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Me & Oprah: How Oprah is Teaching Me About My Self

Oprah’s been pretty cool recently. Webinars followed a week after some of the shows, a couple of which I will talk about here. 

Two Mondays (one on tv, the other a webinar) discussed falling off the wagon of weight loss, talking about Oprah’s weight re-gain with Bob Greene (my new guru!). Two Tuesdays were about health and nutrition with Dr. Oz. The Wednesday show discussed spirituality, the guests Rev. Michael Beckwith (of “The Secret” fame) and Rev. Ed Bacon (who BRAVELY and wondrously said homosexuality was a gift from God and to be revered! More on that in a second.) The Friday of that special week was a de-LIGHT-full talk about sex. Yum! (Thursdays were Suze Orman on finances, but I won’t talk about that here.)

I really am having a slew of A-Ha! moments and it will help if I wrote things down to help imbed the lessons deep inside.

That Monday show – It was so helpful to hear Oprah say she can’t believe she is back here... back at that place where weight is an issue again. I feel the exact same way. I mean, for crying in a bucket, I have had a gastric bypass! There is no reason to be so flippin’ fat – except I eat too much, even with a smaller stomach (pouch). sigh Oprah has re-gained forty pounds; I have re-gained 110 (out of the 190 I initially lost).

I’ve had about 25 years of therapy. Certainly, in all those years, weight has been a hot topic. Yet, here I am, still fat. I don’t know what happened, but for some miraculous reason, I am hearing what these experts are saying about why I eat.

A great deal of talk was made about self-esteem. Initially, I rolled my eyes and was saying to myself, “Not again! I feel great about myself! I don’t have self-esteem issues. Sheesh, why do they always have to yack about this crap?” But, something made me shut my head up and listen... really listen hard.

Oprah talked about how she never breaks commitments, that she will do anything to honor them. I related to that a lot... if my kids needed me, I would be there. When clients call, I go to them. If my sister needed me to take her to the doctor tomorrow, I would try to get to Orlando to help her. Yet, when I make commitments to myself... getting up early to exercise (move), not eating white foods, writing in my blog once a week... I break those commitments all the time. Why? Why are others’ promises more important than my own? When I see moms doing this martyr trick, I call them on it and work with them to maneuver themselves into a better place of balance. I don’t have a midwife or doula to guide me to my own self-care; I am responsible for it myself.

When I honor my commitments to others, it serves me by helping me feel good. I am a “good” person. But, what happens when I don’t honor the commitments to myself? Outwardly, I either ignore it or shrug it off. But deep inside, my psyche sees my continued breaking of promises as any would see someone who did that very thing. I am unreliable, a liar and a cheat. While I don’t say those things to myself, I am hearing them nevertheless.

However, when I make a commitment to drink eight glasses of water a day –and do it- I feel great about myself! Just as I do (better, even) when I honor a promise made to someone else.

So, in order to be successful, I have made a couple of promises to myself and for most of fourteen days, I have honored them; I feel great about it, too!

One of the things Bob Greene had us do during the webinar was to make a pie chart of all the things in our lives that are important. For me, Sarah/spirituality/finances/career/writing/photography/health/fun/fitness were all pieces of the pie. Now, in each pie piece, write a plus (+) or minus (-) for how you feel that area of your life is faring. Need help with finances? That gets a minus. Relationship doing great? That gets a plus. In mine, I had FAR more minuses than I did pluses and that was a serious wake-up call for me. It isn’t that my life isn’t working or that I am miserable (that I can find), but that I really am dissatisfied with the level of excellence in those areas. I want better for myself! And the only one who can give it to me is me.

In a perfect world, what would I change? A question for several times a day.

He also said that nighttime eating (snacking) is a sure screaming sign of emotional eating. He said when we find ourselves wanting popcorn, chips, ice cream at night (long after dessert), look at the pie chart and see what might be lacking that we could work on – right that moment – to alleviate the “hunger.” I have always been a night eater... snacking my way through the evening and even eating full dinners right before going to bed extremely full. Since making my pie chart and writing out a lot of frustrations and worries, I have not even had one urge to eat at night! I haven’t felt that lack of compulsion since I was on Phen-Fen. It feels wonderful, too. It seems so simple; why didn’t I hear what people were saying all those years?

