In a much-anticipated return from winter hiatus, Oprah Winfrey tackled head on one of the biggest issues that's plagued her public life: weight.
Winfrey debuted her new "Best Life" week series today with an admission that last year she'd just about "given up" on herself and that her life had been out of balance.
While Winfrey herself didn't say she was suffering mild depression, adviser and fitness expert Bob Greene suggested she was.
"I looked in her eyes, and she wasn't there. She was very vacant and distracted. It was alarming to me," Greene recalled while walking with Winfrey one day last year at her California estate. "I think I felt she was losing her zest for life, and that was one of the saddest moments."
With a crazed schedule that balanced her talk show and several other arms of her empire, Winfrey began suffering sleep issues and heart palpitations over a year ago. Four doctors and several prescriptions later, the sleep Winfrey craved didn't come. But, the added pounds did.
"None of the doctors recognized it was a thyroid problem, but our viewers did," Winfrey said. "The moment I heard I had a thyroid problem, I thought I don't even know how to fight this."
"It's not about using food or abusing food. It's about balance. When I ask myself what I am hungry for, I am hungry for balance."
Winfrey admitted during the show and in this month's edition of "O" magazine that her entire body hadn't been featured on the cover last year because she was embarassed by her weight.
"This past year has been really difficult, because I didn't feel like a cover girl. I'd rather not be seen," Winfrey said. " All this year I've been hiding my body because I didn't want you to see it. Here I am one of the most visible people in the world, trying to hide my body."
Winfrey might have been down, but definitely not out. She pledged 2009 would be about having more joy and balance in her life.
"When you love yourself enough, you take care of yourself. You have to make yourself a priority."
Winfrey's "Best Life" week continues all this week, with expert advice from Bob Greene, Dr. Oz, Elizabeth Lesser, Suze Orman and Sun-Times columnist Dr. Laura Berman. Visit Oprah.com/bestlife for more and for info on live webcasts Winfrey will host next week at Oprah.com
Note: Special thanks to online entertainment editor Thomas Conner for keeping readers up to date on Oprah news while I was away for a two-week vacation!