorie stuff that we now know is doomed to failure. Fair amount of cereal and bread (Wheaties and Barilla pasta are site sponsors), low fat dairy, etc. I would bet it’s 50% of calories as carbs. Then there’s some “jogging” in the exercise prescription, but no high end speed bursts or intensive compound movements as far as I can see. Same goes for Oz’s Diet book. Whole grains are good, saturated fats are bad. It’s old technology, guys. And it never worked that well anyway. Note, I refuse to read Dr. Phil’s book – for the same reasons I refuse to buy exercise equipment from a fat pony-tailed guy screaming at me on home-shopping TV. Can’t respect anyone who doesn’t walk the talk.

Oprah claims to have an underactive thyroid that has manifested itself in a “fear of working out.” That doesn’t surprise me with all the grains and simple carbs she’s most assuredly been consuming in the name of “trying to do the right thing.” And as for exercise, if you hate it, you are doing it wrong. Find something that works. There are lots of choices.

Not to toot my own horn, (OK, OK, tooting my own horn now) but here’s my challenge to you, Oprah: give me 60 days with the Primal Blueprint and I’ll give you your life back. Period. Guaranteed.

Further Reading:

Oprah Winfrey Says She Weighs 200 lbs

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

What’s Wrong with the Zone Diet?

The Beginning of the End? – Statins for Children

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Mark,

    Oprah should absolutely listen to you. I’ve only applied bits of the Primal Blueprint to my life and have seen drastic (in a good way) results. It’s fun, intuitive, feels right and the weight has melted off. The food is to die for, the exercises don’t feel like exercises, and the Primal Blueprint guide just makes sense. 60 days of learning how to live a healthy life, stripping away all the flawed CW she has been fed by people looking to make a buck would go a long way to turning her life around. She can have all the power, fame and money in the world, but what will it be worth if she doesn’t have her health? Give me health any day.

    Jerry the Frog (of the Bull Variety) wrote on December 10th, 2008
  2. Excellent. Unfortunately I think you’re preaching the the choir here, and I seriously doubt that the people who really need to see this will.

    I’d the publicity that would result if she took your challenge, but….

    Well, I can dream.

    chris wrote on December 10th, 2008
  3. Hey Mark,
    WOW,you really hit the nail on the head with this article! It is sort of strange that someone like her with all her fame and power can’t get good solid nutrition or exercise info???? But,the worse part is if Oprah isn’t getting good info what hope is there for the masses?? No wonder we have issues!! She needs and intervention..
    It would be so great if she “got” Primal,think of all the new recipes etc for all of us!

    Tracey wrote on December 10th, 2008
  4. Well said. I think part of the reason Oprah is so loved by her audience (me included!) is that despite her status, she still has the ordinary problems of the average woman. Unlike some other talk show hosts *cough cough,* she doesn’t put on a fat suit for a day to “experience” obesity. We get to watch her journey as she tries to get healthier. And if what she’s been trying isn’t working, it’s time for her to try something new. I’d love to see Oprah go Primal for a month.

    Susan wrote on December 10th, 2008
  5. Ya mark your assesment is spot on, its truly unfortunate that people get into these sorts of useless eating habits with really the best of intentions but without good science to really back it up.

    Marc wrote on December 10th, 2008
  6. I think this situation is is unfortunate for Oprah – I think her heart is in the right place and she WANTS to loose weight, and she WANTS to set an example for others, and she WANTS to help others in their own weight struggles. She’s just surrounded by people who blindly follow Conventional Wisdom. (This is where Mark gallantly enters on a white horse with sandbags, slosh tubes, and kettlebells strapped to the sides).

    If Oprah truly wants the things I listed above, then she should talk to Mark.

    Holly wrote on December 10th, 2008
    • I love the image you just painted of Mark on a horse right there. Except he’d have to be shirtless, of course, like the guy in the Old Spice Commercial…”Look at you, now look at me…” :)

      Angelina wrote on October 24th, 2010
  7. When paradise is discovered, paradise becomes lost. I hope Oprah never learns who Mark is, never meets Grok, and remains bloated and uncomforatbel for all her days. She is a false prohit.

    emergefit wrote on December 10th, 2008
    • Why? You sound like a complete asshole – most PB’ers / Paleo dieters were as clueless and desperate as her at some point.

      mm wrote on December 19th, 2010
  8. I think you should assembly your own team of experts, throw down the gauntlet, and challenge Oprah to take you and your team on for 6 months. Honestly, after all her years of preaching and those frauds that she has turned into millionaires she should eat crow, give those guys the boot (or turn them into the cops), and do something that has PROVEN results!

