Oprah's training programme with Bob Green (very long)

kimyenchu

Cathlete
Hello everyone,

I came across Oprah's training programme that she did with Bob Green in 1993-1994 when she ran the marathon. If you thought you are working too hard, you should read this:

How Oprah Did It

She started running, lost 70 pounds and completed a marathon. Here's how.

In March 1993, Bob Greene received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey. At the time, Greene was head of the exercise program at Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado. Six months earlier, he had led Winfrey, who has a home in Telluride, on several strenuous mountain hikes.

Now she was calling to ask him to move to Chicago to become her personal trainer. Greene hesitated. "I like to sit down with potential new clients to make sure they're serious," he recalls. "With Oprah that wasn't possible. Still, it was Oprah asking." So, he agreed.

Like everyone, Greene, an exercise physiologist, knew about Oprah and her yo-yoing weight-loss problems. Seven years earlier, in front of a national TV audience, she had told the story of her successful routine on the OptiFast program. But within months the weight had crept back on. She now weighed 222 pounds and didn't seem able to lose more than a pound or two despite her adherence to a low-calorie, low-fat diet (as detailed in the best-selling In the Kitchen with Rosie cookbook).

Greene had to wonder about Oprah's commitment to an exercise program. However, 5 minutes into their first session, he knew he'd made a good choice. "I could tell she was completely determined," he says. "And she never wavered."

Both Oprah and Greene had the same original goal: healthy weight loss. But how? "I made a decision from the very beginning to center Oprah's exercise program around running," Greene is saying as he settles himself into a restaurant chair in the ritzy East Bank Club, the Chicago health club where he and Oprah work out together. Dressed in his usual workday attire of running tights and a T-shirt, he looks, at age 46, boyish, energetic, smart. He smiles easily and often. "There were other options," he continues, "including swimming or cycling. But if you want quick weight-loss results, as Oprah did, running is the best."

At their first training session, Oprah and Greene walked about 2 miles. Slowly. "I wanted to assess her condition," Greene says. He found her healthy enough to begin mixing jogging and walking within a few days. Her initial pace worked out to about 17 minutes per mile. But two weeks into her program, Oprah was running and walking 3 or 4 consecutive miles at that pace.

Scheduling these workouts was not easy. Five days a week, Oprah would rise at 5:00 a.m. to run before taping the Oprah Winfrey Show. Each afternoon, she'd climb onto the StairMaster for 45 minutes, followed by a half-hour or so of weight training. "That might be too aggressive a program for some people," Greene admits, "especially the two-a-day training sessions. But I wanted to get her metabolism revved up."

By early summer, Oprah was on a roll. "She was achieving a steady, sustainable, 8- to 10-pound weight loss every month," Greene says, "and she didn't have to change her diet." There was one brief setback. "About three weeks into our program, Oprah noticed she'd actually gained weight, not lost it, which is a common phenomenon for people who start a serious exercise program," Greene says. "But that weight rolls right off after another week or so. Unfortunately, many people quit exercising as soon as the weight comes on. It's a convenient excuse."

Oprah did not quit. "She was so excited, because she soon began seeing dramatic results," Greene says. "The body abides by the laws of physics. The more weight you lose, the faster you run. And the faster you run, the more weight you lose."

By July 1993, Oprah was running 5 to 6 miles a day at 10- or 11-minute-per-mile pace. By midsummer, she had lost more than 40 pounds. It was time to race.

"I believe in using races as motivators," Greene says. "Sometimes it's hard to keep going on an exercise program if you don't have a goal in sight." He had hoped to find a 10-K for Oprah to enter but couldn't locate one that matched her busy weekend schedule. Eventually, he decided to be more ambitious, so in August 1993 he entered Oprah in the America's Finest City Half-Marathon in San Diego. Oprah completed the distance in a respectable 2:16.

With her finisher's medal triumphantly in hand, Oprah began pressing Greene to come up with a new challenge. "At one point she told me she had always loved watching the marathon in Chicago," he says. "She'd cheer for the runners going past and think, 'I'd like to do that someday.' "

Greene downplayed the idea. First, he told her, she should concentrate on reaching her goal weight of 150 pounds. She was so close. And on November 10, 1993, she made it. That same morning, for the first time ever, she completed her 5-mile training loop at an 8-minute-per-mile pace. "I was so proud of her," Greene remembers. "Sometimes people will say to me, `Oprah's got it easy because she has a personal chef and a personal trainer.' But that's baloney. No one can run for you. She was on the track every morning. She worked herself as hard as any athlete I've seen. She deserved the results she achieved."

