Talking About Your Weight: Oprah Did It. Should You?

Publicizing your weight goals might help you shed pounds.

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Now we all know exactly how much Oprah weighs and that she's not very happy about it. In a forthcoming issue of her eponymous magazine, O, she confesses that she's gained 40 pounds in the last few years, putting her at 200 pounds. Now, admittedly, few people in the world can command press coverage simply by announcing what the scale reads (Google "Oprah" and "weight" and you'll get more than 4.3 million hits), but her technique of public disclosure is certainly one that the rest of us are free to adopt with our friends, family, and coworkers.

Talking openly about your weight-loss goals might not be a bad idea, says Brian Zehetner, a sports nutrition consultant who owns Fueling Performance in Woodbury, Minn. (One glaring exception: if you have a history of disordered eating. In that case, "focusing on the magic number can be really problematic," he says.) But for those who don't, setting a goal can help you tune in a little more, plus add some accountability and rope in some support from people around you. And many researchers advise using those very principles when managing your weight.

For example, research based on the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks the characteristics of people who've been successful at keeping off at least 30 pounds for a minimum of a year, has supported frequent monitoring, i.e., weigh-ins, as a way to help maintain weight loss. And accountability helps, too; that may be why food diaries seem to help people lose weight, and why Stickk.com, a website that helps people set and meet goals, allows users to keep "supporters" apprised of their progress.

Of course, simply trumpeting that you want to shave 20 pounds off your current 180 isn't going to work magic. The real focus should be on the behaviors that help improve your health. "Let's be physically active, follow a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep at night, and reduce life stressors," says Zehetner. "See how you feel and what happens with your weight when you do those things." It's likely the same advice Oprah's favorite personal trainer, Bob Greene, and doctor, Mehmet Oz, will give her when they're on her show in early January. So, you can get started on her program early, whether or not you choose to tell everyone how much you weigh.

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