Bob Greene, Oprah's Healthstyle Guru

The New Workout

Oprah Winfrey is a mentor and role model for millions, so naturally it makes sense to check out who she gets her advice from: trainer Bob Greene. The Best Life is his website, and we’re here to find out what he’s been telling Oprah.

Greene’s program has four main prongs: healthy meal plans, simple baby steps, clear calorie goals, and support from friends. The website explains this last category as following:

Our Member Community is the place to go for encouragement, support and advice — in other words, all the things you need to claim the life you deserve. Our Message Boards and Member Profiles help build long-lasting relationships, which will only increase your chances for success.

Hmmm, that reminds us of something… Of course! It’s a grownup version of Weigh2Rock, which offers a similar sense of community and mutual support for obese kids. Thousands and thousands of them have found a safe and comfortable place at Dr. Pretlow’s site for children and teens, where they share their sorrows and triumphs and find helpful advice.

But getting back to Bob Greene. This happened when Oprah came back from a stay in Africa, where Backslider was her middle name. Bread and potatoes, potatoes and bread. As it turns out, one thing her trainer said to Oprah was,

Has anybody told you the truth about yourself?

Greene believes in doing the best thing for the people who come to him for help, even when it hurts a bit, as tough love tends to do. Once in a while, somebody will hit us over the head with an unwelcome truth. Of course, Oprah got the message, and in fact admits on her website,

I need that sledgehammer.

In “Get Fit! Oprah’s Trainer Shows You How,” Kathleen Doheny of WebMD gives us a nice summary of the Bob Greene philosophy, which has a lot to do with motivation. She passes along a few of his best motivation tips, such as: Ease into it. You don’t have to do it all at once, and trying too hard can lead to disappointment.

Once again, we’re reminded of Overweight: What Kids Say. Drawing on reports of success that have been sent in by many kids, Dr. Pretlow advises a one-at-a-time approach. Pick one of your most addictive foods, and eliminate it. Go through the withdrawal discomfort, and then pick another troublemaker food, and quit that one. And remember, being addicted to a food is, in effect, the same as being allergic to it. You just stay away from it and banish it from your universe.

But we digress. Kathleen Doheney was telling us about the man Oprah depends on. Once the decision to change your life is made, Greene says, stay off the scale for at least the first month, or a month and a half. In most cases, adding more activity is easier than eating less food. Greene is a firm believer (might be a joke there) in exercise. And with that increased activity, he urges us to add music.

Poking around Greene’s own website, we ran into some fascinating new concepts. For instance, there’s one in a piece written by Tula Karras, who passes along even more hints from the author of Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, who has taken Greene’s music advice and elaborated on it. Here’s a sample:

‘Fast music speeds up the pace of your eating, so you eat about 8 percent more than you would without up-tempo music,’ Wansink explains. Even slow music affects how much you eat: One study found that people sat at the table for 22 minutes longer (and, of course, continued eating) when slow music was playing compared to no music at all. Eat-smart strategy: At home, try eating without background tunes, or play them at a very low volume.

And, most of all, Greene advises us to get serious. No excuses, especially not the “too busy with the kids” excuse. The kids need exercise too. Fitness is a not a destination but a journey. It needs your attention and intention, every day. There is no room here for commitment issues. And while you’re getting rid of them, get rid of the other kinds of negativity, too. It’s all good.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Long-Lasting Weight Loss,” The Best Life
Source: “Weight Loss Rules,”, 01/01/06
Source: “Get Fit! Oprah’s Trainer Shows You How,” WebMD
Source: “Avoid Common Eating Traps,” The Best Life
Image by Juddejah, used under its Creative Commons license.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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