How Oprah lost those 40 pounds

How Oprah lost those 40 pounds

Oprah Winfrey revealed this week that she lost more than 40 pounds, and she did it using one of the most popular weight loss programs out there: Weight Watchers.

In a story first published on People magazine's web site, Oprah said she's still eating the tacos and pasta that she loves, and she doesn't feel deprived following the Weight Watchers system. Earlier, she told People that she's exercising more, striving to take at least 10,000 steps a day.

"Weight Watchers is easier than any other program I've ever been on. It's a lifestyle, a way of eating and a way of living that's so freeing. You never feel like you are on a diet and it works," Oprah, 62, said in a release about a new Weight Watchers' ad campaign.
Oprah credits Weight Watchers for helping her lose 40 pounds.
Oprah credits Weight Watchers for helping her lose 40 pounds.

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Weight Watchers works by using a point system for people to track calories. Although it dominated for decades, it recently faced challenges from Nutrisystem and free apps and sites designed to track health and weight loss. The company's chief executive stepped down earlier this year.
Still, the company saw a bump earlier when Oprah purchased a stake in the company -- she's the third largest shareholder in Weight Watchers, and has a stake worth about $77 million -- and as she continued to share her weight loss successes. After the announcement this week of Oprah's weight loss milestone and the company's new ad campaign, Weight Watchers shares jumped 17%.
Although the program has evolved in recent years, there's a reason its point system and group meetings have stuck around.
"It's livable," said Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician-nutrition specialist, who is not in any way affiliated with Weight Watchers said in 2015. "With restaurants and holidays and parties, you have the tools to handle any eating occasion."

History of Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has been a powerful and effective tool in the fight against obesity since the program was founded in 1963 by Jean Nidetch, a self-described "overweight housewife obsessed with cookies."
1963: Weight Watchers is founded by Jean Nidetch, a self-described "overweight housewife obsessed with cookies."
1963: Weight Watchers is founded by Jean Nidetch, a self-described "overweight housewife obsessed with cookies."
After struggling to lose weight for years, Nidetch began hosting weekly meetings at her home with friends, to discuss their difficulties with dieting and exercise.
"Compulsive eating is an emotional problem," Nidetch told Time magazine in 1972, "and we use an emotional approach to its solution."
Abiding by her philosophy -- "It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny" -- Nidetch managed to lose more than 70 pounds, and keep it off.
According to its latest earnings release, Weight Watchers currently has 2.8 million active subscribers worldwide, down from 3.4 million one year ago.

How does Weight Watchers measure up?

Weight Watchers works by using what it calls "SmartPoints," where one number represents each food and drink's calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein.
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When US News and World Report ranked 35 of the most popular diets, Weight Watchers tied for fourth place overall -- and No. 1 for weight loss. (The diets taking the No. 1 and No. 2 spots overall were the DASH diet, MIND diet and TLC diet.)
U.S. News called Weight Watchers "effective," highlighting the upside that you can eat what you want and that no foods are off-limits. Downsides include the program's price and tedious point tallying.
"It's based in real life, real food, real living," Gary Foster, Weight Watchers' chief scientific officer said last year. "We're not a brand about exclusion, saying 'you must eat this' and 'you can't eat that.' You're in charge of what's in and what's out."
If you restrict eating to certain foods or certain times of the day, said Foster, you might get people to eat less, but the results are short lived. They'll put the weight right back on.
Cut this food and extend your life

Cut this food and extend your life 01:13
"Broadly, reality not meeting expectations is what trips people up," said Foster. "The most common example is when people have unrealistic notions of what the weight loss journey will be -- that they'll lose the same amount (of weight) every single week, or eat perfectly every single day. Life gets in the way. Teaching people a different mindset around that and being aware of your thinking style is key. 'All or none' is not good for weight, relationships or work performance."
"The other thing is to not be so myopically focused on the scale," said Foster. "It's a piece of metal that gives you a number and is fraught with disappointment. It's not a good measure in the short term. It's better over the long term. Non-scale victories like looking better, feeling better, fitting into a smaller jean size" are far more important milestones.


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