Fitness expert says Oprah Winfrey was 'mildly depressed', 'losing zest for life'

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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 for more and for info on live webcasts Winfrey will host next week at

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!

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Oprah's not big boned like Queen Latifah and can't carry that extra weight. She should take her thyroid pills. A minus in thyroid is dangerous, even to a billionaire. Or she could check her pituitary gland as well which I did 50 years ago. Unlike drugs , alcohol and cigarettes, we cannot do without nourishment. She gives great advice. Physician, heal thyself before telling poor Kirstie how to lose weight.

Weight fluctuates due to stress, current activity level and a number of other factors ... you just have to keep pushing back. The work never ends. She isn't a hero or a goat ... she's just human that happens to make a TON of money for talking about her own and other's lives.

Oprah could try the Simeons Protocol and probably lose all of her blubber. The protocol addresses abnormal fat only. I lost 30 pounds of blubber in thirty three days. The FDA and AMA doesnt like the protocol......because it is cheap and it works. If she embraced the protocol she would have to keep it a big secret.

I watched Oprah's comments on Larry King, and was so impressed by her openness and sincerity, that is why she is Oprah, one of the best loved TV personalities in America!!! If anyone can overcome these metabolism difficulties, she can...though it is never easy, it is possible!!! And, she will inspire in the process!! Long live Oprah!!!

I watched Oprah's comments on Larry King, and was so impressed by her openness and sincerity, that is why she is Oprah, one of the bext loved TV personalities in America!!! If anyone can overcome these metabolism difficulties, she can...though it is never easy, it is possible!!! And, she will inspire in the process!! Long live Oprah!!!

my name is olanrewaju olawale from nigeria, i don't have anything to about all ijust want to say is i love oprah winfrey. thank you and love you.

ohhhh so her money cant buy everything after all

so is oprah on medication for thryopd, is all the weight gain becase of her thyriod?

I agree with May Shomon's observation that if hypothyroidism is truly the reason for all her problems, why did she come off her medications?

But there's one more piece of Oprah's puzzle that no one has yet to mention and that's the quality of her sleep. The original blog mentions twice that Oprah could never get deep sleep, and that's the source of her problem. It's been shown that inefficient sleep can cause weight gain and increase your appetite for sweets and starchy foods.

Furthermore, everything that Oprah is going through is consistent with obstructive sleep apnea: weight gain, increased hunger, anxiety, depression, palpitations, and lack of clarity and focus. Sleep apnea has also been shown to suppress thyroid function. She should undergo a sleep study and get treated.

If you've lost your zest for life, it may not be just depression—it could be due to a sleep-breathing problem.

Steven Y. Park, M.D.

I wish Oprah all the blessings of balance of life, health, and love of God. I hope to one day also, be thankful of all of the knowledge opportunities received from Dr. Oz, to "thank him" for being caring enough like Oprah, to provide the world with importance of maintaining good health, which leads to balance in life.

Did they try to give you an antidepressant for anxiety medicine such as Lexapro

While Oprah's effort to share her journey getting back to a healthier weight is laudable, she is providing misinformation about thyroid disease.

Most thyroid conditions are treatable, and yet they are rarely "curable." Winfrey, however, has claimed that she is "cured." She was prescribed thyroid medication, but has said publicly that she decided to stop taking it.

At the same time, she is still battling weight gain, fatigue, and mild depression -- classic symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

If Oprah had a thyroid condition, and was "cured," then surely she should share her "cure" with the millions of other women in America who are still suffering with thyroid problems, and would desperately welcome the "cure."

What is more likely, however, is that Oprah has made a decision to not treat a borderline, autoimmune, or relapsing/remitting case of thyroid disease. In which case, her decision to stop treatment will make her effort to lose weight, avoid heart disease, keep cholesterol low, have energy, and avoid mild depression that much more difficult.

Women trust that Oprah is getting -- and giving -- the best possible medical information, but when it comes to thyroid disease, Oprah is not living up to that trust.

I watched the January 5 show and thought to myself, "Wow! This is me!" I've just started a new chapter in my life to lose weight, be in control of my life. I turn 40 soon and I was diagnosed with a low thyroid. I too, had no idea what that meant, but researching it, the symptoms made so much sense in how I was feeling. Exercise has not been a large part of my life but that's something I hope to change. I was watching your episode and actually laughed out loud at you on the treadmill and with free weights. It's me all over again. Thanks for your inspiration.

