May 4, 2009

LKL WEB EXCLUSIVE: Bob Greene on How to Lose Weight

Posted: 08:05 PM ET

Bob Greene is a guest on tonight's Larry King Live.  He is Oprah Winfrey's trainer and creator of the Live Your Best Life plan.  His commentary is an LKL Web

As far as weight loss goes, there's a misunderstanding in that people want to make it about the foods you eat, and how much.  While that's important, it's only about a third of the process.

Controlling your diet is what most people want to do, because it's the easiest thing to do. When people are asked, do you want to change eating habits or exercise, people choose eating.  It would help if we became a more mobile society.  We've become very stagnant.  We sit at work, we sit at home, we don't move enough.

But the most important thing for those struggling with weight is they need to change how they live their life, outside of more exercise and changing their eating habits.  Are you in a bad relationship, not happy with you career, have you lost your job, or is there some other factor involved?  Eating to provide comfort is not right, and that's what really needs to change, but it is the hardest thing to change.

This doesn't just point to someone with emotional problems, or low self esteem.  Self esteem is responsible in many cases, but it's better to compare being overweight to an alcoholic, or someone on drugs.  Food becomes a coping mechanism, just like alcohol or drugs.   Abuse victims often become obese.  They need to act out, and food is often the easiest and least harmful way to do that.

Oprah's recent weight gain was not a self esteem problem.  She's achieved a great deal.  Her abuse has been well documented, and hard to overcome, but she has overcome it.  Her current gain is a combination of factors.  For 15 years she was consistent.  When she gains weight, there's usually some devestating event that occurs at that time.  Most recently she was diagnosed with an erratic thyroid, which caused irregular heartrates.  Not knowing her medical condition, she was told to stop excercising, and the medications were disrupting her motivation and ability to exercise.  Now she's off the medications, returning to exercise, and the weight is coming off.  She's getting there.  She looks much better, and more importantly, her motivation level has increased - she works out about every day and the results are becomming apparent.

Oprah is representative of what happens in many people. I can bet there's an aspect of their life they're not managing.   The reason people gain weight back is often because they never solve the root problem of the weight gain.  Weight is the symptom, not the problem.  Food is the easiest substance to abuse - it's almost encouraged in our society.  Most people that lose weight, and maintain the loss, keep it off because they've made more changes in their life than eating better and exercising.

If you don't address the root causes of your weight gain, long term success is not likely.

I'd like to also talk to you about a cause I feel very strongly about.

My family has a history of osteoarthritis.  My grandmother has a serious case, my father has it as well.  I work with many clients that suffer from it.

So I'm very excited to offer a free video about eating and exercise for those with osteoarthritis.  It's available at  It's very rewarding for me to offer this, especially for free.

The video talks about nutrition, exercises, and how it's important to talk to your physician and work with them on various types of medications that could work.  It teaches you how to manage your arthritis and live a productive life.

People with osteoarthritis tend to avoid exercise, but actually exercise is good, you just need to do the right ones.  Cardio exercises are especially beneficial because they increase blood flow to the joint, which promotes healing and helps lubricate the joints.

I hope you'll take advantage of this video and that it helps you live your best life.

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Paul   May 4th, 2009 8:13 pm ET

"Loose" it, indeed. Wouldn't want to "tight" it, would we?

Erwin Gane   May 4th, 2009 9:13 pm ET

Why aren't Larry and his guests saying something about the so-called hate crimes bill HR 1913? As it is written this bill will limit free speech. Or course, this is supported by the gay marriage people to prevent us from publicly opposing their agenda. They can criticize those who disagree with gay marriage, but we are to be prosecuted if we speak out against it. Why should our freedom of speech be curtailed? Erwin Gane, Ph.D.

Big John   May 4th, 2009 9:53 pm ET

Christy Ally please give us a break and go away.

ken   May 4th, 2009 9:53 pm ET

stress and self hatred = weight gain

Jon from Tempe   May 4th, 2009 9:58 pm ET

"If you don’t address the root causes of your weight gain, long term success is not likely." This is absolutely right. My bariatric surgeon told me that 75 percent of the people that go on Weight Watchers gain every pound back and them some. Less than 10 percent are able to keep the weight off permanently. The only medically proven way to lose weight and to keep it off is through bariatric surgery.

Jim V   May 4th, 2009 10:06 pm ET

Larry, to Kristy and Oprah and all of them with the weight, here's a recommendation. It involves exercise, but not running miles a week, or being in the weight room for an hour 3 times a week. It's just once a week for maybe 20 minutes. It's 20 minutes of very intense exercise however. Want to start out gradually. Still once a week for 15 to 20 minutes of intense exercise. That's it.
I make no money from this. Get the book, Body by Science, by Dr. McGuff and Mr. Little. They didn't invent this slow weight lifting technique. Guys like Hahn and Zickermann out of NY, have written about it several years ago. This book just puts up the scientific data more so.

