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I watched part of an Oprah show a while back (it might have been a rerun) in which Oprah and her fitness guru, Bob Green, went to Mississippi to save the residents of “the fattest state in America.” Oprah, who has famously had her own troubles in that regard, was well aware of the irony of her attempt to give out advice on weight loss. She magnanimously absolved Mr. Green of any blame for her most recent relapse and took sole responsibility while vowing to try harder.

One of the five people chosen as the focus of her Mississippi mission was a 600-pound man who was shown eating his new “healthy” breakfast: a bowl of cereal, a banana, and a glass of orange juice. Then he headed off for a full day of exercise at the gym, loaded up with insulin that would make it really difficult to move any of that fat out of storage and actually burn it.

Shortly after this segment aired, there was an insert in the Sunday papers advertising products bearing Bob Green’s Best Life logo. The list was heavy on processed, pseudo-foods such as egg substitutes, low-fat mayo, and soy milk. [The second ingredient in the Yoplait® Light yogurt is high-fructose corn syrup. The Fiber One Oats and Chocolate™ bar lists different kinds of sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, seven times in the ingredients. But they are low-fat, and that’s all that seems to matter.]

You can see what Oprah eats in her Seven Day Food Dairy on her Website: Her menu includes soy-veggie burgers, low-fat mayo, cereal, fruit, rice, potatoes, bananas, small amounts of lean chicken and turkey, Barilla® pasta, Yoplait® Light yogurt, and Slim-fast® shakes. Here is a sample (Day 6):

Breakfast: Oprah’s Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast: 1 Yoplait Light yogurt with 1 mango, blueberries, and walnuts

Snack: ½ pita dipped in 1/3 cup hummus

Lunch: Arugula, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad, 2 ounces fresh mozzarella in ½ pita

Snack: 2 ounces turkey breast, 1 grilled red pepper

Dinner: I can Slim-Fast® Optima®, 1 banana, 6 ice cubes, 3 tablespoons trail mix

Add several hours of heavy exercise and it’s not surprising that she once complained about being so ravenous that she ate the lemon slice in her tea, peel and all. In spite of having every resource money and fame can buy, she can’t tolerate hunger any better than the rest of us.

Eat less, move more does work for a while for those with very high motivation, such as a deal with Weight Watchers or a reality show prize, but even high-profile celebrities with lucrative contracts and careers at stake don’t always succeed in the long haul. The bottom line is that those who can lose weight by calorie and fat restriction and strenuous exercise are doing it the hard way. If you cut out sugar and starchy carbs, hunger is no longer an issue and exercise becomes a choice not a necessity. The weight Oprah needs to lose is the 175 pounds called Bob Green.

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