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Oprah Winfrey On Weight Loss Medication, Diet, Exercise Routine

Oprah Winfrey has spoken out a lot over the last few months about her weight loss journey. Now, she’s opening up about being very publicly body-shamed in the past.

Television icon Joan Rivers commented on Oprah’s looks during a 1985 Tonight Show appearance to discuss her hit program A.M. Chicago.

“Joan Rivers turns to me, and she says, ‘Tell me, why are you so fat?’” the 70-year-old said during a July 1 episode of the The Jamie Kern Lima Show. “On national television, and I don’t know what do with that.”

All of this comes amidst Oprah’s own weight loss journey, including her recent admission that regular exercise, nutrition, and weight-loss medications are helping her live a healthier life. Here’s everything to know about her health.

How did Oprah lose weight?

Oprah’s 2021 knee surgery actually jumpstarted her recent weight loss.

“After [my] knee surgery, I started hiking and setting new distance goals each week. I could eventually hike three to five miles every day and a 10-mile straight-up hike on weekends,” Oprah told PEOPLE. “I felt stronger, more fit and more alive than I’d felt in years.”

On March 14, in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that following her knee surgery, she felt like she had to get in shape and lose weight in her own way and had to “prove that I could do it on my own, even though I was hearing all along people talking about the medications,” she said.

The Color Purple producer added, “I’ve been in the storm of losing the weight, gaining it back, losing the weight, gaining it back. And what I realized when I listened to what the doctor said, that you are always going to put it back on, and it’s like holding your breath under water and trying not to rise. You are always going to rise.”

Working towards these fitness goals also helped Oprah achieve a personal goal. “In Hawaii, I live on a mountain, and there’s this big hill—I used to look out the window every morning and say, ‘God, one day I want to walk up that mountain,'” she said in her PEOPLE cover story. “Last year over Christmas I did it… It felt like redemption.”

In December, Oprah shared with PEOPLE that she was close to her “goal weight” of 160 pounds, but emphasized that her journey was not about a number but rather about living a more vibrant life.

Does Oprah use weight-loss medications?

In September 2023, the multihyphenate hosted Oprah Daily’s “The State of Weight” panel. At that time, she shared that she wasn’t interested in taking weight loss medication. “Shouldn’t we all just be more accepting of whatever body you choose to be in? That should be your choice,” she said. “Even when I first started hearing about the weight loss drugs, at the same time I was going through knee surgery, and I felt, ‘I’ve got to do this on my own.’ Because if I take the drug, that’s the easy way out.'”

But in December 2023, Oprah Winfrey opened up to PEOPLE about how her perspective on weight loss medication has changed over time.

“I now use [weight loss medication] as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing,” Oprah told the publication, without naming the specific drug she takes. “The fact that there’s a medically-approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for. I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

Oprah shared that she started the medication before Thanksgiving “because I knew I was going to have two solid weeks of eating.” Instead of gaining eight pounds like she did last year, she gained half a pound, per the publication.

But she emphasized that weight loss medication has not been a “magic bullet” in managing her weight. “It’s everything,” she said, referencing her health and fitness routine. “I know everybody thought I was on it, but I worked so damn hard. I know that if I’m not also working out and vigilant about all the other things, it doesn’t work for me.”

Taking a weight-loss medication silenced Oprah’s ‘food noise’

During the primetime special, experts claimed that new medications like Ozempic or Wegovy can silence “food noise” and help people lose weight. Food noise refers to “constant and persistent thoughts” about food, “to the point of feeling as if [subjects’] lives revolved around food,” according to research published in the academic journal Nutrients.

Oprah shared an anecdote about how taking a weight-loss drug helped quiet her food noise.

“I’m not constantly thinking about what the next meal is going to be,” she said. “I can eat a half a bagel and be fine…I just want less of the bagel.”

Does Oprah use Ozempic?

The media mogul hasn’t shared exactly which weight loss medication she’s on—yet.

Oprah also made it clear that everyone’s weight loss journey is different. “Whatever your choice is for your body and your weight health, it should be yours to own and not to be shamed about it,” she said.” “I’m just sick of it, and I hope this conversation begins the un-shaming of it.”

