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5 Things Oprah Did to Lose the Weight After 60

Like most of us, she’s been through thick and thin for decades. What she’s doing lately can tip the scales in our favor too.

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Her answer seemed like such an understatement. So casual. So coy. Even those who hadn’t been paying attention—failing to notice Oprah Winfrey’s startling physical transformation in recent months—couldn’t escape that jaw-dropping moment. The 69-year-old, long, leggy, lovely and lithe in a bodycon lilac gown, struck pose after pose on that purple carpet at the world premiere of “The Color Purple.” The December 6th photos and footage were everywhere. Whaaaaat? “ET's” Kevin Frazier asked her that evening what she’d done to look so “divine,” and made a reference to Weight Watchers. Winfrey, who had acknowledged that she has a big birthday coming up, responded, "It's not one thing, it's everything."

Oprah Winfrey at the 3rd Annual Academy Museum Gala
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Oprah has visibly lost dress sizes. Cup sizes. Inches. Pinches. Folks were out here wondering about weight loss prescriptions, bariatric surgery, cosmetic nips and tucks: did she or didn’t she? And, honey, if O has gifted herself with a head-to-toe tune-up in advance of the big 7-0, God bless her. A week after The Color Purple premiere, Oprah revealed to People magazine that she had recently turned to weight-loss medication prescribed by her doctor. "I realized I’d been blaming myself all these years for being overweight, and I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control”, she told People. "Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it's about the brain." She's also highlighted exercise such as hiking and treadmill workouts, intermittent fasting, proper hydration and meal tracking as other key habits.

Putting an end to years of struggle

As we’ve watched Oprah’s figure fluctuations over the decades, how many of us thought, I feel your pain? About four out of five sisters are either overweight or obese, giving us the highest rates of obesity in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What Oprah means is that along with weight loss medication, she’s adopted a multifactorial approach to weight loss to target the many factors that contribute to being overweight. That’s what has led to her success on the scale.

To understand what can make losing excess weight so hard, even when we feel confident and capable enough to realize most everything we strive for, we need to know what obesity is.

Like Oprah said, it’s a disease.

To quote the Obesity Medicine Association, it’s “a chronic, relapsing, multifactorial, neurobehavioral disease, wherein an increase in body fat promotes adipose tissue dysfunction and abnormal fat mass physical forces, resulting in adverse metabolic, biomechanical, and psychosocial health consequences.”

What it isn’t, stresses the organization, is a personal choice.




That last morsel of white-coat word-salad means it’s “caused by a complex interplay among genetics, the environment, and many other factors.” You’ve read about many of them in Sisters’ health articles: nutrition, hormones, medication, related diseases, sleep and yes, racism.

“It’s not one thing, it’s everything.”

What Oprah means is that along with weight loss medication, she’s adopted a multifactorial approach to weight loss to target the many factors that contribute to being overweight. That’s what has led to her success on the scale.

Doing all the things

For Oprah, the mix of behavioral changes that have her looking the best she has in decades includes:

  1. Exercise
  2. Meal timing
  3. Drinking water
  4. Tracking meals
  5. Prescription medicine

Below, I’ll list behavioral changes that may be right for you.

For some people, making lifestyle changes such as eating differently and exercising more can lead to successful weight loss, Veronica R. Johnson, M.D., with Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago, who specializes in obesity medicine, told Sisters. However, others might need the help of medication just as someone might turn to a prescription to help them control their blood pressure.

Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, is Director, GI Nutrition, Celiac Sprue and Obesity Program at Penn Medicine, Philadelphia. Last fall, she presented a webinar titled “Wholistic Obesity Therapy” on WebMD. “To reach your weight loss goals, there’s no magic,” Pickett-Blakely told participants. “The key to managing obesity and weight loss lies in the development of healthy habits and lifestyle practices that you’ll carry throughout the course of your life.”

Now, did your physician explain all of that to you, or did Doc just tell you to eat less and move more? Worse, did your provider dismiss any other complaint as simply a result of being overweight?

Dr. Pickett-Blakely and two colleagues noted, in an April issue of the journal Gastroenterology, that doctors’ training may be patchy and behind the times. “Despite the strong link between diet, nutrition, and socioeconomic status, and the importance of this relationship in clinical care, few physicians receive dedicated nutrition and obesity education during training.”

That why we need to stay educated, Sis. “Medications and surgeries for weight loss get a lot of attention,” Pickett-Blakely explained during the event. “But the foundational aspects for weight loss are absolutely critical to your success, before those things.”

Sisters by your side

If you’ve ever clicked open a new issue of Sisters From AARP and thought, Another weight loss article? now you know the reason. “It’s everything.” Our award-winning reporting taps top professionals in specialties like nutrition, endocrinology, fitness, mental health and sleep science. Week after week, we’re here to support a healthier version of you.

Winning at weight loss starts here

To inspire your wholistic journey to scale success, consider these habits.

  1. Keep a tape measure in your medicine cabinet. Just as we rejoice when clothes get looser, tracking measurements such as hip-to-waist ratio will give you critical info about health—and a chance to celebrate non-scale victories.
  2. Trust your body when it’s time to move. Try adding intuitive exercise to your fitness plan. If you intuitively stretch and limber up upon waking, you’ve already begun.
  3. Trust your body when it’s time to eat. Learn about intuitive eating here.
  4. Snack smart. Try these delicious, healthy, takes on charcuterie boards.
  5. Push past plateaus. You can shed those last five pounds.
  6. Don’t drink your calories, especially if they are fat and sugar heavy. Meal replacements, like a protein smoothie, or functional beverages like ginger tea with a drizzle of honey might be ok.
  7. If you can’t pronounce it, keep it out your mouth. Choose whole foods over processed ones. This helped Lynnette Khalfani-Cox lose 80 pounds in 10 months.
  8. Stay motivated. Extrinsic motivation (my cousin’s wedding) helps in the short term. Intrinsic motivation (I’m cutting my disease risk) keeps you going. A shock diabetes diagnosis became Sharon L Mitchell’s incentive for getting healthy, which helped motivate her lose 50 pounds.
  9. To reduce, think produce. Plant-based meals help fuel fat burning.

Your friends here at Sisters will be doing “all the things” to help you stay healthy in 2024. You’ll be hearing about a new way we can all support one another soon.

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