Bob (my good friend, Bob) reminded me the body will always seek pleasure and that causing pain/discomfort drives us from the benefits of doing things like exercise, allowing ourselves to be hungry before going to bed or sticking to our menu plans.

My giant A-HA! moment came thinking about birth... how when women are in labor, their inclination is often to do the things that alleviate pain. Sitting still or lying in the bed might make the contractions hurt less (possibly worse!), but moving is what is going to get the baby out. Many of believe that women have to be really uncomfortable for the baby to wend its way out. It is what I have found in my experience. Not that birth can’t be transcendent, if not orgasmic, but if the goal is lack of sensation, labor tends to slow down.

And then there’s pushing. When women have a hard time figuring out where to push (not everyone “gets” pushing even when left alone for awhile to figure it out), helping them focus on where it hurts most and encouraging pushing right there... pushing past the pain... and that is when the joy of the baby comes next.

This will be a great reminder for me when I am hurting from exercise or whining about not eating cake at a birthday party.

On Tuesday night, Dr. Oz (author of the “YOU” books... “You, On a Diet”, etc.) reiterated a lot of what Bob Greene had said and added that stress/emotional eating is a trait that comes from our ancestors. It is a part of the fight or flight response, ensuring that weight was packed on in case the war party came and tore up the village or in preparation for a long trek. It was a relief to know I am honoring an instinct and it isn’t all complete mental illness driving me to food. (There are other factors I’ve known about for years – ghrelin, dopamine receptors, insulin responses, etc. and they also soothe my neurotic worries that I have no self-control.) He says our bodies can’t tell if there is a threatening lion or a screaming boss and we are driven to eat during times of stress.

In a delightful segue of the discussion, he brought up probiotics, something Oprah hadn’t ever heard of. He said that pro- and pre-biotics are an overlooked important aspect of our diets. He talked about the antibiotic use and toxins in our foods and the need to replenish the good bacterias.

And then I about fell over when he said this! When babies are born through the vagina and breastfeed, they get the proper colonization of probiotics in their systems, but when babies are born via cesarean and don’t breastfeed, they miss out! He implied that they might be trying to catch up the rest of their lives, colonizing their intestines, and that taking supplements can get them back into balance. Onions and garlic are great pre-biotics and when people have gas from them, it is a sign they are doing their job.

Dr. Oz is a heart surgeon. He talked about doing surgery on people and how amazing it was. He said a sentiment that I feel every day.

It is so great that people trust me enough to work on them. For me, I feel so honored that people trust me enough to put their and their babies’ lives in my hands. I do not take that trust lightly.

The spiritual segment of Wednesday was beautiful. I hunger for more spirituality in my life. Not religion (I recently stopped pursuing Judaism, which I had been doing for about 15 years.), but a deep fulfillment in my heart and spirit. I love the connection with others, talking about what we might be here to do, why humans exist at all and where do we go after we die.

Reverend Ed Bacon, at one point, began speaking about gays and lesbians. Oprah said he’d gotten in trouble before for saying that being gay or lesbian is a gift from God, could he please explain that? Gloriously, he spoke about humans ALL being God’s gifts, that God created every one of us and gays and lesbians are no less privileged. He said the pro-life statement “God doesn’t make mistakes” and used that reference for the LesBiGay community. Rev. Michael Beckwith concurred when Oprah said Rev. Bacon was the first minister she’d ever heard say being gay was a gift from God... he became the second. On the webinar, Oprah and her guests spoke about the horrible, evil comments “christians” (lower-case “c”) wrote them and left on their voice mails. None of them could believe the anger coming at them from people proclaiming to follow Jesus.

(Sarah always loves to say, “Is that how Jesus would handle it? Would he be proud of your behavior?” – and I toss back the “What Would Jesus Do?” because Jesus would surely not be so hateful towards anyone He disagreed with – IF He disagreed with homosexuals at all! In the New Testament, there is nothing said by Jesus regarding gays or lesbians. Perhaps He felt it was a non-issue?)