PS-I'm coming to Chicago January 15 to celebrate my birthday & my daughters birthday but because she's only 16, we couldn't get tickets. Very bummed.

Good luck with your goals!!

Jodi Klehr

Oprah, you have the courage to face yourself in a very public arena. A wise but hard thing to do. I admire you for your honesty and authenticity. I, like you, am not happy with my present weight. I gained a lot of it in a stressful job and schedules I was not wholehearted about. I finally quit my job but I am left with the result of the struggle, many extra pounds. I now have the freedom to guide the hours of my day and I see hope. I know you are not able to do that as you have so many responsibilities, but I also know that you are doing what you believe in and are passionate about. Ultimately, that makes it worthwhile and we are all the richer for you. Thank you Oprah.

Oprah, thank you for your honesty & sincerity. I am the white Oprah of North Dakota--my weight is up, down, & all around. I totally relate to everything you said. I understood everything you talked about am also where you are at. Trying to figure this weight issue out for the rest of my life & I am making 2009 my year to try & get it right once and for all. For the record, I think people love you so much because of your "one" flaw, which is weight. It makes you human to all of your viewers & it makes you endearing to all of us. I really identify with you whatever size you are. You are, as all overweight people are, way too hard on yourself. Your are fabulous at whatever size you are.


I can't tell you how much I love you and admire you for doing your show today regarding your weight. I TVO you and couldn't wait to get home to watch your show because I felt my self falling in your foot steps. The only difference is I felt like giving up that if I wasn't on this earth anymore who would care. I am a fat person taking up space.

My life turned upside down starting last year I fell in love with a guy that wasn't good for me I didn't know how to get out of it. I then lost my job found a new one in a different state had to leave my love ones for the first time in 36 years and lost my boyfriend to a motorcycle wreck all in one week. Guess what I turned to food I now weigh 210 lbs at 5'3 I feel horrible. After watching your show today I am going to rejoin weight watchers and take it more serious this time I can't let me feeling lonely and unwanted get the best of me.

I will keep you posted on my success because I am taking my life back and claiming the victory this time. Thanks again for your show.

A fan you gave some hope to and a will to live
Tamara Kelly

I was blown away by Oprah's honesty. How many of us would have the "guts" - no pun intended to discuss our 40 lb weight gain on national tv, in her magazine, on the internet, etc...

On the other hand, while watching the show, I couldn't help but feel that even with all of the talk of emotions and loving yourself and balance, that Oprah and Bob are presenting this "Best Life" program as a fait accomplit.

Oprah and Bob have discovered the new truth and will be selling it through various media channels.

I think Oprah's latest weight loss journey is going to be a lot messier than they are assuming. Her realization that she needs balance is not so simple.

Either way, I hope she drops the weight. Brave lady.

Oh boy the latest in whats important to Oprah---what, are ratings down and now she's going for the "I'm depressed" route since she's used every other route along the way of ballooning to what in reality looks like 270 lbs of blubber.

I've about had it with her---surronded by these world class experts in every area of living, she has all the money in the world, access to the rich and famous, and even to common people, and she still cant get a grip. Why are poor downtrodden with nary a thing to their names, people, able to rise up, be strong and overcome? Because they never abandoned hope nor Faith. And here she's been telling us all along "Hope won out".

Telling everybody "I blew my thyroid out, thats how I got fat"----what medical nonsense.

Get her committed...take her off the air until her so called "mild depression" is under control--we shouldnt be taking advice from a woman with mental disabilities.

We all need to understand how beautiful we are not matter how we look. Oprah I've been a fan of yours from tje very first day you came on nationl TV you have to belive and know YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH!! Iyts whats inside you that counts, and I belive you have prived that throughout the years. A concerned fan. Much love john

Oprah said:
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.

When does this womans conceit ever stop? Why doesn't she put other people on her cover if she feels so bad about her fat body?

Wow must be terrible to be a billionaire. Man I wish I had her life. Give me a break on the drama please!

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on January 5, 2009 2:08 PM.

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