As she’s gotten older, Oprah added that she’s learned to let go of the shame she’s felt about her body over the years. “It was public sport to make fun of me for 25 years,” she said. “I have been blamed and shamed, and I blamed and shamed myself.”

Now, she has a new perspective on her weight loss journey. “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 the publication. “I had an awareness of [weight loss] medications, but felt I had to prove I had the willpower to do it. I now no longer feel that way.”

Watch Oprah speak candidly about her relationship with weight and shame below:

How does Oprah exercise?

Weight loss medication isn’t the only tool in Oprah’s kit: She’s also an avid exerciser. During her weight loss special, she told viewers that she hikes three to five miles per day and also does “weight resistance training.”

Back in 2017, she told The Hollywood Reporter that she hits her home gym soon after waking up. “I have a fantastic Octane elliptical machine that is like a power mover—you can increase the length of your stride and your arm movement,” she said. “I’ll do 20 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes walking on the treadmill. I start out at the Level 3 incline setting and then every minute I add to the incline until I get to 12 or 15. And then I do sit-ups.”

After getting her heart rate up, Oprah said she’ll often cool down with 10 to 20 minutes of walking or sitting meditation.

Back in 1994, Oprah ran the Marine Corps marathon to celebrate her 40th birthday. (She even wore the bib number 40.) Oprah finished with a time of 4:29:15, which put her 8,210 out of 12,716 finishers. (She later told a fan that she couldn’t run any more marathons due to a knee injury.)

Despite her dedication to fitness, Oprah still doesn’t love to work out.

“Here’s the thing about exercise: I still hate it so much,” she said on Today in 2020, per PEOPLE. But, she added, “I still do it.”

“I think everyone’s waiting to love it,” she continued. “You’re not going to love it, but you do the thing you need to do to make yourself feel whole and well.”

She opened up about weight loss medication in an ABC special, Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution.

On March 18, Oprah opened up about weight loss medications and the controversy surrounding them in An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution which aired on ABC.

During the show, Oprah shared her personal weight loss journey and her experience taking a weight loss medication. Her goal for the special was to release the judgement, shame, and stigma around weight while educating viewers on what prescription weight-loss medications are, who they’re intended for, and what their side effects look like.

“It is a very personal topic for me and for the hundreds of millions of people impacted around the globe who have for years struggled with weight and obesity,” Oprah said in a statement before the special aired. “This special will bring together medical experts, leaders in the space and people in the day-to-day struggle to talk about health equity and obesity with the intention to ultimately release the shame, judgment and stigma surrounding weight.”

Oprah also reflected on the body shaming she experienced throughout her career. “I took on the shame that the world gave to me,” she recalled.

“I come to this conversation with the hope that we can start releasing the stigma and the shame and the judgment, to stop shaming other people for being overweight or how they choose to lose–or not lose–weight and, most importantly, to stop shaming ourselves,” she said.

“The number one thing I hope people come away with is knowing that [obesity] is a disease, and it’s in the brain,” Oprah said in a clip about the special on Good Morning America.

Oprah also opened up about intense methods she’s used to lose weight in the past. “In an effort to combat all the shame, I starved myself for nearly five months and then wheeled out that wagon of fat that the internet will never let me forget,” she said. “And after losing 67 pounds on a liquid diet, the next day, y’all, the very next day I started to gain it back.”

Now, she said that she uses weight loss medication in combination with hiking three to five miles a day, running, weight training, and eating a healthy diet.

Weight “is a very personal topic for me and for the hundreds of millions of people impacted around the globe who have for years struggled with weight and obesity,” she told Oprah Daily in March. “This special will bring together medical experts, leaders in the space and people in the day-to-day struggle to talk about health equity and obesity, with the intention to ultimately release the shame, judgment and stigma surrounding weight.”

Oprah shared on CNN’s King Charles that it was rewarding to learn how weight stigma impacts men. “It’s interesting to me because, being a woman all these years and having suffered myself up and down yo-yoing, I never think about the men, because I always thought men were treated differently,” she said. “I always thought… if you’re 100 pounds overweight and you’re a guy, you’re not going to be ostracized in the same way (as)…women being overweight 100 pounds.”