On the heels of this homo discussion, the Friday show was FABulous! Sex! Glorious sex. Lots of talk, show-and-tell and helping women and couples who didn’t even know they were having deep difficulties. Since the show, the couples (on the webinar) talked about how their lives were transformed by improving their sex lives. One woman had faked orgasms for over 20 years – had never had one before. Her husband, when he learned this, felt very sad that she hadn’t and said he would do anything to help her.

Dr. Laura Berman,the sexpert, gave her a delicious-looking vibrator called the Aphrodite (it sold out around the United States within four hours after the show!) and when they came back on the show, she’d, indeed, had an orgasm (or SOME) and her husband was as delighted as could be. In the webinar, she said her having orgasms transformed her marriage, that she and her husband are more loving, they are kinder to the children, that everything seems much brighter in her life. I thought that was so cool!

An interesting thing happened during the sex discussions, more during the webinar (on which Oprah was extremely uncomfortable!) than the show. I knew the answers to the questions asked. I knew them as well as Dr. Berman! I answered them as they were being answered on-line. Now, I knew I knew a lot about sex and toys – some would believe you can’t be a midwife and a lesbian without knowing! But, because of a variety of reasons in my life, I know an inordinate amount about sex, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and women’s bodies. Hmmm... what could I do with this knowledge?

I’d thought about having one of those sex toy parties before, but these shows spurred me to go poke around and see what was out there. Researching, I found two companies that I could get behind – Passion Parties (PP) and Scarlet Girl (SG). 

Passion Parties is much more well-known, but is an MLM (which doesn’t thrill me) and sells much less expensive toys, only having one corded vibrator (and that is a seasonal sell), not having any re-chargeable ones. Scarlet Girl, on the other hand, has high end toys, including corded and re-chargeable vibes and glass dildos. They give the least amount of commission; they also don’t monitor websales the way PP does.

Whichever I choose, I know I will be a great salesperson/party favor. laughing I am totally comfortable playing with the toys, demonstrating them, helping women feel the same and offering ideas for enhancing their own self-sex lives and/or that with their partners. The majority of the offerings are lotions and potions, things that smell, taste and feel great when used on the body (and certain body parts!). I can hardly wait to get started!

(Anyone wanting to host a party, let me know... we’ll have some fun! I’ll probably be calling you, too. Apparently, sex “aids” are hot sellers right now while people stay home more. And hey, it won’t hurt my midwifery business either. laughing I promise, no pressure for sales or joining the organization.)

I learned a lot these last weeks and look forward to learning more as I continue unfolding.

If you’re interested in seeing the Oprah webinars, you can find them here.

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Reader Comments (19)

I read this and walked into the kitchen, put the crackers back in the cupboard and took some probiotics.

So are you now going to ask "What Would Oprah Do?"

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Funny you should ask!

This woman recently ended her One Year Doing What Oprah Says to Do to Have a Great Life (something like that) and bought every chatchke, book, outfit and must-have that Oprah said to on the show, creating an experiment to see if her life *was* better for it. I saw her about 11 months into it (and, of course, she's writing a book about it) and said that instead of making her life better, she was so stressed about the money she would have to spend when Oprah would say, "You HAVE to have this!" or the books she would need to read to "change her life."

The moral of THAT story is that Oprah isn't the Messiah, but merely a person I identify with at the moment. Her struggle is so much like my own and it's always great to have that misery-loves-company thing going with another human being - even if she is somewhat fictional. *ha!*

Good going on the probiotics!

January 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I needed this post! It came just in time....I'm at the point of desperation in several areas of my life and I feel like the messages that you shared here will give me some direction. Thank you!!!

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie in Arkansas

You talk about these companies that offer sex toy parties, but had you thought about making your own company and doing sales? You have a lot of expertise in this area that goes well beyond the kind that is typically found at sex toy parties. People pay for this kind of expertise. So why not host parties where you get 100% of the commissions? You have a client base... put out the word! Get a wholesale license, order some toys that you could honestly recommend, and and get busy.

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnapolitan

Hi! I too have been watching Oprah again here and there and did catch the pro gay and lesbian guy and was so happy to hear this on television! I think you would make the best sex-toy party giver ever and hope you really do it!