    Camille wrote on December 10th, 2008
  9. “When paradise is discovered, paradise becomes lost. I hope Oprah never learns who Mark is, never meets Grok, and remains bloated and uncomfortable for all her days. She is a false prophet.”
    I thought I was the only one that secretly wanted her to continue on with her low cal high carb ways. Amen, emergefit!

    Wendy wrote on December 10th, 2008
    • Why would you want such an unhealty lifestyle for her? Shameful and sad remark by you both.

      Annie wrote on April 4th, 2011
    • Why would you hope for someone to fail? Why be hateful towards someone you don’t even know, who has the same struggles as most Americans? This seemed like a positive website…

      Rebecca wrote on April 19th, 2013
  10. I actually feel sorry for her. She’s so high profile, and I think she honestly wants to do the right things. I’m amazed that someone as intelligent as she is hasn’t figured out that the reason we’re in this mess is *because* we follow the advice of diet dictocrats. Surely she has the internet? Surely she’s heard those of us who embrace a more traditional, primitive way of eating? Does she think we’re nutcases? How does she explain our successes?


    FoodRenegade wrote on December 10th, 2008
  11. I love Oprah’s show. I would love it more if Mark was featured as much as Dr. Oz is. Mark – Your 10 Primal Blueprint lifestyle behaviors are perfect for prime time TV – easy to digest, easy to remember, easy to accomplish, easy to understand. I say you on Fox News awhile back and you were awesome. It’s a wonder why you aren’t doing more in the way of television. You have to finish that book! We’re all waiting in anticipation.

    Sandra R. wrote on December 10th, 2008
  12. Oprah is the classic definiton of a “Yo yo dieter”. She has lost weight then been fat and lost weight then ballooned again more times than I can count. The really scary thing about Oprah, is that so many will blindly follow her no matter what she says! The word “lemmings” comes to mind. As you deftly point out, its also scary how Oprah can make people experts or basically create their careers. I have a couple extended family members to adhere to this pack of lemmings. I was recently dragged into a conversation touting the benefits of vegetarianism because Oprah had something about it on her bit about “blue zones”.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on December 10th, 2008
    • Are we not all “lemmings” of the PB?

      Annie wrote on April 4th, 2011
  13. I hope some of her staff are cruising the Internet and find this. She would feel so much better with even as little as 3 weeks of PB.

    I’m not sure what she means when she says she has a “fear of working out.” She didn’t have this fear before?? I’m not understanding what hypothyrodism has to do with it. My husband has low thyroid and takes medication for it. It most certainly does not stop him from playing recreational ice hockey once a week OR playing hard with our son. The guy is otherwise healthy and not overweight. Maybe I need to hear the entire context of her comment, because otherwise it sounds like a CRAZY excuse.

    I would like Oprah to take the PB Challenge, like some of us did, and to be healthy for herself, not the public eye.

    Conny wrote on December 10th, 2008
  14. This is so sad. I hope this blog makes it into Oprah’s hands and she takes you up on the offer. What does she have to lose? Well, we KNOW what she has to lose…and she isn’t getting it done with her team of peeps is she?

    Looking forward to seeing you on the Oprah show. I’ll tune in for sure!

    MsC wrote on December 10th, 2008
  15. To be honest with you I couldn’t care less about Oprah.

    Jerry wrote on December 10th, 2008
  16. I have to say that, like Susan, I really respect Oprah. I am glad that she is sharing all aspects of her quest for fitness with us. It’s so much better than having a celeb drop 30 lbs overnight because of abusing prescription meds and then claim they are just naturally thin. There’s a lot to be learned from the journey.

    Anyhow, I’m all about trying everything and seeing what works for your body. I’ve tried the Primal Blueprint and it didn’t work for me (Sorry guys! But I still love this site for the high quality analysis of research and the exercise prescriptions). But it might be just the thing that Oprah’s body needs. I would love to see her go Primal for 60 days! Although then Mark would be so famous we might never see him around here again;)

    charlotte wrote on December 10th, 2008
  17. I think Oprah really needs to deal with what’s going on between hear ears before she worries about what’s going in her mouth. She really needs to try to love the body she’s got!

    Mara wrote on December 10th, 2008
  18. Yes, charlotte. It’s nearly impossible to do the Primal Blueprint when you are a vegetarian/vegan or just don’t like meat. Unfortunately for non-meat eaters, eating meat is what nature prescribed Grok.