But Oprah said that many men “also feel a sense of freedom and liberation to now make a choice that they feel is healthier for them has been the most rewarding for me.”

Why did Oprah quit WeightWatchers?

Fans were floored in late February when Oprah Winfrey announced that she was moving on from the board of WeightWatchers. The talk show host didn’t give a lot of explanation at the time. However, it came just a few months after the she shared that she used weight loss medications as part of maintaining her health.

Essentially, the move was was linked to her upcoming special on weight loss medications, Oprah shared during a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Oprah’s decision to leave WeightWatchers was based on her drive to speak freely in her special.

“I decided that because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I wanted to talk about, and Weight Watchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight,” she said on said on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! “I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest.”

During the interview, Oprah quipped that WeightWatchers “almost” cried when she announced her resignation. But, she will still be involved in the company, writing in her original resignation statement, “I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity.”

She didn’t get sick from weight loss medication.

In mid-June, Oprah’s longtime friend Gayle King made headlines for sharing that Oprah was hospitalized. But the duo later cleared up that it wasn’t from weight loss medication; rather, the talk show host had the stomach flu!

“I was in the emergency room, I was so dehydrated,” Oprah said in a clip shared to Instagram. “I had a dry mouth and I couldn’t keep enough water down to get hydrated, so I went to the emergency room for that, and that’s just it.”

Some people claimed in the comments of Gayle’s post that this was related to weight loss medication, but Oprah made it clear that she has a virus. She added that five people in her household got the same illness.

Gayle shared that the only reason she opened up about Oprah’s health was to explain why her best friend missed her monthly book club pick on CBS Mornings. “The point I was trying to make, America, is that it had to be something that would keep her from getting on a plane and coming. That’s the only point I was trying to make,” Gayle said.

“I was too weak to get on the plane,” Oprah chimed in.

Joan Rivers once asked Oprah why she was ‘so fat.’

On July 1, Oprah revealed on The Jamie Kern Lima Show that Joan Rivers asked her about her weight—specifically, why she was “so fat” during a 1985 appearance on The Tonight Show.

Oprah said she tried to brush off the comments by joking, “Oh, I just love potato chips, Joan,” but the comment stung. Joan later told her that she’d “let” Oprah return to the show if she lost 15 pounds. “You need to lose 15 pounds,” she reiterated.

Oprah said she accepted that she should be “shamed” over her weight. “Because how dare me be sitting up here on The Tonight Show,” she continued.

Although she and Joan “agreed that I was gonna go away and lose 15 pounds,” Oprah said she “didn’t lose the 15 pounds. I went and ate my way to another 10 pounds.”

This wasn’t the only time the talk show host felt humiliated over her weight. During the podcast episode, she discussed sitting out of a Christmas party hosted by Don Johnson because of her size. She even recalled In Loving Color doing a sketch comedy that appeared to be about her, where a woman kept eating “and getting fatter and fatter and fatter, and the comedy bit was that eventually she just exploded,” she said.

After feeling mortified over her weight, Oprah said she went to a “fat farm” to try and slim down. But while she was there, she got a phone call from director Steven Spielberg, who asked her if she was interested in a role in The Color Purple.

“‘You lose a pound, you could lose this part,’” Oprah recalled him telling her.

Before she got the call, Oprah said she’d “let go” of her hopes of getting the part. But she ended up landing the role of Sofia, which ultimately nabbed her an Academy Award nomination.

“That became my grounding teaching for the rest of my life and career,” she said. “Do everything you can, work as hard as you can, and then let it go.”

She’s done with diet culture.

During her May 9 panel with WeightWatchers, Oprah shared that she regrets contributing to society’s obsession with weight over the 25-season run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

In the live YouTube event “Making the Shift: A New Way to Think About Weight,” Oprah hosted a panel of experts and celebrities who spoke about their experiences with weight loss, including Rebel Wilson and Busy Phillips. During it, Oprah opened up about her own journey, saying that she set unrealistic standards for the general public around dieting.

“I want to acknowledge that I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture,” she said. “Through my platforms, through the magazine, through the talk show for 25 years and online. I’ve been a major contributor to it. I cannot tell you how many weight loss shows and makeovers I have done and they have been a staple since I’ve been working in television.”

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.


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