Dr. Oz: The Man Behind the Curtain

June 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dr. Oz has been in the news a lot lately due to the public scolding he received from the Senate Committee for pushing a lot of diet supplements and pills on his show and then marketing them as the magic cure for obesity.   I don’t really like publicly slamming anyone which is why I’ve never blogged about Dr. Oz and his sometimes questionable tactics.  I actually wrote a blog post a year and a half ago about a Dr Oz show that I had seen but I decided not to post it simply because I didn’t want to be “negative”.   The particular show I had written a post about actually had nothing to do with supplements or pills.  It did though bring several obese women on stage and then present them with videos on what happens to your body when you binge eat.

The videos were graphic and ,to be honest, it was effective in shocking viewers!  It shocked me as well.   Realizing what happens to your stomach physically when you binge eat is definitely disturbing.  The problem that I found, however, was in what happened when the video was over. Dr. Oz basically turned to the obese women who had just witnessed this disturbing video and then said “So now that you know what it does to you—you won’t do it anymore, right?”

To me that was underestimating the power of eating disorders.  It was trying to simplify a complex problem.   You can also show an alcoholic a picture of their liver and then say “See…so we’re all done  here now, right?”   but I’m not sure you will cure them.  The reality is that you are taking a very serious psychological issue that is multifaceted and expecting it to be cured with a picture or a video.  As if people who do harm to themselves with addictions are simply lacking the knowledge that it is destructive.   As if they are just simply unaware that it is bad for them!

 

As someone who used to weigh 417 pounds and tried literally every thing marketed to me for weight loss, I can tell you that this is not an issue that can be simplified or cured in a single step.  This is a layered issue and it takes time, effort, and multiple strategies to heal from it.  There is no magic pill.   And that includes weight loss surgery (which I personally had!) Guess what?? That isn’t the magic cure either!  News flash—there isn’t one.  Many things may aid and assist you in weight loss but nothing will in and of itself CURE you.  This is an issue that must be addressed from multiple angles.  Oh if only it could be cured with one surgery or one pill or one magic coffee bean!

To me, the real issue here is not so much the marketing of any one product.  It goes much deeper than that.  It has to do with the inability to recognize that obesity is a multifaceted issue that goes deeper than the surface.  It requires being addressed from many angles with consistency, patience and time.  People who are obese are not that way because they are stupid or lazy or just don’t care.   It isn’t that they are unaware there are health consequences!!   Simply showing them a video of what their stomach looks like distorted is not going to cure them in a day.  Do you really think at 417 pounds that I did not know I was hurting myself physically??  That I was not aware that my body was being distorted and disfigured from my binge eating?  I was, after all, the one suffering physically 24 hours a day from the crushing weight on my feet and back.  The suffocation in the night from laying underneath 417 pounds.  I was the one fearing the heart attack that was destined to come.  So yes…I was aware.  And awareness is definitely important but it’s not the cure.

The same is true of any one thing that aids weight loss.  And Dr. Oz is not the only person out there who often claims that THIS ONE THING is the cure.  We all have a tendency to become overzealous about certain things that have helped us but we have to remember that no two people are alike.  My issues may not be someone else’s.  Their issues may not be mine.  This is often the biggest problem we have in the weight loss community that actually deters us from being able to help each other!  It’s the inability to realize that what works for ME may not work for you.  It’s the need to be RIGHT.  That it’s my way or the highway.  My diet!  My workout!  The temptation to label something as a one size fits all.

It’s not intentional.  We get excited when we find something that works.  I have been guilty of it too.  For me sugar is evil.  And I strongly believe more people should be aware of how it’s hidden in everything and how it’s addictive to many.  But I have friends who tell me it doesn’t bother them and that denying themselves a piece of chocolate cake actually makes them overeat.  For me, eating the piece of chocolate cake makes me eat ALL the cake.  All the cake I can find in a 30 mile radius!!  So clearly we are all not alike.  And because of that no one can say they have THE CURE.

