Gluten Free Update


Now that we are into a new month, I thought I should give another update on the gluten free challenge I was participating in with Rebekah over at BexLife. I’ll just start out by saying that I did not complete the full 30 days. However, I learned a lot by not making it through.

After my last update I got a nasty cold. I have very little willpower anyway, and even less when I’m sick. So I went straight for comfort foods, and they all included gluten. I didn’t really think it would matter since I had only been gluten free for a few weeks anyway. I was very wrong about that. Almost immediately I started breaking out. I have moments of breakouts throughout a month, but nothing terrible. After stopping gluten my skin was pretty good, but after just a few days with it back in my diet breakouts everywhere. Certainly, any dietary changes could cause that to happen, but it wasn’t much fun.

The main benefit I had been experiencing from removing gluten was a ton of energy. Extreme fatigue has been the one thyroid symptom I just couldn’t shake no matter what I tried, and once I stopped gluten I felt amazing. I had tons of energy, I woke up feeling like I had slept, and I didn’t fall asleep if I dared to sit down for five minutes. That all went away again when I added the gluten back in. At first I thought it was from the cold, but this remained after the cold was gone.

Yesterday I finally watched one of the videos that Rebekah did with Mike from EveryDayDetox and it was really an eye opener about what gluten does inside your body. I had already planned to go back to avoiding gluten, but their video convinced me even more. So I’m back on the wagon and ope to continue much longer without any backsliding so I can see if I end up with more benefits. If you’re interested in the challenge, you can still get in on it by going here and signing up. It’s totally free and totally worth it!

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Two Weeks Gluten Free


So it has been a little over two weeks since I decided to join the gluten free challenge being hosted by BexLife. It has been very interesting, so I wanted to give you all a little update.

I joined primarily because my doctor has been asking me to give up gluten due to my thyroid issues. He felt that it would improve my lingering fatigue, and maybe help with the weight loss. I’ve been dealing with this condition for over 15 years, and I know that just removing something from my diet won’t impact my weight like it does other people. Some people can drop soft drinks and lose 5 pounds. I stopped, and nothing happened. That type of weight loss just doesn’t happen for me. So, no surprises, I haven’t lost weight by giving up gluten.

I have found that shopping is a major challenge. I have a great deal of respect for people who must avoid gluten for their health because it is in EVERYTHING! I didn’t want to waste food I already had, but I was amazed to find it in things I wouldn’t have thought would have it. I had some instant rice…gluten. Some vegetarian sausage…gluten. Even my soy sauce has gluten. But, because I do not have to avoid it, I still used these products until I ran out. So, I haven’t been 100% free, but I’d say close to 95% since I didn’t eat many of those things.

There were two things I noticed that did change pretty quickly. The first, and the best was my energy level. The pretty much constant state of fatigue lifted within just a few days. It’s not perfect, but I’ve had more energy than I have had in a really long time. That’s caused me to make better food choices, and to feel like getting up in the mornings to exercise. The second was in the bathroom. Sorry for the TMI, but I feel like it’s good to know in case you’re having issues. I have never had a lot of problems in that department, and didn’t think there was much room for improvement, but there was. I won’t get into details….but things are the way they should be.

This challenge has also forced me to eat better. There have been a few times where I have wanted to get something not at all healthy to eat, and knowing those things contain gluten has stopped me. I’m optimistic that weight loss will end up coming as a result of making better choices because I’m forced to skip some of the junk that I would have reached for.

So, if you’re considering this for yourself, I have only positive things to report so far!

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Changing It Up in April


It’s April Fool’s Day! I admit, I’m a pretty easy mark for pranks, so today should be interesting. Today is also the beginning of an interesting new journey for me. Since Weight Watchers changed their program, and I decided to stop using them again, I’ve been sort of floating around not knowing how to get myself back on track. I started reading this book called Better Than Before to see why some people seem to make habits easily, and some seem to struggle like I do. I’m not finished with it, and I’m already learning a lot about how I can be motivated to make changes in my life.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s very easy for me to develop habits that benefit other people, but much more difficult for me to form them if the outcome only benefits me. It’s helped me accept that I’m really someone who needs structure and accountability. I already knew that, but I always felt that I shouldn’t need those things so much. So when the beautiful Rebekah from BexLife announced that she was having a 30 day gluten free challenge I decided to jump on board.

