Oprah – I know Exactly Why She Did It.

OPRAH - I Know Exactly Why She Did It. Motivation and Accoutability

I know why she does it. I finally figured it out, and it makes so much sense.

Let me go back.

Many years ago I can recall standing in the grocery line with my haul. Due to a glacial-paced checkout employee, I found myself perusing the magazines: People, Us, In Touch. “But wait, what is this? Oprah has a magazine? What? And it’s thick, and meaty and full of really decent articles.” I was taken. I thought, “How cool that she put herself on the cover for the inaugural issue?”

Ya, I was wrong about that last part.

Since the magazine’s inception in 2000, Oprah has “shared” the cover only two times, once when she posed with Michelle Obama and once when she buddied up to Ellen. Other than those two exceptions, Oprah has graced the cover close to 180 times. Not kidding.

I was standing in that same line up one month later, and there was the latest issue. Oprah, on the cover, again. Are you kidding me?

As the years went by I would see “Dame Oprah” in the latest couture, gracing the cover and I would, without fail, “theatrical eye-roll” anyone who would pay attention.

I can get a little “judgy” from time to time. For some reason, Oprah’s monthly cover hit all my “judgy” buttons. I even had a spiel. When I would see the magazine, I would spout off to a friend or family member my opinions about how puffed up she must she be to insist on being the only cover model. (I know, pleasant.)

Then one day it hit me. I knew why she did it.

Her insistence on being the” cover art” didn’t have to do with wanting to be a monthly model. It was about a personal goal she had struggled to keep for decades. Oprah is a smart woman. Getting dressed up in front of a camera every month had everything to do with accountability.

Now, I know I am stating the obvious. Oprah is in front of the camera, like ALL the time. A cover is different. A magazine cover has a whole different set of rules and expectations that go along with the deal. Also,  the fact that “A” cover is one thing but 12 a year?  Every two weeks she was either starting to prep for another photo shoot or she had just finished one. She knew that the photo-shoot was a deep motivator to hold true to her personal nutrition and fitness goals. Her monthly cover was a little voice saying “one more rep” and “one less cookie.” It would be the cornerstone on her quest to stay healthy and the firm framework she needed to keep her from wavering off track. Suddenly what I had judged as arrogance was about the coolest illustration of self-motivation I had ever seen. 

I think of Oprah often when it comes to goal setting. I consider how fiercely she set the bar for herself. All those times she failed to maintain her weight caused her to proclaim, “If I want a different outcome, it is going to require a different line and level of thinking.” No, it is not like she is a personal friend, but I can just see how those wheels must have turned when the whole magazine concept was birthed. She saw an excellent professional opportunity and a personal one too.

She is not perfect at it, none of us are. But setting a stronger framework of accountability around our goals will translate to a greater level of success in reaching our dreams.


This week I want you to think about a goal that you have had, one that you have tried, and failed. What levels of accountability and motivation could you build so that failing is less of an option?

(This is purely a work of fiction. All opinions expressed herein were my own and not my good friend Oprah’s. No animals were hurt or even chastised during the writing of this post.)

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45 Responses

  1. Agreed, now it makes more sense! I’ve never been comfortable about what I see in the mirror since I gained weight, and that’s probably why I haven’t made an effort to do something about it. I lack all sense of accountability, but I know that has to change very soon. Thanks for this; I need to rethink my priorities!

    1. I know how you feel, Jae. I have days like that and I had tons of them when I had seventy extra pounds on me. Those accountability measures are really important!

  2. I actually never put two and two together on this! If I was in her position, I could this making me want to do better as far as fitness and nutrition. I have my own personal issues with taking photos, maybe this is something I need to think about trying!

  3. Fantastic post! Photos are supposed to be very helpful when holding yourself accountable…I just hate taking pics of myself. lol
    Love the disclaimer about your ‘good friend Oprah’ 😉
    xoxo,. erin | sandsunandmessybuns.com

    1. Thanks, Erin! I know, sometimes the levels of accountability we need are the scariest and most intimidating! Thanks! I thought I better put the disclaimer so that people know I made the whole thing up. Don’t want any confusion. 😉

  4. I have never really given Oprah being on the cover of her magazine any thought, but this totally makes sense! If I had to have my photo taken as much as her, I would be more accountable as well.

    1. I know, Me too! Just thinking about that many photo shoots makes me want to put the cookie down!

  5. You gotta love Oprah! She is such an inspiration and she always has been. So empowering for women! Staying accountable isn’t easy for everyone but a good reminder to all how important it is. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Did for me, Raquel. It made me think about the lengths we might have to go if we truly want to make our goals a success.

  6. What an interesting perspective! You make a great point. You know, it never really hit me that she’s on all her covers… lol, shows how much I pay attention!

  7. An interesting perspective, perhaps I should try posting photos to my fridge – it too may help me be accountable and focused!

  8. This is really insightful, and I feel like it totally applies to myself as well. I love hiking, but I never went out every week until I signed up for a challenge that held me accountable. It makes such a big difference, even if it is just for yourself.

    1. Aireona, I couldn’t agree more and we each have to find the challenge/motivator that works for us and will actually keep us accountable.

    1. I know. It is funny, right, Lauren? I always liked that her magazine had “content” and not just ads and garbage.

  9. Wow, such a good way to hold yourself accountable. I also like the idea of showing women of different sizes, no matter how much some women make health and wellness a priority they may not be a size 2.

  10. a big inspiration to alot of women out there in the world, whatever she touches is divine and now this is cool of her.

  11. I never thought of accountability that way. I can see how it makes pretty tough to avoid keeping yourself accountable if you’re one out front all the time

    1. Me too, Josselyn. I don’t support everything she believes here but I deeply commend her as a business woman!

  12. I love Oprah! I never looked at it this way in regards to why she’s always on the cover. This is definitely motivating for me. I remember reading one of her issues about creating a dream board. I had just gotten out of a very bad relationship. The dream board was very helpful for me in visualizing my life goals and pinpointing past hurts I needed to let go of. Oprah is a true inspiration!

  13. Wow, I ‘ve never though of it this way. I always saw it as her brand, her cover. But, this a very unique perspective and would make a lot of sense as to why she is the only one who graces the cover.

    1. That is so true, Agnes. She has stayed really firm to what she believes in. She just has an energy of solidness.

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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