But if you lose weight, people always want to know one thing.  This is the question you ALWAYS are asked before anything else.

HOW DID YOU DO IT??

For some, they will speak of exercise.  And not just any form of exercise but whatever worked for them.  They might be passionate about it because it helped them so much but now the conversation turns to how THIS is the only thing that works.  Maybe it’s Insanity.  Or running.  Or Crossfit.  Or Zumba.   But often people insist it is THIS and not THAT.  The same will be true of diets.  Atkins they say.  No–Weight Watchers.  Forget that!  Eat clean, Paleo, Primal, Low fat, High Fat, Low Carb, Vegan, Juicing, Fasting—and the list goes on and on!!!

But have you ever sat down and realized that if we gathered one another in a room we might all have different stories?  I had weight loss surgery but not gastric bypass.  Not lap band.  Some people had great success with one surgery and not the other.  They say it works for them! Others say it didn’t!!  What is the answer then??  Where is the one size fits all?  What is the cure??

To be fair, the cure is not a pill.  It’s not a bean.  It’s not in an informercial for 69.95 with a 30 day money back guarantee.

The cure is in putting one foot in front of the other.   It’s in the daily decision to pursue your health in the one million little decisions you make all through the day.  And then doing it all over again tomorrow.  And then the next day.  The cure is in what you put in your mouth.  But that is also personal.  Because for me, sugar is a huge problem and not eating it is a huge component to my success or failure.  Yet others can eat it in moderation so what gives?!  Oh yes…that’s right!   This issue is not always the same for everyone!  The cure is in getting up early in the morning and going for a walk.  But for others they may work out at night.  They may run instead of walk. They may zumba instead of swim.  Whatever works for you, I say!! The point is to address all the angles—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual.   And not think that any one thing will do the trick.

Oh believe me…I wish there was a simple cure.  But even for me having 80% of my stomach removed in surgery wasn’t magic.  I still have to work at it.

So how do I feel about Dr. Oz intentionally marketing things to his viewers as magic?

Well here’s the thing. I try very hard to only criticize myself if I’m going to criticize.  In other words, I prefer to hold the mirror up to myself and not others when I can. However, that’s hard to do when you feel passionately about something and you know for a fact that many are being led astray.

I’m not sure Dr. Oz meant to ever do this but then again I can’t deny that my Facebook feed almost daily links me to a supplement that he has claimed is the cure for obesity.  I guess it’s hard to be a public figure in the health industry and not have people come to you asking to market their product.  I am not even remotely close to being Dr. Oz.  I’m just some random blogger among a million bloggers and yet I get emails all the time from people who want me to market their product!  They want me to link to it, write about it, market it and sell it for them.  They say I can put an ad on my blog and get some kind of payment in return.  They want to mail me free products to try if I will post a blog on it.  And I have yet to ever do that because in my entire lifetime I have never found ONE THING to be the cure for anything in weight loss.

I certainly have done plenty of research.  In the span of my life I have tried everything at least twice

Dexatrim

Acutrim

Phen Fen

Green Tea Extract

Bitter Orange

Apple Cider Vinegar

Chromium Picolonate

Coconut Oil

Ephedra

Guarana

L-Carnitine

L-Glutamine

And the list goes on…..

 

As for diets I’ve been on:

Slim Fast

Optifast

Medifast

Nutri System (3 times)

Jenny Craig (twice)

Atkins

Weight Watchers

South Beach

Beverly Hills Diet

Cabbage Soup Diet

Biggest Loser Club

Richard Simmons

Body for Life

Blood Sugar Solution

And the list goes on……

 

If it was published, I read it.

If I could afford it, I bought it.

 

And that’s the issue here.  People are suffering.  They are literally suffering in so many ways from obesity.  And therefore they are EASY TARGETS.

