The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - attr. Albert Einstein
Oy, here we go again. Come January, you'll be springing out of the gate with another Boot Camp-type regime, full of self-righteousness and zeal. If past behavior is a predictor of future behavior, you'll tell us that we all can do this, that food is a drug, that we need to make fitting in 8 hours a week at the gym a priority, or whatever your new "program" involves.
I know it's a bit audacious for me, a little blogging nobody who's no Skinny Minnie herself to presume to address you on this topic, but you've driven me to it. You may not like what I'm about to say, but you're always willing to be brutally honest (especially to some of your guests) so here goes. I know how you feel; I've been there. Many, many times, which is the crux of the matter.
First, you didn't "let this happen again." A lot of us have asked, if Oprah, with all of her money and chefs and trainers and support can't keep the weight off, why should we think that we can? And the answer is that it's not about willpower or weakness; we're fighting some serious physiological forces here.
Your body is reacting to years of yo-yo dieting and is trying to ward off the next famine. After your most recent weight loss I heard you describe how you ate, and honey, that's famine. If your biggest meal of the day is the egg whites, bowl of oatmeal and fruit you eat at breakfast, I'd wager that your body thought it was starving. And if you have to restrict food that much and exercise several hours a day to maintain a certain weight, that is not your natural weight.
Which brings me to the next point. You talk about how you eat emotionally and that food is your "drug." As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder and used to believe that about myself, I'm skeptical. Your body may be driving you to eat more than you think is appropriate which is triggering those guilt and self-loathing feelings, and the cause and effect get all mixed up. I don't know anyone who doesn't eat emotionally at times, fat or thin. I'm going to go out on a limb again and suggest that while you think you're addicted to food, what you're really addicted to is weight obession and the attendant drama.
It makes me sad to hear the self-blame and self-flagellation when you say you "have to figure out how to hold in your stomach all night and walk backward out of the room so no one sees that your butt keeps moving even when you stop." You've made your body the enemy, along with food and fat, which is probably the single most counter-productive attitude you could possibly embrace. Not only does it make you mistrust your body's signals, including hunger and satiety, but it adds to what is probably an already high level of stress in your life, which also creates homones that make you more likely to gain weight.
I know, I know, you're going to tell me this is about your health. Well, did you know that studies have shown that it's healthier to maintain a stable, higher weight than it is to keep losing and re-gaining? That moderate exercise and maintaining a good level of fitness is more important to health than being thin? And going back to stress, many believe that too much of the wrong kind of stress is probably has of the most detrimental effects on health, more so than just being fat. (Did you know that fat people in cultures where they are not stigmatized suffer few of the health effects we commonly associate with overweight?) You want to promote health? Eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies, everything else in moderation. Get 30-45 minutes of exercise five times a week, and 8 hours of sleep each night. Rediscover the joy in moving your body, focusing on the process rather than the result.
You're quite the reader (and I applaud your efforts to get us all reading again), so I'm going to recommend some books. First, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This book really lays out the science of why diets and other weight loss programs almost always fail, and what has been known for decades (and centuries!) about how the body responds to attempts to modify weight. I'm also going to suggest Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It was by using their "be your own food anthropologist" concept that I was able to figure out what foods work best for my body, and in what amounts. Your body will tell you what it needs if you listen and get out of the way, and accept that the weight your body wants to maintain may not match the number you had in mind.
I don't underestime the degree to which this whole concept would probably be a seismic shift for you, and might piss off some of your advertisers. But think about the good you could do by helping people to get off the diet see-saw, reduce a major cause of self-induced stress, and embrace real health and well being.
Also: Kate Harding has written a letter of her own, read it here.