I do not have Celiac disease. I have been tested because my doctor thought some things I was experiencing indicated that I might, but the test was negative. However, he has suggested that my thyroid symptoms could be greatly improved if I were to eliminate gluten from my diet. Since then, I’ve read that he’s not the only doctor to suggest this, and that there is a connection between the two. But I’m pretty lazy, and since I don’t have obvious reactions to consuming these products, I’ve never been motivated to give it a go. But this challenge provides that level of accountability that I need, so I’m going to try it.

I went shopping last night, and I must say that I understand even more how lucky we are to live in a country with a lot of choices, but also just how much we take for granted about what we can eat when we don’t have a condition that necessitates we really pay attention to our food. I have new respect for my friends with Celiac who must worry about every bite they eat. Gluten is in everything!! I am lucky in that I can give this a shot without having to be scared about buying something that has been made in a facility where cross contamination cold have occurred.

So, I’m going to try this for 30 days and see how I feel. I’ve also ordered a workout program that I’m excited to try. I think it’s going to push me to get back into shape. I’m excited for April and seeing what changes occur. If you’d like to join the gluten free challenge, go HERE to sign up!

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Manitoba Hemp Heart Bar Review

Hemp Heart Bars


The fine folks over at Manitoba Harvest sent me a few of their Hemp Heart bars to test out and tell you what I think of them. For starters, I already love the Manitoba Harvest brand, and I use their hemp hearts on salads and in smoothies all the time. So I was very excited to try these bars. These bars come in vanilla, chocolate, and apple cinnamon. I was able to try both apple cinnamon, and chocolate. I must confess that I didn’t love the chocolate flavor. It wasn’t bad, it just wouldn’t be my first choice. However, the apple cinnamon knocked it out of the park. The flavors were amazing, and the bar was light, not as dense as a lot of bars on the market. Each bar has 10 grams of protein, and 10 grams of omegas so they’re a great snack.

Hemp Heart Bars

Right now they’re having a photo contest to win a box of your favorite flavor of Hemp Hearts bars. To enter simply Tag @manitobaharvest #hempheartbar #fuelledbyhemp #sweatpink @fitapproach in a picture on your favorite social media channel. This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada and a winner is chosen every month.
On top of that, if you use code hhbarlaunch1015 when checking out on their site you will save 15%. What are you waiting for, get over there and try these amazing bars! Don’t forget to enter the photo contest as well!


Disclosure: I was given free products in exchange for providing a review. All opinions are my own

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Not Sorry for Wanting to Change

scale with measuring tape

This evening as I finished off a bag of marshmallows that only just came into the house a short while ago, I was reminded of the problems I have with food. Once again I was feeling an awful sense of defeat, and at the same time knowing that I will continue to work at this until I make a change. It also made me think about a new trend I’m seeing.

Oprah’s announcement of purchase, and subsequent marking of Weight Watchers has opened her up to a whole new level of criticism. I don’t need to defend the mighty O, because she’s proven time and again that she can handle her own. But the criticism she’s receiving is opening my eyes to people who seem to want to judge you for needing the help of a program. Even more than that, judgment for wanting a different body than the one you’re currently sporting.

Now, I’m all about loving yourself as you are. You’ve got to get to a place where you love yourself in any shape or size before you’ll be able to make any lasting changes. But loving yourself as you are doesn’t mean you have to want to stay exactly as you are. That’s true of any aspect of your life, including how you look. I’ve been seeing a lot of comments about how Oprah has spent so much time telling people to be authentic, and live their best life, and how they’re disappointed that she’s endorsing something from the diet industry, and suggesting that she’s somehow not good enough because she feels trapped in an overweight body.

If you want to be disappointed in her…fine. I doubt she cares. But this is one area where I can truly relate to her. I don’t have her money, or the experiences she has had. I’ll never know what it’s like to be famous, or meet the people she’s met. But the feeling of being trapped in your body is something I can relate to. I know what it feels like to look i the mirror and take stock of your accomplishments, but still feel like you’ve failed. I know what it’s like to be totally out of control with food. To eat to a point where you’re sick, and only because it temporarily soothed some other problem in my life. I know how it feels to not want to go out and be around other people because you don’t like how you look. You can think you’re the most amazing person in the world, but still want something to change. I get where she’s coming from, and I don’t think the criticism of those feelings is fair.

