Oprah Winfrey is a vegetable fanatic. Show me a nightshade or a head of lettuce that she hasn’t Instagrammed and I’ll show you the Excel spreadsheet I once created to keep track of such matters — not because I’m documenting her misses but because I’m trying to predict what’s coming. (Will gourds be next, or will she be all about the legume?) It’s in vain, of course. Attempting to trend-forecast Oprah is like trying to predict the weather without the help of Al Roker: impossible. Attempting to follow the Oprah Diet is even harder, but then again, if we could all do the Oprah Diet, we’d all be Oprah.
You don’t just become Oprah. For one thing, you need a first name that can stand alone without a sur-initial to differentiate you from all of the other kids at camp. Put your hand down, Madonna, because that same first name also needs to carry weight when spelled backwards; the backwards version of your solo moniker is almost always the ideal choice for your multimedia production company. Everyone knows that.
Next, you have to have lived the kind of life that Barnes & Noble created its autobiography section for. Oprah Winfrey endured hardship and trauma, overcoming great obstacles that she now guides others through. She found light where there was none and used it to illuminate the world with her wisdom. She became a role model, a symbol of hope, and to a fanbase larger than her bank account, a friend. Oprah is the first black woman billionaire ever. Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor. Her dogs give her flowers for her birthday each year. She has five of them!
So, not to discourage you, but good luck.
The only way to make the Oprah Diet even close to achievable was to spread it out over the course of two months. I then divided up her Oprah-ness into eight main categories:
1) Charitable efforts
2) Advice and guidance
3) General effusiveness
4) Fun with produce and flowers
5) Gayle and Stedman
6) An abundance of animals
7) Living your best life
8) Mild to moderate but well-earned narcissism
Just as Oprah’s Weight Watchers plan encourages a goal of two pounds down a week, I aimed to check two things off from the above eight categories each week until I totaled a gain of 16 Oprah points. In retrospect this doesn’t make much sense, but isn’t there always something a bit sketchy about every diet? And besides, muscle weighs more than bullshit.
In June, I attended a charity event for the Wildlife Conservation Society. It took place at the Central Park Zoo where a majority of the mingling happened around a pool of seals. The seals barked and so did my feet, which was a great practice for the dog portion of this diet and covers dad jokes for Steadman’s section — but it didn’t count because it happened before I’d actually committed to the Oprah program. However, because I didn’t pay the bill for said charitable donation until July, I’m giving myself +1 Charity.
During this same week I made sure to get photographed while laughing wildly in front of a flower-covered trellis +1 Fun With Flowers
Oprah Points Tally: 2
Oprah on the right being charming via Instagram
You win some, you lose some and this week was a wash.
In an effort to get serious about this diet, I focused on the animal route. I began doing things like pointing out deer (excellent practice for parenthood), following rodents on Instagram, following rabbits, literally, for a Snapchat story and surprising friends by taking more interest than usual in their pets. One friend asked if I was in need of emotional support because I “popped by” to see her dogs despite my own very vehement No-Stop-Bys-This-Isn’t-the-1950s Policy. The emotional support is for you, I assured her. Just as Oprah would. +2 Animal Abundance
Oprah Points Tally: 2
On the left: Katie Sturino’s dogs/my favorite neighbors Toast, Muppet and Pants. On the right: Oprah’s dogs Sadie, Sunny and Lauren wearing EAR SNOODS via Instagram
It was time to really begin living my best life, but in order to do so, I had to mood-board out what that meant. Here’s the thing: Who has a glue stick in 2016? Or scissors? I have a stick of lip balm that looks like glue and fairly steady hands to rip out words like “dream,” but the end result looked like a ransom note and so I scraped the scrapbook thing.
