Oprah's Trainer Spills the Secret to Long-Term Weight Loss

 By Shaun Chavis

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Almost any woman who’s got serious pounds to drop has thought, “If I were a celebrity with a personal trainer, I could do it too!” Last month, I had my chance.

The California Table Grape Commission flew me to Santa Barbara, Calif., for a one-on-one training session with Bob Greene (Oprah’s trainer). And, as a bonus, I got a nutritional consultation with registered dietitian Janis Jibrin, the lead nutritionist on Bob Greene’s Best Life Team, who collaborated with him on his most recent book, The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes.

My appointment with Bob was scheduled to last one hour. It lasted about 90 minutes, and I only spent 15 minutes of our time together exercising—definitely not what I expected! Bob and I spent most of our time talking about keeping life in balance. He illustrated it—and gave me a tool I can use at the same time—with his Circle of Life exercise (you can find the PDF and instructions here).

You start by drawing a circle, dividing it into eight even pie wedges, and labeling each with an area of life that is important to you. My wedges include family & friends, romantic life, finances, career, health, adventure, writing, and faith. Bob and I talked about each one, and how I felt about them. Some are great, and some I’d like to improve.

Bob’s truth (in my words) is that when you have your life out of balance—when the things that are important to you aren’t in good shape—many people turn to unhealthy behaviors for inadequate fixes or temporary unsatisfying comfort. (Hello, stress eating!) It’s easy to let one wedge dominate your time and energy to the point that other areas of life get neglected.


Bob told me that many of his clients have used the circle to change their lives. Many of his clients find that once they bring the important things in balance, overeating stops—just by readjusting the balance and filling life with endeavors that are personally important. Health improves. Their lives are happy and strong, and they’re reaching their goals, or exploring new and exciting things.

Bob encouraged me to think of one small thing I could do that day to address each area of my life. And I did: I called a friend to catch up. I called my mother, too, and suggested we plan a mother-daughter trip to Santa Barbara in the spring. My boyfriend and I planned a date shortly after I returned home. I read up on a company that I’ve been thinking about investing in. I took a walk later in the day. I did eight little things. And at the end of the day, I felt good.

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