From that day on, the focus of Oprah's training program shifted dramatically. She had achieved her weight loss. She'd even run a half-marathon. What was left? "Obviously, we wanted to maintain the weight loss, first and foremost," Greene says. "But we also knew Oprah was ready to begin running more seriously. We decided to move from a weight-loss program to a training program. We decided that in 1994 she'd run a marathon."

So, beginning in January of last year, Oprah stepped up her training. Curiously, she began by running less, but this was part of the plan. "We stopped the two-a-day workouts," Greene says. "I even cut back somewhat on her mileage. Instead, I put her on a much more intensive strength-training regimen, because I knew training for a marathon would be hard on her body. I wanted to make sure her joints were strong and healthy."

By midsummer 1994, Oprah was running as much as 50 miles a week, including longer distances on weekends. At times, she complained. "This is such a struggle," she'd say to Greene. To which he answered, "No, it's not. It's a daily renewal."

His message took hold, and Oprah stuck to the program. Three months later she completed the Marine Corps Marathon without walking a single step. "I'll never forget mile 25 of that race," Greene says today. "I turned around to watch her. She was looking great, passing people. She was just so pumped. There were tears in her eyes. And I thought, this is it. This symbolizes everything, from 222 pounds to where she is now. It was just so moving.

"She could have quit months ago. She certainly had enough legitimate excuses. But she didn't. I like to think her progress and her commitment will show millions of other people that they can improve their lives, too. Maybe they won't run a marathon. But they can run a 5-K. Or they can lose the weight they've been wanting to get rid of. It's just so inspiring to watch someone transform herself, and that's what Oprah has done. She's a runner now for life."

Yen
 

Georgia

Cathlete
Thank you for taking the time to type that out. That's a wonderful article. But I wished he had started her on a wt. lifting regime early on. Although running will add muscle to the legs, I think she would have benfited from more traditional lifting.
 

Maribeth

Cathlete
Since I knew Bob--he was the director of wellness and rehab at the hospital where I worked--I can't say I was surprised at the low level of strength training that Oprah was on. Back in the early 90s, Bob had a different philosophy--for example, he was a big backer of liquid diets and pushed the hospital to start a program. He also insisted that the weight loss program our center offered only include two days of strength training and that it consist of one set of each exercise.

Over the past few years, Bob has become more of a moderate when it comes to strength training. Although his tips are still iffy--I saw some of his stuff on a recent "Oprah", it's an improvement.

Maribeth
 

michele1967

Cathlete
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but Oprah has had her issues (just like the rest of us).

Putting yourself completely into anyone's hands--long-term--is a recipe for distaer, if you ask me. I hope she has been "taught to fish" and can take it from here all by herself.Sure, she'll need guidance, but perhaps not much.
It's a shame, but we have all seen what happens when Oprah puts all her eggs in one basket and gets herself a "guru" in the gym as well as in the kitchen.
 

StepEdith

Cathlete
Thanks a million for that article. I'd been trying to remember what her program with Green was back then and couldn't.

I didn't think Oprah was still running. Is she??

Edith
;-)
 

kimyenchu

Cathlete
Edith,

You know I have no idea if she still does. There was another post titled Oprah Winfrey that I read where they said she is 198lbs now and she is doing more weight training. I posted this one because I mentioned that I had read about her training for the marathon and people asked me to tell them more. It wouldn't surprise me at all if she never runs again - I mean after all that training and in such a short time too.

I just cannot believe what Maribeth said about Bob Green though, and he calls himself a professional fitness instructor? Liquid diets???????? It's terrible. I am not qualified in anyway as an nutritionist or fitness instructor, but I know enough to know what would be bad for my health in the long term.

Yen
 

Maribeth

Cathlete
Yep, Bob was a biiigggg proponent of liquid diets, doing the Stairmaster at top level, all the while leaning totally on the handrails and of minimizing strength training as a major component of a fitness program.

To his credit, his position has changed--at least according to his latest appearances and written material!
Maribeth
 

StepEdith

Cathlete
GEE WHIZ from the article and what your saying Maribeth sounds like Greene is into lose the weight the fastest way possible on the planet, liquid diet + aerobics done at warp speed daily for a long period of time!!!!!! :-wow :-wow

Not my idea of safe and healthy for sure. But, love Oprah as I do she has always had a "desperate attitude" about her weight.

Edith
 

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