Instead, I made sure to do more of the following: take alternative routes to work in order to walk down prettier blocks, drink alcohol from long straws while laying on my back at the beach, boat loitering, using dramatically expensive bars of soap that Oprah recommended in her Favorite Things list and shouting about how much I love bread. Because I do!!! +2 Living My Best Life
Eat bread. Lose weight. Whaaatttt? #ComeJoinMe https://t.co/jUgpk9ToXYhttps://t.co/xtnB53EwSf
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 26, 2016
Speaking of Favorite Things (to be filed under #6: General Effusiveness) I feel like that’s what my shopping stories are all about, so another point for me! +1 General Effusiveness
Oprah Points Tally: 3
It was high time and tide that I started doling out some advice-slash-guidance. I opened up my couch office hours and invited friends to come over and vent. This is rare because normally I pretend that my phone is broken until Saturday unless it’s an absolute emergency. Between the three friends who took me up on this offer I helped one decide what to eat for dinner, crafted a Hail Mary text to a guy who’d ghosted for another and talked through new job stuff with a third. One also offered to jump up and down on my couch like Tom Cruise. I joined her. It was cathartic. +1 Advice and Guidance
Later in the week, after nearly killing myself by running into traffic to avoid being stung by a yellow-and-black striped death eater, I took a moment to reflect on my most favorite Oprah video of all time:
It’s a sign, I told myself. Oprah was just speaking to me.
Oprah Points Tally: 1
I exist in emotional monotone so for week six, I really had to up my excitement game. SO, I visited various markets and effused in the name of phallic vegetables and boob fruits. My version of an ambiguous-to-the-media life partner Stedman probably should have taken these photos. Instead, Haley did. I realized I needed a Stedman. +1 Fun With Produce
Photo on the right of Oprah being blinded by bright greens via Instagram
I also had to start giving things away!!! Hello??? I donated two bags of clothes to charity by way of Beacon’s Closet. On Saturday, probably thanks to my self-fulfilling prophecy cult leader mood board, I imagined my bank account was of Oprah Winfrey-like proportions and bought at least ten different friends and two strangers a round of drinks. (You get a shot, and you get a shot, and you get a hangover, and I get a hangover!) +1 Charitable Efforts
This was so fun the next morning.
Enter my Best Life Solution to numb the Where Did My Money Go Scaries: a bacon, egg and cheese that I did not photograph because then I would have had to include a trigger warning. +1 Living My Best Life, in a way
Oprah Points Tally: 3
I spent Saturday with Leandra, who is obviously my Gayle. We drank tequila on the rocks, ate fro-yo and annoyed her Stedman.
On Super Soul Sunday I Best Lifed at home with my roommate Lev, AKA my ambiguous life partner who I throw under many Man Repeller buses (see: Adventures in ACV.) I told him he was Stedman for the evening which meant he had to watch an Iyanla: Fix My Life re-run with me and do whatever I said. We both re-downloaded dating apps shortly after. +1 Gayle, +.5 Stedman
Oprah Points Tally: 1.5
Gayle took the photo of Leandra and me above. Photo of Oprah and Gayle on the right (which I took) via Instagram.
This was my most Oprah of weeks. On Monday I downloaded Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad per Oprah’s Book Club recommendation. Has anyone else read it? I am just getting started and it’s sad and intense. Oprah is never wrong.
On Tuesday I surprised my friend Rachel — a devoted Bruce Springsteen fan (she has been to 10 concerts total) with tickets to the final show of Bruce’s three-night Met Life run. I got the extra ticket last minute through a friend who is basically Concert Oprah and had to bust Rachel out of a babysitting gig in a probably illegal heist, but it felt so Talkshow Host Super Hero — like Rachel was crying and shaking and going “WHAT DO YOU MEAN” — that I’m not even worried about the kid we had to leave behind. Just kidding her mom came home in time. Otherwise Stedman for sure would have covered for us. +3 Good Deeds (to be filed under Charitable Efforts)
Oprah Points Tally: 3
Finally, because I really had become her: the feel-good tweet.
You are great!
— Amelia Diamond (@amilli0naire) September 6, 2016
Bold, right? You know what she-slash-we would say: It’s your life, OWN IT!
^ P.S. +1 for #8: Mild to moderate but well-earned narcissism
Oprah Points Tally: 16.5!!! My goal weight!
Feature collage by Lily Ross. Feature photograph by Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images.