Friday, February 11, 2011

Oprah Badgers Weight Loss Inspiration Jennifer Hudson

Although when speaking to Jennifer Hudson about her weight loss success Oprah claimed she didn't want her to reveal anything she wasn't comfortable with, the legendary interviewer persisted to badger the celebrity to reveal the precised number of pounds she has lost on her recent weight loss journey.

Clearly torn between her own wish not to talk about pounds and her desire to respond to and please Oprah, Jennifer caved --to a standing ovation from the studio audience.

Jennifer Hudson is indeed a weight loss inspiration. She looks great and says she feels like she is better than she ever has been in her life. So why did Oprah have to know how many pounds Jennifer has lost? Because Oprah still clings to the idea that a number indicates success or failure when it comes to measuring weight loss success. This is surprising coming from a woman who comes from "spirit" and defies common success measures in so many other aspects of her life.

Would the singer's weight loss be any less inspiring if she'd "only" lost 60 pounds? Would it have been more amazing if she'd lost 100 pounds? Not to me. Oprah mentioned that she couldn't relate to the Jennifer being a size 6 and neither could most people. I can't relate to a size 6 either, but I find the logic faulty. I wish Jennifer had stuck to her guns and not revealed numbers--either pounds or dress sizes.

Announcing these numbers automatically starts us calculating and comparing--which I believe Jennifer and her Weight Watchers coach were trying to avoid. It isn't about whether you have 20 pounds to lose or 200. It is about how you feel about yourself. We can all see the phenomenal results that Jennifer has achieved on this journey--and the difference in her attitude and appearance should be enough to inspire us no matter how many pounds she has lost.

Telling the world the number of pounds we've lost is less about an internal celebration and satisfaction and more about external recognition. We all deserve to feel good about our accomplishments--whether or not others congratulate us with words, pats on the back or standing ovations on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Of course it can be encouraging for people to hear about pounds lost. And it feels great to have other people congratulate us on our success. But I believe completely that if we are to have permanent weight loss success then we must lose the weight for ourselves and take satisfaction in our own results. I also believe that our best "advertisement" about our weight loss is our own image--in person and in the form of before and after pictures--and that this is also the best inspiration we can give to others. Happy, smiling faces and energetic bodies show the benefit of losing weight, whereas pounds loss are just numbers.


KCLAnderson (Karen) said...

You are so right on with this post!!! When I lost weight the first time around it was all about how many pounds, inches and sizes. Then I regained. This time I am not even weighing myself and not emphasizing my body so much as my mind and emotions. It feels so much more authentic and "mine." The diet industry is all about the numbers, the competition and the comparisons...before and after is all that matters.

Laurie Tossy said...

Absolutely! I hope for Jennifer's sake she is able to keep it off this time...but I would have thought Oprah would have had a better handle on all this--especially after having Geneen Roth on the show, too!

Pat Barone said...

I agree with you both! When I lost weight permanently, it was all based on inner change and acceptance of myself and my body. Many of us will never look like a beauty queen and yet be extremely healthy, vibrant and run our lives without the veil of food addiction.

This is one of the reasons I hate to see our society "programmed" by contests, TV competitions and the like. They train us that (1) it is about numbers (though the means of achieving those numbers, even on famous shows, is NEVER sustainable!); (2) that you have to humiliate yourself in public by revealing your personal agony, near-naked body and your personal "numbers"; and (3) that losing weight only happens in a particular way (extreme exercise and depriving diet).

Jennifer Hudson is an amazing talent in our world. She doesn't have to play games with her body, but I recognize she's involved in a business that often demands it. I hope she lost weight for her health and well-being and that she'll sustain it, though weight watchers alumni have only a 1% success rate for permanent weight loss (same as all diets).

If I were Oprah, or anyone in media, I'd talk to Jennifer only after she's hit the marker for permanent weight loss - 5 years.

99% of what we see in media is temporary weight loss and yet many of us use those temporary results to make ourselves feel bad about not losing quickly and efficiently.

There is a better way. Sustainable weight loss involves very few numbers, but much life-affirming inner change.

Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC
"America's Weight Loss Catalyst"

MadScientist said...

good points. however, your bio at the top says that you've lost 120lbs...which is exactly what you're advocating against.

jen said...

