Finally watching the Oprah show last Wednesday was a relief. As I said in an earlier blog, I don’t remember much about the actual experience except that I hugged Bob Greene and Oprah and said something about my workout. In the three weeks between the taping and the airing, I was sure I’d stood on that stage stiff as a board and quiet.
Then I watched the show.
My first response: Where the hell did those legs come from and where did I get all those teeth?! I moved across the stage like I had the right to be there and that surprised and delighted me. My body didn’t let me down, my smile didn’t let me down, the person I am on the inside didn’t let me down. In fact, she came out just the way I wanted and I didn’t even try. The nervous me was in my head, but the confident me did the talking. Thank God.
Life post-Oprah continues to amaze me. I suspected a few people would write or call after seeing the show, but the response is more than I imagined. I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and phone calls and I’ve appreciated them all, especially the ones from long-lost friends and family members, and from strangers struggling with weight-loss issues. This has challenged me to think about how best to use this momentum to help people who face their own weight issues. More on that in a moment.
I love to be a part of anything that unites family and friends, brings them out of the woodwork, like reunions or even funerals. I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would be because I was on Oprah.
A few of my elapsed relationships that have been rekindled are with Teela in New Mexico, whom I’ve known since I was 5 and had no idea I was going to be on Oprah and happened to be watching it when I walked out on stage; Kayla in Texas, a good friend from high school, who confessed to reading my blogs but not writing as often as she’d like; Jason, my nephew in South Dakota, who shared with me his own weight-loss success: nearly 100 pounds lost; and Rhonda, a fellow flute player from junior high band who is now a doctor and living in Florida.
My mother got an email from her cousin Nora in Texas whom she hasn’t seen in years. Nora got an email about the show from another of Mom’s cousins and the chain reaction began. Mom was very happy to be reconnected with Nora and no doubt they will get reacquainted through email. Thanks, Oprah!
Then there are the strangers and online acquaintances who found me mostly through the Weight Watchers 100+ Pounds to Lose discussion board and my weight-loss website. They’ve shared with me their stories of weight gain and weight loss and many have told me that seeing me on Oprah helped them know that they can succeed, that it is possible to get to goal. Some have said that hearing my voice and seeing me “in person” helped them read the words on my website with more clarity because they now have a face to put with the words.
I’ve said all along that if my weight-loss story can inspire just one person to take control of their weight and fitness, then telling it in any way I can is worth it. I’m merely paying a debt. I’m paying back the people who encouraged me and helped me reach my own goals. If I’ve inspired someone to lose weight, it’s because I was inspired to lose weight by someone else who lost weight.
Losing weight, while a solitary physical act, does not have to take place in a vacuum. We all have questions, we all have doubts, we all have victories, both on and off the scale, that we want to celebrate with other people who “get it.” The people who inspired me also answered my questions, calmed my doubts, and celebrated with me. It’s my turn to do the same for others.
Thus the challenge.
I’ll be featured in People magazine’s Half Their Size special edition coming out at the end of this year or the first part of 2008 (click on the link to sample the last special edition). A writer at People found my weight-loss site through my host, Freewebs, and asked me if I’d be willing to share my story. They will focus on others, too, who have kept an online diary of their weight-loss.
Oprah was great, People will be fun, but I think it’s time for me to own my own story. I already told you how Oprah’s folks got parts of it wrong, and because I’m not writing the story for People, it will be filtered through another writer’s senses. I will probably write a book, which is all good and fine, but I am just one person. There are so many inspiring people out there who have so much wisdom and heartaches and successes to share.
I want to develop a space in which these stories can be heard, either in print, online, on radio, the television, whatever media outlet I can find. Why? Because 65 percent of our nation’s citizens is overweight. We’re suffering physically and emotionally and we’re dying younger. Our bodies need respect. And there are many people out there who can encourage us to respect and care for our bodies because they’ve been down the same road.
What are your thoughts? What recommendations do you have for creating a space of support? This is all new to me and I welcome your suggestions. You know how to reach me!