Oprah Challenges Mississippi to Win the Fight

By: Lindsey Brown and Andrea Williams Email
By: Lindsey Brown and Andrea Williams Email

Oprah Winfrey kicked off her Best Life Challenge , a campaign to help Americans lose weight and live healthier lives, in Meridian Friday.

"My state of Mississippi, we are going to get off out fat butts and turn our lives around," said Winfrey. "We are tired of being fat and we are tired about all the excuses we make about being fat."

With that, Oprah began her no-nonsense message to about 4,000 people gathered in downtown Meridian's Dumont Plaza. She said it's time to live a better life and to stop making excuses about being the fattest state in the nation.

"For so many years, I said 'the struggle, the struggle', and I said, I guess not for you," as she jokingly referred to her fit personal trainer, Bob Green. "No more excuses. This is your year. This is your year."

As a Mississippi native, she picked Meridian for the kickoff because the city had already started its own "Just Lose It" campaign back in October. And there is no doubt in Oprah's mind that Mississippi can change.

"Once they do this, everyone else will jump on board," said Winfrey.

As for what's on the line for Mississippians, Oprah says it's a chance to turn the negative statistics around.

"For three years in a row the great state of Mississippi has been the big state and it really is symbolic. It doesn't matter if you have the average of being the most people per capita who are obese or whether or not it's just a decision to make life better for yourself," Oprah said.

Oprah's trainer said the challenge isn't a crash course diet that people so often fail.

"It's about your lifestyle more than anything," said Green. "We know people who weave these changes in their life are successful, not the crash dieters."

Oprah ended the event by saying when rest of the nation sees what Meridian can do, the city will be a shining example for the rest of the country.
People came from throughout the region, some gathering as early as 4 a.m.

"There was just no stopping us," said Jennifer Ladner of Mandeville, La. "We had to come see Oprah!"

"But we just found out that she was coming yesterday," said Julie Kochanski of the Navy and Marine Corps Wives Club. "Military wives can get anything done."

"We have two students from every grade. The teachers chose the two best students," said Karen Rhodes of Northeast Lauderdale Elementary School.

When it comes to losing weight, one teen in attendance said this type motivation is not only important but imperative.

"Because you go to friends' houses to the parties and they always have the junk food, but I kind of stay away from the junk food," said
Aaron Avera, who has lost 75 pounds.

Oprah's trainer even had some advice for one of WTOK's former fitness participants.

"In order to eat honey buns, I've got to keep my buns moving," said
Tyrone "Honey Buns" White, of the "Get Fit Don't Quit" Initiative.

Following the visit that's what many in attendance say they are now going to do.

"It gave me inspiration to go on that diet and do what I've got to do," said Mary Brown.

"Fifty pounds. I'm going for 80 pounds. I'm going to lose 100 pounds," said Melissa McDyer, who has already lost 110 pounds.

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  • by billy Location: tjms on Mar 20, 2008 at 06:26 AM
  • by Sherry Location: Meridian on Jan 14, 2008 at 01:43 PM
    It was great to see the turnout! I have lost almost 100 lbs and have 40 more to go. With all the motivation Friday I know "40 lbs of weight in 08" !
  • by Jean Location: Meridian on Jan 13, 2008 at 03:45 PM
    I was honored to get to be at the plaza to see Oprah...and I walked, all the way downtown to see her. Now, if I could just stay motivated and do that every day... Thank you to Oprah and Bob for coming to visit Meridian, and a big thank you to everyone who made it possible.
  • by Myrna Joy Gore Location: Biloxi Ms. on Jan 13, 2008 at 03:36 PM
    Hi, I'm 58 years old and I have lost 60 pounds on 100% Whey Protein diet (Vanilla) power. I've been using it for the last year. I've return to college and I'm studing to become a Math teacher. I wish people didn't have to suffer from obesity and the embarrassment of it. No one likes to be around obesity people, but they can be an understanding friend to you. People should get to know their neighbor while trying to lose weigh together. Start your diet, walk, learn your neighborhood, and the people in it. Practice what we all preach every day. Lets' give Mississippi back the pride of knowing we have all pull together and given ourself the chance to let Mississippi be proud to know we have pulled ourself up from the bottom being the fattest leading State in the Nation. "Mississippi "Let's be Proud to be Southerners" We can work together.
  • by CH Location: dekalb on Jan 13, 2008 at 12:22 PM
    I am so sorry I missed seeing you Friday. You inspire so many people. Hope to see you next time.
  • by Catherine Holliday Location: Preston on Jan 12, 2008 at 11:51 PM
    Everybody has their own inspiration, you depend on someone to help you lose weight, it may not have been Oprah word of encouragement, but it was something, so don't talk about someone else, you didn't even write your full name. Be proud you lost weight, and spread your encouragement to other. Also if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all.
  • by ann Location: alabama on Jan 12, 2008 at 04:52 PM
    good work meridan on getting fit.
  • by kim Location: meridian ms on Jan 12, 2008 at 02:43 PM
    Oprah coming to Meridian was inspiration to many. Negative comments should not be made. Like the old saying goes if you can't say something nice,don't say anything at all.Thank you Oprah for being concerned for your home state
  • by Catherine Holliday Location: Preston, Ms on Jan 11, 2008 at 08:16 PM
    I didn't get a chance to meet Oprah today, but she is a very special person that's cares about people. Oprah gave me motivation to get off my butt and lose weight, and I hope everybody does the same. Thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedules and coming to Meridian.
  • by johnny Location: hickory on Jan 11, 2008 at 08:14 PM
    umm.....The Oprah is rather large......so...if I listen to Oprah I can get skinny??
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