I don’t know that Dr. Oz intentionally set out to try and scam anyone.  I just know that in the process of people trying to help others—they sometimes end up hurting them.   I know that Dr. Oz is all over the news right now getting the scolding that may have been coming his way for quite some time.  But how should we react? What should we think about all this?

For the answer, I’d like to look at another man named Oz.  Someone who also marketed dreams to the vulnerable.  A man who at the end of the day was just pulling levers behind a curtain in the hopes that smoke and mirrors might be enough to convince people of his power.

What did people come to the Wizard of Oz for??

The Tin Man came for a heart.

The Scarecrow for knowledge.

The Lion for courage.

And Dorothy just wanted to go home.

Are any of us looking for any less than this when we flip on the television in an effort to find the cure to weight loss??

We are looking for the “heart” to go for it.   Motivation, inspiration and encouragement to persist in an often difficult journey.

We are looking for knowledge.  The knowledge we need to discern what food plan or exercise plan will help us.

We are looking for courage!!  The courage to try one more time.  The courage to go exercise in front of people when we are obese and don’t know how to operate a machine or wonder if we are over the weight limit.

And at the end of the day….we are all just looking for home.  That comfort of knowing we have found what we were looking for.  That hope that maybe we can make our way to a place of finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Well guess what, my friends?? That is A LOT to ask of anyone.   And yet we flip on the television and expect a man called Oz to deliver it to us.

It was a worth a shot!! But reality is this.  No one man will have the answers.  No one man can give you the heart, knowledge and courage you will need to beat this thing.  Pull back the curtain and you will find that Oz is simply a man.  Nothing more.  He doesn’t have the magic cure and he never will.

But don’t despair.

Be like the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.

Be like the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy.

Go for it anyway!!

Maybe you don’t have all the courage and knowledge you need right now but the yellow brick road is long and winding.  Just get on the path and start walking.   Step out in faith and do the one thing that you CAN do.  Go for a 30 second walk if that’s all you can do.  And continue seeking what works FOR YOU.  Slap the flying monkeys away and when you fail–get up and keep going!

Know that it’s not a one size fits all world.  Never expect one person to have all the answers and recognize that you, my friend, are not a simple creature.  You are multilayered.  You are a precious and wondrous creation!!  And you may realize that you have to address this from multiple angles.  Did you really believe you were so one dimensional that a magic bean could cure you??

Don’t underestimate yourself!!  You are more than that.   You have emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and psychological layers!  And you will have to realize that you are someone who deserves compassion.  You don’t need to buy everything that’s marketed to you.  But don’t give up hope.  Just because there may not be one cure all, that does not mean that you cannot find your way.

If you really want to  know the one thing that will help you the most—it is this.

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF

That’s what we need to keep going.  Not Dr. Oz.  Not magic beans or shots or pills.

Just the glimmer of hope that we can do this if we don’t give up.

So maybe just for today we should put down that remote and turn off that infomercial.  Then go for a walk.  However short.  Because it is in those small steps where we will find the real magic.   It won’t happen all at once.  But it will build.  It will grow.

Each and every day that you add 30 more seconds or a few more steps.

That’s where the real magic happens.

That’s where hope begins.

Sometimes we look to adults for the answers but my kids said it best with this sign they made me when I started my first “work out” of 30 seconds.

My walk from the hospital bed to the bathroom.

From the recliner to the mailbox.

From the mailbox to 5 miles—30 seconds at a time.

They knew the answer even then.

photo-223

 

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran June 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Just like Dorothy and her companions, we all have the power if we look inside.

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Pam Holmes June 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

So true Fran! When I realized I had the power inside of me all along is when I finally lost the weight!
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Jane C. June 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Holly, as usual, you are amazing. Best of everything in your new place.

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Christy June 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Bravo! Amen! Beautifully said.
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Denise @ Do you have that in my size??? June 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Amen, sister! And don’t forget what Dorothy & her friends learned at the end of that movie: the “wizard” was a hoax but the courage, intelligence, and caring that they needed (and thought they lacked) were within them all along, they just had to believe. For me, the way to better health started from desperation and has led to a greater faith that I can make good decisions for myself; not perfect because that’s not what’s needed.
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Nancy June 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

What a fantastic post! Thanks

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Nancy June 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

What a fantastic post!