I’m not going to feel sorry for wanting to change my body. I don’t think Oprah should feel sorry either. I don’t think wanting to conquer this part of our lives means that we aren’t loving ourselves, or being authentic. I don’t think it means that we are bowing down to societies standards of beauty, and think we must look a certain way. I think Oprah long ago accepted that her body wasn’t going to look the way a fashion models body looks. I know I’ve accepted that fact too. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting the best body you can have. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, or with wanting to feel confident.

Oprah has found a tool in Weight Watchers just like I did. We’ve accepted that we are not people who can easily make healthy decisions. Trust me, I’d love to be one of those women who eats mindfully, and can always choose a healthy balance for her body. But I’m not. I might not ever be either. I hope with time, with self love, and with work on the issues that impact my weight, I can be one of those people. I believe Oprah would probably want that for herself as well.

But I’m not there yet, and I’m not going to feel sorry. I’m going to find tools, just like Oprah has, to help me on this journey. I’m going to admit when I need help, and seek it out. Wanting change, and needing help to get there doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s my belief that self love really means recognizing who you are and giving yourself the tools to succeed in whatever you desire. Your tools may be different than mine….and that’s nothing to be sorry about.

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The New Weight Watchers

feet on scale


I’ve written about my love/hate relationship with Weight Watchers in the past. After struggling to lose weight on my own, I decided to join again. I’m in my tenth week since I joined and I’m down 10.8 pounds. That’s great right? It is for me. I feel so much better, clothes fit better, I feel more in control in general. All should be well. It’s not though. Last Sunday they rolled out their new Smart Points program. Despite an enormous amount of technical difficulties, I was able to start tracking in the new app. I assumed this meant that the change to the program was largely superficial as it generally is each year. Every December they make some sort of change to keep things fresh, and encourage new enrollments. Rarely is it anything big that requires you to purchase all new materials. It’s usually just cosmetic and small tweaks. The last major change they made was their switch from Points to PointsPlus.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a small change, it was a huge change. One of my biggest complaints about WW was that it was too easy to lose weight by eating a lot of processed foods. I felt that members could live on pre-packaged dinners and still lose weight, and I knew that was the goal that WW had for it’s members. So, when I heard that SmartPoints would steer people away from that I was excited. But the thing I love about WW is that I’ve always been able to work it into my life. I’ve never felt like I was on a diet, or that I couldn’t find a reasonable choice in a difficult situation. Kids want ice cream? OK, they can get a sundae, but I can still make it work with a small cone. I also liked that WW worked for me as a vegetarian. People often think that vegetarians are stick figures who need to eat more, but vegetarian’s can make a lot of unhealthy choices and still avoid meat. WW helped me be a better vegetarian.

This article gives a breakdown of all of the changes that come with SmartPoints. They sound fantastic right? Well let me put it into perspective from my day on the plan so far. I eat nearly the same foods all the time. I do that partly because I like them, and partly because I like not having to really think about meals. They work for me, and while there are variations, I can use my day as an example because it’s usually very similar. Since rejoining, I’ve only gained one week, and lost all of the other weeks at a reasonable 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. So, PointsPlus was working for me. I’d use my daily points every day, about 1/2 to 2/3 of my weekly points, and none of my activity points. On PointsPlus I had 29 daily points, and 49 weekly points. With SmartPoints I have 30 daily, and 42 weekly. Apparently I’m lucky, because some people have almost no weekly points.

So let’s get to my food today…

Breakfast – Nearly every day my breakfast consists of 1/2 cup of rolled oats (not instant, just plain oats), 2 Tbsp’s of raisins, 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one medium apple.

Snack – I usually have a piece of regular string cheese as a snack

Lunch – I make a big batch of soup that includes kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, diced tomatoes, onions, a bell pepper, mushrooms, and some spices and eat a serving for lunch. I also had the generic equivalent of a Fiber One brownie. I know that fruit would have been a better choice, but I felt like this was a small treat and not much harm in the overall scheme of my day. Again, it’s why WW has been working. I could have that without guilt.

