Learn From Oprah's Battle

I recently ran across the article titled, What If You Were Oprah's Best Friend..., written by Stephanie over at backinskinnyjeans.com.

In this article, Stephanie addresses the new January 2009 issue of O Magazine, and it's cover story, "How did I let this happen again". The cover story tells the tale of how, since 2006, Oprah has gained 40 pounds, once again reaching the 200 pound mark. She feels like she is trying to help millions of people live their best life, and she can't even follow her own advice.

Oprah decided to face this struggle and talk about it in this new issue of her magazine. Left at that, you might say that Oprah is doing something very noble. However, when you step back and think about it, she is taking the wrong approach to facing this battle.

Lots of people all over the blogosphere are weighing in on their opinions, giving their input as to why Oprah gained the weight, how she should lose it, etc. But I don't think that anyone really touched on the real mind-body issue at hand as well as Steph did. Some of Steph's comments in her open letter to Oprah are as follows:

I can't believe you actually want to print those words "fat cow." That is one of the most unloving things I have heard come outta your mouth in ages. You're focusing on lack, what you don't have, what you failed at.
You don't even see what I see or what everyone else sees. And no matter how amazing your life is and what you do for the world, you gotta always bring up the weight and point out that "flaw. This is not authentic, it's marketing bullshit taking advantage of New Year's resolution hooplah.
You can tell this exact same story but in an entirely different tone and you KNOW that, but you're choosing to use the same old tired approach that every women's magazine uses to sell copies.
Stephanie then offers her suggestion for addressing the cover story in a different manner, adding:
You can still share your weight struggles with everyone, but in a tone that is at least more uplifting, accepting, and loving. You're helping people take their life in a better direction, not a perfect one. You're focusing on what is already good, and how you can make it better.

My first reaction is WOW. I give Stephanie credit for her candid imaginary convo with Oprah. Some might say that she is being overly-critical, but I think she makes a very good point. Yes, Oprah is human and she has faults just like the rest of us.

But she is OPRAH! She has so many wonderful things in her life, and she owes it to not only herself, but those that she wishes to inspire, to be less self-critical, and way more self-loving.

I could not agree with Stephanie more when she says that in facing this issue, Oprah needs to change her focus from what she is lacking, over to what she appreciates in her life.

Yes, she has gained 40 pounds, but isn't there a better, more wellness based approach to take, rather than calling herself a "fat cow"? I know that many women can relate to that type of self-talk, but even so, it doesn't make it the right example to set.

Oprah, with all that she has experienced, all of the wonderful healers, health-gurus and such, which she has been exposed to...she needs to stop and realize that this type of disrespect for herself is what got her into the 40-pound overweight boat in the first place. I think it is kinda comical that trainers and nutritionists are writing articles talking about how Oprah needs to do this, or eat that, or exercise...all focused on things to DO physically.

Oprah doesn't need to learn to DO anything. She knows what she physically needs to do. I mean, she's got Bob Greene and Dr. Oz as personal friends, she doesn't need anymore nutrition or fitness advice! What Oprah needs is to look within to solve this "issue".

We could all take a lesson from Oprah on this one. It doesn't matter how much money you have, how many doctors, or nutritionist, or trainers you have access to, that doesn't guarantee that you can achieve that vision you hold for yourself.

What matters is what is going on inside. Something inside is keeping her in the self-sabotaging mode, not allowing her to achieve and maintain her ideal body-image goals until she addresses whatever it is that is holding her back. This applies to us all. In order to change what is on the outside, and keep it that way, we must first change our beliefs about ourselves, on the inside.

Before we lose a large amount of weight, if we want to keep it off, we first have to grow to be the person that can maintain that weight loss. Something in Oprah's unconscious mind, which is where we store our beliefs about ourselves, our world, etc, is holding her back from achieving that level of personal growth.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, cosmetic surgeon turned self-help teacher, who also wrote the book Psycho-Cybernetics, urges us to look inward. He says that it is transformational to change our beliefs, doing the "emotional surgery" first, before we begin to try to change what is on the outside. In a sense, we must dehypnotize ourselves from our false beliefs.

Dr. Maltz compares the human unconscious mind, to a thermostat. He explains that we have set points, and any time something about you changes - like for example if you lose a large amount of weight - without addressing those set points (aka beliefs) first...then your body's internal cybernetic mechanism is going to kick in and do what it needs to do to get you back to that set point, where it is comfortable.

That is why so many people yo-yo up and down with their weight, just like Oprah, because they never address the internal work that needs to be done in addition to the work on the outside. I hope that this gives you some clarity on how important your thoughts and beliefs truly are.

In order to achieve any vision for ourselves and our life, we must look within and grow to become that stronger person. Self examination and exploration may be the hardest thing you will ever do, but it is also the most empowering and worthwhile.

The next time you are struggling with some issue that keeps surfacing over and over, stop and ask yourself, "What does this issue say about me? What is holding me back?"

When you find the answer to that question, and face it head-on, only them will you be fully able to overcome that roadblock that has sat in your path for far too long.

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