Jun 1, 2011 – The Oprah Show has aired it’s last show on May 25, 2011, but fortunately for us “Ultimate Viewers” the network is airing reruns called The Best Of Oprah. One such show is Losing Weight in the Public Eye With Star Jones, Valerie Bertinelli & Marie Osmond. It originally aired April 1, 2009, but the message is still relevant today as America tries to cop with our current obesity epidemic. Star Jones chose gastric bypass surgery as a solution to regain her health and it probably saved her life. She has successfully lost 160 pounds in three years and hoping her story will help others struggling with obesity, here is what she revealed to Oprah about the bumps and hurtles she had to overcome to be in the good place she is today.
We all probably remember something of the controversy surrounding Star Jones’s dramatic weight loss and the public scrutiny directed at her attempts to keep the operation private. But it seems there is a huge emotionally aspect to having gastric bypass surgery which is inter-related to living years with obesity. In Star’s case, she said in looking back she now realizes that she wanted to keep the surgery private because she was ashamed.
She says. “I was ashamed that I couldn’t control my weight, that I was an addict for all practical purposes, that I had never stuck to a real diet or exercise program.” It was hard for her to accept that she could stare down a murderer in a courtroom and yet couldn’t control her weight. She was also fearful of dissapointing her fans. She says. “If I disappoint you, I feel like a failure.”
But Star had no choice. Her doctor confronted her and said, “If you don’t make changes, you will die.” When Star first started out on television she was between 210 and 220. At the time she had the gastric bypass she was 307, morbidly obese. Viewers were writing in “We can hear you breathe.” Her crew started placing the microphone far away from her chest so noone could hear her wheezing and gasping for breath.
Star said that you hear people say “Oh, you took the easy way out.” She would have longed for an easy way. It was not an easy way. This was the hardest struggle of her whole entire life and she says it’s still a struggle.
Star recounts being weighed the day of the surgery. She said the scale was the biggest most industrialized scale you have ever seen. It was as if they were weighing meat or livestock. She said to herself an oath to God that if she makes it through the surgery she will never see something like this again!
The first eight weeks after the operation she said you are on a liquid diet so before the surgery, you have to start thinking about food differently. You want to make sure you’re not going to be eating your favorite food which in Star’s case was a double whopper with cheese, extra ketchup, extra mayonnaise, no pickles! At the time of this interview she said she still dreams of it.
Eight weeks after surgery and about 25 pounds lost, her doctor recommendated she do Pilates or yoga or some type of stretching classes. At about 280 pounds she still was not ready for the treadmill and aerobics. So she started with Pilates. She recalls “When I was on the Pilates machine for the first time, I couldn’t lift my legs. There’s an exercise called “The Hundred”. I couldn’t get through two much less a hundred,” she says. “But I wouldn’t quit. I did it five days a week. As I did it, I remember my gym pants started to fall off a little bit, and I just started to cry. I knew it was working!”
The first 75 pounds was directly attributed to the surgery but she had 160 pounds to lose. When she got down to about 200 pounds she started working on aerobics. Then she started adding little things in like weights and tennis. She said you really don’t have to spend a lot of money for gym memberships.
Oprah commented on how good her legs and arms looked. Pilates!
But Star said she did have some follow-up surgeries to deal with the extra skin on her stomach. She said “I couldn’t get rid of the stomach. I’d gotten rid of all the fat, but I couldn’t get rid of the skin,” she says. “So I had abdominoplasty, which is commonly referred to as a tummy tuck because it’s not healthy to have skin hanging there. And then for vanity’s sake, I had the boobs lifted because they were like pancakes!”
Losing the physical weight is one thing. But there is an emotionally side to being over weight all your life that doesn’t just go away.
Star said she knew how it felt when people would say to her “Oh you’re so pretty. If only you could lose a little weight.” She said she read every mean thing that people wrote about her. She tried to play like it didn’t bother her but that was a big lie. She thinks that the loud, boisterous, Star was a way of overcompensating. Star says she tried to disguise her weight by increasing the size of her persona with bigger hair, the lashes, the nails.
After realizing she needed help handling the emotional side of it, she ended up having very intense therapy “to lose the weight in her head.” She told Oprah “This week is the first time since I’ve been doing television that I’ve worn my natural nails, because I’m confident enough not to need big long acrylics.”
About her public relationship with her now ex-husband Al Reynolds, Oprah asked Star if at the time, she was her now skinny self, would she still have married Al.
Star said she thought she would. “I was very happy, and what was attractive then would still be attractive,” she says. She said that before her weight loss she was your fun, smart, witty, life-of-the-party kind of girl. Even though people were attracted to her, it was never with desire. So said it was nice to have had experienced a man desiring her. But with the weight loss she became more confident and secure and felt she did not need to accept anything. She felt like she can be her true self. That’s where she is at emotionally at the time of this interview with Oprah and she is learning more about herself everyday.
She recently saw an unflattering picture in a tabloid of herself in a swimsuit and remembered the day when she put that swimsuit on and how proud she was of herself. But that tabloid picture reduced her to a state of depression. In the past she says, hearing negative comments and late-night jokes about her weight sent her into an eating spiral. But this time, her emotions did not cause her to overeat!
Oprah commented to Star that she seemed a lot quieter in her demeanor. Star said she doesn’t have to be loud, boisterous and the center of attention. She says. “I’m healthy. I can breathe. I can walk up stairs.”
Though the road to her new, healthy self was bumpy, Star says it has made her who she is today. “Do I regret not being strong enough to share everything right away? Yes,” she says. “But would I take it back? No, because I’m healthy here today. I got emotionally strong while I got physically strong.”
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