Snack – I often have veggies and hummus, but got busy and had another piece of string cheese.

At this point on PointsPlus I would generally have about 10 points left for dinner. I felt like I could probably make some improvements to those meals, but overall that was a good day before coming into dinner time. It’s a far cry healthier than I used to eat for sure, and still let me have a little treat. So where am I on SmartPoints with these foods? I have 3 points left for dinner. Yes, 3 points! I ventured over to the WW Facebook page to see what others are saying and not a lot of people are happy. This is especially true for vegetarian members. Lean protein went down in points. So now you can eat chicken and tuna all day, and still have lots of room for your tiny 4 point brownie. But if you don’t eat meat, you’re kind of screwed. Beans went up, rice went up, quinoa went up. Meat substitutes went down, but I don’t really consider them a better choice than beans. All of the foods that were delivering a consistent weight loss are now out of budget for me even though they’re really not unhealthy. Sure, I could drop that brownie, and I’ve been wanting to give up dairy so the cheese could go. But neither of those things are awful choices that I should feel bad about making. However, eliminating them would have meant a 10 point savings in my day on SmartPoints. The responses from Weight Watchers to comments about the plan have all been that you can eat more lean protein, and still fit the higher point things into your plan. That’s true if you eat meat. Tuna is now 1 point per serving. But beans are now 3, so there’s no tweaking for me.

Weight Watcher’s biggest draw has always been that it is something you can work into everyday life. I spoke to a co-worker whose wife has lost a lot of weight on PointsPlus. He said once a year she eats a piece of cheesecake around Christmas while she shops with her mother. That piece was 11 points and something she could plan for and work into her plan easily. On SmartPoints it’s now 27 points and more than eliminates her weekly points, as she has far fewer than I do. This means she either eats it anyway, and cuts into her whole week in a major way, or she opts not to eat it, and feels left out of a tradition.

One leader I spoke to said that in test groups people have lost more weight on this plan than any other. I totally believe that, but I don’t believe that it is at all sustainable. There are people in this world who eat perfect, and a processed food never touches their lips. But for the majority of people who seek out a program like WW this is not something they can do, or they wouldn’t be there. They need something that helps them make better choices, while still allowing them to feel like they don’t have to give up every food they’ve ever enjoyed.

In an effort to not be totally negative, I’ll reiterate that I like the fact that they’re trying to steer people towards whole foods. I also like that they’ve changed how they look at activity. They want you to set goals with that as well, but not necessarily exercise just to earn more points for food. They’re also really trying to take the focus off the scale, and move towards an overall feeling of wellness.

But let’s be honest, people walking in that door almost always need help learning how to make livable changes. I don’t think SmartPoints will help them reach that long term. I’m struggling with where I should go with the program from here.

Have you tried SmartPoints yet? What do you think of the changes?

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MealEnders Review and Giveaway!



I have a major sweet tooth! At the end of every meal, even if I’ve eaten past the point of feeling satisfied, I’m looking for something sweet. This can pose a problem, because I’m just needlessly consuming calories that I don’t need out of habit. Recently the fine folks over at MealEnders sent me all four flavors of their signaling lozenges to test out to see if they would help me kick this habit of mine.

Before I tested them out, I wanted to know what they were made of. So I checked them out, and here’s the low down.