I am so glad Karen posted a link to this post on facebook. I am not the biggest fan of Oprah and I really dislike that she bullied Jennifer Hudson into revealing details of HER weight loss that she wasnt comfortable revealing. I am glad I found this site - I will be exploring...I am over dieting and trying to learn new ways.

Thanks & Much love, jen

Marzipan said...

I love this post. It is so insightful! Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Oprah definitely has her blind spots , that she doesn't seem to relinguish very easily .I realize that we are all like that , to varying degrees .It's just that it seems rather discouraging , coming from someone who promotes continuous growth , to the degree , she does . ( Maybe , she needs to welcome more critical in-put ? Maybe ,she has one to many Oprah worshippers , in her midst ) . I tend to hold onto extra weight because I don't want to have my weight loss scrutentized .You really would think Oprah would get this more than "the average bear ". (Though , I guess it goes to show that insight doesn't instantly turn into more positive behaviour ) .My other gripe with Oprah , is that it's rather shameful ,for a self-profeessed spiritually motivated woman , her magazine has way too many ads . I won't buy it anymore ..I just borrow it from the library ,to read the rare , significant article that applies to my life . I guess the lesson ,we can learn from Oprah , is to be careful not to promote the negative messages , that we don't enjoy being on the recieving end of . ~

Anonymous said...

I was confused as to whether it was Jennifer who was hesitant or Weight Watchers for some reason. It would be interesting to know what went on behind the scenes before the show. Surely it was discussed before hand.

Laurie Tossy said...

Lots of great comments--thanks everyone!

@Pat--interestingly, Oprah has stated recently on her website that she only wanted to talk to people who have experienced 5 years of maintaining weight loss. Perhaps because Jennifer Hudson is a celebrity, or because she is a friend, the 5 year rule doesn't apply.

And I completely agree--successfully losing weight, long-term requires more a mindset change, rather than counting calories, fat grams, carbs or "points." Without the changes in our head, we will not see success--hence the reason diets don't work.

@MadScientist--I can see the contradiction in saying not to focus on numbers and yet having in my bio my weight loss success in pounds.

My biggest issue with the Oprah episode is that Jennifer was pushed into revealing her weight loss in pounds when she (or as others have suggested Weight Watchers) was reluctant to do. No one should feel compelled to reveal anything that they are not comfortable about revealing--pounds lost, their current/past dress size, photos of their body.

Many people ARE inspired by hearing numbers that others have I have also been reminded lately.

My point is that we should be internally motivated and feel good about our success without the need for applause from others, without the need to compare our numbers with others.

My own weight loss journey, while most addictions are...was mostly done several years ago. My purpose for putting pounds in my bio is less about receiving accolades and more about documenting for others that it is possible--even without dieting. I know that I placed little faith in "weight loss experts" who told me I could lose weight when they in fact had never had to lose more than 10 or 20 pounds.

Rationalization? Maybe.

@Jen and @Marzipan--thanks and welcome!

@anonymous--yes, there is a question about whether it was Jennifer or WW who was reluctant to reveal pounds lost. The way it struck me was that Jennifer had set her intention and was looking to her WW leader for support in keeping it and that neither of them was strong enough to withstand the force of Oprah. But, I didn't see the unedited interview and was not privy to their private conversations, so not sure I will ever know what the whole story was!

That being said, I can see no reason for WW to NOT want to reveal the pounds lost--unless the FTC has decided to start cracking down on the national chains and their advertising--or unless WW has done a big turn around in their thought process, which would be in my opinion a good thing.

@ehjojo--I believe Oprah has done lots of good for the world but that this interview was off the market. I don't agree with everything she says but in general I think she is a positive influence on the world. I'm not thrilled with the direction O magazine has taken over the last several years, but it is the goal of magazines and any business to make money. One of the ways mags make money is through their ads. In fact, little of the cost of publishing a magazine actually comes from the subscription. So, while ads are annoying, they are what makes a magazine affordable to individuals and libraries. So enjoy the parts of it that are helpful to you and disregard the rest. If fewer people buy it, then it will either evolve or die.

I found it interesting that you state you don't want your weight loss scrutinized so you tend to hold on to extra weight. I encourage you to look at your motivations and not allow other people to determine your health. If you are at a healthy weight and are able to do what you want to do, then that's fine. But if you are holding onto weight because of someone else then you deserve to figure out what YOU want and go for that.

To our healthy, energetic and slender bodies--we deserve them!