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. I saw her show on the “blue zones” a couple of weeks ago. They had a spread to demonstrate a region in Italy that had bread on it. She eyed,hunted,grabbed and consumed that bread with the fervor of a staving cheetah hunting a gazelle to feed her cubs.
    I looked at my wife and said that is exactly why O cant lose weight, she has all the “experts” telling her whole grains are good.

    Chris wrote on December 11th, 2008
  2. Anyone know what steps Oprah has taken to remedy her problems? Has she fired her trainer?

    Parth wrote on December 11th, 2008
  3. Hi Mark, I absolutely agree with you! As long as Oprah listens to her so called “Experts” she will NEVER see or feel the results she should be experiencing. I hope someone will tell her about Mark Sisson. I have been working out since I was in grade school and following the Primal eating plan for a long time. It Works!!!! No doubt about it! It’s really a shame that the media continues to spew the same junk to everyone: whole grains, lowfat, etc…I pray someday that “they” will get it! Thanks for all you do, Terrilee

    Terrilee wrote on December 11th, 2008
  4. Mark,
    I only wish Oprah would listen to you! She would feel and look better than she ever has! But, remember who sponsors her show….drug companies,etc… Hopefully, one day she will “get it”. I truly hope she takes you up on your offer. Very, very sincerely,Mary Johnson

    mary johnson wrote on December 11th, 2008
  5. I would be shocked if Oprah is actually following the diet & exercise outline that her ‘gurus’ lay out. Oprah and most Americans are victims of excess.

    Will wrote on December 11th, 2008
  6. Great post Mark. You site was the first thing I though of when I saw that headline. Thank you for everything.

    loyal reader, Brett

    Brett_nyc wrote on December 11th, 2008
  7. When you have that much money, who gives a crap about what you eat and look like? She could fill a swimming pool and be Scrooge McDuck for a workout.

    She doesn’t care! Its all to sell something! The fact we are giving attention to it is more press for her. Honestly, I could care less about how the richest woman in the US eats. Mark, you wasted your time on this one.

    George wrote on December 11th, 2008
  8. Oprah struggles with her weight just like most Americans, I think she is doing the best she can. Money can not buy health. The wealthy are victims of bad medical care just like everyone else. Having bad nutrition/medical advice does not mean a person is lazy, how rude. In fact, I admire all that she has been able to accomplish while trying to feel well.

    I would love to help her with her diet and hormones.

    Crystal wrote on December 11th, 2008
  9. Dogs laying at their master’s feet waiting to be told what to do. Oprah usually the master, is just a pudgy dog with no sense of self. Agree with Pierre, kill your TV and forget Oprah exists.

    emergefit wrote on December 11th, 2008
  10. I am a fan of Oprah and really enjoy her shows. I’ve also read about her and she deserves to be where she’s at today, she’s had a very hard life in her earlier years, my heart went out to her when i read about her childhood. Also, i love the fact that she loves dogs, she walks them and that is good exercise. As far as her weight, i do hope that she DOES find Mark because when it comes to health, nutrition, exercise, i have NO doubt that Mark Sisson is THE person to help her. I’m totally confident/convinced that Mark’s Primal Blueprint is what she has missing and needs to find to succeed!!!
    In addition, i’d love to see Oprah take Damage Control Master Formula, Vital Omegas, and Responsibly Slim. With all this i agree with Mark that Oprah would get her life back in a way she never knew. I know what i’m talking about because with ALL Mark’s advice, i feel better than i ever have in my life because i’ve taken it, followed it, and I SUCCEDED!

    Mark has the BEST of knowledge to succeed when it comes to nutrition, exercise, supplements!!!!

    Donna wrote on December 11th, 2008
  11. To George: Mark is trying to help Oprah. You can have all the money in the world and still be misinformed. Mark isn’t wasting his time with Oprah, I feel he truly wants to help her, as he always tries to help all of us!

    Terrilee wrote on December 11th, 2008
  12. This story is not just about Oprah its about all the other people in the world going through the same thing of yo-yo dieting. As long as their willpower is very high they can put up with the endless exercise, low calories and tasteless food.