Jim V.

howard   May 5th, 2009 6:14 am ET

you don't LOOSE weight – you LOSE it! C'mon Bob, this is seen by sooo many people! Nobody today seems to know how to spell anymore.
PS – good blog otherwise! thanks for the info.

Katherine   May 5th, 2009 8:10 am ET

To Jon from Tempe:
I'm not surprised your bariatric surgeon tells you the only medically proven way to lose weight and keep it off is through bariatric surgery.
How much did that cost you / make him? Surgery is taking the easy way out. That is the way our society thinks these days. We are lazy.
Change the way you eat. Get your butt off the sofa more and get out there and move it! THAT is the way to lose weight and keep it off.

Lisa   May 5th, 2009 9:47 am ET

To Katherine –
Bariatric surgery is NOT easy. You are laid up in bed for weeks. For the rest of your life you must eat tiny tiny meals (about the size of your thumb at first) or you'll vomit it all back up and/or risk tearing your sutures. If you have had gastric bypass, one of the most common types of surgery, you can never have anything rich or sugary again. Ever. You'll become miserably ill if you have a piece of chocolate. People who do it know they are giving up a major part of our culture and social life. It is a drastic measure taken by people whose health demands that they lose weight. Now, does that sound easier than dieting?

And it IS the only medically proven way to lose weight. Statistically, you are just as likely to end up heavier after a diet than slimmer.


Armchair Editor   May 5th, 2009 10:23 am ET

Who edited this piece? The information is all right, but the word "loose" appears in the title and in the article rather than "lose" – and somehow the word "becomming" snuck in later on. Did CNN's proofreader fall asleep today?

Otherwise it was a decent article. =)

Katherine   May 5th, 2009 11:22 am ET

I didn't say bariatric surgery was fun! People with weight problems (I am one) have ISSUES which need to be addressed, a lifestyle which needs to be changed.
Getting your stomach altered so that you can only eat tiny meals??? This can only serve to socially-isolate you, that is for sure. And it is not healthy. What a bizarre choice! If you are ready to do something healthy for yourself, why not trade in the twinkies for broccoli or going for a walk instead of lying on the couch watching TV.

jgn   May 5th, 2009 11:42 am ET

Bob Greene says something completely contrary to everything I've ever heard or read, which makes me wonder about his sources. He make the claim that 'yo yo dieting' is better for you than staying at a steady though over ideal weight. I have always heard the opposite, that yo yo dieting, going up and down especially in extremes, was dangerous for your heart, and health in general. Where is he getting his statistics from which are at variance with long-held guidelines?

DC Dunne, Plano Texas   May 5th, 2009 12:04 pm ET

Sorry, surgery is not the only proven way to lose weight. Bob is spot on. You have to figure out why you're self medicating with food before you attempt to permanently lose weight. Not saying it's easy, but it has to be done. Dieting does not work because it is a temporary change in behavior. Permanent wieht loss is a result of changing your lifestyle, not diets or surgery. 4 oz of weight gain a month equals 3 pounds a year! If it took you 10 years to put on that extra 30 pounds what makes you think you can lose it in 3 months (and keep it off)? Kathy Ireland is right as well. Stop thinking about appearance and make it about your health. Give your heart a break and get moving!

GF, Los Angeles, CA   May 5th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

To Lisa I believe one of the contestants on this season's Biggest Loser had some sort of surgery done (not sure if it's lapband, bariatric, etc.) and it still didn't work. He weighed 420 lbs when he started the show so surgery is not the answer. Of course a person will gain their weight back and then some once they stop whatever diet they're on. The old eating habits that got a person heavy in the first place are back which makes sense the weight will come back. Keeping the weight off is a lifestyle – what and how much is eaten along with exercise (minimum 3-4 times a week) is the key.

er   May 5th, 2009 12:14 pm ET

As others have said, bariatric surgery is not the only proven weight loss method. Furthermore, it is not always successful long-term. It is possible to eat and eat and gradually stretch out your shrunken stomach. Just look at Ron on the Biggest Loser – he wouldn't be there if bariatric surgery was the no-fail cure. I also have an aunt who experienced the same thing. As others have said, you really have to deal with your deeper issues. This is why some people who undergo bariatric surgery do get skinny, but then they become alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.

skeptic   May 5th, 2009 12:31 pm ET

Seriously, you actually think bariatric surgery is the only proven way to lose weight? Weight Watchers doesn't work? I have been over weight my whole life...not fat enough to do bariatric (but more than 60lbs overweight). I have lost 60+lbs through Weight Watchers and kept it off for 4 years all while: getting married, blending a family, changing careers twice and pursuing a Masters degree. Honestly, people who think bariatric surgery is the only answer are LAZY! Get a clue–calories in must be less than calories will lose the weight. If you are so concerned about what you will be missing out on once you have the surgery–go on a diet. Don't be so lazy and quit taking the easy route out. That mentality disgusts me.

mtb   May 5th, 2009 12:35 pm ET

Of all the different diets I have tried, I am very pleased with the Weight Watchers program. I lost 50 pounds two years ago and maintained the loss. Now I am working on the next 30. It is a mixture of portion control and activities. No magic pill, no rigorous work out routines. I would recommend it to anyone!