“Each MealEnders signaling lozenge contains only two grams of sugar, 15 calories, and is
stimulant-free, gluten-free, kosher, and contains no high fructose corn syrup or MSG.
MealEnders are food-based and, therefore, regulated by the FDA as a food product.”
They come in chocolate-mint, citrus, mocha, and cinnamon. The only flavor I did not try was mocha, because I don’t like anything mocha flavored so I knew I’d be biased. My son tried that flavor for me, and really liked it. Of the other three flavors, I found cinnamon to be my favorite which surprised me because I’m all about chocolate. The idea is that when you recognize that moment of temptation, you pop one of these in your mouth, and allow it to totally dissolve. Each lozenge is coated in the flavor you have selected, then when that dissolves there’s a cooling/tingling mint underneath. The outer layer is designed to act as that treat you were looking for, and the inner layer is designed to train your brain to know that the meal is over and it’s time to stop.
I was honestly a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but gave it a go anyway. The outer layers taste good, and did give me the treat I was looking for. I think we all know that usually we just need some little sweet taste, and not a whole cake. The inner layer reminded me a little bit of the sensation that you get with a cough drop, though not at all medicinal. I found that I couldn’t let them totally dissolve because I don’t handle things with that tingling sensation all that well, but that even using half of the lozenge really did do what it said it would. I really felt like I had the treat I was looking for, and that the meal was done. It gave my body time to adjust to the food I had eaten, and let me know that I really didn’t need anything else.
Overall, these lozenges were a win for me. I’d use them again for sure. The people at MealEnders want you to try them for yourself, so they’re offering a code for 20% off when you order from their website. Just enter FitHolidays20 at checkout. In addition to that, they’re offering one lucky reader four packages of the lozenges! Just enter the giveaway below, and it could be you! Please note that you must be in the US to participate in the giveaway, and that if you are a Sweat Pink Ambassador that has already won this prize you will not be eligible. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was given four (4) packages of MealEnders in exchange for the review. All opinions are my own.

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I Quit the Gym and Workout More!


I really love lifting weights. Because I love lifting, I am one of those people who actually enjoys going to the gym most of the time. But, I recently quit my gym, and an odd thing happened…I started working out more!  I was going to a really cheap gym so that I wouldn’t feel guilty if I wasn’t able to go that much. My few visits assured that I got my money’s worth.

But I only worked out on the days that I could get there. The gym was a bit of a distance from my house, so quite often I found myself not going because if I didn’t get up and out of the house by a certain time, I wouldn’t have time to get my workout in and get to work. Far too often I would just sleep in because I’d already missed my window. If I was lucky I’d get in one or two workouts a week, and if I couldn’t go, I wouldn’t move much at all most days.

So I just cancelled my membership, and the strangest thing happened. I started working out, or getting some sort of activity almost every day. I have a ton of workout DVD’s and I found that without as much pressure to get up at a certain time, no driving, and no need to be sure I was presentable to the outside world, I would get up and do something most days.

Around the same time a friend of mine got a Fitbit and we started a little daily competition with each other to see if we would hit 10,000 steps each day. That means that some days I’ll do a DVD in the morning, and then squeeze in a walk with my dog in the evening. I’m even trying to find more reasons to move throughout the day as well. Now that it is getting colder (and I hate cold) the walks may get a little harder, but I won’t have the excuse of not wanting to go out in the cold or wait for my car to warm up. I’ve created an environment that works for me.

Some day I will probably join a gym again because I do miss all of the free weights. But for now this fits into my schedule in a way the gym can’t and so it is working for me. That’s the key to fitness…make it work for you!

How do you fit workouts into your life? Are you a gym rat, or do you prefer the privacy of your home?

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Everything in Moderation Right?



I recently posted a link to an article over on my Facebook page, about the announcement that processed and red meats are as bad for you as smoking. I shared the article because it was pretty balanced, and gave the facts of the announcement. As a vegetarian, I never enjoy sensationalized headlines about the effects of eating meat. I don’t really enjoy them about any topic to be honest, but I think it makes convincing people to give up, or limit their intake of meat that much harder. I like the information to be given in a fair manner.

After sharing it, and reading many other posts on the subject, I saw one word repeated over and over from the article. Moderation. That’s a popular word when we’re talking about our diets. The common belief is that any food can be enjoyed in moderation and not harm us. But is that really true? I don’t think that it is. I’m not alone in this feeling either, I’m linking to two articles that explain why moderation actually adds up, and does cause us harm.

Why “Everything in Moderation” Doesn’t Work  by Jonathan Ross

The Myth of Moderation by Dr. Scott Stoll

The findings that red and processed meats are linked to cancer is not negligible. While it may not really be as high as the correlation between smoking and cancer, it is still a significant correlation. But moderation right? Well, for many people following the paleo diet, these foods are on their plate at least once a day. For people on the Standard American Diet they are often consumed several times a day. Neither one of those things seems moderate to me when looking at the findings of this research. I would think of once a month or less as a moderate consumption of foods with such a strong link to cancer.