I eat at night and am going to think about it more now. I have to be careful not to go into a "diet" mode because in the past that has been a self-hate thing but yeah i am going to think about it more at least.
Also, for me, staying up too late keeps me looking for "4th meal" or 5th!LOL Maybe i should just go to bed at 10 instead of 2 : )

Love ya

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHousefairy

Hmmm... I think I already HAVE a re-sale license, but not much capital (my offices closed if you don't know). Maybe I can start with someone while growing some capital and creating my own Lesbian Midwife Sex Toy biz. *laughing* We shall see... interesting concept.

January 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Every now and then, that Oprah really gets on to something!

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

I decided last week to sign up as a PP consultant. Whoever signs up first should sponsor the other one as a consultant. Yes? LMK.

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJo Davis

I don't watch television, so I don't know much about Oprah, other than what makes the news now and then. You mentioned some things here for me to ponder, though, especially concerned weight-loss. I like the idea of looking at the pie chart in moments of desire for emotional eating. Thanks for the Oprah update! It was much more interesting than I expected.

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIssa

I so want to attend one of your parties! That sounds like it could be sooo much fun and laughter!

January 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterecurlycue

How funny, Jo! I don't think it works like that. I already am under a chick named Michelle in Hawai'i even though I haven't officially signed up yet. Where are you? Apparently there aren't many PP consultants here in San Diego (a boon for me!), so if you are here, that would be great. I'll need someone to take over for me should I have a birth on party night.

And dear "curlycue," I want YOU to host a party at your house! Or your best friend's (who was at your births). We *will* have a blast!

January 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I hate Oprah .
I don't care if she is FAT, neither should you.
She is an entertainment show and she has not been very entertaining in many years!.

January 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDewi

Just wondering if you had the chance to obtain permission to post the birth story with Dr. Wonderful from the other day. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

January 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFuture Doctor

No, I HAVE to worry about my fat. Just walking the dog, I fractured both feet. It wasn't anything but my weight that did that. My entire paternal side of the family died of diabetes-related illnesses (except my dad who died of cancer)... even after having body parts cut off and having heart attacks they lived through.

It isn't vanity that is my concern... rarely was. Instead, my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucoses and now BONES are my concern.

If it were only vanity....

January 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Re: Dr. Wonderful birth - I am meeting with her next week and don't want to write the story until either she has written hers or we process it together. She reads here, so I don't want to color her memory. I'm sure you understand. :)

January 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Hi! I read your blog every so often and I love it. It's a great mix of presenting innovative thinking while appreciating and respecting modern Western medicine. Anyways, since this post was about weight, I just wanted to suggest a book called Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. It goes over how we have been mislead about how fat and carbohydrates affect our bodies, and I think it would be important to read. Especially for someone who has had many ups and downs with her weight over the years. Good luck to you!

February 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

Can I just tell you I LOVE you? Love your words, love your wisdom, love your attitude.

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMotherWit Doula

Did you start your business yet?

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterdBSM

Now Oprah is on to other things. I never did get the, "You eat too much because you have issues (and probably are a less than adequate person)."
I came to reject that idea pretty strongly when my wonderfully happy (then 2 yo) turned into a little tub of lard almost overnight -- or so it seemed. One neighbor actually took it upon herself to tell my child that she should not eat so much candy. But I never gave her candy! (She is a normal weight adult woman now.)
Rejecting that idea for an unknown chemically based source of my difficulty freed me from the unreasonable guilt. What else freed me was the Fen-Fen episode where I lost about 80 lbs because the internal voice no longer sent me to the cupboard or frig looking for food a large part of me did not want. Granted I regained 48 of those lbs off Fen/Fen. I am now down from my top weight by 60 lbs.
How frustrating to have gone up and down. How frustrating to not be able to control what I eat. But oddly,for the last week I am at one of those rare points in my life when I do not deeply desire to eat all the time. It is like the Holy Spirit has descended upon me. I hope it says. I want to live. I don't want my life severely shortened which could realistically happen if the Holy Spirit leaves me too soon. Sigh.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose Marie

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