    Piter wrote on December 10th, 2008
  19. My buddy SuperMike (yes, ripped SuperMike of MDA Testimonial fame) forwarded this image he put together of me (and a white horse) after reading Holly’s comment above. For a good laugh click here.

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 10th, 2008
  20. Mara,

    I’m rather disturbed as well at the language Oprah used to describe her feelings about her weight. Feeling like a “fat cow” sitting next to Tina Turner and Cher? Almost cancelling the interview because of her insecurity? This isn’t the message it seems she tries to send to her audience every day. As women, we hear enough of that destructive comparative crap.

    Should she take charge and lose the weight (again)? Absolutely – but for the sake of her own health and well-being.

    I’m an Oprah fan as well. I don’t have much time to watch her show, but I do on occasion read her magazine. It’s too bad she can’t (or at least hasn’t) looked to more alternative sources of health info. (Am I the only one who thinks Bob Greene looks sickly?)

    I, too, hope she finds your site or somehow stumbles upon the idea of the Primal Blueprint! Now wouldn’t that be something? Mark on Oprah! That I would make time to watch!

    Jen wrote on December 10th, 2008
  21. Hahahaha that is great SuperMike! BTW SuperMike is my hero. Look at the guy!

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on December 10th, 2008
  22. Awesome stuff as usual!

    Mark wrote on December 10th, 2008
  23. Great minds think a like.
    Take a look at Dr. Eades blog.
    He had the same message for Oprah.


    Marc Feel Good Eating wrote on December 10th, 2008
  24. That pic is pretty hilarious! I hope Oprah finds the answer, cause I know it’s out there.

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit wrote on December 10th, 2008
  25. I am hardly an Oprah fan, but I do have a lot of respect for her and I admire the frankness about her weight issues. I second those who would love to see you on Oprah. And when she has lost the excess and is lean and healthy on your PB, you and her can ride into the studio together on the white stallion! Maybe SuperMike can photoshop that image, but I really would like to see it for real!

    John Campbell wrote on December 10th, 2008
  26. I admire and respect Oprah for all that she has accomplished and the good she works to share, especially starting out in life where she did and overcoming all that she has.

    Having said that, when Bob Greene and Dr. Oz are presenting “true knoweledge,” standing aside a woman who is displaying a most obvious unhealthy symptom, her adiposity, I can’t help but notice the “Emperor’s New Clothes” sense of the whole affair. We are such a star struck culture.

    Thanks for the consistently great information and inspiratoin Mark !


    Eddie wrote on December 10th, 2008
  27. Dear Mark,
    You absolutely should contact Oprah with the challenge to help her lose the weight and keep it off. Only problem is she is richer than anyone but God, and always talks about how much she loves macaroni and cheese and bread. She has actually said that she would eat nothing but macaroni and cheese and be very happy. She believes that Bob Green has the answer. She hates to exercise so she fights him on that too. The funny thing is that she keeps having him on the show. She keeps making a big deal about commitment to the diet with contracts, etc. ( I’d be willing to bet she does it again January 1st or there abouts.) Only to gain it all back again in no time. I have noticed that Doctor Oz’s diet is nuts too. It’s like they all are about 20 years behind the times with diets. At least Doctor Oz has come out and said that you need to avoid corn syrup at any cost. But he just tells people to give up soda and junk food. It’s a step in the right direction, but as we know it’s a long way from the answer to losing and keeping it off. What can we expect? What does Doug say over and over, “There are none so blind, as those who will not see.” I told a Dietician that I wanted to go without breads, rice, pasta, etc. She said that I couldn’t do that, I’d die if I didn’t eat carbs. That was after I told her I was going to try Doug’s new way of eating about 3 years ago. LOL I have been on the new way of eating ever since. Guess she was wrong. Duh, do I think so? LOL
    Like Doug, we all have to keep telling about the new way of eating. You are the best example of who to follow advice from. You look like 20 and are fit as a person can possibly be. I’m 61 and struggle every day with exercise because of my heart but I’m working on it. You and Doug inspire me daily. You are so right about not taking advice from people who have not accomplished what they are talking about like Dr. Phil and the guy with the pony tail.
    I have two friends who I love dearly, one in Texas and one in Mississippi. Both think I’m nuts because I don’t eat the false carbs. I get plenty of carbs from fruits and vegetables. I occasionally eat beans too. Both have serious medical problems and won’t even consider what I say about healthy eating and supplements. In fact they think I’m crazy thinking mold has anything to do with health. Both take all kinds of meds and trust the Doctors. My own husband refuses to believe me that the Doctor is killing him with all the pills he is on. I had convinced him to take Probiotics and your vitamins for only one month and it cleared up his Asthma, and All over rashes he had all of his adult life. Then he stopped and refuses to believe that the Probiotics or the Vitamins had anything to do with clearing up both problems. He hasn’t used an inhaler since then (one year ago) but still thinks it’s just a strange co-insidence. Gee Whiz, what do I have to do to convince him?
    Barbara in Yuma, AZ

    Barbara Cartwright wrote on December 10th, 2008
  28. Wow, some of these posts were disturbing.

