Carbs, sleep, dieting, & more: my interview with Dr. Oz

A couple weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity to sit down with Dr. Oz and a fabulous group of bloggers. He gave us about forty-five minutes to pick his brain, and pick it we did. The topics were varied, but since I’ve been on a weight-loss kick lately (ten pounds gone!) I was most interested in what he had to say about that subject.

The show that he had taped before meeting with us was about his Transformation Nation initiative (this episode is airing today – check your local listings for when). He had forty middle-aged women there who were all looking to lose at least forty pounds. He’s teamed up with Weight Watchers to help not just those women but also his viewers take control of their bodies and take off the extra weight. He’s even dangling a million dollar prize for one of the “losers.”

For me, he hit on four key points that are going to help me lose – and keep off – my extra weight.

Find A Plan You Love

I was dying to ask him about what I’m doing (Slim-Fast) because it seems to run counter to what he talks about on today’s episode. He talks about moderation, and my year-long attempt at moderation has resulted in an extra twenty-five pounds. But I don’t want to do something that will be damaging to my body. My goal is to lose two pounds per week. If I don’t see those kinds of results I know that I’ll lose interest and go back to my old habits. So, I asked him:

Me: How to stay motivated when you don’t have a moderation button? I have an on and an off button and I don’t seem to be able to do things moderately, not just with diet but with everything. Ten days ago I started a very severe diet, and I’m loving it. I’m loving the strictness, and the rules…is that bad to do it that strictly, and what do I do when I’m done to be moderate and keep it off?

Dr. Oz: You said one thing that was really important to me, that you love it. If you don’t adore the program you’re on, it doesn’t matter what program you’re on. You have to adore it. You have to want that to be the rest of your life. So the challenge I ask you back is if the program you’re on now is one you can stay on for the rest of your life, then stay on it. If not, then think of it as a jumpstart then get off it quickly before you get bored of it and revolt against it, because that’s your natural instinct. Just from asking the question I can feel that in you.

Ding ding ding! In a couple of sentences he really got me, and the problems I face when trying to lose weight. My husband, for the past six months or so, has been doing what just about every reputable weight-loss authority recommends. He has mostly cut out white flour and sugar, and red meat, and cheese (ouch!) and walks home from work or goes to the gym two or three times a week. He’s lost thirteen or fourteen pounds (and honestly I think he should stop, but he’s still going).

If I were only losing at a rate of a little more than half a pound a week, I would lose interest super fast. However, I’m trying to lose about four times as much weight as my husband is. If I can’t simply eat whatever I want while lying on the couch, then I need to see solid results fast to stay motivated.

But what to do next? I don’t think I could stay on Slim-Fast forever. But I don’t have to. After I’ve used it to lose the weight, I don’t know what I’m going to do, so that’s my challenge from Dr. Oz. I’ve lost weight before, and if I don’t have a post-diet plan it will just come back.

What he said next said a lot to me about why Slim-Fast is working for me.

And I also think that people who go to extremes do better with automation. I have the same darn breakfast every morning. [2% Fage Greek Yogurt with blueberries mixed in, Ezekiel cereal, and a green drink that he swears by.] People think I’m boring. But I always get it, and I know what I’m going to feel like a couple hours later.

I totally get that. I’ve fallen into a pattern that gets me to about 2pm on 500 calories, and I feel fine. I know how I’m going to feel all morning eating and drinking what I am – there are no surprises.

Keep Some Fat

Dr. Oz had some very interesting things to say about skim milk, things that I haven’t heard doctors say before. This really surprised me, but made total sense. The rest I’d heard, about fat-free and sugar-free products. But what he said about milk caused me to switch from 1% to 2%, just to be safe.

By the way, skim milk puts weight on you. You take the fat out of milk, what’s left? Sugar. Eat 2% milk or put some fat in the milk, and you’ve got staying power. I don’t like fat free/sugar free foods because in order to adulterate the food they did something else to it, I guarantee you. And it’s not just chemicals. They often add sugar to the fat-free products to make it palatable. The benefit you get is trivial. The most important thing I’ll ever say about dieting is the brain is smart. It wants nutrients. If you don’t give it the nutrients it craves it’s going to force you to eat more calories.

For the first half of the day, I’m eating (mostly drinking) Slim-Fast. But after that, I eat all of the foods I normally would, but in much smaller amounts. I count calories, something I hate doing, but when I don’t I go completely overboard. And only having to count those calories for part of the day helps a lot.

In the past three weeks, while I’ve lost ten pounds, I’ve eaten pizza, Kraft Mac & Cheese, pasta, chocolate, bread, potato chips…my normal foods. But I’m no longer pigging out on them. I’m eating enough of the stuff that makes my brain happy (carbs! cheese!) and bulking the rest up with lots of vegetables so that my stomach feels full.

Make Lifestyle Changes

Isabel Kallman from Alphamom asked Dr. Oz to clarify his hope that the women on his show will lose forty pounds by spring. (If we’re counting all of spring, and I think he must be, that’s about 35 weeks from when he taped this episode.)

Isabel: At the top of the show today you mentioned that this is a marathon and not a sprint. 40 pounds by spring seems like a lot. Isn’t that more like a sprint number than a marathon number?