    Sue wrote on December 11th, 2008
  13. I think you hit the “nail on the head” when you ended with “And as for exercise, if you hate it, you are doing it wrong. Find something that works. There are lots of choices.” It’s a very clear, simple statement that I think too many miss or don’t really think about fully. Exercise for exercise sake just isn’t sustainable for most – I know it’s not for me. Exercise has to be fun despite all the reasons I know I should “just do it.” I read a book that has really clarified it all for me and it just may be the fresh approach that Oprah needs. Based on the Myers-Briggs personality model it helped narrow down the choices by explaining why some exercise choices are better for your personality type than others. It’s a getting a lot of attention and I’d love to hear if you’ve read it and what you think. Fitness trainers love it too because it gives them insight into their client’s personality and approach thus able to better create a program they’ll appreciate. Not to mention they’ll feel like they’re understood on a personal level. She has a quick online quiz where you can discover your “Fitness Personality” – I’m a Saffron Harmony and it really resonated with me. I wish you continued success and hope to see you on Oprah!

    Lo wrote on December 11th, 2008
  14. Oprah’s been given the wrong advice regarding what to eat for health and weightloss. Since we’re all reading Mark’s blog, I think most of us here can agree that the best advice she could be given would be to eat Primal. But here’s the catch: I know ….. A LOT … about nutrition. No, not an expert, but let’s just say that I agree and believe everything about eating primal, about slow exercising, about weight-lifting improving your muscles, etc. etc. Pretty much what those of us who love Mark’s Daily Apple believe to be true. Yet, I have such a hard time making the step toward actually eating/living/exercising this way. It has nothing with me thinking that it will be difficult (the recipes look great and I do eat healthy for the most part). But I OVEReat. And I overeat ‘cuz I love my 1 or 2 glasses of red wine at night (which makes me snack), and because I’m so lazy and I think, somehow, that there is fear involved in making a commitment and actually executing the commitment of “eating healthy” (in this case, eating primal). This is why I think I can understand Oprah gaining back her weight. Though if I was as rich as her, I would have my personal marine sergeant-type with me at all times forcing me to eat only healthy stuff (with, again, the very occasional pasta in creamy sauce meal), to yoga and pilates everyday, weights every other day, burst of intense aerobics, etc. But I understand the weakness that she has. I WANT to eat the way Mark prescribes. I believe in it. 100%. So it’s not always about information. Often it’s what I guess I’ll call, for lack of a better word, will power. Where is my will to be healthier. Hmm….might need a therapist couch for that one. Something I would never do. Sigh… see the dilemma?

    Lina wrote on December 11th, 2008
  15. All the money in the world can’t buy peace of mind. I believe Oprah is tormented and haunted by her horrific childhood, that’s the reason she overeats.

    Maggie wrote on December 12th, 2008
  16. Great comment, Lina. It is something I will cover some point in further detail; the separation between knowing what to do and actually doing it. In fact, the Worker Bees and I have touched on this in the past. Check it out:

    Simple, but Not Easy

    Thanks to everyone for all the great comments.

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 12th, 2008
  17. Great minds do think alike….as I was about to rant about this myself. lol

    Seriously though….how does Bob Greene still have a job as a trainer if his top client is a failure? We need to stop listening to any celebrity or their trainers.

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on December 12th, 2008
  18. additional food for thought, so to say…

    emergefit wrote on December 12th, 2008
  19. Mark, have you ever considered a “Primal Blueprint Cookbook?” That’d be great! (Maybe the insects could be optional though, lol!)

    OK, on a more serious note, I agree with Maggie that Oprah has some serious issues with food that all the dieting and exercise in the world won’t get rid of. She probably turns to food for comfort (macaroni and cheese and bread being 2 very popular comfort foods, esp. for women!) and needs to deal with the underlying issues. Then she needs to read your blog!!!!!

    Alyssa wrote on December 13th, 2008
  20. Alyssa –

    It’s in the works! I’m working on finishing The Primal Blueprint. (Check back on Thursday for more info about the book, i.e. book cover, table of contents) The Primal Cookbook will be released soon after the PB. Thanks for compliment, Alyssa, and stay tuned for a proper Primal cookbook.


    Mark Sisson wrote on December 13th, 2008
  21. Woo-hoo!!!!!

    Alyssa wrote on December 13th, 2008
  22. Not only overeating, but could it be possible that “stress” is part of why Oprah gained weight?
    Stress “can” make you gain weight.
    But then again, some people overeat for many reasons, stress is one of them. Some overeat because they just love food too much.

    Donna wrote on December 14th, 2008
  23. Mark, you’re exactly right – so you fall off the wagon – just get right back on. Of course, you have to make sure it’s the right wagon! Best of luck with your book and cookbook.