But when it comes to cancer, why risk it? Every one of us knows someone who has, or has had cancer. It is an awful disease, and there are so many factors that go int whether or not you will develop some form in your lifetime. Many of those factors are out of our control, or haven’t even been studied enough to fully understand. Lots of people I know who consumed the meats mentioned in this study say “well I love them”, or they swear that including them in their diet is the key to their weight loss or athletic performance. That’s great, I love a lot of foods. I also want to be thin, and have the ability to move my body any way I desire. But the trade off is simply not worth it to me. There are many other foods that I could consume that would give me the same results that have not been linked to cancer. What good does a thin body do me, if it’s ravaged with disease?

I know you may be thinking that I’m saying all of this because I’m a vegetarian and I just want to save animals and ruin everyone’s day. That’s not the case here. While I’d love it if everyone went vegetarian, I recognize that is probably never going to happen. But I do want everyone to live a long, disease free life. I think that when the evidence is in front of you, it is difficult to ignore. I used to eat meat, and I remember that it tasted good. But if I were still a meat eater, I couldn’t look at this data and say “yep, bacon is totally worth the risk”…because it just wouldn’t be for me.

Only you know what level of consumption you feel comfortable with. I do encourage you to read the data despite all of the crazy headlines, and make your choice from that and your own familial and environmental risks. Stay healthy everyone!

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Oprah Joins Weight Watchers


Even if you’re not a Weight Watchers member, you’ve probably heard that Oprah recently purchased 10% of the company. Not only that, she will be on their board, and serve as an adviser. There’s not been any real mention yet about how much endorsement she will be giving publicly, but it’s very important to note that she is also a member. In this interview on the Ellen show, she said that they came to her and asked her to help them, which she refused to do until she had tried the program. She said that in all of the different things she has tried over the years, she had always resisted Weight Watchers because she didn’t want to count points. But, she’s giving it a try, and has lost 15 pounds so far!

For the most part, I’ve only seen positive comments about her coming on board. I think that most people who want to see the program continue through it’s current struggles, see this as a major boost. Whatever Oprah touches tends to turn to gold, so it stands to reason that she could breathe new life into a program that is struggling to compete with free apps like Myfitnesspal (which I also love).

Not everyone is happy about this endorsement however. I read one scathing blog post that basically said that Oprah had turned her back on women. That after years of preaching self love, and aligning herself with gurus like Deepak Chopra, she was selling out to the diet industry, and doing women everywhere a disservice. Now I know that not everyone loves Weight Watchers. There are plenty of people that believe it promotes an unhealthy focus on every bite. I’ve gone back and forth on my feelings on it over the years. I’ve even written a post about my love/hate relationship with the program. But I recently joined again, and I’m down six pounds. The truth is, as much as I want to be a mindful eater. As much as I agree with all of the things Oprah has talked about over the years relating to self love and finding your higher calling in life, I’ve also related to her seemingly endless battle with her weight.

Here’s the thing, you can be enlightened, and mindful in many areas of your life, and still struggle with something that seems basic to others. After all my back and forth with Weight Watchers I know that I don’t have control without the program. Some of us just can’t get there without help. I’ve tried the free programs, and they just don’t work for me like Weight Watchers does. A big part of it is the support and ideas I get from meetings. But it’s also an accountability that I just don’t get from anywhere else. I don’t think it’s wrong to need that. I don’t think it’s wrong that someone like Oprah, who is so spiritual, and in touch with herself in so many ways, still hasn’t overcome her weight struggle, or that she still wants to overcome it. Some people are comfortable being overweight. That’s their choice, but Oprah isn’t, and neither am I. I don’t think getting help from what some call the “diet industry” means you’re going against women. Sure, the diet industry hasn’t always been kind to us, but we all have to find our own path.

I suspect Oprah will have great success with the program. It seems like something that would fit into her busy life very well. I know that it fits into mine, and I’m going to see it through again. I’m not going to feel bad about needing it, and neither should Oprah. I look forward to seeing what happens with her on board.

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