Dr. Oz: If I look around this room no one here needs to lose forty pounds, with two exceptions. [Yes, one of them was me.] But if you look at our viewer, and where they live, and the struggles they face in their life, they need to have that long-term aspiration. Now, the most that I really think most people should lose is one pound a week, which is 3500 calories, which means basically every day of the week you’re shaving 500 calories off of what you would normally eat, which is a lot to ask. And I don’t think you can do that through food. You have to do that in exercise as well. The issue that most people struggle with is they try to shave off 800 calories, a thousand calories, and they try to do it repeatedly, and it’s not doable. So as fast as you lose it you gain it back again. And losing forty pounds in six months can also put you in that predicament, if you haven’t adapted to lifestyle changes to go along with that.

That’s going to be the key for me, I think. I’m glad that I’ve added exercise to my routine, so that I’m not losing even more muscle as I’m losing weight. Having that muscle and having exercise in my routine will, I think, be my key to keeping the weight off.

Get Some Sleep!

Dina Freeman from BabyCenter asked Dr. Oz about the tie between sleep and weight loss:

The brain craves four things: it craves sleep, it craves sex, it craves water, and it craves food. If you don’t get enough of one you will make it up with more of the other. When you don’t get sleep, you will crave carbohydrates. There’s tons of literature on this. It is what your body naturally will do. The average American sleeps 6.9 hours, and needs closer to 8 hours of sleep. The sleep that we give up causes much of the problems that we see. You also lose growth hormone, because the major thing sleep offers you is growth hormone, and without growth hormone you can’t build muscle mass. Without muscle mass you lose the metabolic furnace to burn through calories. The biology of blubber is not subtle.

I do not set my alarm to wake up, I set my alarm to go to sleep.

OK, it’s unfortunate that I’m putting this post together after 2am, because it’s going to sound like complete BS when I say that I’ve transformed my sleeping habits since talking with Dr. Oz. But this is not normal for me anymore, it’s an exception, and is driven partly by the fact that I took a three-hour nap today.

In the past two weeks I’ve gotten more sleep than I probably did in the month before that. Between sleeping several more hours a night and exercising six days a week, it has been harder to fit some things in, but on the other hand I’ve been more productive. When I’m not exhausted I can stay on task better and, simply, get shit done faster and better. It’s a good trade-off.

Today’s Episode

I really hope you’ll watch today’s episode. It’s full of so much common sense about weight loss and health. It’s crammed full of practical advice, not gimmicks. Dr. Oz is sincerely trying to give us the tools with which we can solve our weight problems long-term, and I’m very grateful to him for that. I’ve heard too many people be dismissive about people like me who struggle with food, who toss off comments like “Just have a banana!” instead of trying to understand what it’s like when you don’t want a banana, you want an entire banana cream pie. Or why what you ate when you were twenty is now making you fat a forty.

This clip from today’s show is great. I mean, it’s depressing, but it explains a lot.

[After asking me to upload the video clip in question three years ago, The Dr. Oz Show asked me recently to remove it. -Amy, 10/13/14]


Thanks so much to Dr. Oz for letting us sit down with you and for giving us such thoughtful advice.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. says

    What a fantastic post! I, too, have been struggling with my weight since high school. Ten years ago I lost 40 pounds and kept it off for about 6 years. These past two years it all crept back on. I’m now back on a serious diet mode. I’ve gone back to basics – exercising religiously every day and cutting back calories, focusing on high-protein meals. I’ve dropped 9 pounds so far, with another 20 to go. I wish you tons of luck in your trek. Good luck!

  2. says

    great post Amy… very interesting . thoughtful questions…Congrats to all the bloggers taking part in this. I like the way Dr Oz responded. The spot on his videos regarding HCG was interesting. I knew someone who lost about 80 lbs using the HCG, but then later had complications… she wonders now if they weren’t enhanced by using this product, or perhaps it was just such rapid weightloss. I know another person who used it and had continual heart palpitations, so quit taking it. And also another person that is still using it, but isn’t as rigid with it, as she loves having a good meal out with her husband.. she has lost some, but not rapidly, so the jury is still out on the HCG. Thought Dr Oz made an interesting comment when he said each person should love ( I think he said adore!) the diet method they are using, for along term accounting of it.
    Also glad you shared about that GREAT morning meal start… I try to do the same, even though these days I am mostly bedridden due to terminal illness etc(which I am fighting)… but the body and the brain need that healthy kickstart, like yours..I actually just learned something new last week.. that some people feel healthier while losing weight when they end the day with an easily digestible protein… and protein is a great healthy brain food… am going to research that more.
    My interest would also be … how does one keep the weight off during the winter or holiday times.. as many are making more sweets and cozy foods during this time???
    Take care.
    Cathy B*****y pbprojecthope at yahoodotcom

    • says

      @Cathy Bouldry: Great questions, Cathy. I wish I had an answer for the keeping weight off in winter one, since winter is almost here. I live in Brooklyn and in the winter I just want to snuggle on the couch under covers. I HATE being cold. On the other hand, any time in my life I’ve lost weight it’s usually been in the fall and winter. I don’t really know why. I think that the prospect of being smaller when the warm weather hits again motivates me.

      As for the sweets, they don’t affect me much. Especially now that I’m on Slim-Fast. Between the chocolate shakes and the snack bars I just don’t crave dessert. But dessert has never been my problem, it’s the “cozy” foods. The warm breads, the pastas, all that comfort food that I love so so much. And Thanksgiving and Christmas are so full of those. So, what I’m going to do is give myself a break on those days this year. Enjoy them without guilt. But keep that to those two days. Otherwise I spend a week after each holiday pigging out on leftovers.

      I’m definitely going to check out the protein thing you mentioned! Evenings are when I’m at my weakest, so I can use all the help at the end of the day that I can get!

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