- Iconic media personality Oprah Winfrey has been known to struggle with her weight during the course of her career.
- At one point in her life, she weighed 212 lbs and found herself crying and praying at a “fat farm” until she received a call that she admitted, “changed [her] life forever.”
Legendary media personality and one of America’s most beloved TV hosts, Oprah Winfrey has been candid about her decades-long weight loss journey. Winfrey has long been open about how food addiction has impacted her body.
She was 22 years old when she first started experiencing weight issues in 1976, just after she scored her first big-time gig. At the time, Winfrey weighed 148 lbs and said she had been struggling to grapple with the incredible amount of pressure on her.
Oprah Winfrey at the 14th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in New York City, 1987 | Source: Getty Images
In dealing with stress and anxiety, she began to eat junk food like corn dogs and chocolate chip cookies excessively. Winfrey also ate a lot of fast food, hoping it would help suppress her emotional turmoil and suppress her negative feelings.
Oprah Winfrey at Michelle Obama’s campaign rally in Los Angeles, 2007 | Source: Getty Images
When she reached 200 lbs, Winfrey, realizing she needed to make a change, started trying out every diet program she could find suited for women. Two years into “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the TV host announced that she had lost 67 lbs in four months, crediting it to an all-liquid diet.
Oprah Winfrey posing for a photograph in 1989 | Source: Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey and Dolly Parton in an episode of “Dolly” in 1987 | Source: Getty Images
However, after some time had passed following the announcement, she disclosed that she had actually starved herself. This also caused problems with her metabolism, and as a result, she gained even more weight than she initially started with.
Oprah Winfrey hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show: Fridays Live from New York” in New York City, 2009 | Source: Getty Images
When the early 90s rolled around, Winfrey had been the heaviest she had ever been, weighing a total of 237 lbs. The media personality confessed to being so embarrassed that she could barely even look people in the eye and said that she had “joined the ranks of the perpetually obese.”
Andrew Young and Oprah Winfrey at The Andrew Young Foundation’s Celebration Of Andrew Young’s 80th Birthday in Atlanta, 2012 | Source: Getty Images
The “What I Know For Sure” author divulged how she felt like a heavy-set failure. However, after meeting a personal trainer while attending a spa in Colorado, Winfrey was inspired to turn her life around.
Oprah Winfrey at her Los Angeles Walk Spring Training event in 1995 | Source: Getty Images
On Crying and Praying at a Fat Farm and the Call That Changed Her Life
Winfrey’s inspiration to turn things around with her weight allowed her to change her perspective on life and how the actual process of transformation happens. In an interview with Larry King, Winfrey spoke about how one revelation she learned through the message of the book “The Secret,” catapulted the shift in her life:
“…the message is that you’re really responsible for your life. You are responsible for your life. I’ve known this…”
Oprah Winfrey at The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual Women In Entertainment Breakfast in Beverly Hills, 2008 | Source: Getty Images
The celebrated TV host went on to say that this message rooted itself in her mind ever since she read the book “The Color Purple,” before she went on to star in the novel’s movie adaptation. Winfrey said she became obsessed with the story to the point where she thought about it constantly, whether she was eating or sleeping.
Though she has made leaps and bounds from where she started, the journey took work.
Oprah Winfrey during a scene from “The Color Purple” in 1985 | Source: Getty Images
Winfrey’s enthrallment with the gripping novel followed her when she moved to Chicago, even when she received a call from a casting agent asking her if she was interested in auditioning for a movie. Winfrey, who said she had never gotten a call about doing a movie before, asked if the movie the casting agent was talking about was “The Color Purple.”
Oprah Winfrey in a scene from “The Color Purple” in 1985 | Source: Getty Images
The agent answered no and told her it was for a different movie called “Moonsong.” An adamant Winfrey responded by saying she had been praying to audition for “The Color Purple.”
Oprah Winfrey at “The Color Purple” opening night on Broadway in New York City, 2005 | Source: Getty Images
Nonetheless, she went to the audition, only to discover that the movie she was auditioning for was, in fact, her dream one: “The Color Purple.” After she auditioned, Winfrey said she did not hear back from the agent for months. She recalled:
“…and I go to this fat farm, and I think it’s because I’m fat ’cause I was about 212 pounds at the time, and I think, ‘I didn’t get the call back because I’m so fat.’ And I’m at this fat farm, and I’m praying and crying, saying to God, ‘Help me let this go.’ “
Oprah Winfrey during the kickoff party for season 24 of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in Chicago, 2009 | Source: Getty Images
Winfrey said she wanted to be in the movie so much and thought she would be a part of it because there were numerous signs of it coming to fruition. While running on the track at the fat farm, Winfrey had been singing a praise and worship song, praying and crying, when a woman approached her.
The woman said Winfrey had a call waiting for her, and upon answering the call, she found iconic director Steven Spielberg on the other end of the line. Spielberg said he wanted to see Winfrey in his office the next day. According to Winfrey:
“…that moment absolutely changed my life forever because I had drawn ‘The Color Purple’ into my life. I didn’t know Steven Spielberg…”
Oprah Winfrey during the opening night of “The Color Purple” on Broadway in New York City, 2005 | Source: Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey Lost Weight and Is Now in the Best Shape She’s Ever Been
Decades after “The Color Purple” debuted in theaters, with Winfrey even earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, she sought the help of Weight Watchers in 2015. As a result of the program, she managed to lose 40 lbs within a year.
Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, 2018 | Source: Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey during the “An Evening With Oprah” tour in Sydney, 2015 | Source: Getty Images
Unfortunately, the “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing” author endured a weight setback in late 2021. She admitted that the setback had a lot to do with overindulging during the festive season.
Oprah Winfrey during a visit to Mumbai, 2012 | Source: Getty Images
However, now, Winfrey is in the best shape she’s ever been and maintains a healthy lifestyle. Health is something vital to the mogul, who previously said:
“I just know that movement and flexibility, particularly the older you get, is what makes you feel alive. So I don’t want to just be alive, I want to feel it.”
Oprah Winfrey speaking during “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour” in Sunrise, 2020 | Source: Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey during “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times – in Conversation with Michelle Obama” in Inglewood, 2022 | Source: Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey spotted in Nerano, 2023 | Source: Getty Images
Previously, Winfrey confirmed that she no longer struggles with food and still eats what she enjoys without depriving herself. Though she has made leaps and bounds from where she started, the journey took work. While discussing her weight journey during an interview, where she weighed 200 lbs at the time, Winfrey expressed:
“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.”
Oprah Winfrey at the Louis Vuitton Cruise Show in Stresa, 2023 | Source: Getty Images
Although Winfrey has faced many struggles with her weight, the star is now in her best shape and has learned valuable life lessons about self-acceptance along her journey.