Thanks for making my day.
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PaulaMP June 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Great post! I remember when I got turned off Dr. Oz. He did a show about colonoscopies. His doctor was giving him one, and found out he had a ton of lentils in his colon! So the great Dr. Oz couldn’t even follow instructions from his doctor for a procedure. He couldn’t skip eating the day before knowing that was required. Don’t even get me started at how he pushed hundreds of dollars of required “supplements” from the far jungles of ____________. If his viewers took him literally they would all be spending their mortgage/rent money every month. And also touting “detoxes” when it’s common knowledge the body can handle that on its own. OK off my soapbox now, but I think it’s a crime that he has the ability to save lives with his heart surgeries but chooses the get rich route with his show instead.

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Pam Holmes June 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Great post as usual Holly. I honestly think Dr. Oz has people’s best interests at heart, but he is also cognizant of TV ratings, etc. and works hard to offer stories that he thinks will get people to watch. Everybody wants there to be a magic cure for obesity, so Dr. Oz and his producers focus on all kinds of methods to lose those unwanted pounds. If I did half the things he suggests, I would be broke from buying all the supplements, foods, etc. I have quit watching his show as religiously as I used to, having grown weary of so many “wonder cures.” You and I both know that wonder cure doesn’t exist. It’s hard work, every day, for the rest of your life! I fell off the wagon, but I am back on, and determined to lose these 30 pounds I gained. But I’m going to lose it by moving more and eating less–the best method I know. It worked for me before, and it’s going to work again!!!
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Jennifer June 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thank you. I have so far to go and I am in so deep. I weigh almost 600 lbs.

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Lori June 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

You can do it, Jennifer. Much love to you.

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Taryl June 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Yep. Another bang on post. I do believe some methods work better than others, if only because of the endocrine issues most folks with profound obesity are up against. But even then there is a very, very broad spectrum of what they can use to manage their weight and health, and what they can live with may be a different animal altogether. It’s so easy to get dogmatic on the subject,it we must not forget that everyone is different, and no one loses until they’re ready to do so. Even then, it’s daily routine and habit and never giving up – no shot in the arm or magic coffee beans or even epic willpower needed.
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Dagny Kight June 24, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I was really pleased to read this post and yes, I was glad to see it in regular paragraphs! The goal of my work is to spread the message that our body sizes and our eating are determined by highly complex factors. Our culture wants to believe that fat people are weak, emotionally broken, eating-disordered addicts but science is proving otherwise! And some of the answers are obvious if we simply look around. A good example right now is the new product “Soylent.” Created by a tech entrepreneur who didn’t want to take the time to eat, Soylent is a food replacement being marketed with the slogan “Free Your Body.” Free it…from eating.

There really ARE people who care very little about eating! We all know folks like that! And if we acknowledge that these people exist, we must acknowledge that there are people whose brains constantly process thoughts about eating! I am one of them!

Like you, Holly, I know when I get certain cravings, I need to do whatever I can to avoid them or I will probably go over the edge! I’ve acknowledged that this is simply how I am—without shame—and so I’ve been able to figure out strategies to deal with what I know are the behaviors that are hardwired into my brain. I call it having a “Food Brain.” Some of us simply have brains that love to think about food and bodies that want to be larger.

I have a consulting client whose story illustrates the kind of breakthrough I believe many of us could have. She spent her life believing she was fat because she’d been abused. She blamed herself and bought into all the shaming that told her she hated herself and was emotionally broken. Then she realized that even after having therapy for decades, having a wonderful loving husband, and weight loss surgery, she STILL had to work hard at managing her weight and dealing with food cravings! She quit therapy, got rid of her scale, and learned to identify the foods and situations that she is most sensitive to.