Pamela   May 5th, 2009 2:10 pm ET

While it is vitally important to exercise and eat well, why does all the focus have to be on all the actual pounds that are dropped? I've become more active and healthy than I've ever been in my life, and I've never been happier... and I'm still technically fat. And I'm cool with that. Our bodies have shapes and forms that we're naturally set towards, and if we're healthy? If we take care of ourselves? There should be no shame in not being a size 2. It's about how you live, not how you look.

Ruth Olafsson   May 9th, 2009 2:53 am ET

I am 82 years old. I maintained weight of 100 ...105 lbs. all my life. I went swimming every day, walked miles, did yoga. BUT a few years ago I began to have "back problems", contributed to "old age". Pain was horrific, so all exercise had to stop, I went up to ca. 127 lbs. and even though I try to eat less, since I am no longer as mobile, I do not lose the extra weight. so, in my case, it is "movement " that counts.

Kittencharmer   May 12th, 2009 4:21 pm ET

Here's a good one for you, and I haven't really found any decent documentation about it: When beginning a relationship, my weight plunges. It tends to stay down the whole time we're together.
Once I'm on my own again, the weight creeps back up. I'm not obese and I've never been. I suspect that it's not so much that I "get fat" when I'm single as it is I "get skinny" when I'm part of a couple. I just don't have much of an appetite then.
I'd like to lose about 15 pounds to be at my fighting weight (not underweight–been there, it's not all it's cracked up to be)...but I don't want to go hunting out a relationship to do it!
Seriously! Looking back over my life, the pattern is absolutely there! I'm 51 years old, my kids are grown, I have a rewarding job and I honest to God do NOT want a boyfriend. In fact, I think the word "boyfriend" is ridiculous at my age, but "gentleman friend" sounds geriatric, and I'm definitely not that!
I am going to venture to say that I guess if I'm an emotional non-eater, that must make me an emotional eater as well.
Anyone else with a similar experience?
(Oh yeah, and the big old shoulder surgery I had seven weeks ago hasn't helped things any, but that's coming along nicely, anyway.)

augustina   May 13th, 2009 2:14 am ET


I know you have to mention Oprah's "trauma" with her thyroid problem because you were her personal trainer but please. Did you watch her trip across country? All she and Gail did was eat - packages of snacks that they both knew weren't good for them. Anyway,
thyroid problems are common in women and all I can say is that
she needs a new doctor if they didn't follow up on her thyroid symptons.

And as far as her "getting there" I don't see any difference from the time she mentioned "going off the wagon". In fact,. some
days she looks heavier. I frankly don't care what she looks like but it's obviously important to her. Some of us are just stuck at our weight no matter what we do. Whydon't you help integrate her lifestyle and her favorite food into her diet?

I know about emotional eating - I find that I eat when I'm frustrated and/or angry. Good girls were trained a long time ago that we can't show anger so especially at work so it just builds up.

What I don't understand is that Oprah can do or say what she wants and she has a lot of support so it should be a little easier. I don't have any of that so it's very hard....

GEORGIA ON MY MIND AGAIN   May 27th, 2009 8:25 am ET

Bob you are right we self inflict our own bodies to so much crappy foods and then we turn around and blame in own a mental disorder, Ladies its time to get real with your own self if we lie to ourselve about whats really going on in our Life i shutter to think what comes after that,, So Girls own up to your over benging and say simply "YES I DID THAT" and get off your couch and take a extra stroll around your neighbor hood this evening and when you come back in throw the candy bar sac vack up in the cabinet where it belongs, and don't let your doctor prescribe any of those monkey seeing drugs to take, if you stay positive and only allow positive thinker's around you i feel sure you'll back to normak in no time at all and follow's bobs plan for a heaither you. It's summer let's get pretty girls. God Speed cheryl jorgia

Max Ciprut   June 28th, 2009 12:12 am ET

Larry i am surprised at you. by now i think you'd be wanting that a warrant for the arrest of those two dangerous clowns Kahmeni and ahmenidajab or whatever their names are under crimes to humanity

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