    – Charles Martin, DDS
    Founder, Dentistry For Diabetics

    Dr. Charles Martin wrote on December 18th, 2008
  24. She looks like she weighs more than 200 lbs. Please. Ever seen her stand sideways????

    i watched as she grew and grew in size over the past couple of years. Her “normal” is obese. Not overweight. Not normal weight.
    She is normally obese.

    The word “glutton” comes to mind.

    Cindy wrote on January 6th, 2009
    • Another rude and unhelpful comment from an ignorant and mean person.
      Edit this negative stuff out, please!!

      Annie wrote on April 4th, 2011
  25. Cindy, that’s kind of harsh, don’t you think? She obviously has some issues with food. It’s not just gluttony.
    I think we, as a culture, have some pretty negative stereotypes about large people. They’re not all lazy and addicted to junk food. A lot of people are obese because of the exact reasons Mark writes about; diets, bad advice, etc.

    Alyssa wrote on January 6th, 2009
  26. It is about ADDICTION.

    Charly wrote on January 17th, 2009
  27. Mark
    You seem to have forgotten Oprah’s difficulties giving up comfort foods, which is also known as emotional eating. A baby’s first experience of having it’s needs met are being fed. It stays in the old brain as a coping mechanism for self-nurturance. What Oprah needs is to learn demand feeding in a feminist way which your program isn’t set up with.

    me wrote on February 18th, 2009
  28. Cory Everson was overtrained, as she sdmits her self. And she used daily aerobics to stay lean.

    me wrote on February 18th, 2009
  29. This is a late post, why does Oprah have thyroid/hashimoto’s syndrome? its a really good question. I wonder if she has been tested for heavy metals toxicity, ie mercury in particular, which is a neurotoxin and can totally derange the hormone cascade. Speaking from experience. I have 3 times the safe level of it right now and am working on getting it out, it has definitely affected my thyroid and I have adrenal fatigue that I am working hard on, its getting slightly better. but I have gone from being lean three years ago to where you cannot see my muscles anymore and I have never been a big carb eater. I took up PB in late Jan, and did not see one bit of difference, except that I am sure my insulin has stablized from no sugar. So if mercury is the underlying cause (from amalgams) or general environmental exposure, then no style of eating, traditional or otherwise is going to make any difference till she gets her endocrine and filter organs on top of the situation.

    Shelley wrote on April 10th, 2009
    • Selenium supplements are good for neutralizing mercury’s oxidative potential (just don’t overdo it; 200mcg/day is apparently the “optimal” amount. But 400mcg/day is toxic)

      Ironically, despite the mercury scares fish have a lot of selenium in them, even when taking into account the bio-unavailable selenium used for neutralizing heavy metals in their bodies. (Some more obscure fish like swordfish, sharks have slightly more mercury than selenium in them; don’t eat those)

      mm wrote on December 19th, 2010
  30. Ive lost 93 pounds in 21 months (for the second time in my life 15 years apart) but am stuck at the same weight for the third time now. I need to lose 17-18 pounds and have been following south beach and rosedale diets faithfully. I also have been doing dvds by jillian michaels with lots of strengh, cardio, and abs, and especially compound movements. I wear a size 8 and look good, but am a slave to the scale. Doctors only seems to care about a number. I’m really burned out. Any advice?

    musicka wrote on September 21st, 2009
    • First advice is to find a new doctor. Sometimes a number on a scale is just that – a number. I know a lot of women who will kill to be a size eight again.

      Second piece of advice – stay and look around for a while. Read up on exercise (hint: mountains of cardio aren’t the answer) and diet (read why fats are GOOD), and maybe make some friends along the way.

      Welcome to the site.

      gcb wrote on September 21st, 2009
      • Hi…hate to say it…but most doctors aren’t taught anything about true weight loss or why people gain weight (it’s not always about how much we are eating)…it’s usually about “what” we are eating!

        Terri wrote on September 21st, 2009
    • Hi….I would highly recommend Doug Kaufmann’s book The Fungus Link to WeightLoss. Go to and check it out….FANTASTIC….You will never search for a weight loss book again….EVER!!!
      Also, I can help with the exercise…Check out–you can join for FREE and I will be your Coach. Please check them both out…you will be very glad you did!

      Terri wrote on September 21st, 2009
  31. I think everyone should email Oprah at

    and get her to try Mark’s challenge or at least have her interview Mark.

    It would do amazing things to publicize the Primal lifestyle.

    Vivian wrote on December 13th, 2009
    • great idea!

      Francesca wrote on March 9th, 2010

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