Lives change when shame is rejected!
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LN June 25, 2014 at 12:58 am

Great post and understanding about weight issues. Hope Dr. Oz will somehow read your post.

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Living 400lbs June 25, 2014 at 1:41 am

It did though bring several obese women on stage and then present them with videos on what happens to your body when you binge eat.

The videos were graphic and ,to be honest, it was effective in shocking viewers! It shocked me as well. Realizing what happens to your stomach physically when you binge eat is definitely disturbing. The problem that I found, however, was in what happened when the video was over. Dr. Oz basically turned to the obese women who had just witnessed this disturbing video and then said “So now that you know what it does to you—you won’t do it anymore, right?”

…not to mention that not everyone whose BMI is above 30 has binge eating disorder. I thought I as a binge eater because I was told I had to be – I was fat, right? And I wanted to eat more than 1200 calories a day, right? *headdesk*
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Dagny Kight June 25, 2014 at 2:03 am

Of course the default is to cry “addict,” “eating disorder,” “emotionally broken,” “turning to food for comfort”! Figure out what’s wrong with you and fix it! Because you’ve GOT to be screwed up to be fat, right?

Just start thinking like a thin person! They have all the answers. Because it can’t possibly be in anybody’s nature to be larger or even thinner…
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Living 400lbs June 25, 2014 at 1:43 am

(And yes, that is absolutely NOT the way to treat any mental health issue! Argh!)
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Shay from Trashy Blog June 25, 2014 at 2:13 am

You hit it out of the ballpark here, Holly! GREAT POST!
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Kerstin June 25, 2014 at 9:18 am

Great synopsis of a complex subject! I am only at the beginning of my weight loss journey and for myself I have identified four areas that I am working on:

1. Food (food types, portion control, what does my body want)
2. Physical Activity (move this butt!)
3. Lifestyle (become an early bird, self-care routines)
4. Soul Work (history, analysis, emotional strategies)

But more than anything there are two things that will make or break me: DOING IT and, like you say, NEVER GIVING UP. In the end it really doesn’t matter how we do it as long as we find something that works for us and that is sustainable in the long-term. You are so right, everyone is different and recognising that is a big step forward.

Thanks for another great post!
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Tiffany June 25, 2014 at 6:11 pm

You are so right on so many things. There is NO CURE for all it is individual and it must be done from all angles. Dr. Oz I think wants to help, means well, but as you said sometimes the message gets lost. I have watched his show a few times but he is just a man, human like everyone else. I don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else.
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Lou June 26, 2014 at 12:51 am

Great post, Holly! btw, I saw a photo of Lisa Welchel (from “The Facts of Life,” remember her?) and you look so much like her! Thank you for your insights and sharing from your heart. I love your blog.

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LuckyMama June 26, 2014 at 2:56 am

This was an awesome post – seriously. One of the best I’ve ever read.

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Dan C. July 2, 2014 at 12:39 am

Seriously excellent post. As a binge eating guy who fought with diets all my life, I finally found the hopecand courage to properly lose weight. And everyone is either disappointed that I cant give them my “secret” or angry when I say there is no magic cure. People want outside answers when it really is in each of us. Corny but true. Im gonna be a regular reader of this blog from now on!
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Ruth July 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Love this post. Dr. Oz is a wonderful cardiothoracic surgeon (a friend of mine actually worked with him in NYC), but his taking on of the obesity “epidemic” (being that his background is not the study of weight, fat, weight-loss, weight-gain, nor the physiology, psychology and any other -ology related specifically to weight) seems absurd. Nonetheless, I still respect him as a surgeon and it makes me wonder why on earth he ever touted the “miracle cures” in the first place. Does he not know? Can he not understand that weight issues are multi-faceted and as everyone has stated, this is not a one-size-fits-all issue.
btw: my mother has battled her weight, to the tune of 50-100 pounds over, all of her life, and she is accomplished, active and has her PhD. just sayin’.

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