How Oprah Winfrey Lost 42 Lbs. and Finally Found Happiness

"For the longest time, I was afraid of a potato chip," the Weight Watchers spokeswoman says

By Zach Johnson Jan 03, 2017 2:45 PMTags

A little positive thinking can go a long way—just ask Oprah Winfrey.

The Weight Watchers spokeswoman graces the magazine's January/February issue and speaks candidly about her weight loss journey. Since joining the program in the summer of 2015, she's down 42 lbs. But for the first time in her life, Winfrey is not defined by the number on the scale.

It's no secret that Winfrey's waistline was once a cause of concern, as she often said during The Oprah Winfrey Show's 25 year-run. "For the longest time, I was afraid of a potato chip. Now I deny myself nothing," Winfrey explains. "I just don't give myself everything at the same time."

And if she does? Well, there's always tomorrow.

"Before, when I was 150 pounds, I'd imagine getting up to 200 lbs., and think, 'Oh my God.' But now I think, 'I never thought that at 200 lbs. I could look in the mirror and love my body, love myself, not chide and minimize myself for being 200 lbs.' At 200 lbs., I was OK. I have never, ever, ever been at that point. And then at 190 lbs., I was OK. If I don't lose another pound right now, I'm still OK," Winfrey says. "The fullness of life, the fullness of being, the self-acceptance—I'd never done that before. I'd always beaten myself up because I was tied to a number."

"It was frustrating to promise myself 'I'm going to do it today, I'm going to do it today,' and then not stick to my plan. So I shifted," the 62-year-old TV titan continues. "Now, I don't have a goal in mind. I get to a certain weight and I'm OK, and say, 'This is where I want to be. Hang in there. I'll get there when I get there.' And my body will tell me when I am exactly where I need to be."

Ruven Afanador

Winfrey, a stakeholder in Weight Watchers, isn't as tough on herself as she once was. "I lost at a steady pace and then went through this whole summer without losing a pound. That was OK because I was so happy with my life. There was no longer a sense of urgency to just lose the pounds; there was now a strong desire to be fully present and savor every meal," she says. "I focused on what I was eating and appreciating my life. Isn't that what everyone is looking for?"

Certain things had to change, of course. "I make my well-being and fitness a priority, no matter what. Once I delay something, I get another reason to delay it, and then another reason to delay it, and so on," she explains. "You can't allow yourself to use excuses. You are the priority."

Losing weight wasn't her goal, but rather a byproduct of her healthier lifestyle. "Intention is the most powerful principle that rules my world. It's the principle by which I rule my company and every action in my life," she reveals. "I do nothing without first thinking about why I'm doing it."

Oprah's Bountiful Gardens

"When the weight started to come off, I needed to get clear on my intention. I could lose weight to fit a dress size, or attend an event, or to make other people like me. But I couldn't keep it off for those reasons. I always put the weight back on. This time I changed the intention to, 'I want to be the healthiest I can be—physically, emotionally, spiritually.' So the process and purpose of losing shifted for me," she says. "It was easier, because my intention was clearer."

Weight Watchers

Winfrey says her intention is to "live more fully." Put simply, she says, it's "about having reverence for this body, this journey, this life, and every step you take." By sharing her story with fellow Weight Watchers members, she hopes they will set their intentions for "more than a number on a scale. Is your intention to live with more joy, energy, confidence and vitality?"

Creating or finding a support system is key, Winfrey says.

"The beautiful thing about Weight Watchers is that it keeps you accountable if you follow the plan long enough for the ultimate to happen," the former talk show host tells the magazine. "For me, the ultimate is the shift in the way you see yourself. It's not in the way you see yourself fitting into that dress or pair of jeans. It's in the way you see yourself fitting into your life. Embracing your life. Honoring your life. Having reverence and appreciation for your life."