    Dr. Phil believes weight has nothing to do with food. I’ve lost interest in Bob Greene since he sold out and is sponsoring brands. I don’t agree with Dr. Oz on some topics and he is too vague to help anyone anyway.

    Oprah does have hypothyroidism, probably hashimottos–I’d bet on that! HypoT. is a terrible condition and makes it very difficult for some people to lose weight despite diet and exercise(even the right diet). Besides weight gain, it’s obvious that she does not feel well.

    I’m not sure what she meant by the exercise comment. Trying to exercise with hypoT. can make things worse, especially if her cortisol is low. Adrenals and thyroid always work together.

    Hypothyroidism is not as simple as taking a pill. It is a very complicated terrible illness for many people. Most people are under-treated or not treated at all.

    I am a huge fan of Mark Sisson and Oprah would benefit greatly from following the diet. However, it is not that simple for most people that are suffering from hypothyroidism, hashis, or adrenal insufficiency.

    I moderate a hormone website and we are trying to get a hold of Oprah as well….good luck.

    Crystal wrote on December 10th, 2008
  29. Oprah may very well be hypothyroid – the question is why. Based on my last 10 months of eating largely PB, I have found that every system of my body functions better than it did before. Endocrine problems can be profound and difficult to stabilize, but it is hard to make make a better start towards improvement than eating primal. I never would have believed the changes myself without experiencing them and every day becomes easier and reinforces the changes. Exercise and activity are important, but as Mark says, diet or way of eating (since this is for life) is 80% of the picture and he is right in my estimation.

    John Campbell wrote on December 10th, 2008
  30. Mark,

    I am a fan of your blog and I think you typically write very well researched and interesting articles, which is one of the reasons I had signed up for your Daily Apple. I am also sure that this will be an unpopular opinion, but I’m disappointed in the tone of this post.

    The condescension –

    [“It’s been an inside joke around here for years. We even thought about writing an entire book on the subject a few years ago “Why Can’t Oprah Lose Those Last 30 Pounds?”]

    and arrogance –
    [“Not to toot my own horn, (OK, OK, tooting my own horn now) but here’s my challenge to you, Oprah: give me 60 days with the Primal Blueprint and I’ll give you your life back. Period. Guaranteed.”]

    displayed here is appalling.

    I’m not sure why someone’s very public struggle with obesity is a joke. You have found a diet and lifestyle that works for you and many others, but it’s not for everyone. I also have to point out that declaring that you have all the answers

    [“Fer cryin’ out loud, doesn’t anyone get it?”]

    is exactly the approach that Dr. Phil and all these other “experts” use. I guess I just don’t get it after all.

    Ann wrote on December 10th, 2008
    • “You have found a diet and lifestyle that works for you and many others, but it’s not for everyone”

      Well, compared to the pseudo-scientific crap that’s out there, I’m pretty sure eating and living more in tune with what we know of our evolutionnary past, *is* for everyone.

      mm wrote on December 19th, 2010
  31. I absolutely agree about diet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fix everything.

    If we really wanted to help Oprah, we wouldn’t be so rude and hurtful…

    Crystal wrote on December 10th, 2008
  32. The joke is not on Oprah but the parties giving her the WRONG advice. Why can’t she lose those last 30 pounds – because the advice is wrong.
    I think your diet and lifestyle has to be maintainable for sure but eating moderate protein, good fats, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds is the optimum diet for all humans. Just the proportions may need to be tweaked.

    Sue wrote on December 10th, 2008
  33. I agree that being rude or hurtful towards Oprah is not helpful. However, surely it is partially her responsibility to work out that the advice she is getting is not working and then to find some alternative parties who really can help her.

    Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips wrote on December 10th, 2008
  34. What a wonderful world it would be if TV did not exist.

    Does any intelligent person really care what Oprah says or does?

    WIth her resources, she has no excuses other than laziness, not to be in the best shape possible.

    No idiot box-no Oprah.

    Throw your TV´s out- after all, no TV is primal. Actually, no internet is also primal…ooops:-)

    drpierredebs wrote on December 11th, 2008

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